You’ve probably seen cute sayings stitched onto pillows that say something about how marriages need to be nurtured like a garden. Or you’ve probably heard cute analogies about how marriages need to be watered like a garden. I’ll apologize in advance for wasting your time if that’s the kind of information you think you’re going to get from this article. Despite how decorative those pillows might look on your grandma’s couch those anecdotal sayings are just that: anecdotal.
Yes, marriages do need to be nurtured and “watered”. Who doesn’t know that? But when you think of caring for a marriage like you care for a garden and how cute the analogy is, if you’ve ever actually planted a garden you realize it’s not cute at all. It’s actually really tough. In fact, a lot of times, all the hard work you do to have a successful garden just doesn’t work. It’s not because the plants were defective (well, most of the time anyway), it’s because even though you worked really hard, you still screwed something up. You planted the tomatoes where there’s not enough sun, you planted the pumpkins too close to your peas and the peas got choked out or you over watered and drown your lawn so now you have a fungus that’s killing it..
So as you’re starting to see things begin to green up this Spring here are some tips to help you take care of your marriage, too.
Spring Tips to Take Care of Your Marriage
Good soil: Yep, you guess it. Your relationship has to have the right soil. I don’t mean that you and your partner have to have fundamental compatible traits. In fact, I don’t know anywhere or anything that says certain traits are required to have a happy marriage. What I mean by the right soil, then, is that you have to have the right soil. You have to be the right kind of person that can make a relationship work.
Any teenager can fall in love. Any teenager can even have sex. That doesn’t mean they should. There’s a mental maturity that’s needed to be in a relationship. And just because you feel butterflies does not qualify you be in a relationship with someone. Do some work on yourself and make sure you’re ready for a lifetime relationship.
The right temperatures: As much as I believe that you have more power in your relationship than you think you have, I have to admit that sometimes things are just out of your control. In a garden this would be like the weather. Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate and you get a freak snow storm in May that wipes out half of your plants. In your marriage, sometimes freak things happen, too. Maybe an illness strikes or you have an ex-girlfriend who shows up and tells your partner about shady things from the past. This doesn’t mean your garden is ruined it just means you’ll need to salvage what you can. There are always chances to rebuild your garden and regrow it better than ever later.
Pruning: You have to cut off dead branches in your garden in order to make room for new life and you have to cut off dead stuff in your marriage, too. But in marriages this isn’t so easy. People are creatures of habit. And changing things in our life, even if it’s to make room for new growth, is hard.
Take a look around you and notice if there is anything you feel that is choking the life out of you. Also look and see if there is anything you feel is toxic to you flourishing the way you want to. That’s a good place to start pruning. Most of the time, we know what needs to be changed in our life but we’re afraid to prune it. We hope that we can keep those things around us and that they’ll magically change somehow so we don’t have to prune it. Instead of waiting for a weed to become a rose, just prune it. There are plenty of other beautiful things to replace it with. It’s not that hard to find it if you’re really looking for it.
Harvesting: This is one analogy about gardening that is the least understood. Harvesting doesn’t mean you sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Harvesting is work. You can’t just pick a tomato and put it at the bottom of a bucket or you’ll have a squished tomato. Remember, enjoying the fruits of your labor still means work, too.
Doing it all over again: This is the part that people forget about. Even after you’ve had a successful harvest and your garden looks all lush and beautiful, you have to do it all over again next year if you want to keep enjoying it.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. He specializes in working with couples learn to communicate and overcome sexual difficulties.