First of all, to spare potential disappointment, I want you to know from the get-go this has nothing to do with the Grateful Dead. So if you thought I was going to help you talk your spouse into taking a retro adventure, uh . . . sorry.
Let’s talk about my backyard. I took a look around the other day and noticed my once-lush marigold plants seemed to be withering. There were as many dried-up brown flower heads as there were yellow ones. So I set about deadheading them – snapping off crusty remnants of blooms. I was surprised at how much time had passed when the last plant was finally cleaned up.
I stood back to admire my handiwork and was impressed – lush plants had magically reappeared! Instead of seeing brittle flower heads that indicated an expiration date was a breath away, I saw the plethora of new buds ready to open up and keep the full blooms company. Kind of like marriage, I thought. Sometimes we look at our marriage and see more dried up flowers – disappointments, grudges, hurt feelings, nurtured anger – than healthy blooms. That’s when you know it’s time to deadhead! When we deliberately clear away those dusty areas, letting go of negative attitudes and complacency that settles in when our guard is down, we do more than freshen our marriage. We open up spaces for the new buds of kindness, gratitude and appreciation to bloom alongside the mature flowers that are still brightly hued. And then we can all live happily ever after, right?
Not quite yet.
The next day when I stepped out to savor coffee amidst my revived plants, I was dismayed to see numerous dried-up flowerheads had cropped back in while I slept. I immediately starting snapping off the intruders. Within a couple of minutes, the plants were restored to their cleaned-up vibrancy. And then it hit me. It only took minutes because I had done it so recently.
You know where I’m going with this, right?
As I see it, whether it’s gardens or marriages, we have three options:
Option 1: Ignore the situation entirely and let nature take its course. With no attention to the dying blooms, they will continue to absorb energy from the plant, thus causing the other blooms to die off quicker. Before you know it, the whole thing is one overgrown, brown, negative mess that can’t possibly be restored.
Option 2: Once in a great while deadhead so you can appreciate the huge difference of the before and after. Let it get rundown and then toss at it some effort and care so you can enjoy a special moment. Repeat as necessary to keep some life in it.
Option 3: Invest a little time in it daily to keep it always looking its best. You won’t have a dramatic ‘Before and After’ to prove to outsiders how much work you put into it, but you will have beautiful, well-cared for blooms that will flourish.
Let’s choose wisely.