It is Spring in FL and everything in our garden needs pruning, weeding, mulching, fertilizing and/or repotting. It can be overwhelming when looked at as a whole. But Tom and I have found that focusing on one thing and completing it well gives us motivation to do the next thing and so on. All this work makes us tired, but the joy that comes from the final result is worth it.
Marriages face seasons as well.
When Spring arrives it follows the dormant season of winter. We have all been in a worldwide dormant season brought on by the cold winter drought of–COVID-19. Unlike the rhythm of the yearly seasons, this one took us all by surprise and made us take cover in our home together. Many were not prepared to be isolated for so long.
Some couples made the most of it and discovered they are still not only best friends, but madly in love. Some found areas in need of attention in their relationship leaving them discouraged. Still others found the marriage too broken to repair and are calling it quits. This group is the one that causes us the most sadness.
But today we want to focus on those who realize how much work needs to be done.
It is common for couples to avoid difficulty. We think we can get to it “another time”, but the right time never seems to come. What starts out as days becomes months, even years. Until neither of you know what the real issues are which caused the trouble in the first place.
Our advice to ourselves and to you who may find yourself in this place is to begin doing the hard work of pruning back the overgrowth of self-indulgence. Not doing what you want to do for the purpose of doing what you need to do.
Pruning – We have a gorgeous bougainvillea in our backyard that has overtaken its space. We gave it a hard pruning about two months ago and the plant actually looked relieved of the weight. When we returned from our daughter’s home after 6.5 weeks, we found branches growing where we had had removed them. Some may conclude this is a sign of health. We knew that it was a sign more pruning was needed.
We have also been pruning things in our marriage. Communication that has been allowed to flow freely without restraint adds a heaviness to our conversations. So we are working together talking about hard things, repenting and asking each other for forgiveness. Words spoken cannot be taken back, but they can be removed from future conversations. That’s an important part of repentance–if it’s genuine, change follows. However, it won’t fix it permanently; like our bougainvillea we have to keep an eye out for unwanted growth in this area.
Weeding – Many weeds are beautiful. We recently took a walk with our son’s children around their neighbor hood. Our youngest granddaughter was in awe of the clover and dandelions. She even exclaimed, “When I grow up and have a yard, I want all dandelions. They are my favorite!”
Weeds rob the plant of nutrients it needs to grow. What things have you allowed in your life that hinder the health of your marriage? They can appear or even be good, like dandelions, but in the end if not controlled, they’ll take over and spoil your relationship. Possible weeds to consider: hobbies, time spent on screens of any kind, friends and extended family, or work projects.
Of course I’m not saying these are bad for your marriage. Only if they are given priority over time spent loving and cherishing your spouse.
Mulch is used in the garden to help control weeds. Think of this as quality time together. If Tom and I are connected on all levels—spiritually, emotionally and physically, it is much easier to make room for other hobbies and relationships. The marriage won’t be starving for attention, but can reach out to bless and enjoy others.
Fertilizer enriches the soil of the plant. In marriage this is simply investing in your relationship through learning, growing, talking and being willing to see and hear your spouse’s perspective. Finding and committing to a Bible-teaching church that supports healthy marriages and family, is the best investment you can make in your future. Fertilizer has a lasting effect in the days, months and years to come. So does our spiritual foundation. It matters for a lifetime.
The next time you’re pruning in your yard, consider the health of your marriage with every cut. Allow God to speak to you what’s needed in this season of life and talk to your spouse about what you hear.
There is a greater beauty to behold for those who are willing to get their hands dirty and do the work. Joy awaits you!