Marriage has its moments of joy, love and happiness, and certainly its crosses. Human weakness, tragedy, and everyday stresses of work, finances, and raising children can strain any marriage. As St. Paul wrote in the first century, where sin is present, grace abounds even more.
Several Legatus couples have learned that lesson firsthand, and see that God has always been there for them, even during their darkest, most challenging times. Their stories underscore Paul’s message
to the Corinthians that “love never dies.”
Ripple effect of unified rediscovery
Mark and Linda Pierce, Cleveland Chapter
Looking back on their early years, Linda Pierce says she and husband Mark had a “fine marriage and a good family.” But it was like a “rudderless ship” with no direction.
“We didn’t have that strong father in the same faith who could guide us,” she said.
Mark, 57, had grown up as son of Methodist and Baptist parents who only took the family to church on Easter, and admits he didn’t have a faith life.
When he and Linda, 56, married 38 years ago, Mark agreed to let Linda raise their children Catholic. He would accompany the family to Sunday Mass and sit in the pews with his arms folded.
“I would be thinking about Catholics going to hell for worshiping statues,” said Mark, who eventually became part of the parish community in volunteering for fish fries and delivering meals.
Seven years into marriage, Mark — after being asked to be a godfather — felt prompted to join his wife’s faith and “unify” the family. Linda sponsored him in RCIA, and together they learned much more about Catholicism.
Mark’s RCIA experience motivated him to read Catholic books, attend Bible studies, and immerse himself further in the faith. His deepening Catholic outlook began to change him on all fronts.
“Our marriage transformed because I had not been treating my wife properly according to God’s laws,” said Mark. He later became more of a servant at home rather than trying to get his own way.
He also changed his business approach from a secular to a faith-based model. As a business and leadership coach, his leadership-development approach is now based on five pillars: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and financial health.
But perhaps the biggest testimony to Mark and Linda’s transformation is their two youngest adult children are practicing Catholics with faithcentered lives. The two oldest children who grew up before Mark’s conversion are not churchgoers, though they’re impressed by what their father has become.
“They tell me, ‘You’re such a different dad,’” said Mark, who with Linda is involved in a diocesan marriage preparation ministry, as well as enrichment retreats for married couples.
Said Mark, “It’s given me a greater sense of purpose.”
Grappling with powers and principalities
Troy and Christy King, Orlando Chapter
When their 8-month-old son Leo died last year from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Christy King says God let her see the devil using that tragedy to spiritually shipwreck her family.
“It really ticked me off,” said Christy, 47, who has been married to Troy, 48, a pediatric dentist, for 20 years.
Christy said the family decided to fight back.
“We really stepped up,” she said. “We were already praying together as a family, but much more so now — a lot more family rosaries, and with refocus and redirection. Troy and I began uniting particular sufferings with Christ’s suffering on the cross, which gives them so much power.”
The King family has been through this before. Seven years ago, they’d lost another young son, Dominic, in another apparent case of SIDS.
“We endured the worst thing ever, then we had to do it again,” said Christy, saying she doesn’t know how people can weather a terrible setback without God in their lives.
“With tragedies you either come through stronger, or they destroy your family. That was never an option,” said Christy, who met Troy at a gym. They dated for 10 years before marrying 20 years ago.
The couple has had 18 children, including the two who died in infancy. The older siblings have handled those losses differently, in their own way – some choosing to go to school and lacrosse practice rather than stay home; another took bike rides in his sadness over Leo.
One daughter, who’s now Leo’s godmother, told Christy she is thankful for having a special connection to a young saint in heaven. For Christmas, the family had stockings for the deceased boys, and the children talked about how much Leo would have enjoyed the season. And though the kids miss Leo and Dominic greatly, they’re hopeful to be with them again.
“Some suffering is not always the worst thing,” Christy said.
Vows renewed in forgiveness
Pete and Mimi Peters, Mobile Chapter
Mimi says she wouldn’t wish what happened to her on her worst enemy.
“But my faith deepened because I had to lean so hard on the Lord,” Mimi said.
About 11 years into their marriage in 1991, Pete had an affair and decided he no longer wanted to be married.
“I believed the lie that I could be a better dad if I was with this other person,” Pete said.
The couple’s two children were 2 and 4 years old when they divorced the following year. For the next several years, Mimi — who tried to talk Pete out of divorcing – reordered her life and raised the children. She allowed Pete to remain part of their kids’ lives, and said she learned a lot about herself and her faith.
“I had to look at myself and see how I could change,” Mimi said.
“Mimi always put the best interests of the kids first by allowing me to be a big part of their lives. She showed me what marriage was supposed to be about. It’s a commitment — not about how you feel,” Pete said.
With “a lot of prayer” and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Pete began to realize in the late 1990s he’d made an awful mistake. He was determined to prove to Mimi his sincerity about bringing their family back together.
Mimi and Pete sought counsel from their Christlike pastor.The first time Pete asked to reconcile, Mimi didn’t believe he was ready. In 1998 after he attended a silent retreat, Mimi said Pete apologized and vowed to spend his life making it up to her.
“I knew I’d married a good man, and that he was going to come back around,” Mimi said.
Pete said the couple told their children they were going to reconcile on their daughter’s 13th birthday. Pete said their daughter had included reconciliation in her birthday wish list.
Not long after, the couple renewed their marriage vows in a private Mass followed by a celebration at Mimi’s horse farm, Silver Lining Farm.
“There were so many people who were happy for us because they had seen a miracle,” Pete said.
Today, Pete, 64, and Mimi, 63, counsel other married couples going through rough times. Both their children are devout Catholics married to Catholic spouses. After recently spending the holidays with their children, Pete said it was another reminder that nothing in life would satisfy without his wife and kids.
“I’m not finished learning,” he said. “I now know that I had a hole in my heart and God wasn’t going to fill it until I got where I needed to be with my family.”
Launching a business to reclaim family
Jay and Lucinda Bolding, Omaha Chapter
Friends thought Jay Bolding was having a midlife crisis when he left corporate America in 2006 to start his own business.
But for Bolding, CEO and president of Bold Office Solutions in Omaha, the opportunity to start a company and have his wife, Lucinda, as business partner offered him an opportunity to “reclaim” their relationship.
“For so long, work overshadowed all else, and I wanted to create a family business that would allow us time together,” Jay said. “I knew that by having her with me, she’d add a spiritual touch not only to our culture, but keep me grounded in seeing all we have is a gift from God.”
Lucinda said she was surprised when Jay wanted her involved in the business. Jay said she has helped him to recognize that he needs to pray every day for wisdom, understanding, guidance, and to trust that God has a plan for them, their family and the company.
“As we look back, it certainly was a challenge for us, but we had a strong marriage before and we are stronger in many ways now,” Jay said.
BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.