I have a green, leafy plant that was a gift from my mother in law when I returned from my honeymoon in 1990. I had married my college sweetheart just before my 23rd birthday. We were young and broke, and my in-laws had turned their third floor into an apartment for us. When we left for the honeymoon, the place was in chaos from the renovations. When we returned, my wonderful mother in law and one of her friends had turned it into a tiny little newlywed oasis. The plant was one of the many treasures we found there.
I am now almost 49, and I have had that resilient little plant for 26 years. Since it came to live with me, I have lost a baby, had two healthy babies, lost a husband, been given a second chance at happiness with a wonderful second husband, had another baby, welcomed 3 dogs, lost two parents, gained two more parents and 5 siblings and moved 3 times.
As I look at the lush green vines and leaves, I think about not only my own history but that of the plant. It has not always been as healthy as it is today. There have been times that I have neglected it, and it has withered and decayed. Just in the nick of time, I realize that it needs care and I nurse it back to health.
Doesn’t that sound like a marriage? There are times it is beautiful and healthy and the leaves grow and reach for the sun. There are other times that it is disregarded and sits in darkness, yearning for attention.
Living things need sunlight, water, and food to thrive. So, too, does a marriage. We crave the warmth of our partner’s touch, thirst for their attention and hunger for their love.
Several years back, the plant had shrunken down to a single vine, the dry leaves curling and turning brown at the tips. Taking a closer look, I found that it had become completely detached from its roots and was nearly dead. I cut the healthiest leaf I could find, stuck it in a glass of water and put it on a sunny windowsill. Within a few weeks it had sprouted new roots and started to grow again. A few more weeks went by and it was ready to be replanted. I got fresh, healthy new soil and tenderly tucked it into its new home. I watered it and fed it and made sure it got plenty of sunlight. Before long its roots were stronger than they had ever been.
Marriages have to weather many storms and droughts. When cared for properly, they survive, thrive, and become stronger and healthier than ever. Unfortunately, it is so easy to get caught up in the bedlam of daily life that sometimes we forget to do the small things that keep a marriage hardy.
Take the time every day to let him know how much he means to you. See the crinkles at the corner of his eyes and remember the laughter you have shared. Think of how he looked the first time he held your newborn baby.
Tell her she is beautiful with no makeup on. Sneak up behind her and kiss the back of her neck when she’s helping the kids with their homework. Remember all the things that first made you fall in love with her.
These little gestures are what will make getting through the rough patches easier. When you treat each other well in good times, it becomes second nature and carries over to when things aren’t so good. The times when holding a grudge seems better than forgiving, or when giving up seems easier than going the extra mile to make it work. If your marriage has strong roots, it will survive anything.
I don’t always follow my own advice. Sometimes I can be crabby and let the little things drive me crazy. From now on, I plan on taking care of my marriage the way I do my little plant, by giving it love and attention as I watch it grow stronger and stronger.
Gotta go now. I need to find my husband and give him a hug .