Time to Fertilize: A Marriage Metaphor

green-grass-and-blue-sky-1398454014G2mMy friend Todd, a landscaper, likes to say, “Stop looking at your neighbor’s yard and fertilize your own.” This is in reference, of course, to those who think the grass is greener everywhere except under their own feet.

Couples too often look at their own complicated, messy lives and wrongly presume it’s better with someone else. Rather than taking a hard look at what yard work needs to be done in their own yard, they give up to frolic in pastures other than their own. Yes, I’m deliberately being cryptic, yet is it crystal clear what I am writing about?

On the surface things are not always what they seem.

When it comes to relationships, and marriage in particular, it is easy to get distracted, give up, and start surveying other parcels of land. The more time you spend in plots not your own, the quicker the weeds pop up and take over your own acreage. Before you know it, your unmaintained yard needs professional help.

Often times that comes way too late to do any good because the damage is done, someone has already given up or might even have their eye on a pretty little piece of property just around the corner. This is about the time I get a phone call or an email. I am so grateful that they thought of the Church in hindsight, and how she might give gardening advice, but I wished they would have reached out when they first noticed the weeds and before they started surveying their neighbor’s property.

Relationships require regular maintenance, lots of watering, and feeding to grow and bear fruit. Marriages don’t last very long, aren’t very happy, and cannot withstand drought without lots of deliberate time and attention. In other words they just don’t happen automatically. Couples think that though. Seriously!

Without a field of credible, joyful witnesses in which to grow, brand new baby couples have a very difficult time adjusting to married life and weathering the inevitable storms. This is where we find ourselves in today’s culture. Young and old couples alike no longer see the value in perseverance and patience. Many of my engaged couples come from brokenness. Their parents have been through multiple marriages and divorces. These couples want a life filled with love, trust, and commitment, but they have never seen that lived out personally.

So if the garden that individuals grow up in weren’t gardens at all, but wastelands, is there any hope that they can conquer and thrive in marriage? If the world only sees barren, destroyed, desolate tracts where infidelity, betrayal and pain once grew should it give up on gardening altogether and just fabricate an imitation? Is there hope, help and reclamation?

These tips should assist any man and woman hoping to achieve a life of love, happiness, and commitment in the bonds of Holy Matrimony to cultivate a green, lush, bountiful garden in which to flourish.

Prepare the soil well. The time spent in preparation and maintenance for the undertaking of a life together is critical. You will learn important skills like how to plant a successful garden, how to communicate effectively about your yard, money saving gardening tips, and how to harvest an abundant crop.

Make friends with the Divine Gardener. You will need assistance from dealing with dry patches and weeds to weathering storms. He has everything you need including the recipe for lasting love. He is happy to lend assistance, call and invite Him over.

Work the land together. Spend time mutually, productively, and in recreation. All work and no play doesn’t allow time for picnics. Enjoy each other, savor the fruit of your harvest. Laugh, love with abandon, and trust the work will produce rewards.

Make time to be grateful. You need the elements to transform your garden and none is more powerful than the Son. Worship together regularly. Pray, trust and depend first on Him and second, on each other.

Cultivate friendships with other landscapers young and old. You are never alone and others have great gardening tips that lead to success. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when trouble first appears, for that is when it is easiest to eradicate worms, mites and slugs.

You see, in the beginning there was a lush, beautiful garden. Everything was pleasing to the eye, and the plan exquisite to behold. Unwanted, conniving vermin poisoned the environment, and the advice of the Master Gardner went unheeded. Now we find ourselves in need of transforming a nasty, neglected landfill into a place where love can flourish. All is not lost; producing delightful, charming, thriving gardens is possible, and God is here to help.

Changing the landscape begins one marriage at a time. By fostering, mentoring and encouraging all gardeners against vermin, together we create verdant meadows of love.

Barbara Lishko works full time as a Lay Catholic Marriage Minister. She and her husband Mark, an ordained Deacon, have been married for 35 years and are blessed with five young adult children, whose lives grow and expand through marriage and grandchildren.

Through the inspiration of her family, work in the Catholic Church and wacky life experiences her dream of writing was born. She is the recipient of the Diocese of Phoenix St Terese of Lisieux award. Barbara can be reached at [email protected]