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Mutual Gardens are Better  

Debbi and I saw a play last weekend that stimulated some thoughts to share here.  One of the characters told a story about her parents who had the apparently “perfect marriage” and ended up getting a divorce.  She said that during their marriage her father had described her mother as a beautiful garden and it was his job to tend the garden and see it grow and develop.  The character had asked her mother after the divorce what the problem was and her mother responded that she wanted to nurture the garden as well.

Those of you who have been paying attention to me for a while may remember I often talk about a relationship as being like a garden.  It takes a lot of work to get it started and needs continual tending and nurturing, but provides great rewards in the long term.  The story from the play struck me with how important it is that couples see their relationship as something distinct from them as individuals and that they both devote energy to nurturing and growing the relationship.  When both parties in a couple work together to nurture and grow the relationship, the outcome can be a beautiful thing.

When one person sees it as their role to take care of or fix or devote themselves to the other and doesn’t see this as something that is reciprocal, there is a tendency for an imbalance to occur creating problems and resentment.  This usually leads to disengagement over time and consequently the breakdown of the relationship.  Mutuality is important.  Make sure to be both a giver and a taker in a relationship.  Working out a comfortable way to go back and forth with this in a relationship is a good way to develop and enhance mutuality.

If you are interested in the play, it is called Beautiful Broken and is playing at the Broken Nose Theatre in Chicago through April 20th.  The big message is really about the havoc that can ensue from trying to fix someone else in a relationship, but there are other good family/relationship messages as well.