Michael and I woke up on Saturday and decided that it was finally time to deal with our backyard. We had put it off long enough. Last winter was very cold for our part of the country and many of the native New Mexican plants in our backyard didn’t survive the cold weather.  We tried to nurture and pamper them back to life but to no avail; they were gone and we had to face it. Fourteen years of enjoying them and it was time to pull out the dead bushes and plants and put in something new. Yep, this was going to be a project there was no doubt about it. 

As we discussed the matter, I found myself trying to simplify the project. “What if we just get rid of the plants that look the worst?” I said.  Michael looked at me kind of surprised and said, “Babe, all the dead ones look the worst.” “Well, how about we just work on one area now and then do another area in a few weeks or so?” “Really?” he said. “You want to prolong this project?” No, I didn’t want to prolong it; I just didn’t want to put forth the effort that was needed to complete the task. Not to mention, it was sad to me. I needed to deal with the fact that what was once vibrant and beautiful was now dead and ugly. What I really wanted to do was close my eyes and then open them again and see my old plants revived and renewed to what they use to be.

Wow, sounds so much like the marriages that we work with. We have couples coming into our office saying that they want “what use to be there to be there again.” In reality, it isn’t bad to want that but marriage is fluid and constantly changing and you can’t keep what was there 5, 10 or 15 years ago and force it to be a part of today. The two of you will change over time and your marriage needs to change too. Places in marriage get ugly, stagnant and even die and these places must be pruned or pulled up and thrown away. Sometimes, we need to plant something new in our marriages and nurture and pamper it so it will grow. There are even times when we spend too much time trying to make something dead alive again and in reality, we just need to pull it up, get rid of it and plant something new.

To be honest, we experience all kinds of emotions when we go through this process; sadness, anger, hurt, disappointment, etc. If we don’t face these emotions and feel them, then we will push them down and resentment will build and before we know it, we will be disconnected and indifferent in our relationships. Denying something never works well in general, but in relationships, it is a real killer. If we are going to thrive and grow in our marriages and heal from the “cold winters,” we need to face the damage and deal with it. We need to pull up the old and dead areas and plant new things. 

Do you see places in your marriage that need to be pruned or pulled up and removed? Do you struggle letting go of what was and embracing what is?  Maybe it’s time to do a little work in your “marriage garden” and nurture it to maturity. Not sure how to do that? Feel stuck? Contact the Family Lifeline and let us help you “landscape” your marriage.

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