Here we are in the season of Spring, and my landscaping bed looks like this:
Oh, who am I kidding? Go ahead and judge. That’s terrible, pitiful, inexcusable. You should all send my neighbors sympathy cards for having to share the street with this flower-bed slacker.
Interestingly enough, marriage and sexual intimacy are often compared to sowing seeds, reaping harvests, tending gardens, blossoms and blooms. These are great analogies, and part of me delights in such scriptures as:
“Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16).
“I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride; I have gathered my myrrh with my spice. I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey; I have drunk my wine and my milk. Eat, friends, and drink; drink your fill of love” (Song of Songs 5:1).
“My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies” (Song of Songs 6:2).
“They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest” (Psalm 107:37).
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
But another part of me cringes at these plant seeds/sow stuff metaphors. I can’t relate. I finally gave up last year and just let the weeds grow. You see, I’m a horrible gardener and have managed to kill everything from spring flowers to a cactus. If I sow a seed and tend the plant, its chances are not good.
Still, I’m planning to plant this spring, to tear out the weeds I’ve allowed to spread too fast and too far, and to encourage my garden to thrive. How can I make that happen? What will be different this time? Well, let’s analogize some more with gardening metaphors and sexual intimacy in marriage.
Being realistic about where I am and what I can do. I’d love to suddenly have a lush garden so beautiful it could land on the cover of Southern Living magazine. But right now, I have flower beds full of weeds and a browner-than-brown thumb. Instead of getting upset that I can’t garden like an Home & Garden Network show host, I need to pull out my weeds, prepare the soil, and plant something simple — something I can actually do. I need to pick plants that are easier to grow and see small successes. When I’ve mastered that, I can move on to bigger and better things.
Likewise, some of you look at your sexual intimacy and think you’re so far from where you want to be, what’s the point? You feel like simply letting the weeds take over. But you don’t have to give up. You merely have to be realistic about where you are and figure out something simple you can do to improve your marriage. Are you having sex once a month, and you want it four times a week? Add another time or two a month, for now. Do you wish your spouse was far more adventurous? Suggest something slightly outside the comfort zone, rather than demanding something you know won’t happen. Have you felt a lack of emotional depth in your sexual intimacy? Go for something simple like making a point to look each other in the eyes as you make love. Start small, and begin to sow seeds down the path you want to travel.
Consulting others who’ve had success. We have a neighbor who puts us to shame. You all have that person, right? (Maybe you are that person.) My neighbor is often out in her front yard digging in dirt, watering roots, pruning plants, and making her landscaping look gorgeous. Which, of course, makes my pitiful weed-infested yard that much more embarrassing. However, I realized something recently: Why was I jealous of her garden-tending abilities? Why didn’t I just see her as an amazing resource? Yes, this woman clearly knows what she’s doing, when I don’t have a clue. So I’m seeking out her advice, and she’s sweetly offered to help. I’m also consulting a couple of other garden-savvy individuals and nursery employees. Why not talk to people who have the wisdom I need?
When your marriage is struggling, and your sexual intimacy is flailing, where can you turn for help? You should, of course, begin with God’s Word. Our Lord has revealed Himself and His design for marriage within its pages. But He can also work through others who can advise you with the wisdom they received. Find mentors and resources that can help you work through your difficulties. I’m honored that you are here, visiting my blog, for tips on how to improve your marital intimacy. And yes, I can’t garden worth a flip, but I have learned a thing or two about sex that I’m more than willing to share. There are other resources as well, and some of you need to seek help from a pastor or counselor. Just don’t expect to go it alone, and be willing to ask for help if you need it.
Letting the Creator take over as much as possible. I have two things in my yard that grow beautifully no matter what I do — a bird of paradise plant and a loquat tree. I attribute their success to two things: pruning and God. All we do with each of these is cut down the bird of paradise now and then and collect the ripe fruit off the loquat tree. The rest is sun and rain God brings to the area where I live and where these plants can thrive. Thus, when I look for new things to plant, I’ll be looking at what else works well where we live — which plants can bloom in the soil we have, with the rain we get, in the sun and shade available. I’ll sow and reap, but God will bring the harvest.
Let God into your marriage and into your bedroom. Let His sun shine, His rain fall, His harvest come. When we ignore His provision in creating sexual intimacy for marriage, when we lock Him out of the bedroom, we keep ourselves from enjoying the harvest He can bring to our marriage bed. Pray about the sex in your marriage. Study what His Word says about it. Thank Him for the marital intimacy you enjoy. Let the Creator take over as much as possible, offering even your sexual intimacy for His glory.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1).