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Marriage Week: trust God in all things

The good life: Helen and Ray Medeiros attribute the strength of their 45-year marriage to their faith. Marriage Week is now being observed in Bermuda with a series of events including a vow renewal and prayer ceremony

Marriage can be a very beautiful thing when you put faith and family first. It’s what Helen and Ray Medeiros believe after 45 years together as husband and wife.

They have four children and ten grandchildren, and have helped each other through illness and other hardships.

They spoke with The Royal Gazette in honour of Marriage Week celebrations on now through next Sunday.

“Through it all we’ve always remained best friends,” said Mrs Medeiros, a retired registered nurse. “We love spending time together and obviously our children and grandchildren are the biggest joy to us.

“The most vital thing is we’re still best friends, even though we have been through lots of hard times.”

Their relationship faced one of its hardest challenges 15 years ago when she battled a serious illness, the 66-year-old said.

“There were typical marriage adjustment disputes and raising children and teenagers can be hard, but also I’ve been through breast cancer and last year Ray was very ill for a while,” she said. “We learnt to just face things together and stick by each other.

“I had to be away for treatment and Ray was still working [as a partner with PwC]. Still, he managed to be with me 98 per cent of the time and worked from his computer in the States so he would be with me.”

The couple met when Mr Medeiros was a student at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia; Mrs Medeiros was born and raised in the university’s small town, Antigonish.

“Ray was in his third year of university and I was in my first year of nursing school and we met at the first dance of the college school year in 1967,” Mrs Medeiros said.

“I had noticed him about town before that. It’s a very small town and so we noticed him as a foreigner. He was of Portuguese descent and we didn’t have any other Portuguese people in our town.”

The “petite, little blonde” immediately caught his eye, Mr Medeiros said. He built up the nerve to ask her to dance, but she was initially hesitant.

The college guys weren’t known for their chivalry; Mrs Medeiros was happy to find that Mr Medeiros was different.

“He was a complete gentleman and we laughed and talked. He even walked me home and I asked him to say something in Portuguese. He said something that sounded very romantic, but when he translated it wasn’t quite as nice.

“Overall, he was just very mature and very respectful and we had lots of fun and started seeing each other and that was it.

“We dated exclusively from then on. I learnt about his country and his background and he was drawn to me as well. I came from a very large family. He only has one sister and I had ten brothers and sisters. We would spend time at my house in town and it was filled with love, laughter and music.”

The couple realised their love was the real deal when Mr Medeiros returned to Bermuda for Christmas.

“His family saw a difference in him and we both realised how much we missed each other and wanted to be together. We got married in November 1970,” Mrs Medeiros said.

“Through everything we’ve been through we’ve relied on our faith first of all.

“I grew up in a Roman Catholic Christian household and our parents taught us about Jesus growing up. Ray still attends the Roman Catholic church.

“So when we made those [wedding] vows we were serious about it and no matter what we went through we made the choice that this was the person we loved, that God has for us, and we would move on together.”

Their most memorable memories are of family vacations and time with their children, Mrs Medeiros added.

“And now in our retirement we bought a motorhome and we travel all over the United States and Canada together, visiting family and friends and exploring and just enjoying life on the road together.”

Her advice to anyone looking to create a healthy, long-lasting marriage, is to never give up.

“Trust God completely in all things,” she said. “For us, even if we went through hard times, we always came back to that rock solid foundation.

“We valued and honoured each other and in the end it’s all worth it in our golden years.”

Mr Medeiros doesn’t believe there is a “magic formula” when it comes to marriage.

“The most important thing is to believe you are there for life. Have faith and stick in there,” the 68-year-old said. “You need to recognise that you do say ‘for better or for worse and in sickness and in health’ and you have to have the mental intent that you will stay there when things get hard. There will be ups and downs and you have to be prepared to work it out and not be one of these people who say, ‘I’m out of here because this isn’t working’.

“Marriage isn’t always smooth, but God will be with you along the way.”

Marriage Week kicked off yesterday with a proclamation at the House of Assembly. There will be a prayer vigil around the Parliament building for stronger marriages in Bermuda at 3pm tomorrow. Additional events include a movie screening, date night and vow renewal ceremony. For more details visit Facebook: Heart-to-Heart Marriage Mentoring Ministries