Gardening and relationships share a similar path. Leaving a garden or a relationship unattended has consequences. We are lucky to have a large garden on our property. Saturday, Sept. 10 was the one-year anniversary of getting my left hip replaced. (the operation was 100% successful. I can’t believe the difference). However, the year before the operation I was not able to work very much in the garden. It is hard to pull weeds using a cane. And even the year before that I was not very active.
My point is simply, that the garden was not well tended for two years and at the start of this summer it was totally out of control. It has taken me until now to get it back into any kind of shape and there is still lots to do. Leave nature alone and the weeds take over. My fence was overgrown, and my pile of good black dirt and compost looked like a scene from Jurassic Park. Clearing the weeds, cutting the grass, composting, and
spreading wood chips were one piece of the puzzle. Actually planting good seeds and taking care of them was the other important piece.
The Gardening Analogy
The gardening analogy is a good metaphor for a relationship. If a relationship is left unattended for any period of time, it can quickly degenerate. Removing any negativity – (the weeds of blame, shame, or criticism) – from the relationship is one side of the coin because negativity causes disconnect, while the whole purpose of any relationship is to be connected.
The other side of the coin is to plant good seeds – the positives, the affirmation, and appreciation. Nature abhors a vacuum. It is not enough to stop putting negative energy into your relationship, although it is a good start. Just as important is to fill it with positives. You will not only be planting good seeds but also watering and fertilizing them. I encourage couples to commit to at least three appreciations a day and to say those out loud. None of us is perfect but your energy does follow your attention. You can focus your attention on the positives in your relationship or the negatives – your choice.
Here is a challenge for you. A couple of years ago, and I am not sure where the challenge came from, my wife and I committed to three appreciations a day for a month – but with no repetitions. She is a great cook so I can say, that was a great meal, but then I can’t use that one again. What it made us do, we both agreed, was to pay closer attention to each other. Often our partner does many things which it is easy to take for granted. Committing to those three appreciations a day for a month without any repetitions forced both of us to really pay attention and to verbally appreciate each other for the many things we do for each other.
The moral of the story – pay attention to your relationship; don’t let it go unattended for any length of time.