Posted in Marriage

Pruning or Chopping?

I’ve always loved hydrangeas. They fascinate me. I’m typically not a flower gal. I’m not great at keeping plants alive anyway, and as pretty as flowers are, I just don’t have what it takes to maintain them.

Black irises and hydrangeas are the exception. Black irises grew wild in Jordan, and we would go on wild flower hunting trips every spring, coming home with trunks full of irises and poppies. So, although I have not yet managed to get mine to bloom, I’m still determined to successfully grow and tend black irises.

Hydrangeas are another story completely. They fascinate me because of their color. So many little things can affect the appearance of the flower – sometimes with multiple colors growing on a single bush! I’ve always wanted to try to grow hydrangeas, but have just never gotten around to it.

Needless to say, I was quite excited to discover two large hydrangea bushes in the back yard of our new house.

The only problem with the bushes was that they’d been untended for quite some time. For a couple of months, we tried to just trim out dead branches, tackle the weeds and vines, and help the bushes thrive again.

But, ultimately, we had to give up. Over the weekend, we realized that all we could do was cut down the bushes and plan to start from scratch.

It was so sad. But, the more we worked, the more we saw that the problem was too big to tackle any other way. Parasitic vines had wound their roots all around the bushes. So many dead branches protruded from one bush that it was hard to find the source of the live branches. And weeds we couldn’t even begin to see before we chopped began to reveal themselves.

We also discovered that it wasn’t just two bushes. Four bushes – two large and two small – were actually planted there. The small ones were so overwhelmed by the larger ones and the weeds that they could hardly grow – and definitely could not grow straight!

Yes, the destruction was necessary.

I’ve heard that hydrangea bushes will regrow after a couple of years. Maybe these will survive. Maybe they won’t. But they’d gotten to the point that they could no longer be maintained as they were.

Are we careful to keep our marriages from reaching that point?

We tend the growth, but do we make sure to actively work against the harmful things? Do we trim out dead branches of anger, bitterness, frustration, and dissatisfaction? Do we actively combat the weeds of distraction, disillusionment, and temptation? Or do we just try to nourish the good and ignore everything else?

Marriages, like plants, must be tended. And they cannot be tended in a tunnel-visioned manner. We have to actively combat the negative as strongly as we nourish the beautiful. We can’t ignore it. We can’t hide it. We have to deal with it.

Neglect eventually catches up to us. And when it does, the work needed to overcome the neglect can often leave us chopping our marriages down to the roots. As we chop, we discover just what damage we’ve done to those around us, like our children, forcing them to grow oddly because of the strain our neglect has put on them.

And the more we have to chop, the more uncertain our future becomes. Will our marriages regrow? Or will they die?

Let’s not neglect the issues that pop up in our relationships, issues that will force drastic measures later. Let’s instead tend our marriages now, pruning and weeding to keep them growing healthy and strong.

What tending do you need to do this week?


I am a homeschooling preacher's wife and managing editor for the Well Planned Gal. But, I also love to write just for the fun of it. I also process best through writing, and my thoughts tend to flow from things I learn through the Bible, interacting with my family, and moving through life in general. Thanks for joining me in my not quite ordinary journey.

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