Once upon a time……

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Something that I am really thankful for is that my parents have had a good marriage. Last year they celebrated their ruby wedding anniversary, forty years. They have had their fair share of challenges and trials, especially with ill health, however despite this their commitment remains steadfast. Perhaps one of the best gifts one can give one’s children, is the gift of loving their father or mother.

And once upon a time…..eight years ago today in fact, I married the love of my life, my best friend. One of the most godly, kind and patient people that I have ever met. We had a lovely wedding at Selwyn Church, All Saints in Howick Auckland. It was held on my birthday, and it was a family joke that this was so that my husband wouldn’t forget our anniversary! But really it was just because this was an available date. I have to say it was probably the best birthday I’ve ever had. My mum presented me with a birthday cake at the reception with a photo icing picture of me as a three year old dressed up in a wedding dress!

This was followed by a wedding blessing in Winchester, England three months later to celebrate with my husband’s family. Sounds like every girl’s dream doesn’t it – two big days. And although it was nice to wear my dress again, having to organise two weddings had it’s pressures. One amusing moment during our wedding blessing was during the groom’s speech – instead of saying ‘Thank you Sarah for agreeing to marry me’ which is what he intended to say, he said ‘Thank you Sarah for agreeing to manage me’.

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It has been our goal to have a marriage as beautiful as our wedding. And I don’t mean a faiytale, as no marriage is a fairytale. I’ve heard it said that marriage is a fairytale in reverse, you start out in a beautiful ball gown and end up spending all day cleaning up after little people! How I can relate to that in my current season. No one can claim to marry, live happily ever after, never arguing, never hurting one another’s feelings, never doing annoying things such as reloading the dishwasher after the other person has loaded it (that is my husband!), and always meeting each other’s needs at all times. Ahem. We don’t claim to have a perfect marriage however we have been happy most of the time. We’ve had our trials and challenges over the years, such as the challenges of my husband’s job training and the cost that this has brought to our family in terms of reduced time together. We’ve also had many other challenges along the way, and in raising our young family we’ve had to guard against being too child-centred in our marriage. However, we’ve found that building our marriage on God as the foundation has really helped, attesting that ‘A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

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Cultivating the Garden that is Marriage

I love gardens however I’m not much of a gardener in this season of my life. You could say that gardening is not really a passion. I used to joke that it is just as well that my children are not plants as it is survival of the fittest in our garden. However a gardening analogy of marriage that I found on Pinterest has resonated with me. The sentiment that marriage is a garden, and like all gardens, it requires cultivating. You could say that I found this analogy ‘pinteresting’.

Am I watering?

Have I been pouring into my marriage or sucking the life out of it? Without deposits of time to pour into a marriage, you can be sure it will dry up. It can be really challenging to carve out couple time when you have a young family. There simply is no time. We try however aim to have a once a month date night. When the children were very new our date night was watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and then falling asleep on the couch! Now that they are slightly older we are able to arrange a baby sitting swap with another family and we can go out once in awhile.

Am I fertilizing?

Have I taken the time to seasonally nourish my spouse? Do I encourage my spouse’s goals? Do I praise my spouse’s achievements?

Am I pruning?

Sometimes we need to trim off a few dead ends to keep marriage fresh. When we’ve settled into habits that aren’t appreciated by our spouse, then it’s time to take stock of those habits and with God’s grace, form new ones (easier said than done sometimes).

Am I weeding?

If bitterness has taken root and weeds are overtaking the whole garden, no wonder the neighbor’s grass is looking better. Can we pray: “Lord, let us remember not to let the sun go down on our wrath but to forgive one another each day.”

Am I seeding?

There may be tired and weary places of our marriage that may need a little revitalizing (how much more so when one has small people). Do something new together. Take a walk on the beach. Plan a weekend trip (if possible). For Christmas we were gifted by my family with a voucher for a first night away together – no children allowed! It was very refreshing and the children had a great time being spoiled rotten at the grandparents, a trip to the drive-thru at McD’s and all.

Happy 8th Wedding Anniversary to my wonderful husband.

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This is Winchester College Chapel where we held our wedding blessing.

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