Our Diocese

Tending the garden of marriage

Marriage, just like gardening, is a process in that it is an ever-changing landscape, requiring the odd adjustment here, the letting go of redundant features and time to grow, mature and blossom. To achieve this requires a certain degree of on-going maintenance, rather than a need for constant re-design, or novelty.  Just like a garden, crafting a good marriage requires much patience, co-operation and openness to a shared vision.

In a healthy garden there is much on-going activity and a wide variety of plants, which provide interest and excitement to the viewer. In a similar vein a life-giving marriage must continue to constantly evolve and be adaptable to new circumstances, needs or indeed challenges. So, just as a garden can never be preserved in aspic, this idea that it is a process offers much to understanding how we can nurture and develop the vocation to marriage.

When we first marry, we have a rough sketch plan of how we think our marriage will develop, but through experience and maturity we learn to adapt this scheme to a bolder reality as we grow together. Just as a delightful garden catches our eye, a developing marriage bond should contain unexpected features, the potential for new growth and be drawn to find new vistas and excitements.

Although I very much like gardening there are those times when I take my eye off the ball. I become just a little too comfortable with enjoying the surroundings and so pay little attention to what is happening. It is not that the garden always needs constant attention, but just like marriage we need to spend a little time each day checking that all is in order. On those mornings when I take the trouble to remove the small weeds growing in the garden this avoids harder work at a later date. In a similar vein, disagreements in marriage most often have their roots in those little weeds that were ignored, or disregarded.

Just as resolving an issue in the garden saves time later, resolving the little issues that bubble up in our marriage means that we grow stronger together. I leave you with a few words from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières, which capture this sense of growing together in marriage.

When you fall in love it is a temporary madness It erupts like an earthquake and then it subsides and when it subsides you have to make a decision you have to work out whether your roots are to become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part because?