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Pruning Can Create a Better Marriage

Jun 07, 2018 01:48PM ● By Don Short

A good marriage is similar to that of planting and maintaining a productive garden. In gardening, we need to prepare the soil, clear the weeds and other unwanted material. We have to sow seeds and see that the soil is watered and taken care of. Weeding and pruning (the cutting away what is unwanted or superfluous) lay the groundwork to have a healthy garden with a lot of “fruit” for our labor. Good gardening is hard work, just as is having a healthy and fruitful marriage relationship. No one expects a garden to grow all by itself, but we often expect our marriages to blossom beautifully without putting in the necessary work to sow the seeds and create a healthy environment for these seeds to grow. 

For a marriage to be healthy and strong, one needs to sow into the relationship the positive things that will strengthen and grow the relationship, while at the same time pruning/removing elements in our lives that tend to be hurtful and destructive to the marriage. Here are five things we must prune from our marriage for our marriage to thrive.

  1. Prune Selfishness – This is when one spouse feels like they always have to have things their way. They have to win the argument. They don’t want to be bothered and never offer to help. This is where the spouse stays busy playing the internet game while you bring in the groceries, make dinner and tend to the kids. Solution: Sow awareness in your marriage by decreasing the amount of time you spend on electronic games and Facebook and increasing helpful and quality time with your spouse and children.

  2. Prune Busyness – We don’t seem to have time to have a serious conversation. We live beyond our means, and as a result, we have to work excessive hours to get out of debt. The kids our involved in so many activities that we don’t have much time to spend together as a family. We don’t make time to sit down for dinner as a family. As a couple, date night has become an event of the past. Our priorities are out of whack! Solution: Assess your priorities and focus on decreasing your stress and increasing the quality of time you have with your spouse and children.

  3. Prune Inattention – We don’t pay attention to our own needs in the areas of mind, body and spiritual. Thus we become out of shape and eventually become weak or sick and unable to take care of the marriage. During courtship, one pays a lot of attention to self care, but as time goes by, the inattention takes over and the care of ourselves and for the relationship becomes less of a priority and intimacy begins to slips away. Solution: Revive that energy of courtship again in your relationship. Love yourself and it will increase your capacity to love others.

  4. Prune Fear - Fear is destructive to a relationship. Having a lot of negative thoughts and “what ifs..” playing in our mind is toxic to the person and relationship. Fear is always rooted from things in our past. One may have fears of abandonment because of separation issues rooted in childhood. One may have fear of intimacy because of feeling of past rejection or past sexual trauma. Solution: Understand the source of your fears and talk about them. Get individual counseling to assist you if necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  5. Prune Laziness – This is a big issue in most marriages. Often we know what we should be doing but because we get lazy, we don’t do it. We know that things are not right and we tell ourselves that we will address it at the “right moment”, but this “right moment” never seems to come. Too often we wait till a crisis occurs in the relationship before we become willing to address it or seek counseling. Solution: For any relationship to be successful, one needs to be proactive in addressing the needs of the relationship. The undesirable things in a relationship will grow without any effort, the good things a couple has to work on together to be successful.

Remember that pruning is not a one-time thing, is has to be practiced on an ongoing basis for a marriage to be strong and healthy. Do some pruning in these five areas and see what it does for your marriage. If you are not sure as to what needs pruning, ask your spouse and if you don’t know how to prune, seek counseling. Don’t wait till you and your relationship is overwhelmed with these issues. Get out the shears and start pruning. I wish you well.


Don Short is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and EMDR Therapist. His practice focuses on clients with marriage, relationship and family issues. To learn more contact 337-781-4565 or visit: