I hurt. And that's an understatement.
I spent the better part of Saturday tilling, weeding and planting a garden with my wife and our next door neighbors. We decided to make it a community thing this year so all the kids could experience the joy of having a garden. The problem is, I am a creative kind of guy, not a labor kind of guy. I spend my days behind a keyboard and a microphone. I'm lucky I am able to type, due to the bulging blisters that even made my neighbor wince.
After much digging, weeding and making lines in dirt, we eventually made it to planting. And the comment was made "Wow, it's amazing how much preparation and time you have to take to get the dirt ready. Then you plant, and within minutes you're done."
This gardening principle seems to be something we lack in today's marriages. Let me explain.
We spend lots of money and time preparing for the wedding day. The penguin suits and puffy white dresses, cakes, champagne, the guests, where the service will be, then the reception. A lot of work for just a few hours of time. Often, we spend more time and energy preparing for the wedding than we do preparing for the marriage. 3 Essential Things That Make A Marriage Work
What would happen if we actually prepared ourselves for marriage, not just the wedding? What might that "preparing the garden" process look like?
Over my next three articles I want to think about what "preparing your garden for marriage" might look like. I want to think about couples who are in the relationship process, maybe dating or engaged and I also want to think about couples who are already married but may be coming into a new season.
For today, here are three steps to "prepare your garden" for marriage. I believe these are things we all need in our marriages, no matter the season of our relationships (so don't skip to the end!).
1. Get your money handling under control. Whether you're dating or have been married for 20 years, we can all get better at how we handle money in our relationships. Money is a tool. In our marriages, we have to be on the same page about how it is used. It is critical that you set guidelines about money. Who will pay the bills? How much money will you spend and on what? How will you make decisions about big expenses? If you both don't agree on a big expense, then wait to purchase it. Money (or the items we buy with money) can't be more important than our marriages. If you are able, take a financial class together to learn about how to be wise with your money. Do You Make More Money Than Him?
2. Learn better communication skills. In school we were taught many things: how to write, how to count, how to spell words... but I don't remember a class on relationship communication. Learning how to effectively communicate with your spouse is extremely important. It is something that we really have to work on—for most of us it doesn't come naturally. I suggest you read books, listen to podcasts, go to conferences—anything you can do to improve yourself on both sides of the communication process, better listening and better speaking, so your mate will understand you.