Care

Each spring, my wife and I have wonderful plans for our garden. We mix the soil, make rows and furrows, prepare stakes for tomato plants, and label the rows according to the seeds we plant. Honestly, after all the hard work is done, we feel like “Yes, we’re prepared well. This looks good.”.

We start off strong with care, faithfully making sure that each row has the water it needs.

This lasts about two or three weeks.

After that, life gets in the way. The kids have some sort of homework crisis, we make plans to meet with friends, or work runs late. Gradually, we spend less and less time watering and caring for our garden.

We prepared, we planted… let it be and things will be fine.

Then we have a conversation like this.

“Hey, what happened to the tomatoes? They’re wilting. Isn’t anyone watering them?”

“Aren’t you?”

“No, I’m not. You said you would do it. Or the kids.”

“I never said I’d do it.” (Repeated four times, once by each child.)

“Oh, come on. Someone has to water. They don’t water themselves, you know.”

Day by day, our harvest slips away as we neglect the care our garden requires. Tomatoes whither on the vine. Zucchinis falter. Herbs flower and die. Sigh…

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The main thing we need is just a little TLC. Not a ton. Not all day long. Just a little water each day. Coupled with the sun (which requires nothing on our part) and maybe a little (just a little) fertilizer now and then, our harvest would be amazing. It’s not that hard. So why can’t we get our act together? Damn it.

Marriages are like gardens. Stop watering a garden and plants don’t grow. Stop ‘watering’ your marriage and things fall apart. So let’s be a little more active in our partnerships. Don’t give up on them growing. Because when we fail to care for our marriage, it will whiter and die, and all we have is a broken relationship.

Getting married is something we do at city hall. It is the act of filling out paperwork and affixing our name. It also usually involves some sort of ceremony followed by a celebration, and then a honeymoon trip. Being married is what happens everyday after we sign the papers. It’s not a one time act. It requires daily attention.

But don’t think that caring for your marriage has to be a drag. It doesn’t. It is better to believe that your hard work will pay off with a great harvest. It can be a lot of fun, too.

Just as our care for a plant depends on the plant, so the way we care for a marriage depends on the marriage. Some plants need a lot of water, some need little. Some plants  thrive in the shade, others need plenty of sunshine. Likewise, your marriage will require care that is specific to your marriage relationship. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. That’s a good thing! You are free to be you!

My wife and I have identified three important ingredients to nurture our relationship. When we are intentional in doing these, our marriage stays healthy. Here they are…

  1. Make time for each other.
  2. Know each other.
  3. Talk with each other.

The list is not ‘earth-shattering’. It isn’t the ‘secret to a fulfilling relationship’ that will go on to sell millions of books. It is a simple list of things that work for us.

Next week we’ll share more about our list. Before we do, why don’t you think about your list. What things can you do to care for your marriage partnership and keep it healthy? Surely you have a few ideas! I know you do!

Next week: Make time for each other.

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