And they can often be linked back to nature. That first flush of passion is when you see the world through rose-tinted glasses. It’s like spring is in the air – everywhere you look, things are blooming and bursting with life.
But as the hot summer (no doubt, filled with a few rolls in the hay!) draws to a close, you might find yourself in a more “settled” period of your relationship. There are still some fiery colours there… but this time is a lot more comfortable, more familiar. Like a comfy sweater you turn to when you’re cold.
Sometimes you miss the new buds of springtime or the passionate heat of summer… but autumn can be a very special time, indeed. It’s when you start finishing each other’s sentences (without trying to be cutesy about it). When you start imagining a future together. When you feel more grounded, more centred in their company than anyone else’s.
Before you know it, the warm glow of autumn can be replaced by frost and ice. The only thing you have to talk about is the kids, or household chores, or idle gossip about the neighbours. Because as you get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of marriage and, well, life… you might forget what made you fall in love in the first place.
Until one day, you wake up feeling like you’re sharing a bed with a stranger. A very polite stranger, but a stranger nonetheless.
For many of us lucky lovebirds, we never get to that stage. (Lady Greenfingers and I somehow manage to enjoy spring through autumn all at once!) But we have seen some of our nearest and dearest on this downward trajectory. And these couples seem to follow a similar pattern:
Of course, these couples are just trying to make things work as best they can. With busy jobs and a few kids to mind, they don’t think they’ve time to enjoy being a couple anymore.
And the tag-team thing is a pretty good idea… after all, it means they get to have time to themselves. Otherwise, they’d crack up!
But still. What the above scenario looks like is two people who are too exhausted each evening to talk to each other. Who barely see each other over the weekend. Who don’t share any hobbies and who are like passing ships in the night.
Not exactly the recipe for a happy marriage!
Of course, there’s no “quick fix” to mending a damaged or broken relationship. But something as simple as taking up a hobby together – whether it’s a morning jog, a weekly language lesson or a monthly dance class – can work wonders!
There’s plenty of hobbies you could share. But since this site is all about gardening (and since it works so well for Lady Greenfingers and I!) I thought I’d explain how gardening can benefit even the thorniest of relationships.
Life gets pretty serious sometimes, right? Well, being out in the fresh air, playing together in the garden, means you can let go of all that adult stuff. It’s your chance to feel like a kid again, enjoying time outdoors after school.
Sure, you’ve had a tough day at work. And you’re probably tempted to crash out on the couch with a beer in hand. But – and trust me on this – even 20 minutes in the garden can be enough to turn your whole mood around. You’ll be refreshed, re-energised… and a much nicer person at the dinner table!
Plus, as you enjoy seeing your gorgeous garden unfold, you can see your partner blossoming, too. You see a side to them that you may not have seen in years. Your own playful, flirtatious side takes over and before long, you’re throwing grass at each other, chasing each other around the trees and embarrassing your kids with your “gross” displays of affection.
Relationships are often fraught with breakdowns in communication. Therapists make their livelihoods from it. And if we just listened to each other, many of our problems would cease to exist!
But when you engage in a meditative, “flow-state” activity like gardening, you learn to be more mindful. You become focused on the task at hand, drowning out the constant chatter and worries of your mind. Eventually, you become more mindful and aware of what’s happening in the present moment. So whether your partner is complaining about work, sharing a funny story from the day or asking your opinion about an outfit, you’re able to stay fully present. To listen to what they have to say.
Most importantly, if you don’t happen to like what it is they’re saying, you’re able to respond, rather than react. Well done, you.
The really cool thing about gardening together is that you’ll both develop this mindfulness. So you can have grown-up discussions rather than heated arguments. Listening to each other’s opinions and trying to understand your different viewpoints, instead of trying to hurt each other with catty remarks. It’s a much healthier form of communication – any therapist worth their Himalayan Rock Salt will tell you that – and gardening is a great way to learn it!
You embark on this task as a unit. Whether you’re planting a tree, a couple of geraniums or a window box for herbs, you’re both involved from the outset.
You’ll experience the highs and lows of gardening together. Some plants might not make it due to bad weather or inexperience. Weeds might take over. Fruit and veg might rot in the ground.
But, oh, when it works! When you experience the wonder of those green buds, of your efforts bursting forth! Whether the result is especially beautiful flowers or especially delicious food on your plate, you were both involved in the method. You created this thing together. And you deserve to enjoy it… together.
Gardening gives you a chance to enjoy some essential alone time. (Although of course, you can always get the kids involved, too.) Engaging in something that’s a world away from your office jobs or other responsibilities. In something that’s creative, productive – and fun.
I meant “hoe” strictly in the gardening equipment sense. Of course. But if you and your missus have been experiencing some frosty times, what are you waiting for?
Get out there in the sunshine, get your hands dirty together and watch your marriage bloom again.