Marriage as a reflection of God’s love
By Josh Low
Trust in God and His providence, with an aim to reflect His goodness in the world through their marriage is at the heart of Phil and Mary Weston’s vocation.
Members of the Latin Mass community in Hobart, the couple have now been married for more than 12 years, after first meeting in 2006 while on holidays with different groups of friends.
The couple said that while Mary was raised in a large Catholic family with a desire to one day have a family of her own, Phil came from ‘an atheistic and broken’ family and had no desire to marry.
However, through Mary’s witness and prayers for his conversion, Phil eventually began investigating Catholicism and religion in general, decided to become Catholic and was baptised and welcomed into the Church in 2010, some two years after they first began dating.
“After becoming Catholic, I focused a lot of time on praying and reflecting on whether marriage was my vocation,” Phil said.
“Having a strong trust in divine providence, I considered that it was not by chance that God brought me to the Catholic faith through Mary.”
After a period of discernment and engagement, Phil and Mary married over a year later in July of 2011 at St Benedict’s Church in Sydney.
Marriage, they say, is a life-long sacrifice and reflection of God’s unconditional and eternal love – a giving of oneself in service to the other and living it out by supporting each other to grow in all aspects of life.
“You learn everything about the other person, from their greatest strengths to their deepest flaws, and where their faith in God is rooted, seeing in an intimate manner the many ways God works His grace in their soul,” Mary said.
“We hope to reflect God’s goodness in the world through our marriage; by having a loving, stable family unit, it has the potential of bringing peace and stability into the lives of others.”
The couple shared that the biggest challenge they have faced is the inability to have any children for many years.
However, they added that having God as a part of marriage can bring many unexpected graces and blessings – and in their case, miracles.
“For 11 years we tried unsuccessfully to start a family and suffered several miscarriages during this time.
“Mary has complex medical history with a rare heart condition which makes it difficult or potentially impossible to have any children,” Phil explained.
Phil and Mary even considered fostering and adoption, but were met with many barriers in the process.
“This took an emotional toll on both of us and caused a lot of stress, anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness.
“Eventually, we surrendered everything to God’s will and accepted that we might not be able to ever have children,” Mary said.
“We thought perhaps that God wanted us to care for children only through our careers in Primary School teaching and taking care of our many nieces and nephews.
“To our surprise, however, God blessed us a successful pregnancy after 11 years of marriage with the birth of our beautiful baby girl Annabelle.”
The pregnancy itself held many challenges and significant complications, but like all the difficulties in life they have faced and overcome, the couple said turning trustingly and prayerfully to God in His providence has helped them, strengthening their marriage with every obstacle.
“We have learnt over the past 12 years that God has carefully disregarded our plans and replaced them with His own well-designed plans!”
For those discerning married life, Phil and Mary say the most important thing for couples is to assess and understand each other’s relationship with God and their faith.
“When we first met Phil was not Catholic or religious and Mary was fairly reserved with how she lived out her faith.
“As relationships develop however, it is important that your partner is a faithful and loving Catholic before considering marriage.
“A person with a good relationship with God is someone who you can trust will take their marriage vows seriously,” they said.
On a practical level, they added that considering your compatibility in a relationship is also important, while making decisions together and respecting each other’s point of view is crucial for a happy and strong relationship.
“They should also be a person that you feel relaxed around and be able to communicate honestly with.
“We have always been very relaxed in each other’s company and could be our honest selves without fear of judgement or rejection.
The couple concluded by adding that trust in God and His plan is of utmost importance.
“If you are hesitating about getting married for material or financial reasons (lack of stability), this should not be seen as a barrier to marriage as God will provide for you.
“Trust in God’s guidance, God has a plan for each of us and needs our trust to fulfil it.”