Do you tend to your relationships the same as your plants?

While visiting a guy I’m dating, I had some free time as he was BBQing dinner. I noticed some of his patio plants needed a little cleaning up. I asked him if I could tend to them and he said sure.

HouseplantAs I began to clean out the spent blooms and dried leaves, it struck me that perhaps how one cares for one’s plants reflects how one cares for one’s relationship(s). Noticing his plants were a little neglected, I wondered if that was what was in store for me.

Then I reflected on how I tend my own plants and what parallels I might draw. I purposefully have low-maintenance plants, both inside and outside. A year after my husband left 3 years ago, I decided I wanted front and back yards that gave me much joy and pleasure, but with little maintenance. Interesting that this decision was made within a few months of my beginning to date — to look for a man who I loved being with and gave me great joy — and, of course, pleasure! I merrily ripped out every shred of my dreary, married-life less-than-thriving front yard. Hmm, although I didn’t admit it at the time, in retrospect, that is somewhat parallel to my near-the-end marriage.

Although it was hard work, I and a helper carefully and lovingly installed the new year-round blooming plants — and no lawn. Lawn would require mowing. Too much work! I wanted something joyful every season. My landscape designer even included a heart-shaped path. How serendipitous for this metaphor is that? And the hard work — isn’t that part of any good relationship?

Low maintenance was key for me. I installed an automatically timed drip system so I didn’t have to worry about watering. My ex liked to hand water the old yard. But, like his nurturing of me, he’d neglect to water and the plants showed it by staying small, ragged, or, ultimately, shriveling. Hmm, another apt parallel.

When friends would suggest I add a fountain, bird feeder or bird bath to my new yard, I’d quickly respond “I don’t want to have to take care of anything.” Since my husband was high maintenance — I did 90% of the “couples” business (paying bills, making travel plans, suggesting outings, household maintenance management), I am burnt out on taking care of things. I certainly don’t want a man I have to take care of, and it would be nice for a change if he did a little taking care of me.

This Spring I completed my yard overhaul by revamping my back yard, including taking out trees, lawn and some ratty old raised beds my ex had haphazardly put together. I added a flagstone patio, several seating areas to enjoy the sun or shade, and all year-round blooming flowers. The flagstone is more permanent — reflecting, perhaps my desire and readiness for a more permanent relationship? We’ll see. I do know I now love both my yards — and will put the same thought and care into designing and nurturing my next relationship.

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