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Gardens Teach us About Relationships

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How a Simple Gardening Experience can Give Insight on Relationships.

See how gardens can teach us lessons about relationships. There I was on a sweltering hot Georgia morning weeding my mini town home garden that was starting to look like a mini jungle. Within a few minutes of work, I had beads of sweat rolling down my skin. I was tidying up my tomato plants and I started to think about how much I dislike the maintenance piece that comes along with gardening. I mean it’s not like you just go to Home Depot, buy a tomato plant, put it in the ground, and ta-da you have beautiful, fresh tomatoes waiting to be picked personally by you. How easy would that be? If you’ve never gardened before, then let me just go ahead and tell you that it can be quite a challenge to maintain. So as I was thinking about the arduous task of garden maintenance, I thought to myself, “It’s kind of like relationships.”


Each Spring, you get super excited because you know that soon you can start up your garden again. You gather up favorite plants and herbs including a few tomato plants. There’s nothing like being able to step into your backyard to get fresh and healthy produce for your meals. The day that you start the garden you have to tear up the old plants from the previous year, put down new soil, properly place the plants based on things like necessary distance and sunlight. Then you have to add in the mulch and do the initial watering. Now although that seems like a lot of work (and it is), you honestly don’t mind putting forth that effort because it’s new, exciting, and you’ve been looking forward to this all Winter. Plus, you only have to do this detailed process once a year.

After that, comes the challenging part. The maintenance is probably where most people fail at gardening. It’s so easy to get caught up in the other demands of life and forget to water the garden. You start to see the weeds overtaking the garden and you know you should probably do something about it, but then you think of an excuse. It’s too hot. There’s too many bugs out. I’ll do it later. It can wait. It’s not that bad.

Along with the weeds come the creepy crawlers that decide to feed off of your plants. Your garden is officially a mess. How? You spent so much time prepping in the beginning, and just like that it needs serious attention to fix all the damage. What happened? Maybe you should just give up. After all, you could just go to the store and buy a package of tomatoes, right?

But, WAIT!

Think back to the beginning.

Think back to when you were so eager to start up your garden.

Think back to WHY you wanted to start up a garden in the first place.

You knew that the grocery store would have plenty of tomatoes, but you were seeking quality. You wanted something that was your own, something that was authentic. In the mix of everything, you neglected the middle process, the maintenance.

This simple concept is exactly what happens in relationships, too.

Everyone knows that the start of a relationship is the exciting part. We’ve all heard of the “honeymoon stage”, right? You are getting to know one another. You are working to impress one another and make each other genuinely happy. Just like starting a garden, you think about the end product. In gardening, it’s a fruit, but with relationships it’s that everlasting bond that you seek. The beginning and the end, are the fairly easy parts.

 

The part in between is probably the most important part of relationships: maintenance.


It’s easy to see what steps are required in order to get from the planting to the fruit in relationships when thinking back to the garden analogy.

Just as horn worms hinder a tomato plant's growth, negativity and distractions can hinder growth in your relationships.
Just as horn worms hinder a tomato plant’s growth, negativity and distractions can hinder growth in your relationships.

Step 1: Get Rid of Distractions Causing Negativity
As I was maintaining my garden this morning, I had to pull away all the unnecessary items (the weeds) that were a distraction to my garden. Sometimes I’ve had to pull away massive horn worms (check out that beast of a bug in the picture) that were quickly destroying the actual tomatoes. These distractions bring negativity and hinder growth of my tomato plants, just as distractions can hinder the growth of relationships. If there are negative aspects in your relationship getting in the way of what is truly important, then it will be challenging for your relationship to flourish properly.

Step 2: Improve Yourself
While gardening, I always remember my grandma telling me that it helps to pick off the suckers from a tomato plant. Basically it’s a pruning process that involves pulling off the stems of the plant that are useless. The suckers grow, but never produce any fruit. Therefore, they are sucking any nutrients and energy away from the plant that it could be using for stems that are growing fruit. So, weeds are not the only the problem, but the plant itself can hinder proper growth as well.

Outside factors are not always the only issue in relationships. A lot of times we have to look inward. What are the useless traits, habits, or quirks about yourself that are taking away from the relationship? Are you always complaining about something so small and petty to the point where it has now become a major issue in your relationship? If so, maybe it’s time to do some pruning. It’s easy to blame everyone else, but at times we have to look at ourselves and see how we can improve.

This can be a difficult process. How do you know if a stem is a sucker or not? What if you take off all the stems? It will take a lot of time and self acknowledgement to prune out the negative aspects that are holding you and your relationship back. However, that is not to say that you should remove and change every single thing about you. In fact, you should never completely change who you are in relationships because that’s not healthy. Anyway, if you pull off every stem, then you won’t see any fruit.

Step 3: Provide Continuous Nourishment
Plants need sunlight, water, and general care…you know, photosynthesis! Without continuously providing those crucial parts, your garden will probably not produce anything. Same goes with relationships. You can’t just expect a relationship to flourish if you and your partner don’t put forth the continuous effort. It’s extremely important that it is mutual! I emphasize that the nourishment for relationships needs to be continuous because going on an anniversary dinner once a year is not going to give you the end result you desire. This will definitely need to be an ongoing process. You can’t water the garden once and expect growth.

Step 4: Don’t Give Up
Remember when you saw how messy and disastrous your garden was after weeks of neglect? You wanted to give up. You wanted to take the easy route and just go to the store to buy a package of tomatoes. I told you to think back to why you even started the garden and what your ultimate purpose for planting a garden was in the first place. In relationships, people are extremely quick to give up. People are more likely to get a divorce than stay in a marriage these days.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way if BOTH people are willing to work TOGETHER on all the above steps. It’s not going to be easy or fun, but it will be worth it. If I want the end product of gardening, I have to look past being in the 90 degree, humid, Georgia weather while dripping sweat. If you want the everlasting bond, you and your partner have to be willing do the strenuous maintenance so you can both enjoy the product.

 

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