Happily Ever After

How Does Your Garden Grow?

    Having lived in an apartment or villa most of my adult life, I've never had much interest in developing my green thumb. The closest I've ever come to digging in the dirt was making mud pies and playing in the sandbox when I was five. I've hung a geranium or two outside my front door with relative success, but that is about the extent of my experience in making things grow.
    Just over a year ago, my husband and I moved into a house with a real backyard. This summer, I am discovering the joys and frustrations of gardening. By now you are wondering what, if anything, does this have to do with marriage.
    It occurred to me today that the garden is the perfect metaphor for marriage. If you want it to grow and thrive, you have to take action. You can't just put seeds in the ground and expect to produce magnificent flowers, nor can your marriage blossom without the proper care. I've come to the conclusion that plants are a lot like people. I would swear that they know and feel love. A marriage is also a living entity. It starts off like a tender seedling, bursting with possibilities, but fragile all the same. If you want to experience its true beauty, you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and do the work.
    I recently brought home the cutest little pot plant called a pocketbook plant, so named because its delicate flowers resemble tiny purses. I set the pot by a window and sort of forgot about it.When I remembered to check on it, the leaves had shriveled up to nothing and all the "purses" were gone. This very same thing happens when couples say their vows and then get busy going about their lives, taking each other for granted and forgetting to check on one another. How quickly love can wither away. So the first rule of marriage gardening is: Pay Attention! You cannot neglect your partner and expect your marriage to flourish.

6 Steps to a Healthy Marriage Garden

Your marriage will reflect the love and care you invest in it. I have discovered a formula that works as well in my marital relationship as it does in my backyard. Here are some tips for making your garden grow:

1. Weed.
Just as weeds can overtake your garden, marital weeds such as anger and impatience can choke out your love for one another. Tear them out by the roots. Make room for patience and tolerance and begin to see happiness in bloom.

2. Water. Without water, even the hardiest of plants will wither up and die. For best results, give your marriage a long, cool drink of love every day. Say it, mean it and show it.

3. Feed. Without the proper nutrients, neither plants nor relationships will thrive. The most effective fertilizers for marriage are kindness and respect. For best results, add emotional support, physical affection and a generous dose of humor.

4. Prune. A lush garden calls for a little trim from time to time. For fresh new growth, rid your marriage of old issues and petty arguments. Clear the air. Forgive and forget. Cooperation and a sense of adventure will produce a budding romance.

5. Spray. Gardens require constant vigilance. In spite of my best efforts, deer have eaten my roses, squirrels have made off with my tomatoes and the bugs have chewed on my basil. Just as predators await the chance to attack your garden, undesirable thoughts and emotions often lurk in relationships. Beware of temptations that would corrupt or eat away at your marriage. Get rid of secrets and lies; say goodbye to pettiness and jealousy; banish any thought of infidelity. For the loveliest marriage garden, cultivate trust through truth.

6. Pray. Sometimes gardens and marriages call for a little divine intervention. No matter what the obstacles, giving up is not an option. When the storm clouds gather, accept the rain for its ultimate benefits. Then get on your knees and pray for the sunshine to return.

So how do you keep your marriage alive? You must constantly enrich it. For a fertile marriage garden, dig in: remember to weed, water, feed, spray and pray-every day.

Additional Bloom Boosters:
.  Set aside a daily time to talk. Choose a time when you won't be interrupted and make it a point to really listen. Communicate thoughts, goals, inspirations and concerns, and by all means, share a laugh.
.  Enjoy a weekly date. Set aside quality couple time, even if it is a planned evening at home after the kids are asleep.
.  Learn something together. Take up a new hobby or sport or participate in a class on a topic of mutual interest.
.  Turn off the TV. Play cards, a board game or Twister, if you are still so inclined-something that requires interaction-or choose a novel that appeals to you both and take turns reading aloud.
.  Keep the romance alive. Hold hands. Leave each other love notes. Call, text or e-mail your spouse just to say, "I'm thinking of you." Think of ways to surprise one another.
.  Touch each other. Never underestimate the power of love pats, hugs, peck kisses, snuggles, foot rubs, neck massages and mini make-out sessions. Small gestures add up to greater intimacy and lead to more fulfilling sex.
.  Allow each other space to grow. Allow time for friends, hobbies and separate interests.
.  Practice the golden rule. Do unto your life partner as you would have him/her do unto you.

Comments? Topic requests? E-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. read previous columns regarding marriage, including romance, finance and sex, visit our archives at www.itsallpink.com.

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