When I got married, I worried that the minister didn’t know my fiancé and me well enough to deliver a heartfelt, engaging ceremony. We were, after all, getting married on a tiny island in the Bahamas and had just recently met this man of God, who also toiled as the town baker.
For the days leading up to the wedding, my fiancé and I visited the minster at his bakery with the hopes that he would get to know us better before the ceremony. As customers walked into the store asking the minister for bread, my fiancé and I stepped to the side and waited patiently for the minister to return to our conversation. His perceived nonchalance about our ceremony made me so nervous, that not even the smell of his warm, homemade bread made me feel better.
When our big day arrived, I found myself standing next to my soon-to-be husband in a one room church in front of thirty friends. And there, the bread-making minister delivered a speech so powerful and engaging that I’ve used his words as the guidebook for my marriage.
The minister spoke to us about gardening and the beautiful flowers that can grow lush with the right amount of care and and love. He reminded us that neglecting your garden will cause weeds to grow. And after much neglect, your garden will be so full of weeds that the flowers will stop growing.
The same is true in love, he said. If you spend time showering your partner with love, affection, and adoration, they will grow and become a beautiful part of your lovers’ garden. But if you neglect your partner and your relationship, weeds of resentment and anger will grow and take over your beautiful garden. Once these emotional weeds have grown thick, you will be more focused on them than on nurturing your love affair.
It’s easy, isn’t it? To give all your attention to the outside world. To meet the demands of others. To make other people happy. And then you get home and feel as though you have nothing left to give, so you neglect your garden and stop nurturing your relationship.
Or, even worse, we give our loved ones our bad side. How many times have you woken up on the wrong side of the bed, grumbled your way through the morning routine with your husband, and then went out into the world smiling at strangers? You order a latte and give the barista at Starbucks more pleasantries than you gave your spouse that morning.
That is not only neglecting your garden, that’s digging it up with a shovel. Don’t do it! Perhaps the magnificent Maya Angelou said it best,
“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.”
Treat your loved one with kindness. Nurture and love them. Say nice things. Talk to them as you would a friend or a stranger. No one is perfect, but love isn’t about being perfect. Love is about being present. Love is about being kind.
I learned a lot from the bread-making minister on that tiny, Bahamian island.
I learned that marriage is like growing a garden – it takes time, attention, and care.
I learned that just when you don’t give someone enough credit, they come through and surprise you with a memorable life experience.
I learned that the secret to staying in love, much like baking bread, is about what you put in it, how you knead it, and how much you appreciate the nourishment it gives you – body, heart, and soul.