The garden has been planted and it’s being watered regularly. The only thing left to do is wait for the harvest, right?

Wrong! In a perfect world, that would be all that is needed. But in the jungle of life, there is always something lurking in the bushes waiting to steal our harvest. Birds love tomatoes, and rabbits thoroughly enjoy carrots. Weeds appear and steal nourishment. Even some of our plants grow too big with too many buds, and then fail to produce good fruit. If we are not careful, before we know it, our harvest is gone.

What your garden needs is some ‘protection.’ It needs help keeping out pests that eat fruit. It needs help with weeds that choke roots and crowd out plants. It needs pruning so that the harvest will increase. It needs protection.

Because marriage is like a garden, it, too, needs protection. Benjamin Franklin, a famous American, once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  It means that it is better to prevent a problem, rather than fix a problem. It is also easier to do. Just like every marriage needs regular care, a little protection goes a long way.

Here are three areas in which our marriages need protection.

1. Unhealthy relationships. These are like pests that come and steal our fruit. For example, inappropriate sexual or intimate relationships (including pornography). Spending too much time at work (overwork). Listening to people badmouth their spouse and marriage is also a danger. Don’t let another person’s unhappiness wreck yours. Protect!

2. Lack of boundaries. How do you manage time, money and responsibilities in your marriage? If there are no boundaries, these issues can grow like weeds. They will choke the life from your marriage. Learn how to set boundaries and protect your marriage partnership.

3. Fighting. Fighting in a marriage isn’t bad, it’s just that most couples don’t know how to fight well. Instead of fighting to solve a problem and grow their relationship, they fight to hurt one another or win an argument. Fighting is actually like pruning. If we prune well, we have more fruit. If we fight well, we have a healthier marriage relationship. Protect your partnership by learning to fight well.

Over the next few weeks, we will look at each of these areas in detail.

Before we do, can you identify an area in your marriage that needs ‘protection’? Don’t be afraid to call a pest what it is. Get rid of it! Are worries about money stealing your joy? Do you need to learn how to fight in a healthy way?

After you identify an area, share it with your spouse. Remember to use the guidelines we shared back in “No dumb answers”.

Protecting your marriage partnership is one more step in the process to fully enjoying one another. Let’s continue on our way to a great harvest.

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