By: Tess Worrell
I know it’s a cliche–one most deny. But, looking out our window, I saw it. Our neighbor’s grass really is greener.
My neighbor spends upwards of 15 hours a week. . . . .on. . .his. . .grass. He mows, rakes, fertilizes, and who knows what else. He is out there every single day doing something to improve his yard. When I see how dedicated he is to a fertile, lush lawn–I have a hard time resenting the prettier view he enjoys. He’s earned it. He also offers a living example of how to be the one with the greener grass.
When we look at others’ relationships, it can be easy to envy the “greener grass” they enjoy. The easy camaraderie. The shared laughter. The intimacy and connectedness that characterize happily married couples. It can also be easy to miss how much work these couples put into their relationship . . .every. . . .single. . . day. Rather than envy these couples and wish for their spouse, we can enjoy those same benefits by investing some of the same work into the relationship we have. So, how do we make the grass greener?
Happily married couples weed out the bad. Much like my neighbor mows, weeds, and rakes to remove anything that might interfere with his grass thriving–couples must remove the obstacles that interfere with their marriage thriving.
- When conflict threatens, couples resolve the dispute. They don’t just let the issue fester, eating away at their relationship and using up good will. When differing perspectives or priorities threaten the relationship, couples find a way to blend their insights, forge a completely new path, or live with the differences in a healthy way. If they can’t find a way to resolve, the couple seeks help from others–valuing their ongoing relationship more than anything they might have to give up.
- When one hurts the other, couples repair the damage. They overtly recognize the hurt and apologize. They establish new ways of relating that recognize and protect their partner’s vulnerable places. They initiate patterns to meet realistic expectations.
- When temptation invades, they kill it. The neighbor doesn’t tolerate weeds. He knows they will come, and he stands ready to kill them immediately. Temptation will come to marriage. The attractive, helpful, engaging coworker. The possibility of a key promotion. The desire to see home as simply a place to relax rather than expend energy. Temptations toward other people, other priorities, and our own laziness threaten to weaken the relationship if left growing. Nipping them in the bud keeps the relationship paramount.
Happily married couples nurture the good. My neighbor feeds his grass regularly to ensure it grows healthy and strong. So, do successful couples. They work diligently to nurture every aspect of their relationship.
- Couples make time to connect and share. Whether they take the first 15 minutes each is home in the evening or schedule a regular date night, couples nurture the relationship through intentional times to talk to each other. And, about more than who’s picking up the milk or getting the kids to band. They continue the conversations they began when dating. Conversations about dreams and hopes, fears and hurts. As they share, couples build ever-deepening bonds.
- Couples invest in each other. Each learns the other’s love language and intentionally finds ways to express love in a way uniquely suited to his/her spouse. Each takes note of the other’s dreams and works to support those. Each actively affirms the other to both directly and when speaking about their spouse to others.
- Couples prioritize intimacy. They nurture their physical relationship alongside the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Let’s face it–it’s easy to let this go. Especially once children come along–draining energy and taking time. Whether scheduling a weekend away or putting kids to bed early–couples find a way to connect physically to keep their passion alive and nurturing the rest of their relationship.
Don’t look longingly at others. When couples intentionally nurture and protect their relationship, they get greener grass at home.