When our older two daughters were in preschool, they came home one day with sunflower seeds wrapped in cotton wool and proudly told us that they were going to “grow them into big sunflowers”.
There was a real sense of excitement when the first little green sprouts appeared. Eventually, each sunflower was strong enough to be planted in our garden, so my husband dutifully dug two holes into which we placed the sunflower plants. He erected a small wire fence around the plants to protect them from being trampled.
What we did not take into account was our dog Jake’s toilet habits. The little plants were growing beautifully until Jake started to lift his leg to dispense his own brand of ‘watering’. We witnessed what was happening and moved the perimeter of the fence a bit farther away from the plants.
Jake took this as a challenge and became more determined to sprinkle them. It was as if he were in competition with himself to see how far his reach could extend! The acid in his urine ultimately killed our budding sunflowers.
As husband and wife, we need to surround ourselves with strong barriers to protect the marriage vows we have made. We need to protect our marriage against the acid of the world—bitterness, un-forgiveness, jealousy, seeking after material wealth, and selfishness.
In His Word, God has given us all the weapons we need to protect our vows. Take bitterness and un-forgiveness, for instance. Ephesians 4:31-32 warns,
Stop being mean, bad-tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tender hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ” (TLB).
Then there is anger. We are allowed to feel angry, but God cautions in Ephesians 4:26:
When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day” (NCV).
Anger, when not dealt with properly, grows into resentfulness, hurt, and bitterness. It eventually ends up taking over our lives and damaging our marriages.
Most of us want a nice home, a bigger car, and odd holidays overseas, but in order to obtain these things, we need to work much longer hours. As a result, we are tired, have less time to spend with God and our families, and get caught up in the busyness of life. We need to learn to be content with far less and be prepared to forego the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality in order to be able to spend more time with each other.
In Ecclesiastes, God admonishes,
He who loves money shall never have enough. The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness! The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income, so what is the advantage of wealth – except perhaps to watch it as it runs through your fingers!” (5:10-11 TLB).
Arguing over money is one of the main causes of dissension in marriages.
Then selfishness weighs in as a viable contender. We need to show interest in our spouses and love them. Philippians 2:3-4 cautions:
Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing” (TLB).
You need to guard against taking each other for granted. If we are unhappy with our spouse and our marriage we tend to become self-absorbed and self-pitying and stop paying attention to the needs of our partner because we feel that our needs are not being met.
We all need attention in order to grow and thrive. Simply saying we love someone is not enough. We need to show love in practical ways and this is a very difficult thing to do when we are unhappy in our marriages. Just as a flower needs water and sunshine in order to grow, we as people need attention and touch to enable us to grow to full potential.
Marriage is like a garden! We need to ‘weed’ out all our negative thoughts—to pull them out by their roots and dump them in the garbage can. We need to add ‘fertilizer’ to our marriages – go on marriage courses, find a hobby or exercise that you do together as a couple. Ensure that your marriage is watered and given enough ‘sunshine’ in order for it to grow – make time to spend exclusively with each other, plan surprises and treats for each other. All of this needs to be done on a regular basis.
A garden needs to be nurtured and looked after. Our marriages need the same thing.
The fences that we surround our marriages with need to be sturdy, strong and high enough to keep the ‘acid’ of the world out.
Originally published on http://www.startmarriageright.com/2015/03/marriage-is-like-a-garden/