Bernadette Veenstra

Cultivating A Great Marriage

The familiar saying goes, “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” In truth, “the grass is always greener where you water it.” The greenest grass doesn’t come from wishing for a different yard, but by focusing on the possibilities of what you have.

The secret to the lushest lawn is the time, hard work, money, blood, sweat and tears invested to weed, plant, fertilize, and water the grass.

Hard work and grace

A great marriage operates on the same principles. Observing the perfect green lawn of another’s marriage can raise discontent and envy in our hearts. What we need to realize is that there are no perfect marriages, but there are great ones.

We won’t grow a great marriage by wishing for another spouse. But time, hard work, money, weeding, planting, fertilizing and watering make for a great marriage, just like it makes the greenest grass. It takes constant hard work and the grace of God.

Weeding and replanting

Our marriages will never thrive as long as we allow sin to dominate. Sinful attitudes, words and actions need to be weeded out. Envy, pride, anger, short fuses, deceit, malice, cruelty, bitterness, impurity, suspicions and accusations need to be taken away.

A component of weeding is quickly admitting fault, using seven key words, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” The answering component is preparing the ground for growth by freely and generously offering forgiveness.

Planting good seed

Weeding is just the first step. If we pull up all the weeds, but don’t plant new, good seeds, all we have is barren ground. It is equally important to plant good seeds.

Some good seeds are kindness, patience, forgiveness, tender hearts, hope, endurance, humility and giving our spouses the benefit of the doubt in regards to motives and actions. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 4:25-32, Colossians 3:12-16)

Time and effort

There are many ways to expend time and effort to feed and water our marriages.  Our marriages flourish when priorities are in the proper order. God is the first priority, and our spouse is number two.

Jobs, ministry, church, children, self, extended family, hobbies, and everything else fall somewhere after these two relationships. The most time and effort should be spent on the two most important relationships.

Focusing on what’s important

This requires saying “no” to many good activities and people’s expectations in order to say “yes” to the most important.

Time and money should be spent on date nights and weekends away. Effort should be made to communicate our hopes and dreams, fears and burdens. Invest in opportunities to laugh, cry and grow together.


Each lawn has it’s unique lumps and bumps, layout, sun exposure, shade, trees, boulders and other physical features. Each marriage is also unique, and has its own rhythm and character.

As we become students of our marriage and our spouse, we learn what flourishes best in the environment of our particular marriage, making it great.

It is helpful to learn personality types (like Meyer’s-Briggs) and love languages. We learn our strengths and weakness and focus on what builds our marriage, and best glorifies God through our marriage.


Lawn care requires tools.  Lawnmower, shovels, sprinkler systems, etc. Thankfully we also have tools available for our marriages. The task becomes easier when we don’t neglect the important tools of prayer, Bible reading and the Holy Spirit.

Biblical counseling, whether formal or informal, is another great tool to teach ways to communicate, fight fair, love well, and grow character.


Investing in our marriages, will pay off. Our marriages will be growing, healthy and flourishing. Our good marriages will bring glory to God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Bernadette Veenstra
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