The Marriage Tree

by David & Claudia Arp
April 27th, 2017
Sitting with our friend, Vera Mace, on the screened porch at her home in Black Mountain, North Carolina, we commented that she and David must have enjoyed rocking on their porch and looking at the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. Fruit tree

Vera chuckled. “Eventually we did, but we almost didn’t have a screened porch! You see,” she continued, “we didn’t agree on how to go about it. The problem was that David’s favorite tree was right here in the middle of where the porch needed to go. I wanted to cut it down. David didn’t. I still remember the conversation:

‘Vera,’ David said, ‘how could we even consider cutting down this tree? It’s older than we are!’

‘If we want to build our porch,’ I replied to David, ‘the tree will have to go. There simply isn’t another spot for it.’

“Back and forth we went, each desperately wanting our own way. Finally David capitulated. Giving me a gift of love, he said, ‘We shall cut down the tree. You shall have your screened porch!’”

Did David ever regret giving in to you?” I (Claudia) asked.

Vera laughed, “No, not at all! You see, when the tree came down, we discovered it was hollow. The inside had rotted away. It was good riddance! And if David had insisted on keeping the tree, in its weakened state, a wind storm could have blown it over on our home.”

Then we realized how that tree is like marriage . . . selfishness leads to decay; deferring to the other leads to blessing.

Just as Vera and David’s tree appeared to be fine, our marriage may look great on the outside, but if we selfishly demand our own way, our marriage will decay on the inside. Over time, our relationship can become hollow, weak and rotten. But when we defer to each other, we strengthen our relationship.

Years later when we remember Vera’s tree story, we are challenged to work on our marriage—to cut down our own trees of selfishness and to defer to the other. Then we can help other couples build better marriages, and hopefully in the sunset of our lives, we will also enjoy rocking on our own screened porch.

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? GEORGE ELIOT