I am a 70-year-old man, and I have been married for 40 years with a wife who lost interest in someone who for years failed to support her in the most difficult moments, out of cowardice and selfishness. I got married at the age of 29 and she was 28, we had met each other as we shared the same environment, we have two children, a boy and a girl now grown up and with their own families and three grandchildren; so now we live alone in a large apartment almost like two strangers, even though in the evening we recite our prayers together. Since my childhood I have always had a wide range of relational problems with other people, except family members or relatives, but when I had to go somewhere, be it parties or invitations to visit other people, where I felt in danger of being in the spotlight in any way,I found every excuse I could in order not to attend, as if there was something inside me that blocked me. Sometimes I chose to send my wife alone or together with her mother to that party instead of attending together. We work together with our children in a small trading company, which has seen good times but also dark times, such as the years that my wife spent defending herself from certain sorts of people… (I will not say the word) who tried to bring her to bankruptcy and made her suffer in the courts of law for twenty years (this was perhaps the time when I should have supported her the most, but instead I just acted as a bystander). I think these facts changed her character: she always remained generous and altruistic, but also became very critical, touchy, and uncompromising; she often rejects opposition, as if her way of seeing reality were the only true way. I too grew very distant towards her, but after receiving the advice of a priest and sharing it with her, I thought that there was some hope, that I too could make up for all the lost time, that I too could be forgiven, and that together we could start again from where we lost each other. On the other hand, we celebrated 40 years of marriage a short time ago, and honestly I did not want to do it.Why celebrate if we are often fighting, either at home or when we go out for a drive, about nonsense, (anything can trigger it) focusing only on our defects without giving the other person an opportunity to improve; and yet I did it, because I thought it was the best thing to do for the two of us. The mistakes that before I understood only with my mind, today I understand with my heart, we have two different personalities and I would really like my heart to become flesh, to make my wife understand that there is still a possibility, even though she says: “What do you think you can recover at 70, you have only loved yourself and for me now you are just a friend.” Very harsh and partly true words; but how did we end up falling so low, and what will Jesus say to me when I will be in his presence, He who is love and who will judge me over a love that I never gave.
Pray for us
Answer from the priest
1. There is some truth in what your wife said, namely that at seventy years of age it is difficult to change.
Even trees can only be straightened when they are still soft. Later on, this cannot be done anymore. They could just break.
2. However, we are not quite like trees. We are also made of spirit, of freedom.
And although our life is sometimes entrenched in its habits, there is One who can bring out something new and unprecedented from us, who comes to renew everything.
3. In next Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus presents himself to us as a treasure hidden in a field.
I emphasize the word treasure.
The treasure is not only a valuable object but refers to a certain abundance of riches.
Jesus Christ is an inexhaustible treasure, as it is said of him in Wis 7:14.
And whoever follows him becomes like that scribe from the Gospel, resembling “the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Mt 13,52).
4. You too, by following Christ, become head of your household and are able to bring out new things and old things from your spiritual treasure.
What is the new thing you can usher in?
Leverage a good point of your family that you emphasized when you wrote: “so now we live alone in a large apartment almost like two strangers, even though in the evening we recite our prayers together“; I would tell you to start right from that: the prayers that you say together every evening.
For example, why not introduce the Rosary in addition to these prayers?
5. I am very confident in this prayer, because every time we recite the Rosary it is as if we experienced again the mystery of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.
Mary was not alone on that visit. In her womb was Jesus, the Savior, who was only 4 or 5 days old. And Jesus in silence, without letting anyone notice it, did his part: he purified and sanctified John the Baptist.
The same thing Our Lady can also do to you every evening.
She will come in a hidden way through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, and Jesus who comes with her will do to you time after time what he did to John the Baptist.
6. Jesus will give you new eyes to see that being together and bearing with each other for more than forty years – despite the inevitable quarrels – is in itself a great act of love.
But he will bestow on you not only this: he will impart to you a great peace, so that once the Rosary is over, you will not have the desire to quarrel, because you will be more cheered up and you will have the awareness of having done together something beautiful, precious, important to safeguard your family and your children’s families.
You will also be happy with each other, because you will thank the Lord for having given you a husband and wife with the great gift of faith, and that precisely through this faith you can pray together and do such a great good.
7. During this prayer it will be inevitable that your eyes also fall on each other, and then secretly from the inside of your heart, while on the outside you will say the prayers of the Rosary, it will be easy for you to entrust each other to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for your mutual faults.
And so in Jesus you will love each other again with a greater and more beautiful love, with his own love.
You will see that with this prayer everything will blossom again.
8. Before proposing to your wife to recite the Rosary together, say one on your own to obtain from Our Lady the grace to say the right words and to obtain for your wife a heart willing to second you.
I promise to do for you first what I suggested you do for your wife.
And for this I promise you the next Holy Rosary.
I bless you and I wish you well.