A useful metaphor to use regarding relationships is that all relationships are like a garden. This may sound odd, but it can help you understand what goes on between you and your partner. Gardens that get regular, generous attention are full and a great place to be in. Neglected gardens, one tended to by only one person in the team or if one person adds negativity it can make it a painful, stuck place to be.
The gardening in a relationship takes generosity, other focus and curiosity in the each other. It takes focused full attention given to each other every day. It involves creative, spontaneous efforts daily and long term — great surprises, prioritizing one another, informing one another generously. Taking the time to make sure to have a mindful hello and goodbye every time you go. It means you make a great effort to have a relationship and not a problem by focusing on the strengths and embracing the differences and quirks in one another. It means focused and clear boundaries with others so the space between you grows and is a sacred space of your own. Full trust and transparency. Always making the effort to say yes when possible (no closed no’s), prioritizing and protecting the intimacy your partner needs. Fiercely protecting one another’s dignity. All of these can become habits.
Two people building that garden together when both are ready for relationship and equally contribute a lot of love and time into it end up with a space together that becomes full of so much life.
Often, only one person in the couple is managing and working hard to make the relationship strong. Sometimes one partner is either not present or maybe even is adding toxic and infertile elements which is too much for one person to manage. Sometimes planting seeds is all we can do with people and its up to them because they are not ready to really let you in. Counseling can help you assess what is going on and whether each person is ready to grow and change towards the next level — and how to do that.
Relationships are how we grow and develop — it is one important way we learn who we are and who we are not. We hopefully learn about respect, unconditional love and boundaries. If we have had painful life experiences, it can be an important part of how we heal.
All relationships are met with painful challenges. These are often seen as “disasters” when in fact it is just natural unavoidable life circumstances coming into your lives — and it is an opportunity. The couple is tested and where ever there is a weak link, it can break. This is a chance to correct that link and build a stronger partnership — “fertilizer” is added into the garden, which is essential to the richness of the garden.
Men and women communicate and think in very different ways. It is essential to learn what this is and how to bridge this in order to really bring happiness to both.
In a lot of ways, men are not allowed to be fully human culturally speaking. They cannot make mistakes without feeling shamed and don’t feel comfortable with their own emotions. We (men and women) are told that crying is a weakness, that if you are sensitive that you are weak…well, actually the opposite it true. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to allow yourself to experience pain and vulnerability. You are only genuinely strong if you can learn to feel all the feelings in your natural cycle of emotions. It is then that you are close to really knowing who you really are. Of course, when and where to express or trust showing those parts of yourself are key. It is certainly not shared indiscriminately and it is a private self that is a privilege that only proven trusted people in our lives will see. In that way your sensitivity becomes your strength.
The following questionnaire below covers most every difference that causes conflict for couples. Everything on this questionnaire are points that each should have a strong sense about in one another separately and together. Out of all questions, only a handful may likely be up for discussion and in need of negotiation, change, compromise or problem solving/brainstorming. Print out one copy for each of you and answer them separately to see if you both are aware of the points that may be either undiscussed or in conflict.