Revealing brilliance within our relationships through 4 generations…
Love – spreading through the generations of our family…. After my mum died 2 years ago, we found some beautiful letters that my parents wrote to each other at the start of their marriage. They had their ups and downs throughout their lives but they stuck it out through thick and thin. It started me thinking about why and how some relationships become enduring and survive the storms, while others get uprooted and blown away.
How do we create a loving relationship that endures through the seasons of our lives?
Well for me, my love at first sight moment ignited a spark which over the years has grown into a deep and enduring love. It’s been a journey with many highs and lows, sadness and joy, love and hate, ecstasy and despair. I’ve thought about how we’ve survived through the sunny and stormy days of our seasons as we’ve grown together over the last four decades and I’ve added 8 suggestions (keep reading to the end) of some of the things that have worked for us…
Germinating and growing the seed:
A relationship grows from that early seed and like any seed, it needs the right circumstances and environment in which to grow. For a seed to germinate, it takes warmth, moisture and then light and food and it needs the support of other plants and creatures in its environment, like the bees to cross pollinate the flowers enabling the fruit to grow and generate the next seasons flowers to grow.
From the initial spark of desire, we must nourish our relationships in the same way as the seed. We must feed and water our relationships for them to remain healthy and to grow stronger, in order that the flowers can bloom and spread those seeds of love to the next generation. We need to create a healthy environment for our relationship to grow and attract the right people into your life in the same way as the flower attracts the bees – it’s a symbiotic relationship that sustains both the flowers and the bees – an enduring relationship that supports the continuing circle of life…
Fail to feed the plant and the leaves turn brown and the plant appears to be dead, the flowers die and the bees are left without the chance to taste the nectar. Fail to feed a relationship be that with your partner, friends or family and the relationship will also wither away and the opportunity to taste the nectar is lost..
However, in reality, it takes a lot to kill a plant off completely. Nature has a way of rejuvenating itself and even when the leaves have turned brown, the roots often live on. It’s at this point that we may choose to discard the plant thinking it’s not worth saving and we cast it away into the compost heap, thinking all is lost when in reality and with a bit of extra care and attention, the plant could re-grow to become even stronger and healthier than before.
When I first saw Bryan across a room at my sister’s first wedding, I felt that initial spark – as the flame of our love ignited, but it’s taken many years to develop the strong roots that have sustained us, kept us fixed in place when the stormy winds blew and helped us grow when the sun shone onto our lives. …
There have been times when we forgot to water our relationship and our relationship and love for each other started to wither. We were fortunate though – something kept us going and somewhere from deep in our roots, we remembered that we needed to create a better environment for our love to continue and we’re fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who challenge us to look at life from a different perspective when we need it!
After 40 years, we are still learning new ways of doing things together and reminding ourselves of the fun and love we shared in those heady early days as we continue our learning journey together through the different seasons of our relationship.
Did I know in that first moment that I would be with this person for the rest of my life? (well so far anyway – never say never…) No!
Have there been moments when we nearly threw the towel in? Yes!!
Every relationship hits the low times and looking back over our 40 years together, I realise now that the troughs in our relationship, really helped us to develop stronger and stronger bonds. Through those sad and angry times, we learned more about each other and although there were moments when we literally ‘hated’ each other, something always pulled us back from the brink and re-ignited that early ‘spark’ of love and enabled us to enjoy each other again.
What was it that kept us together through the winters?
At times it was pure stubbornness that stopped me from leaving- my parents hadn’t ‘approved’ of the relationship initially as you can see from my mum’s face on the picture above – that changed after a few years and she also grew to love him dearly (long story..).
Although I packed my bags a few times in those early days as we learned to live together (you know what I mean – the irritation that builds when the toothpaste is squeezed from the top of the tube.. You never noticed this when you first started sharing the bathroom – and then there’s the whiskers from shaving left sticking to the sink.. I could go on….) but it was the thought of proving my parents right that held me back from stepping out of the door with my suitcase!
Then there are the more serious issues that come along and as I look back, like most of us, we’ve experienced some testing times: family disputes; jealousies; deep sadness following several miscarriages; having children; work; having NO money; bereavement and many more of the issues that life sometimes throws in to test us….
Thank goodness for that stubborn streak, because if I had taken that step with my packed suitcase, out through the front door during those testing times, we would have missed the opportunity to create a long-lasting, respectful love for each other that has grown deeper over many years.
I look back now and realise that the things that we considered so important when we were younger really weren’t… After 40 years, we’re still working at it and there are still times where we drift apart or take each other for granted. The difference is that now we recognise it and then enjoy re-inspiring our relationship!
