Well, the backyard project is complete! Yep, you heard me right. The new fence is up. The new plants are in the ground. All the old bushes and debris have been hauled away.  The backyard looks fresh and new again and the sadness that I once felt has diminished.

I stepped outside this morning to look at the yard again and confirm that it was done. I felt a sense of contentment and joy knowing that the hard work, the cost, the challenges and the emotional highs and lows had been worth it. A yard that had been a sore spot and difficult to look at was once again a place of comfort and enjoyment.  “Wow, all the hard work definitely paid off,” I said to myself.  A week ago I may not have said that but today I could look at the backyard and realize that the effort to complete the task seemed small compared to the delight I was feeling.

“Looks good, doesn’t it?” said Michael, who was now standing next to me. “It sure does. I am so glad we made the choice to deal with it.” “Me too,” he said. “Now, we just need to make sure we take care of it and spend time nurturing it so the new plants will grow and thrive. Now, the maintenance begins.” When Michael said that, I realized that you never really “finish” a project like this. You plant new things and get rid of old things but you never really “finish” a yard.  You have to continue to work on it or in time, it will return to the ugly place it was.    

Much like our back yard, marriages need maintenance too. We tell the couples we work with that once they have dealt with issues in their marriages and healed, they must implement “marriage maintenance.” You see, you can’t spend hours and hours of hard work making a relationship healthy and satisfying and then forget to pay attention to it.  Just like a backyard, it will go back to an “ugly place” and you will wonder what happened.  Marriages need attention. They need daily “watering.” They need nurturing. They need the “weeds pulled up.” They need to be a priority. They need time spent on them to make sure they never return to an unhealthy, unsatisfying place. It just makes sense to spend time keeping your marriage fresh and new rather than having to overhaul it when it sinks to a place that neither of you can tolerate. 

Do you do “marriage maintenance?” Do you send time nurturing the relationship you have with your spouse? Do you make sure you are “pulling weeds” before they consume you? Do you keep your marriage a priority?  If not, start today. Find one thing you can work on and do it. If you feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start; begin by giving your spouse some compliments and encouragement. Landscaping your marriage will take time but it starts with taking one step in the right direction.