Relationships Require Gardeners

Written by 

The day is soon upon us. The day that most will have been walking on eggshells for the first 13 days of February, in the lead up to, in order to create the perfect atmosphere for; the 14th day celebration. That's right! Valentine's Day is soon upon us and the smell of freshly picked roses are in the air. If you're trying to think of little things you could be doing in the run up to Valentine's Day, then check out these 14 ways to make her Valentine's Day. If not then this post is not for you because the truth is that not everyone is interested in getting involved in this day of love, either because they are not into the commercialisation of the day or, in many cases, the sad truth is that the flame doesn't shine as brightly as it used to and is starting to flicker out. If the latter is the case then maybe this month is the time to dust off your gardening tools and start doing a bit of landscaping... relationship landscaping!

The truth is, just like a garden our relationships need to be fertilized, cultivated and nurtured in order to see true growth. There's soil to turn, seeds to sow, plants to water and many other tasks that are required in order to see a garden flourish to its full potential. The beauty of a garden is solely dependent on the gardener's investment of time, energy, resources and, more importantly, his commitment. There are a few pointers that we can learn from a seasoned gardener. Here are a few that could seriously benefit our relationships if we put on our gardening hat and apply them today. 



1. Design and Planning 

A gardener seldom starts planting in his garden without first drawing up a plan for where each plant should be situated. He looks around and thinks about each plant he has and says to himself "how much will this plant benefit from the sun if I plant it here?" He's methodical and intentional about what and where he plants. Our approach to our relationship should be no different. The bonus to planning is that you don't always have to actually be in a relationship in order to start developing a plan for one. Ultimately it's our responsibility to seriously think about what a meaningful, successful marriage or relationship looks like for us and then plan out everything we need to do to provide an environment that is tailored to our design. 




2. Foundations 

A good design is nothing without good foundations. If you have been planting but haven't seen anything flourish then maybe it's time to turn the ground over and create a new foundation. Have a think about what will be the foundation of your relationship. What will it look like and what does that require of you? For my wife and I, it is our faith, our trust in each other and our commitment to always strive to be better. That means that in our home we put God first and we are open, honest and truthful - no matter the outcome! We aim to develop ourselves to become better so that we can both benefit from each other's personal growth. 

What is your core foundation? Do you have one? It's a complete waste of time trying to sow on grounds that are not conducive foundation for growth. Be sure to get some good fertilizer on the foundations you lay. For the novice, who may not know, good fertilizer comes from taking manure and composting it. In other words, turn those bad, crappy examples of marriage that can sometimes alter our perspective and draw the positives from them and, most importantly, learn from them. Turn that... "manure" into something that provides a solid foundation for your relationship.




3. Sowing and planting 

Everything you've thought of, everything you've designed and planned over and over again in your head... now is the time! This is the part that requires putting our thoughts into action. A gardener carefully considers where he is going to place each plant and then carefully sows his seeds. As well as considering where each plant will get the best investment of light, he also considers its protection from the wild elements. A gardener will also scatter some of his seeds in larger quantities as he recognises that he will not be able to reap a harvest on everything that he sows. Similarly not everything you invest into your relationship will yield dividends. We can all make our marriages great if we are willing to invest and sow regularly in the right areas of our relationship. Great relationships/marriage depends on an investment of good communication, time, effort, and total commitment. It might mean that you are going to have to dig deep and get your hands rough and dirty but that's just a part of the process. Even a rose has to pass through a certain amount of dirt before it can display its vibrant blood red colour in full bloom.  




4. Water Wisely 

Most plants require watering little but often and one flood of water can potentially kill it. A plant needs to be afforded the time and space to be able to take in what it needs from the water. We humans are no different! We require 3 meals a day but we would never think of eating all three of them at one time. That would be insane! We need time in between each meal. Just like our meals and plants, it's important to give our partners their space to grow. Spending time with each other can sometimes provide us with quite a euphoric feeling, however, it's important to learn to back away every now and then to give space for growth and avoid running the risk of smothering her to the point of nausea. If you've ever experienced that kind of smothered love then you "get" exactly what I'm talking about. Don't misunderstand what I'm trying to say - there's great enjoyment in those moments of affection and affirmation but just don't take it too far! No one likes being smothered and there's a thin line between smothering and showing affection. Too much of one thing is never good. Balance is key.




5. Beware of pests and weeds 

If you're like me and only do your gardening in the summer, you'll know that if you take your eye off the ball weeds will overtake your garden and grow like crazy without much effort at all. They'll be everywhere! I seldom pay any attention to my garden in the winter and as a result every year is like Groundhog Day! I end up weeding religiously every summer just to avoid a mass take over. Any plants that I could have grown would have been choked to death by the weeds as a result of my winter neglect. Just like the garden, our relationships often suffer at the hand of our neglect. A relationship needs weeding regularly. If you let too many days pass without repelling those pests (people who involve themselves in your relationship and often give bad advice) or without pulling out those bad habits that keep on creeping in to your relationship, then you'll have a real mess on your hands. Nothing will ever be able to flourish in your relationship. Be aware that sometimes the "weed" we're looking for is looking right back at us in the mirror. Sometimes it's our very own thinking that betrays us and creates deadly weeds that become toxic relationship killers. 

There is a part in my garden where the same weed resurfaces every year no matter what I do, but by understanding that in our lives that there will be a few weeds that keep coming back (no matter how many times you yank it out!) it helps us to better prepare for our returning enemy. This allows us to be much more vigilant and far more proactive rather than reactive when that weed pokes its ugly head above surface.  



So as you can see, our relationships, much like our garden, is a product of our labour of love. It takes a nurturing hand, love, protection, patience and a discipline to delay self-gratification. Take a look at your "garden"! Stand back, analyse and say to yourself "the garden I have is exactly the garden I deserve!". I can guarantee you will start looking at your relationship with a different perspective. You will start to challenge yourself and ask the question "what can I, the gardener, do to nurture any potential growth?" 

A true gardener doesn't expect his garden to just simply flourish without first putting in any work and our relationships are no different. A relationship can only flourish once we first put our time and effort into designing, planting and nurturing it to make things happen. Just as with a garden, your relationship or marriage will only thrive to the extent that you tend to it so cultivate the relationship/marriage that you want. 
Remember, the beauty of a garden is simply a by-product of a gardeners invested time, patience and love. 

How's your garden? What are your go-to-tools or methods that help you to cultivate the relationship you want?


© 2017 Men and Marriage. All Rights Reserved.