Hull: My marriage is like a rose bush
The good news is that I love rose bushes, so you can breathe a sigh of relief. Just the word rose brings about an immediate sensory reaction for me. I can almost smell it now, can you? Take one moment and inhale, no really it is OK to inhale in this instance.
I can see the beauty of the vibrant colors and feel the velvet of the petals, and ouch! I can also feel the sharpness and pain of the thorns! I love to watch when the first new growth of little delicate red leaves emerge from the bare trunks. Just one whiff of that lovely rose can immediately impact my mood. Unlike so many other flowers that have just one fragrance, there are many varieties of roses with a multitude of wonderful smells. Obviously, I am nuts about roses and would have the biggest rose garden ever if I could.
There are some challenges with roses. This shouldn’t surprise any of us, as with most things there is good and bad. Roses are subject to a variety of pathogens such as powdery mildew, rust, black spot and, of course, the dreaded aphid. Don’t worry. I will get to the marriage comparison shortly. How do we treat or get rid of the problems attacking our cherished plants? We can purchase a multitude of chemicals which can be quite harsh on the blooms, or we can take the garden hose and spray the heck out of them, hoping they survive our watery attack. Probably no surprise, I prefer the second approach, as it allows me to vent any pent-up frustration while ridding my plants of the unwanted guests. There are, of course, new varieties that claim to be disease free! Wow, wouldn’t we like that kind of guarantee with our marriage? Now what fun would that be?
OK, so here it goes the analogy of my rose garden marriage.
When we first begin the long and winding road called marriage, we are like that bare root just waiting to be nurtured tenderly in the rich, fertile soil. We are strong and resilient to all of what life has to throw at us, or so we think. Every day we tend to the needs of our partner with love and anticipation of the joy and happiness that will be reciprocated with the appropriate attention. It really is a beautiful thing when two people come together with all of their hopes and dreams just waiting to bloom in their own fragrant garden. My husband, Clay, and I started out with so many goals for ourselves and our family but we had not done the preparation necessary to protect our new garden from all the diseases and pests that would attempt to destroy us. Let me say right now that we are thriving after 34 years of hard work and commitment, but it would probably have been easier with a more nurturing environment at the start. Honestly we just didn’t know.
This is the case with so many people. They just aren’t prepared and really have no idea what marriage really entails. I believe that it is the only license you can obtain without any prior training or certification. How absolutely crazy is that? ’Til death us do part or whenever? Most of us are practically babies when we take our vows without any idea of who we really are or frankly, most times, who that other person is that we just committed to for eternity.
There are some benefits to that versus waiting until you are older as you can “train” each other to the likes and dislikes of each other a bit easier when you are younger. We all tend to get set in our ways as we age, which makes it a little tougher to accept each other quirky habits. I am not saying that you can’t make a marriage work when you get older. This is just my own observations of the people that I have encountered in my journey.
So how can we prepare our soil and protect our plants? For Clay and me, it would have been helpful to identify what being “happily married” really means. I don’t mean the definition that TV, movies or Hollywood gives it either. I spoke about seizing the moments of joy in life in my last article which is exactly what I believe that you have to do with marriage.
I heard a story about a woman who had been married for 50 years, when asked what her secret was, she said “I have been happily married for 20 years!” The people listening thought that she was having memory loss and corrected her by reminding her that she had been married 50 years, not 20. She laughed and looked right at them and said, “Like I said, I have been happily married 20 years but legally married 50 years.” There were a couple of happy days here and then a couple of happy months there, which when you added them up it totaled 20 happy years.
I mean really, what do we think? Are we going to be happy 24/7? Of course not. So what do we do during all the other difficult periods in our marriage? These are the times when you spray the heck out of your rose bush! Just kidding, but these are the dangerous times when the diseases and pests arrive. Be prepared! Anticipate them! Don’t live in fear but make sure that you are nurturing your marriage/plant. Spend the time with it so that you can notice any changes that might lead you down the path of destruction.
Fortunately, my husband and I had enough sense to know that we were making a commitment and not a “let’s give it a try.” We weren’t going to remake the decision that we had already made.
Please understand that I am aware that there are bad situations in the world where the marriage does need to be dissolved, but I am not speaking to those situations. I also am not a holier-than-thou type of person either. We have made sooooo many mistakes and experienced sooooo many hurtful situations during the course of our marriage. However, I am here to tell you that we survived and we are now starting to bloom again.
We often times wonder what if we had given up during those times when our marriage felt so barren. In the midst of the deepest, coldest and darkest winter, the tiny red leaves began to emerge again. Never before did these leaves look so beautiful and hopeful. Within them lie the promise of the soft velvet petals and the oh-so-fragrant aroma of roses in bloom!
Hull is a wife, mother and motivational speaker and writer who, like many others, recently moved to Dickinson because of the energy industry. She writes a recurring column for Our Town and blogs at bloomwhereyouareplanted.areavoices.com.