After going through a painful divorce, Vecal Astwood prayed that God would heal her heart and bring the right spiritual man into her life.
A year later the Lord answered.
“Funny enough, we actually met on the job,” said the police officer, who shared her story in honour of International Marriage Week Bermuda 2018. “Back then, we would have never even thought our paths would meet like this, but God had His own plan.”
Jerome Astwood was her partner on the Bermuda Police Service for many years before they “ever even considered dating”. They married on July 20, 2010.
Mr Astwood, 41, considers it a stroke of “divine intervention”.
As they had worked together for so long, it was easy transitioning to a romantic relationship.
“For me, my situation is very similar to Vecal’s in that I had also been through a divorce and had to ask God to change me into who He wanted me to be and seek guidance on whom He wanted me to be with,” Mr Astwood said.
“When you go through a divorce, broken heart or bad relationship, you have this sense of mistrust, even in yourself. I was scared to step out and didn’t want to be hurt again. That’s why Vecal was such a breath of fresh air.
“Life became so much easier and things had so much more purpose with her in my life.”
The couple have participated in Heart to Heart Marriage Mentoring Ministries’ events since 2015 when a friend invited them to a Valentine’s dinner at Cambridge Beaches held as part of International Marriage Week.
The Astwoods, who were one of the youngest couples there, considered it a good way to invest in their relationship.
“It was a really nice spiritual and intimate event, and also very fun,” Mrs Astwood said. “It was good to be around more mature couples — some married for 40 or 50 years — to see how they interacted with one another.”
Mr Astwood believes one of the biggest misconceptions couples have is that once they say their vows everything will be perfect.
“Marriage is designed to be a perfect, unconditional love, but because all the details are worked out here on Earth, marriage is really a union and covenant between two forgivers. You have to be able to trust and see past the faults.
“It’s like a spiritual illustration of when God took the rib from Adam to make Eve. Our ribs protect our vital organs and our hearts, and a Godly woman does the same thing — offering you protection as well as in a spiritual sense.”
The couple have three children from their previous relationships and a six-year-old son together.
Mrs Astwood said prayer and learning how to communicate have been essential components to making their marriage work.
“As women, we often expect for men to read our minds,” she said. “Some women don’t accept that men think differently from women. They may think he is being insensitive, but he only thinks as far as he can see.
“My husband and I have small disagreements here or there, but we try not to argue. We set a time when the kids are settled to discuss it. Sometimes it’s also good for them to see we can talk things over and have our own opinion and at the same time respect that and come to a compromise.”
Listening to Christian authors Gary Chapman and James Ford has helped Mr Astwood tremendously.
He has learnt not to always blame his wife if something goes wrong, but to consider what role he might have played.
“We are both involved in ministry at our church, so I can’t minister to anyone else if my ministry unit at home isn’t right,” he said.
“It all starts there. I also make sure to encourage couples to have your little circle of trust as man and wife, where you ask the Lord to put a hedge of protection around you and your children. You don’t want all these outside influences coming in.”
International Marriage Week Bermuda 2018’s theme is “Pray! Play! Stay!” and is based on the belief that couples who pray and play together increase their chances of staying together. Several vow renewals are planned as part of this weekend’s celebrations.