I will never forget parts of my childhood and one of the things I remember best is my father complaining about how he could never get the grass to grow healthy. He’d complain about weeds; he’d complain about fungus; he’d complain about too little rain, too much rain, not enough sunshine, kids in the yard and more. Then one day he decided to have the entire yard cut up and had all new sod put down. I’ll never forget how carefully he took care of that new sod. He watered it religiously, fertilized it in accordance with the landscaper’s directions and mowed it (or told me to mow it) weekly in season. I’d like to discuss the implications and analogies that my father’s yard care represented in comparison to relationships – which is most often how the green grass on the other side of the fence statement is applied.
If my father’s yard represented a relationship, how he cared for it originally couldn’t really be called “caring.” He didn’t work to achieve the relationship. It feel in his lap when he bought the house. Of course, the builder had planted the cheapest seed he could find in whatever dirt and gravel was there after the construction of the house was complete. Think about how apropos that is for comparing the yard to a relationship. Most of those people get into are by accident and often the side effect of another activity or event. The other person is in whatever emotional state that their last relationship left them in… and quite often that’s not the best of shape; kind of like grass trying to stay alive in crappy soil with no care.
And then we’re in that relationship trying to care for it. What do we do? Do we just provide “basic maintenance” like mowing it weekly and occasionally watering it? If we do, we shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t thrive. It’s barely hanging on as it is. It needs nurturing, time, effort and attention. When our neighbor is doing that and we’re not it’s no surprise that his yard looks a lot better. At that point the grass is greener on the other side of the fence (or property line). But what if we put proper value on that yard (relationship) and put the correct time, care and attention into it from the beginning? It would flourish and grow and look gorgeous wouldn’t it?
My dad had a different solution. He completely trashed what was there (had the yard pulled up including the top inch of soil/dirt that it was growing in) and had it replaced with new, healthy grass. Of course, that new healthy grass had been quite traumatized too – but it sure looked good! Even with the yard scars that existed between the pieces of sod, the grass looked good. And due to his investment in the sod and the labor of having the yard replaced, he took good care of it. He didn’t want to lose his investment.
I can’t help but wonder: as he thought “the grass is greener over there,” and had his entire yard re-sod, what would have happened had he (instead) taken care of the yard he had in the same way he took care of the new yard?
That thought applies to a lot of relationships as well. People “get in a rut,” (which, when you think about it is a spot worn in healthy grass) and stop actively taking proper care of their relationship. They don’t invest the time. They don’t invest the emotional care. They don’t invest the attention and drive to see it thrive and flourish. Instead, once in that rut, they take it for granted. They provide minimal care and then they seem confused when someone else’s relationship IS flourishing. The grass is greener… right?
Before you start thinking that the relationship you’re in isn’t the best and you look around to see how great others are, stop and take a breath. Take an honest look at your relationship and evaluate the time, care and concern you’re investing in it. Are you taking care of it? Providing it what it needs to grow and flourish? Of course, with a yard it’s just one sided ownership and care, but in a relationship it’s a two way street. Is your partner providing the same time, care and concern?
If YOU are the yard that’s being neglected, there’s nothing wrong with making sure your partner understands the neglect you feel and what is necessary to help make things better. Your partner will understand and take the requisite actions… or fail to and thereby demonstrate that they really don’t care. At that point, it’s time to move on. Don’t neglect yourself by allowing someone else to continually neglect you and make you feel of lesser value.
It IS a two way street though. Are YOU investing the time, care and attention that your partner needs? Are YOU empowering the relationship to grow and flourish? If not, you have the responsibility of fixing yourself too. Or… you can simply find a new yard that looks better. But eventually you have to realize that if you don’t care for your yard… no matter how good it looked when you got it… it will deteriorate and die from neglect. You can prevent that. Take proper care. The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence; the grass is greener where you tend to it properly.