Sunday, September 19, 2010

Roots and Fruit

As we wind down our home garden harvest, I was thinking about a few parallels between the fruit of a good garden and the fruit of a good marriage.  It occurred to me that sometimes the solutions doesn’t immediately seem to relate to the problem.  Too often, I focus on the fruit--the symptom--and not on the root cause.  
For example, this year we had some tomatoes that were beginning to form with bad spots on the bottom of the fruit.  I was confused at first because I tried to make sure I wasn’t splashing any mud on the leaves or fruit when watering, which has been a problem in years past.  I eventually resorted to googling some photos of tomato problems and took a specimen to the garden center.  
The solution?  Calcium.  It was a soil problem.  There’s not enough calcium in my soil.  So, I bought a little bag of ‘Tomato-tone’ a slow-release fertilizer containing calcium.  I also sprinkled some crushed egg shells around the roots of my tomato plants.  Believe it or not, problem solved.  This is not the only example, though.  Whether you want better blooms on your hydrangea or more fruit on your blueberries, you’ve got to have good soil for healthy roots.
Incidently, you can also graft a plant onto the roots from another plant in order to avoid some external problems.  The grafted plant’s ability to grow, bear fruit and the fruit’s ability to resist disease will be largely determined by the properties of the root stock.
Too often I neglect the roots and think that a quick pruning will take care of the problem.  I just pick off the bad fruit or the wilted and yellowed leaves.  This works if there is an external problem, or if the problem is improper growth.  But, more often, the external problem AND the improper growth will be remedied by amending the soil and fixing the roots.  When we fix the roots, the fruit often takes care of itself.
The roots of a healthy marriage are not really that complicated.  As in the garden, however, the roots are often ignored.  What are these roots?  From my perspective:
Talk: Mrs. O. needs to hear that I appreciate her for who she is--I enjoy her sense of humor, I appreciate that she takes such good care of me and our boys, I want to spend time with her.  She needs to hear that I love her.  It is good to show love with actions, but I don’t think this is wholly adequate.  It is essential to hear it.
Touch: From a simple affectionate touch to making love, touch can be calming and disarming.  Mrs. O. told me once that when she sits next to me with her legs resting on my lap it makes her feel like she’s getting away with something.  I had no idea that it meant so much to her, but I’m glad she let me know.  What a simple way to make her feel treasured.  I’ve also noticed that when we get into a tense discussion, sitting on the couch next to her solves half the problem instantly.  It’s just not possible to fight as intensely with that kind of posture.
Recreation: Date nights are essential to that mysterious feeling of being ‘connected.’  Whether reading, shopping, gardening, or playing video games, we both need that recreational time regularly.
Security: I think this one can be pretty simple, but easy to overlook and sometimes uncomfortable to implement.  For Mrs. O. security builders include: locking the doors before I go to bed, whisking away bugs before she even knows they’re nearby, and handling the difficult conversations with friends and family.
Trust: At first, I thought security and trust were kind of the same, but I think differently now.  I build Mrs. O’s trust by doing things as simple as making her aware of my daily schedule--where am I going to lunch, how many appointments do I have, what will my tasks look like today.  She feels trusted and I become trustworthy to her when I share the details with her.
These are just a few of the things that I would call the roots of marriage.  Whatever the symptoms, I find that these are often the solutions.  Sometimes they don’t even seem related to the issue that is giving me pause, but when I feed these roots, the fruit takes care of itself.

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