My wife and I are both marriage therapists and we have a favorite saying that we share whenever we do a marriage education class: the grass is always greener where you water it. This saying actually applies not just to marriage, but to all areas of our lives: jobs, parenting, friendships, physical wellness, and of course lawn care! This week we learned that Al and Tipper Gore are divorcing after forty years of marriage. Apparently they both came to the conclusion that their marriage had become a fence that was holding them back from something greener, something better on the other side. They came to the conclusion that live would be greener on the other side of the fence. I have no intention of joining all those who are trying to speculate on the "real" reasons for their break up. I do know this though about all marriages: like a garden, they require ongoing watering and weeding. It is easy to recognize gardens and marriages that are being watered and cared for on a regular basis.
If you wished to become a master gardner, a master at growing plants, you would no doubt read books, take classes and talk to others you could learn from. That approach also works well for those who want to become a master at "growing their marriages" as well. And speaking of books, let me recommend a relatively new one called The New Rules of Marriage: What You Need to Know to Make Love Work, by Terrence Real.
Below you will find a quick summary of his thoughts on the five things that build up a relationship and the five things that break relationships apart. He calls these the five "losing strategies" and the five "winning strategies." While he is writing about marriage, it really applies to all the important relationships in our lives.
The Five Losing Strategies
- Needing to be right
- Controlling your partner
- Unbridled self-expression
The Five Winning Strategies
- Shifting from complaint to request
- Speaking out with love and savvy
- Responding with generosity
- Empowering each other
I highly recommend the book to anyone who wants to grow and co-create better relationships in their lives. Getting new input on a regular basis is vital for growers of plants and growers of relationships. That's the first step. The second step is then doing the work!
Remember, the grass is always greener when and where you water it!