This September my husband and I will be married for 18 years. We have a son entering high school in the Fall and our “baby” just lost his first tooth. The saying, “the days are long but the years are short” is usually used in reference to parenthood. It rings true of marriage as well. It seems like only a short time ago I was walking down the aisle to “The Church’s One Foundation.”
I was weeding in our flower bed this morning and reflecting on how marriage is like a garden bed. Our garden beds need constant tending in order to flourish, and so do our marriages.
Weeds are a given.
No matter how much you mulch, any gardener knows, weeds will be growing right next to your beautiful flowers or vegetable garden. Marriage is between two human beings who are imperfect, and in the garden bed of marriage, weeds are to be expected. They can come in the form of attitudes of our hearts and unhealthy habits that form as we live together. One that is so easy to form – is the attitude of indifference, neglecting to invest in our marriage as we once did.
Weeds need to be recognized, then pulled out.
Every time I weed my garden beds, I always hesitate before pulling some of them. There are a few weeds that are obvious to me – I can recognize them in an instant. But there are some weeds that look like flowers. I find myself quickly thinking back to what perennials I planted in that bed – “is this a weed? Should I pull it?”
As married couples, we need to be able to recognize the unhealthy habits that may have formed in our marriage and pull them out before they grow huge and take root. Some of our habits and attitudes in marriage may have been around so long, that we wonder if they’re a weed or not. I can take baby weeds out with two fingers, but the weeds that have taken root take two hands and some serious effort to pull out.
Weeds can be kept at bay.
There are ways to slow weeds from growing – putting paper down in between your plants, followed by putting some kind of mulch on top of that. The years that I don’t mulch, the weeds grow huge very quickly. I always regret not taking the time to put a thick layer of mulch on.
4 Ways to Keep our Marriages Healthy
- Time together. It is way too easy to “do your own thing” after finally getting the kids in bed. One of the best pieces of marital advice we got was to spend at least 5 minutes talking to your spouse after your children are in bed. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but that quick check in is important.
- Weekly date nights. This doesn’t have to be expensive, or even out of the house. You can have a special meal or dessert together after your children are in bed. You can watch a movie together and snuggle. Just designate time to do something special that the two of you can enjoy together.
- Regular times away without the kids. My husband and I try to go away at least once a year, usually for our anniversary. It’s a time to reset, refocus on each other, and spend uninterrupted time talking, listening, and dreaming.
- Community and Accountability One of the best ways to see our weeds, when we may be blind to them, is through living in community and sharing our lives with others. This is an area that my husband and I know we need more of and we are slowly taking steps to invite others into our lives.
Making Marriage Matter
This past week I’ve been participating in my friend Leah’s 5 to Thrive Marriage challenge. It’s been a great way for me to spend 5 minutes a day to pause and reflect on my husband and what I love about him in different areas. It’s only 5 minutes or less, but it’s helped me to slow down and appreciate him in a renewed way.
One way the challenge has affected me is that I intentionally planned a lunch date and walk with him on my day off. I’m usually preoccupied with my list of “to do’s” and anxious to “get things done.” Participating in this challenge helped me to refocus and put that time with my hubby as THE most important thing on my to do list.
Challenges like these help me to focus on the flowers rather than the weeds in my marriage.
Leah is offering a Making Marriage Matter 28 day e-course. I highly recommend it for those newly married or for those like me, who have been married for much longer. Click the link or the picture below to find out more:
What ways do you keep your garden bed of marriage healthy? I’d love to know in the comments!
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