Yvette and Rich Arias have been inspiring families by serving our community in the VOUS Care SYMBIS course. They are passionate about seeing restored relationships for couples. We’re grateful for their dedication and looking forward to what God will continue to do in their lives.Yvette shared their powerful testimony and we were encouraged by God’s faithfulness through it all. [/lead]When my family and I moved down from New York to Miami, I was seven and Rich was ten. We moved in across the street from his grandparents’ house, and his house was behind theirs. He was just a block away. Needless to say, our families were close and we’ve known each other for very a long time.We always had a great relationship. Rich was my best friend. And the one thing I felt I could be sure of was our relationship. I mean, we were high school sweethearts after all.Our marriage had the typical tensions that many couples had while adjusting to living together and having kids. But I didn’t think much could rock us, we’d been together over 20 years.Then, eight years ago, I lost my job. With that came a downward spiral that added a lot of strain to our relationship. As things got progressively worse with our finances, so did our relationship.Five years of financial ups and downs, I discovered Rich had an affair. For him, it was like an escape from the financial troubles we were going through. He wanted to provide for our family but didn’t yet have the means to save our cars, our house, or our savings. Feeling helpless, he opted to check out on our reality.I was devastated. How could this be happening? But I heard God very clearly tell me “Grace upon grace. Unconditional love.” The same love that God showed me, I had to show Rich. It was humbling.So, in the midst of my heartbreak, I asked God to search my heart. And I was reminded of our wedding vows. We promised to go through thick and thin. Then I started to think of our children and our legacy. I wanted to make sure I was sending them the right message. It was my conviction that infidelity would end with us, and my children wouldn’t experience that in their own marriages. So, I went to the children with a plan. That giving up wasn’t an option.Of course, my son and daughter took it hard. But we were determined to stand together in prayer for their father’s salvation. As a family, we also decided to avoid negative talk about Rich. We simply didn’t allow it. They had to honor their father. Meanwhile, it was like a tug of war with Rich, he’d be in and out of our home. But every time he would leave, our message of unconditional love would remain the same. We kept our faith because we knew no one could have fought for him as we could. As we did.What helped us on our make or break journey to healing was attending and serving at VOUS. In a season in where we needed a community to help us grow and mend from what we were going through, VOUS was there. The very first message we heard was “You’re Going to Live to Talk About It.” That was our sign. We knew we were home!I immediately started to serve, even though I really wanted to stay in bed, it was out of obedience. And every time I would serve, God would just fill me in such a tremendous way. My pain was being traded for purpose.Eventually, I got laid off a second time, but God used that to draw Rich closer to him. Rich wanted to come back home once and for all, so I agreed with the condition he joined our family at church. And thank God, Rich got saved!Looking back, through the darkest times of our lives, God was faithful. He made it possible for me to fall back in love with Rich. God was healing my heart all the while.We’ve learned to date one another once again. No matter how busy our lives have been, we make it a priority to meet. There’s no canceling if there’s a schedule conflict. We make it a point to talk as if we were still dating. Talking about interests, developing our friendship, making each other laugh, being intentional and not just sticking to our to-do lists.Because we made a commitment to always keep God at the center of our relationship, we vowed that no matter what divorce would never be an option. We don’t take the covenant we made before God lightly. Love is not an accident, it takes work, commitment, dedication and a decision to trust God above all else. Love is a choice and Rich and I choose to cultivate it daily!We share our story because it gives hope to others. God restored our entire family. To see the relationship that had been rebuilt with our children, only God can get all the glory.By God’s amazing grace our marriage is standing the test of time.
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