Gary and Joy found safety in their marriage through Hope Restored

Jun 28, 2024

Gary and Joy had been married for 37 years, but as time went on, they both felt increasingly alone in the relationship. “There was no trust,” Joy recalls. “We kept things from each other. I did not feel safe. I did not feel heard. I was tired of being in charge.”

“There was that feeling that something is wrong, but I couldn’t put a finger on it and I didn’t feel safe,” Gary confides.

When Gary and Joy became empty nesters, the problems in their marriage they’d been avoiding for years could no longer be ignored. “Every day I asked myself, Should I go on with this? Should I end it?” Joy says.

A counsellor herself, Joy knew they needed outside help. They tried counselling, but nothing helped. “I recall the year 2017 when our fights were at their worst and we tried being in separate beds for a week. It took five years for me to sell the idea to go to Hope Restored,” she explains. “But what really led to us saying yes to it was giving Gary an ultimatum. I said, ‘If we don’t do this, I really don’t know what to do anymore.’”

For Gary, he knew there was something wrong, but he couldn’t name it and didn’t know how to fix it.

“Because I was not able to identify what was going on, it was more of  desperation that I agreed to it,” he confides. “We’ve been praying about our relationship, we’ve been doing whatever we can, but it was not helping.”

At Hope Restored, Gary had a breakthrough. “On the third day I realized what was wrong,” he explains. “The counsellor said that I was hiding in my cave just to feel safe.” Without realizing he had a fear of being controlled, rejected and judged, he engaged less and less, hiding in his own cave, until he felt imprisoned by it. “What really helped was they gave us the tools for me to get out of that cave, and because of those tools, I was able to see that there’s hope for our relationship.”

After the intensive, they had a unique opportunity to practise what they’d learned. “We had a few hours waiting at the airport because our flight was delayed,” Joy recalls. “We were actually having fun, just doing the activities that were taught to us. We were laughing about it. It was a comfortable situation. It was something new because seldom did we really laugh together.”

Later they attended a Journey to Us marriage conference as a reminder of what they’d learned at Hope Restored.

“The Journey to Us was an excellent follow-up to the Hope Restored marriage intensive,” Gary says. “It further grounded our understanding of the concepts and tools taught during the intensive week and it clarified some aspects.”

Now, equipped by Hope Restored, Journey to Us, and the workbooks they took home, they’re able to rebuild their relationship and create the safety that was missing for years.

“I used to believe that there was no hope, and that’s why I tried to stay away from fixing it because I didn’t have the tools,” Gary explains. “I used to play golf and someone taught me how to correct it if there was something wrong with my shot; just do that technique and it will correct the shot. It is no different from when something goes wrong in the relationship. We have the tools on how to adjust and to make the correction. So that’s the way I look at it now.”

Being at retirement age, Gary and Joy were the oldest couple at the Hope Restored group intensive. “I really wanted to find out if I want to grow old with Gary or not,” Joy recalls. “We know lots of people who may not talk about this, people who seem to be so close to each other on the outside, but they don’t sleep in one bed anymore.” The other younger couples at the intensive celebrated their commitment to a final attempt to save their marriage, and expressed that they wished their parents had come to Hope Restored like Gary and Joy.

“There’s hope if we don’t let the hardness of our hearts, the pride and the need to win rule,” Joy explains. “If you don’t allow that in, then the tools and God’s graces will work too.”

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