Tending Your Garden: What It Takes to Make A Marriage Work

How do you define a good marriage? What makes a good marriage?

I’ve been thinking about this very issue for some time now, and I have found it difficult to find the right words to translate my thoughts and feelings.

As I was watching Dr. Phil, yesterday, *POOF!* I found my answer! (note: I don’t usually have time for T.V., and I won’t get into a discussion about how I feel about his show, but I will say that I do appreciate some of his analogies and some of the things he says). Essentially, this episode was about personality types and compatibility; I thought it was interesting, but what spoke to me was the analogy Dr.Phil used to describe marriage. I will expand on his analogy…

Basically, what was said is this: marriage is like a garden. Once our garden is complete, we need to tend to it to keep it alive and beautiful.

The second I heard this, I immediately thought: “Ohhhh… I like this!”

As we all know, planning, growing and maintaining a garden takes quite a bit of  investment: becoming a good gardener takes patience, time, energy and plenty of practice; no one becomes a “pro-gardener” overnight. Usually, you learn to become a good gardener through trial and error, and you learn to perfect your craft over time. It takes much time and practice to “get it right”.

Gardeners who “complete” their layout plan, the flower selection and all the nitty-gritty details of their garden can – and should – sit back and bask in their accomplishment. Once a garden is complete, however, the gardener can’t sit back for too long; in order to keep a garden alive and thriving, it must be tended to. (Note: A garden is rarely “complete”, avid gardeners may add/remove things over time, and try to perfect their creations. Marriage is very much the same.)

Different gardens exist, as well as the types of flowers within each garden. People can be various types of flowers and need different care. For instance, my garden is comprised of both common and tropical plants. My husband, God bless him, is like a common plant. He needs watering, maintenance and care, but he is robust and endures through all kinds of different circumstances. I, however, am like a rare tropical plant; I’m delicate, need special soil, constant care and attention and the right amount of water. If I do not get what I need, I can wither rapidly.

How does this all translate to marriage? Marriage is hard work. In my humble opinion, marriage is an important partnership where both parties must strive to become pro-gardeners. People who embark on this amazing journey must truly get to know one another, understand what makes each other tick, what each needs to grow as individual human beings, and also know what the couple needs to thrive.

To me, marriage is the ultimate partnership. In order for our marriage to thrive, we must respect and accept each other for the types of “flowers” we are. We must be a constant support system for each other, we must communicate our feelings, desires and needs on a continual basis, and we must learn how to appreciate each other actively. Furthermore, I believe that it is imperative for us to maintain a healthy sense of individuality so as to not “lose” ourselves (we must care for each plant in a way in which they will be permitted to grow into the most beautiful of their species). We must tend to each other and support each of our endeavours, as small as they may be. If we do not do this, and if we do not strive to make each other genuinely happy, then our “garden” will deteriorate, and so too will our dreams for a happy and healthy marriage.

Let us tend our garden, and reap the benefits!

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
– Corinthians 13:4-8


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shiggity Shawn
    Oct 23, 2010 @ 08:54:47

    I think that your views really hit the mark. Although not married, I feel like that’s very much how a marriage should be. Gardens are beautiful things, and they are constantly being worked on and reworked. Marriage is the same thing – Beautiful as long as the work is put in.

    Another thought that came to me was that gardens can be especially hard to maintain during the off seasons, like winter and so on. However, even if it looks like the garden is dying, you know that if you make all the preparations and are ready, that it will blossom and grow to become more beautiful the next season. If you invest your time, you can rest assured that it will always continue to flourish. Similarly, I would think a marriage indeed has its ups and downs. There are times when it can really seem to wither, but if built upon proper foundations, than it is nothing to worry about other than a “seasonal” occurance. If the marriage is strong enough and well founded, then there’s no doubt that things rise again stronger than ever.

    I guess I really like this post because should I ever get married, I’d like my spouse to understand the commitment that’s involved, but how great the rewards are. And to take the analogy a little bit further, it could by any type of garden, like one that bears fruit, and then you can go off an all sorts of tangents when it comes to bearing fruit (kids) and so on.

    Great post! I like.



  2. Troy
    Oct 23, 2010 @ 10:46:45

    Nice analogy here. What I find particularly interesting is the relationship between Gardener and Garden. It is my experience that most gardeners gain some peace by the very act of gardening, and although they enjoy the sight of a blossomed micro ecosystem, it is the work that pacifies them and gives them pleasure.

    That speaks to me of the labours of love. Often, in past relationships I have found that the greatest, most rewarding feelings of love come from the moments when I am selfless with my partner. When I cook, clean, or do whatever for her, that’s when I feel that I really love her, and that feeling reciprocated in so many ways is the most nourishing to my soul.


  3. The Shameless Idealist
    Oct 23, 2010 @ 10:56:05

    You’re absolutely right, Troy. I, too, gain pleasure from caring for my partner and nourishing our relationship. Selfless acts, to me, are the greatest demonstrations and testimonies of love. Thanks for your comment, genius. 😉


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