Is Our Marriage Plastic Flowers Or A Rose Bush?
I was reading a friend’s post on Facebook asking, “What is the value of marriage?” She had listened to a lecture by OSHO and she quoted him as saying, “Love is like a rose bush, and marriage is like plastic flowers”.
I didn’t hear the lecture, but I got it. I didn’t know I got it until I was purchasing a Google Adwords Express contract over the phone. The salesman was doing a great job and near the end I asked him out of the blue if he was married.
He told me that he had done it all wrong. He was going to get married in November, but that he had been with his girlfriend for seven years, they had a six year old child and a four month old baby. I blurted out, “No, my friend, you have done it all RIGHT! You have grown a rosebush, why are you ripping it out and replacing it with plastic flowers?”
He finally replied, “I know marriage is not easy, but we have been together for a long time. We are not like other couples.”
I had to challenge him once more, “No, NOW you are not like other couples. You are both free and choose to be with each other every day, and you have to negotiate how you want to live together, parent together, and be together. Together, you have grown a rose bush, it has not been easy, and you know if you stop doing these things it will die.
Once you get married you will develop all the same problems that married people have.
Because once you have plastic flowers, you can take them for granted. Plastic flowers never change, they are never supposed to change. But you and your wife will change, grow, evolve and eventually there will be a problem in four years.”
“I’m sorry, I hope I have not ruined your vision of the future?”
“Let me give you some hope, you CAN have both!”
I have never tried to grow roses, but my grandfather did. I saw how much work it took to get the soil right, the right amount of water, and the right amount of light. You don’t have to worry about it every day, but if you neglect it, at first the bush will not bloom, but it can live a long long time without blooming in love. Eventually, it will die unless the outside environment is absolutely perfect.
The challenge is that we want to have roses, but the environment is never perfect and it requires us to be mindful and pay attention to its needs so that it will produce roses. We never know how many roses we will get or how big the bloom will be? Each new rose is a marvel and mystery that unfolds, if we choose to focus our awareness on it.
It is that mindfulness and work that keeps the relationship alive as a rose bush.
Plastic flowers on the other hand are easy. It is fun to go shopping, it is enjoyable to purchase something beautiful for our homes. We can buy an arrangement that is far more exotic, colorful and eye popping, and we do not have to do any of the dirty work of gardening. Getting soil under our fingernails or smelling the fertilizer isn’t necessary. It is a clean, sterile, simple transaction.
We bring the flowers home and they are beautiful, and we marvel at them. Our friends come over, notice the change and congratulate our good taste and are happy for us. We find a place to put the flowers inside our home and find great peace and joy in the feeling of accomplishment – we did it! It’s done! Now we can move on!
As time passes, the flowers do not change, they do not need us. We take their beauty for granted. Then, we stop noticing them. We take them for granted and they disappear. They do not need us, so we do not need to invest any of our awareness into the flowers.
We no longer feel fulfilled. Instead of looking inside ourselves to find the answers, we look outside. It is the flowers’ fault! We ask our friends, magazines or professionals and they will tell us we need to “spice up our marriage!” Try rearranging the flowers into new positions. Try moving the flowers into a new room in the house!
For a moment, the flowers seem to need us. We focus our attention on them, in making a change, we feel excited at taking action, making decisions, reaffirming our commitment to the plastic flowers.
But secretly, in our very nature, we are gardeners. While we are praising plastic flowers on the outside, we become divided on the inside.
Either, you will spurn flowers and start to want nothing to do with them, or you will crave the feeling of growing something that is alive.
If you and your partner are praising the plastic flowers, and your communication is not open and vibrant, the idea of growing a rose bush will be feel shameful. The desire will be hidden. We will start to watch other actors, playing gardeners on TV and watch how well they can grow roses, and wish our lives were like theirs.
Or we might start a secret garden. We can start to plant a rose bush with another person. That way we can have both! The security of knowing the plastic flowers will always be there and the thrill, excitement, and challenge of growing real roses. At first it’s simple and easy.
But eventually your partner will start to notice a change in you. You are happier for no reason – you have to make time to garden and you may come home with dirt under your fingernails. Worst of all, you partner might actually smell the beautiful bouquet of roses on your body! The horror, you have been gardening roses with another person after committing to only plastic flowers with them!
Once discovered, there is a great opportunity to discuss what each partner wants.
The successful ones figure out how they like to garden and make new agreements on how to do it. Others decided to divide their plastic flowers and part company. Some never garden again, others go back to gardening, but often they make same mistake again!
They grow a rose bush with another person. But instead of celebrating that accomplishment, they rip it out and purchase plastic flowers.
The moral to this story is that there is nothing wrong with plastic flowers. There are times and places where plastic flowers serve a useful and valuable purpose. The concern is that they are not a replacement for gardening roses of love. Gardens can come in many different shapes and sizes. The selection of plants is infinite. It’s up to you and your partner to lay out these gardening agreements with the understanding that they are in a constant state of change. See the appendix for a sample marriage contract. Email me at email@example.com for a word doc that you can edit to make your own.
Check in next week for Solution Part 2 of Conversation #1: What Is Our Marriage?
P.S. In just 3 months, you can transform your marriage into the most powerful personal growth experience of your life. Call NOW to schedule a FREE “Convo Quick Start” Planning session where we will design a plan to get MORE of what you want and discover YOUR biggest BLOCK in making MORE happen in your life TODAY!