The fall season finds gardeners and landscapers feeding their yards and plants in preparation for the upcoming winter months. Busy neighbors fertilize, plug and seed their lawns in hopes that roots will grow deep and strong during the colder months and result in a lush yard and flowering shrubs in the warmer springtime. Just like the care and nurturing we give to our yards in the fall, our relationships can also benefit from attention during the warmer season that can help “winterize” it against difficult times. The “yard of the week” in the spring is the one that was weeded six months earlier.
Despite our best efforts, all yards will ultimately grow some weeds. We may not see the weeds in our yard until springtime when grass and weeds pop up, but they will be there, waiting for a warmer season. Weeds in relationships may also be lurking under the surface. They may be difficult tasks, difficult people or difficult times. They could be one partner’s irritating habit that we avoid talking about, taking each other for granted or not dealing with something as silly as unwanted nose hair. Bigger weeds are easier to recognize and harder to avoid. A bigger, more ugly relationship weed that screams “yank me out of this yard” could be one person’s choice to watch porn rather than engage in the real thing, or frequent verbal or physical abuse. What makes a weed, such as a dandelion, different from a rose? James Lowell said, “A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” Our individual view of weeds helps us decide what to yank out of the relationship and what to let live. One person may view cursing as a weed, while another may consider it a normal part of the yard. Some weeds can be changed and cultivated into a rose with honest communication and love. Changing an unwanted behavior (or weed) into a more loving action (or rose) can strengthen the relationship and grow a garden full of roses.
In a new relationship, the landscape is more barren. It is waiting for grass to grow, bushes to be planted and soil to be cultivated through time spent together. The partners in a new relationship need to invest in each other in the same way a yard needs the investment of being plugged, seeded and fertilized. Investments such as acts of kindness, good communication and mutual respect can help the roots of a relationship grow deeper and can cover the bare spots. A bare spot might be a lack of self-esteem or self-confidence that can be nurtured with patience, positive feedback and love. Kind words are one of the best types of lime and straw for any bare spot!
To fully winterize your relationship in preparation for a beautiful yard in the spring, you still have to be vigilant about your maintenance and care of your yard in the winter. If your yard has lots of trees, they may drop their leaves and make the soil more acidic during colder months. This prevents roots from growing as deep as desired. Regular removal of the leaves is a must for a healthy, green yard in the spring. Regular relationship maintenance during the colder months is also a must. Remove the” leaves” that prevent spending time together or prevent you from showing your love for your “yard.” Here is to hoping that you only need a rake versus a leaf blower this winter and that your relationship wins the yard of the month every month!