The Second-Best Time Is Now
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” This often-used proverb, says, “yes, of course I should have done this before but hey, I didn’t so I might as well do it now.” This universal phrase can be used in so many walks of life. But since we are talking about marriage here, let us apply this phrase to marriage. In fact, you could apply this phrase to every marriage that exists.
Most of us would love to have a marriage instruction book. Yes, the Holy Bible is the instruction book for every aspect of life, but most of us need an easy-to-follow marriage manual that tells us what to do and when to do it. The challenge is that marriage is like driving a car. You do not learn how to navigate the road until after you get your license. Early on in our marriages we do not know what we do not know. There are lots of things we should have done early on in our marriage but did not. It would have been great if my wife and I had been in a married couple’s group from the beginning of our marriage but that did not happen until we were about 14 years in (The best time to plant that tree was 14 years ago). But this proverb reminds us that because we did not do it then should not stop us from doing it now.
So, what are some trees that you did not plant earlier in your marriage that now might be the second-best time to plant?
Learning How to Communicate- Wouldn’t it have been great if you would have realized early on in your marriage what might be the best way to communicate with each other? Well, just because you did not do it then now would be a wonderful time to invest in each other to find a way to better communicate. There are many terrific books and guides to help you. You could attend married couple workshops or retreats. You could even engage with a couples coach or marriage counselor. Yes, the best time to learn to communicate with each other was when you first got married but the second-best time is now.
A Family Budget – The perfect time to establish and embrace a family budget was when you first got married. This is a wonderful way to manage the finances in your household, especially since finances are one of the greatest challenges to any marriage. Well guess what… The best time to establish a budget for your family was when you first got married, but if you did not establish one then, the second-best time to establish one is now.
Embracing Your Differences – Here is a shocker… you and your spouse are different! That is a wonderful thing because that’s why God placed you together. The problem is that early in the marriage most of us do not realize that it is a good thing. We are much more effective, powerful, and capable together because of and not despite of our differences than we are by ourselves. The best time to realize that our differences make us stronger together was at the beginning of our marriage. It would have eliminated lots of stress and tension that exists. Your spouse’s differences make you so much better because your spouse is typically strong where you are weak. The best time to embrace this was at the beginning of your marriage, but the second-best time to embrace your differences is now.
Preparing For the Empty Nest & Retirement – Even though this was the last thing on your mind when you said I Do, the best time to begin preparing for an empty nest and retirement was right then at the beginning of your marriage. As you progress in your marriage it is easy to look up and say we are 10 years away from an empty nest and we have not prepared ourselves for what life will be like when the kids are gone. When we say planning for the empty nest and retirement we are not just talking about finances. When it is just the two of you there are a lot more things that go into that than finances even though finances play a bit part. Well, even if you did not do it then, the second-best time to start planning is now.
The Bottom Line is that there are lots of trees in your marriage that you should have planted when you first walked down the aisle. Guess what, you did not. Do not fret. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to start. Make this the year that you go all in on your marriage and start doing all the things that you could have done before. The second-best time to make your marriage the best it can be is now.
Mike Watkins Atlanta, GA