Marriage can be a lot like a garage that needs cleaning out. I thought about this while I did an archaeological dig of our garage on a hot, humid August day. An invader (probably a raccoon) had made our garage its home – and what a destructive homemaker it was! With dread and resolve, I picked my way through:
- torn open bags of pet food and flour (Note to self … NEVER put flour in garage!)
- pink and purple bikes with training wheels (My girls are all in middle school!)
- my parents unopened telescope (As Seen on TV)
- my husband’s favorite pair of prescription sunglasses stuck in his dad’s old golf bag
- the family sword that we used to cut our wedding cake
What a messy mixture of trash and treasures … like marriage can be. I reminisced about how that sparkling big garage, empty and new ten years ago, was our dream come true. We had moved from an old home with a detached, one car garage. After schlepping babies and strollers through the snow, my husband and I knew that happiness lay in having an attached, big garage. Over time, accumulation and busyness, that enormous space became so clogged with stuff that we could not fit one car in, much less two!
Do you remember when your marriage was a brand new and dream-fulfilled? I do. I knew that our relationship was going to be beautiful, well ordered and a source of pride and joy. But like our garage, life’s urgencies crowded – at times to the point of obscuring – the priorities of nurturing our marriage. Praying together, date nights, and romantic weekends away got shelved and shoved to the bottom of our to-do list. We dearly loved each other, but the care and discipline of tending to our relationship was often neglected. We would do better “someday.”
And then an invader strikes! Our garage was infiltrated through the cat door. When I heard it would cost $300 to trap the critter, I suddenly found the energy to do the Great Purge. Any relationship, left untended or lacking priority is vulnerable to an invasion in various forms; infidelity, addiction, sickness, financial crisis, or one as innocuous as apathy. But there is one good thing about a crisis – it demands a reaction.
After a season of marital drift, and frightened by the many marriages crumbling around us, my husband and I agreed it was time for action. A wise counselor helped us sort through “our stuff” and exhorted us to get rid of old junk that smelled of selfishness, unforgiveness, and unrealistic expectations. I joined a Hidden Heart class where women dive in to Scripture and discover together the joy God designed for marriage. For those of you who have never been in a Hidden Heart class before, it is like having wise, loving, compassionate friends over to help you clean out your garage. Through the lens of God’s Word, they help you see what needs to stay and what should go.
My husband and I re-prioritized tending the precious and fragile treasure of our marriage. As we cranked some tunes, and tackled our garage mess, we were surprised how fun it was to make the floor visible and tidy the shelves. We rejoiced when we found the cat door barrier and made our garage a varmit-free zone.
I am often asked, “How bad does your marriage have to be to attend a Hidden Heart class?” Well, isn’t it better to do routine maintenance on your garage instead of waiting for the Great Purge? So it is with taking a Hidden Heart marriage class. If your relationship with God and your mate need some freshening up, join us for one of the classes starting in a couple of weeks. Check out our website for one near you: www.hiddenheartministry.org.