Of plants and marriage….

air-cleaning-plant-gerberaI have a bit of a reputation (okay well a lot of a reputation) for being characteristically bad with house plants.  Don’t get me wrong I love plants.  I love the colours, I love the shape, I love what a great plant can add to a general ambiance.  Its just that I’m really bad at taking care of them.  That great vivacious, colourful plant that once adorned that bookcase somehow seems to morph into a dry, flaky, parched looking twig that adds nothing in terms of ambiance but rather communicates a forlorn neglect.  My tendency is to  hastily remove the offending article and replace it with another vibrant plant that speaks of life, vitality, and generates optimism just by being there.  That is until it begins to resemble a dry, flaky twig… and then the whole cycle begins again.

Looking after our marriages are a lot like looking after a house plant.  At the start, they (for the most part) look great!  Colourful, vibrant and add zest to life just be being there.  But if we treat them like I treat my houseplants, they very quickly become dry and flaky, somewhat of an embarrassment in our lives.  Its astonishing how quickly we can come to resemble “those” couples in pubs and restaurants that seem to gaze vacantly past one another, having lost a lot more that the art or will to converse.

Now, I am no horticulturalist and I know very little about how to care for houseplants.  But, this much I  do know.  You have to “do something” with them if you want them to continue to add colour and vibrancy to your life.  They need all sorts of things: water, the right environment, attention, the right sized pot, the right amount of sunlight and warmth, nutrients in their soil, sometimes they even need extra support as they grow and develop.

Rather like our houseplants our marriages need  us to “do something” to ensure they flourish.  It is not good enough to have good intentions (I’ve tried looking after my houseplants on good intentions and they still degenerate into dry, flaky looking sticks!), Its not good enough to know that I have baby bio in my cupboard that will feed the soil and enable my houseplant to flourish and grow if I don’t actually use it.  You see we would if we could and we know that we should, but life sometimes has a habit of taking over doesn’t it, and we don’t quite get around to it.  I mean, its not rocket science is it?  Its pretty much common sense to look after a houseplant, its just that we often just don’t get round to it.  After all  we know plenty of people who just bin the dead one and buy a new one right?

So what exactly do we need to do to give our marriages the optimum chance for growth and flourishing?  Here are just 3 ideas to get us going.

1.  Be intentional: deliberately, on purpose, do the things that you know count for something with your spouse- whether its planning a surprise, emptying the bin, tidying away your stuff (that’s a tough one!),  cooking an extra special meal or servicing the car without being asked

2. “Water” your relationship: Mark Twain said that he could last for over a month on one good compliment- there must be something your spouse is doing right that you can affirm!

3. Ensure your relationship gets the right amount of sunlight: Do the things that energise your relationship whether thats a stroll along a windswept beach, eating chips from a paper back drenched in salt and vinegar (yum!), cycling, walking, surfing, making love, watching a great film…..

Great house plants generate a lot of colour and even joy.  Your marriage can achieve the same.

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