A man came home from the hospital after a heart surgery. His very active wife tends to his every need – food, clothes, mobility and hygiene. More than these, she prays the Rosary beside him and reads him the Gospel. At night, the wife lulls her husband to sleep with words from the Psalms. The man began to express both deep gratitude to his wife and regret at his past behavior towards her and their kids. In his prime, the man was not always known for his hardwork, responsibility and fidelity to his family. The woman however kept to her commitment to God by praying daily for that moment when her husband will acknowledge God’s power and love, and appreciate his family. When it took an ailment for this to happen, the woman saw in it both a challenge and a gift from God.

 “The two shall become one flesh.” What do these words mean? In the age of social media, romance has attained its ultimate peak. Flash-mob and heart-stopping proposals, immortal pre-nup videos, the best dream beach or cathedral weddings, and gender-reveal parties – we have all these on private files and are willingly shared online for others to admire and emulate. Everyone knows however that there is no marriage made in heaven. It is through the bumpy, thorny, and rocky road of life that husband and wife must enflesh the vows they pronounced on their wedding day.

Yes, couples do share the blessings they receive together – the joys, excitement, success and abundance that come their way – and it is quite easy to do so. But there are other things, more crucial things, that they must face – incompatibility and jealousy, bills and debts, sickness and weakness, temptations and trials, and so much more. More than anything else, these challenges to a relationship test the one-ness of man and woman in love. In these pressured situations their patience, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance and service become real. If they go through these hurdles successfully, then the two have really become one. As one, they are ready to face the world, their critics, their problems, and most importantly, the God who brought them together.

“I’m on the verge of a breakdown,” ran a text message from my friend. His wife has been on endless cycles of chemotherapy and her pain is doubly agonizing for him who knows that even his immense love is not sufficient to end or heal her malady. Yet, my friend stands by his wife’s side, and together with their children, continues to be a source of faith, encouragement and strength for his beloved.

Let us pray for couples traversing furious adversities today, that these experiences will embolden their trust in God and intensify their love for each other. What God has joined together, let nothing separate.