I make it a habit of regularly listening to and reading books to make my marriage better. Even though I have been married over thirty years, I have discovered there is always something I can learn from someone else’s wisdom. Some books have impacted me enough that I will go through them multiple times. Currently, I am reviewing What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp. Consider this quote from the book:
"Why is it that we don’t expect our gardens to just grow by themselves – yet we expect our marriages to blossom beautifully without the daily work of pulling up weeds and planting seeds? I must confess that I don’t get it. I don’t know why we think that the most comprehensive and long-term of all human relationships can stay alive and thrive without the same commitment we make to our gardens. Perhaps one of the fundamental sins that we all commit in our marriages is the sin of inattention… Is your marriage in some way a picture of neglect? Was it planted well? Has it been weeded and watered with regularity? Have you lacked the motivation to do the hard work of seeding and weeding and then stood back wondering why things don't look prettier than they do?” Pg. 101.
"[Many marriages are weedy, choking the life and love out of a marriage. We all are…] "weedy" people who need to pull personal and relational weeds daily so that the flowers of love and grace may grow. Sinners (which, in case you forgot, all of us are) always drag their sin into their marriages. Weeds of thought, decision, desire, motivation, word, action [and in action] cannot be completely avoided this side of heaven, so pulling weeds in the necessary commitment of any good marriage." Pg. 104.
My first response was: “OUCH!” If I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), then I need to actively create the proper environment for the garden of my marriage to grow and thrive. I need to own the condition of my garden. I need to weed my garden of my selfishness and sinfulness. Romans 14:19 states, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” The challenge to myself and all of you is: “What weeds are in your garden?” Commit to identify them and commit to remove them.

by Michael Burner

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