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6 Tips for cultivating a happy, healthy marriage

By Karen van der Merwe

Whether you are engaged, newlyweds, or married for years; I believe it is never too late to start cultivating a happy, healthy marriage. As a young girl my dad taught me how to pray. He said: “You are never too young to start praying for your future husband,”. As a six-year-old I took it to heart. Praying for my husband became a natural part of me from that day onward.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, cultivating means:

  • To prepare land for the raising of crops.
  • To raise or assist the growth of crops by tilling, labour, and care.
  • To improve or develop by careful

1. Prepare the ground for marriage

Before you plant new crops, you must remove old stubble from previous seasons. For a healthy start to your marriage, this also rings true. Deal with pain from past relationships. Cut soul ties with previous partners. Your husband will now exclusively be your best friend, lover, and confidant.

Girl, you both need to leave and cleave. You need to leave your parents’ home. You are now starting a new family as husband and wife, a new family with your own values, ideas, and boundaries. You need to invest time in setting up your ‘new family’ rules.

2. Sow good seeds

If you want a good harvest, you must sow good seeds. After all, you will reap what you sow! If you want more respect, love, or patience: start by sowing it. Give your husband the love that you want. Talk to him in the manner you want to be talked to. Often, I must go back to my own words. We cannot erase the words we have spoken – they need to be forgiven. I am learning to choose my words with care. Our words are seeds, and they can either bring great joy or heartache.

3. water your garden

Have fun. Laugh often. Forgive quickly. When I dated my husband, I researched his hobbies. I found out what the weekend’s rugby scores were, and I memorised the different shapes of antelope horns.


I did my bit to show interest and wittily discussed the things he was most passionate about. This is how I watered my garden! Watering is easy in the good times, so these are the best times to do it. When hardships come along, you will need strong roots in your relationship and strong roots grow with effort over time. Always stay invested in each other.

4. Fertilize

Fertilizer is used to increase soil fertility. You are responsible for your own happiness. Your husband cannot make you happy, as it is an inside job. Invest time in your own health and spiritual well-being. You don’t see fertilizer in the growing season of crops, but when it is harvest time, your yield will be determined by how well you fertilised your garden.

5. Remove weeds

Don’t entertain destructive thoughts like comparing your marriage or your husband to others. Jealousy, selfishness, etc, will grow and become like weeds.

Weeds produce a huge volume of bad seeds that you don’t want to grow. Remove weeds in your marriage by choosing to forgive quickly. Forgiveness is not a feeling, but a choice that will set you free.

6. We need Sunlight

Marriage is a covenant between a husband, his wife, and God. We cannot make it on our own, just as plants cannot grow without sunlight. Jesus is the Light of the world. Invite Him into your marriage and let Him shine in all the dark corners of your garden. Read the Bible, pray, and worship God together in your marriage, and you will harvest the sweet fruit.

Growing up on a vegetable and citrus farm, I have seen bare land being cultivated into bountiful fruit-bearing orchards. Often, I think of my marriage as the orchard I am busy cultivating. We are in our 18th season this year and I have tasted some sweet fruit. By following these six principals you, too, will set yourself up for a good harvest.

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