Relationships are like gardens that need constant tending.
If we offer up a little love and thoughtfulness every day, they will produce a delicious abundance of fruits and veggies.
If we expect our garden to grow and nourish us without consideration and intention, we will find a bunch of thorny weeds growing where our beautiful tomatoes once stood proud and ripe for the taking.
Every relationship we have requires time and energy. Being married for almost 15 years has taught me a thing or two about interaction.
I used to think there was a science to a happy way of relating, and so I went on a book binge looking for all the secrets to a good marriage, until I finally raised a white flag and stopped buying books that all seemed to say the same thing.
Both were helpful, to an extent, and offered some relief from the sharp desire to find a tangible equation that I could apply every day and find contentment in a love/life balance. I did manage to gather a few golden bits of wisdom along the way, and I offer them up to anyone who is looking for more depth in their relationships.
Let your companion nurture you how they do it best.
We all want to be loved in specific ways and we all show our love in different ways. Usually, we show love in the way we wish to be loved. The problem is that we often wish our partners would express love in the way we want and become disappointed when they lack the skill or tools to deliver love the way we wish.
Most women want their partners to be more emotional and express love vocally but, in my experience, most men would rather show love by doing and making loving gestures. It took me way too many years to let my husband do most of the cooking in our household because I was somehow brainwashed into thinking I should be doing it. After I realized that he enjoys feeding me delicious home-cooked meals, I now am able to be loved with tacos and homemade rolled sushi. This was a game-changer in our relationship.
What a relief to finally open up to letting someone show love and let go of the expectations that were probably ingrained from watching too many Disney movies when I was a little girl.
Make yourself happy first.
When I got married, I think I purposely chose a man who had many outdoor hobbies and a strong will to get out there and do his thing. He was always out catching waves or chasing a snowstorm for some fresh powder and off on his own adventure. Even though it took some getting used to (and harder with kids), I know that I too have the responsibility to make myself happy first, and if that means spending an entire summer in California healing from pandemic trauma, then so be it.
If our love has lasted this long, then it can survive (and thrive) through some distance and solo soul searching.
Sacrificing our happiness will only cause bitterness and resentment.
Tell your partner what you want.
Be honest and vulnerable. Open up and ask for what you want, even if it causes a disagreement.
We can never manifest what we want in life if we don’t ask for help and seek it out. Our partners can support us best if we are honest about our wishes, and we should not only speak up but also continue to speak our truth on a regular basis. Our partner may accuse us of trying to change them but I would clarify that maybe we aren’t asking anyone to change, but to grow.
We ask our partners to grow because we know they can do it, and it may be time for some growth.
After all, how else will we feed on the bounty of that garden (of love) if there are no plans for tending to its needs: watering, removal of weeds, and some deep nutrient-rich compost added to set it up for future abundance.
The time we invest in our closest relationships may not be for immediate gain but, over time, could be the most fruitful and juicy harvest of the season.