Laura has been married to Phil since 1997 and they have two sons. When we married, Phil was not a Catholic but did have a faith and belief in God. Phil’s perception of the Catholic Church at the time was that it would be rigid and unfriendly towards him because he wasn’t Catholic and he felt somewhat unworthy. However, the parish priest, Fr Lawrence, was so welcoming and Phil felt, because of him, that he would like to explore this faith.
Fr Lawrence prepared us for the sacrament of marriage. We knew that we loved each other and we knew that marriage was for life. We were serious about our commitment to each other and we knew that we wanted to have children together. On reflection, at the time we did not appreciate how truly special the sacrament of marriage is and this is because we have grown together so much in our faith and love for each other in ways we could never have imagined.
Shortly after we were married a very dear friend of ours was dying from cancer and we met regularly and talked with him about faith and God. He inspired Phil to attend an RCIA course to explore the Catholic Faith and I chose to journey with him and we went to all the meetings together. We both learnt so much and it really ignited and united us in our Catholic Faith! Phil completed the course and decided to become Catholic and our faith has grown and developed together as a married couple.
There have been many couples within the church, older than us, who have really helped us and guided us with our lives and of course our parents have shown us the beauty and importance of marriage and family life. Over the years we have been helped and encouraged by many very special priests who have guided us through difficult and joyous times in our lives.
People often say to us that marriage has its ups and downs but I [Laura] have never felt that being married to Phil was ever difficult. I recognised, however, that life has its ups and downs and that is where marriage is a gift that helps you through the challenges and difficulties of life as you rely on each other for help and support!
Phil would always say to me [Laura] “we are on the same team!” We have had many struggles and challenges in our life together including Phil’s diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. As the consultant delivered this news to us in 2005 Phil felt an overwhelming sense of love as he knew he was safe in God’s hands. As we left the hospital, he hugged me and said “we will use this to make our lives better!” We feel that being married is about being strong for each other especially when the other is struggling. We help each other and together we are strong. Phil says that I make him feel that everything is well and that means that everything could fall away and we would be ok as long as we had each other and God in our lives.
We pray together and we believe that God will protect us and guide us and that marriage is a very special bond where we help each other to grow in faith, hope and of course love.