By M J Collins and Wanda Collins
We’re sure you’ve heard stories about married couples who wake up one morning and suddenly decide they just don’t want to be married any more. Or couples who claim they had absolutely no clue their partner was unhappy.
We say that’s likely not true. Divorce is not an overnight decision. Much like those weeds that grew in your flower garden; while it seems they just appeared overnight, they didn’t. Those weeds were germinating beneath the dirt long before you saw them. You only began to give attention to the weeds when they became too large to remain beneath the soil. And so it is with marriage; the issues were always beneath the surface but were never dealt with.
Your marriage is just like a flower garden. Only in this case, the seeds have the potential of growing into something much more destructive. That’s why you and your spouse must tend the garden of your marriage on a daily basis in order to prevent divorce.
How do you tend your marriage garden? Good question. First, you must be willing to expose all issues; remember, we said the first step to transformation is transparency. In other words, you can’t deal with an issue if you’re not willing to expose it. Exposing the issue means being honest with your mate about how their behavior hurt or offended you. It also includes being honest with yourself about your role in your marital problems.
Next, you must always be willing to forgive. Unforgiveness breeds bitterness and the word of God tells us to rid ourselves of all bitterness, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior” Ephesians 4:31. Not only that, according to Christ we must forgive because He extended forgiveness to us. “You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” Colossians 3:13.
But I can’t forgive, you say. God says you must forgive, it’s not an option. Well, what happens if I don’t forgive them, you ask? In that case, God won’t forgive you. “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins”, Matthew 6:15.
Understand, forgiveness is a choice and a process. It does not mean you forget, nor does it mean you condone the offender’s behavior.
The first two steps of tending your marriage garden, exposing and forgiving, are equivalent to digging out the weeds in your garden. But now what do you do? You plant something else where that weed once was. But this time, plant a seed that will produce a harvest of blessings.
M J Collins and Wanda Collins,
Nehemiah Family Ministries
Free Advice and Help for Your Christian Marriage