Although some relationships do need to end, I wonder how many relationships end unnecessarily or too soon, when with some time and effort and lots of nurturing, they may have survived and developed into an enduring love? How many relationships have been cast onto the compost heap because the leaves had turned brown but the roots remained alive and just needed a bit of loving care and attention to enable the bees to taste the nectar…
In my experience, it is possible to return from those feelings of literally ‘hating’ your partner, back to ‘loving’ them, stronger, deeper and even more than before. As in life, in our relationships, we need to experience and work through the lows to really appreciate the highs.
If you are experiencing a rough period in your relationship, maybe it’s worth trying to focus more time every day, reminding yourself about the things you have loved about your partner previously. Sometimes it takes a bit of uncovering as we often get into the habit of focussing on what ‘irritates’ ‘angers’ ‘saddens’ us …and a whole host more.
If as the saying goes, ‘what you focus on is what you get’, by spending your time thinking about the negative aspects of the person/relationship or thinking about how the ‘grass is greener on the other side’, you are creating an environment where the negative aspects of your relationship will flourish… You create more meaning to the stories you are re-playing in your mind or discussing with your family and friends. You talk about all the ‘problems’ and they seem to grow bigger and to happen more frequently. You then discuss the new problems with your friends and family and with the best intentions, they support your views and reassure you that you’re right in your perception. Do you recognise this? If so, let me challenge you to read on….
Maybe you need to challenge your perception – put your shoe on the other foot and look at things from your partners perspective instead – Are you really always right? Have you ever thought that you were right in your view only to find out sometime later that you weren’t – that you had been looking at the world with rose-tinted glasses? Take another look from a different angle – you’ll be amazed what you may see. Have a look at the photo of the parrot in my previous post… Are thoughts damaging relationships?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to spend some time feeding the roots of your relationship and consider enhancing your environment, to create a greenhouse in which your relationship can flourish before you take the step through the door and cast your relationship to the compost heap……
If so, here are 8 suggestions to try and re-ignite your spark – why not try to spend more time:
Reminding yourself what you loved, admired, respected about your partner in the past and focus on those positive aspects of your relationship. Talk about these things to your friends and family instead of whingeing and moaning….
Creating a vision of what you’d like your relationship to be like now and in the future and agreeing together how this can be achieved. Take the first step in a new direction in your relationship journey…
Taking action to do some of the things together that you’ve been putting on hold – even if you don’t really feel like it – do it anyway! You may be surprised how you enjoy spending time together again.
Reminding yourselves what having fun together once felt like – what did you do in the early days that you enjoyed … dates nights, cinema trips, chatting over a meal, romance and of course great sex!! All the things you once prioritised – do more of those things again.
Trying out some new things together – create a shared ‘bucket list’ and then actually ‘do’ some of the things on the list so you can start ticking them off together and then add more new things on.. You are creating a future together, things to look forward to when the sky looks cloudy overhead..
Communicating with each other – it’s amazing what you find out and learn about each other when you ask a question and then really listen to the response. Challenge yourselves to ask some of the ‘deeper’ questions about your relationship – what works well? what doesn’t work well? what would you like to do differently? – you may be surprised by some of the answers.
Acting – pretend you are in love again and you may re-establish some of the old neural pathways in your mind that have temporarily detached and which ‘acting’ can re-connect and this will then take you back to a time when you really loved each other and thus re-spark those early feelings of lust and love!… Enjoy the performance…
Developing your STUBBORN STREAK! Keep working at it and you may be one of the lucky ones who survives the falling of the autumn leaves and the cold of the winter storms, which enables you to enjoy that feeling of rejuvenation in the spring and the heat of the summer sun, reigniting the passion and joy in your relationship … Maybe then the stem of your relationship will re-grow stronger and support the leaves to grow greener and the flowers to bloom brighter than ever before so you can really enjoy the fruits of your labour..
You never know, with a bit of care and attention, you may be saving the best relationship of your life instead of chucking it onto the compost heap.
So there you have it – from my own experience, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence – Try looking at your garden from a different angle and you may enjoy the scent of flowers you hadn’t even noticed previously on your own side… Plant some new roses on your side of the fence and have fun in the garden together as you watch them flourish and grow then take a moment to sit down together and enjoy their sweet perfume…
Reveal the brilliance within your relationship and enjoy drinking the nectar!
Caveat: There is a difference between nurturing a beautiful plant and a poisonous smothering weed – Some relationships are just toxic and the sooner they end the better for the individuals that are being smothered… Killing the weed in this circumstance allows the plant beneath to flourish once more… Nourish the flowers and not the toxic weeds!