I’ve heard people say that good relationships will get better and bad relationships will get worse after major changes you’ve made. Maybe. Kinda depends on what a person is willing to do to help a relationship grow and thrive. Kinda depends on how hard a person is willing to work at a relationship. Kinda depends on how much risk we’re willing to take in our relationships.
I don’t like to label relationships as good or bad. I like to look at them as living organisms, like plants — growing or dying.
The plants that are nurtured grow; the plants that are neglected die. We have a choice to nurture or to neglect.I believe that relationships are alive and ever-changeable. They offer the seeds of great joy in life. I realize they don’t always survive, but if the relationship is viable, no matter how wilted, I do my best to nurture it. If you’re like me, you were not born with great relationship skills. And I did not have good role models for this. So, I was like a gardener raised in a desert — I could grow a prickly cactus, but not much else. For a lush garden, I had to move to fertile soil and develop my gardening skills.
I increased my chances for success by learning how to be the best possible gardener I could be. I took classes, read books, and talked to other gardeners. I even hired a gardener (read “therapist” here) to work with me on my specific needs.
And then I had to actually garden. I had to experiment. I had to learn to prune, to set up boundaries to keep the rabbits out, and to get rid of pests.
I had to weed during the hot, humid months, even though I didn’t want to. I had to deal with what my garden produced. I enjoyed the roses, but got a little tired of eating zucchini.
I loved the shade my Japanese Maple gave me, but found standing on a high ladder to prune my Crepe Myrtle a little frightening.
But I wanted a lush garden! And I knew I deserved one. So, I kept at it.
Gardening takes some dedication (relationships do, too!). They produce roses, while giving us the opportunity to deal with thorns, pests, and blight.
To me, they are worth all the blood, sweat, and tears. My garden flourishes now. My relationships bring me great joy and a sense of pride. I feel connected and well rooted to my friends and family. I feel loved and worthy. I have grown a lot.
Here are some of the things a growing relationship needs to thrive:
Good soil: If your relationship is trying to thrive in an unhealthy environment, you’ll have to work very hard to grow. Sometimes couples or friends need to consider who they’re hanging out with, what information they are exposing themselves to, and how well they’re maintaining the conditions for healthy growth. You have to ask yourselves, can we grow in this environment? And if the answer is no, you need to find new soil or “re-pot” yourself.
Fertilizer: It’s been said that a closed system is a sick system. Adding fertilizer to depleted soil can help plants thrive. Counselors, support groups, couple retreats, books, CDs, and many other resources, can add to or nurture a relationship and help it grow.
Sunshine: Bringing your relationship challenges into the light of day can help them heal. The light (finding the truth) needs to come from outside of your relationship. Plants can’t produce their own sunlight, nor can they stand back and see their own shape. (Well, a distorted shadow, maybe, but not the full picture.)
Drought: No one likes hard times, or tough lessons learned, but as humans we know they happen. In fact, they help us to build strength and endurance. Try to look at your droughts as inevitable opportunities to rely on your roots — which you have worked hard to build. One day you’ll need to reach down deep for strength — and it will be there for you.
Rain: There was a great story told in the movie, Facing the Giants. Two farmers desperately needed rain for their fields. One farmer plowed his land and put seeds in the ground, despite the drought. The other farmer did nothing. Why bother? But, which farmer thrived when the rain finally came? It’s critical in a relationship to prepare for rain. If you do, you’ll see some major growth out of it, rather than barrenness.
Learning to connect in a healthy and nurturing way with others is one of the biggest keys to long-term success. (Does that surprise you?)
The bottom line is that a good relationship can grow better and a bad relationship can grow better. Either one can thrive with dedicated gardeners.
Get the idea???