Cultivating communication

20150522_163024The sun was hot on my neck, the trim of my t-shirt was wet with a mixture of sweat and dust.  My wrists and forearms were beginning to fatigue and yet, my husband and I had only made it half-way through weeding the flower bed.  The weeds grow where nothing else thrives, tenacious, invasive, deep rooted and abundant.  My back hunkered over a particularly hearty specimen, my spade deep in the earth, my other fist clenched around its wide base.  I grunt loudly, my arm pulling upward with all the strength I could muster, giving a final effective tug.  The weed’s root was about 9 inches in length and it looked like a large white carrot dangling from my gloved hand.  Victorious I grinned and mocked several body builder poses to my husband.  “You must love me” I state.  “Yes” he says smirking “and while anyone else seeing you right now would think you are crazy, you amuse me while I am doing quite possibly the world’s most thankless task.”  It was then my husband stated weeding is a metaphor for a relationship.  If you don’t pull the weeds through communication the relationship can get choked out.  “Think about this side yard, he said his arm doing a sweeping motion in front of him. “It is just like a relationship that’s been ill tended, neglected.  Working together, through communication we can dig up the distractions by the roots and clear out everything but the flowers.  It’s two people working for a common goal, beautification or love.”

He has a good point.  Relationships do take work, all the crap out there about finding the perfect guy or gal, the perfect relationship well, that’s just a lie we’ve been sold.  Show me one perfect person, much less two and then we can talk about a “perfect” relationship.  News flash, I’m not perfect.  I still have a lot to learn, practice and master.

A good relationship is a blend of flexibility and allowance for each person to be themselves, imperfect and glorious.  An ever changing landscape of humanity, full of unique expressions, opinions, ideas and emotions adds color to the bouquet in the so called garden of love.

“Don’t let the tall weeds cast a shadow on the beautiful flowers in your garden.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

You should not have to cut off parts of yourself to conform to a relationship.  You should be able to remain your quirky self in a healthy relationship.  You may need to be flexible enough to bend however.  Let’s face it, there are times to be rigid and draw the boundary line in the proverbial sand.  There are other times when compromise is warranted and actually optimal.  I have my preference regarding music, my husband has his.  There are times we listen to his selections and times we listen to mine.  It’s give and take, its meeting in the middle.  Yes, little things do matter because they can grow into larger issues if unresolved.  The task of weeding can be enormous and monumental if regular maintenance doesn’t happen.  Compromise can often be the weed barrier in tool kit of relationship rescue.

Relationships that are plagued by wishing the other person would change are about as successful as attempting to water the garden while holding a rotating sprinkler in your hands.  In the end the only one who is going to be soaked and in need of a change is the person doing the wishing.  There is a saying that I’m going to take some liberty with, wishes in one hand, fertilizer in the other and see which weighs more.  Using proper implements, such as listening, asking a question to better understand another point of view, restating what you have heard, often lead to insights that allow ideas and communication to flow where only, “fertilizer” was before.

Another handy tool is acknowledgement when you may have been able to handle a situation a little better and when necessary, apologize and ask for forgiveness.  Relationships aren’t that much different from recess in grade school.  You know when you’ve hurt your friend’s feelings.  Let them go first on the swing set, and compliment them when they have worked hard on accomplishing a goal.  Be a good, loyal friend and when you can’t say something nice, reflect before saying anything you might regret.  If you do say something you shouldn’t, let your partner know you regret it, apologize and ask forgiveness.  It is the band aid on a wound.  If you are sincere, just like the bandage on a cut, the wound will heal.

On that same note, when a sincere apology is offered to you, accept it and grant forgiveness.  Forgiving is not forgetting.  Forgiving is healing, both for you and the other party.  Forgive one another, then communicate about how in the future you may prefer the situation to go, you know, in that “perfect world” scenario.  And for those times you don’t feel like giving forgiving or compromising with each other, my husband and I offer free counseling services right in our front yard.  You just bring some relationship weeds to pull, we’ll provide the gloves and spades, and we can get you both working toward a common goal.


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