I like to think I have a green thumb. In fact, when I was in college, I created a lesson for my science class on teaching children the four essential ingredients every living thing needs to survive: air, water, soil, and sunlight. I dressed up in my “I love plants” t-shirt, rocked my polka-dotted gardening boots, and even dyed my thumb green to emphasize my mad skillz. My name was Gertrude the Gardener and my goal was for each student to remember the four ingredients.
I quickly ushered them into a line to take them right to the source: the great outdoors. Tucked under my arm, I carried “The Life Box”, a special box containing all 4 precious ingredients. As each student took in their surroundings, I asked them to share with their partner, what they thought the 4 ingredients were. Students then had the opportunity to guess what they thought was inside the box. I wanted them to appreciate what was in there. I wanted to get them to look at the ingredients, not as we normally take advantage of them, expecting them to always be there, but for the amazing power they had as they worked together to sustain life. After the conclusion of the lesson, we marched back to class in what resembled a human choo-choo train, chanting:
Water, Sunlight, Soil, and Air
Water, Sunlight Soil, and Air
Water, Sunlight, Soil, and Air
The lesson inspired me so much, that not long after, as soon as I was married, I marched in Gertrude fashion to the garden section of The Home Depot and bought my first real house plant. I endearingly named him, “Freddy”, thinking that perhaps by naming my newfound green friend, I might keep him alive longer. How hard could it be? I was armed with all the knowledge I needed. Give him a little air, water him once in a while, plant him in rich, healthy soil, and set him up near a window so he can bathe in the natural light.
A marriage is much like a plant. In fact, it needs the same 4 ingredients to stay alive:
Air can be equated with good chemistry or connection. In fact, many words used to describe physics, can also be used to describe good marriage chemistry:
Connect by sharing common goals. Dream together. Have fun together.
Water- I know you’ve heard the phrase, “The grass is greener where you water it.” Watering a plant is a continuous thing. You must be willing to give plenty of thoughtful attention to your spouse, be authentic, have good communication, be vulnerable with each other, and build trust and intimacy. We often get caught up in work, household duties, children, and even watching television and becoming absorbed in social media. We can’t forget our relationships. We all know what happens to the neglected houseplants after a vacation. Water keeps your relationship vibrant and healthy.
Sunlight is the admiration, positivity, healing, blissfulness, and peace that comes with having a good partner. It’s so important to do your part in creating a positive environment for your spouse. Don’t forget to make them feel special and remind them often of why you love them.
Soil is where the roots are planted and receive nutrition. You can not forget the roots of your relationship. This can equate to the commitment you both have for one other. Without soil, the plant has nothing to hang on to. Similarly, without commitment, your marriage will die.
For eight long years, Freddy was a part of the family. I watered him, changed his soil periodically, and moved him around the house so he could receive adequate sunlight. He was my first houseplant as a newly married woman. Like my new marriage, Freddy was new and I looked at him with pride. Unfortunately though, after 8 years of care, along with my withering marriage, Freddy’s life took a turn for the worst. As I became preoccupied with the unexpected circumstances in my life, Freddy received less of what he needed to survive. He began to become uprooted because of his nutrient poor soil. Like my husband’s commitment to me, my commitment to Freddy vanished into thoughts of my own survival from day to day.
Ironically, Freddy’s life lasted from the beginning to the end of my marriage.
What’s in your marriage Life Box? Are you neglecting to provide an essential ingredient? If so, I encourage you to come with Gertrude and look into your box with a new pair of eyes..
..and maybe a green thumb.