A while back, my sister and I were chatting about love and relationships (as sisters do!) and she shared something that I thought was incredibly profound.
She told me that love is like a flower. Flowers are beautiful, bring joy, and can instantly brighten up your day, but they are also delicate. They need water to grow, nourishment from the soil to flourish, and light from the sun to thrive. Flowers can’t just be thrown around; we must handle them with care. If we don’t give them what they need to survive, they can wilt, become bruised and damaged permanently, and they can die.
My sister summed up her thoughts by saying that, just like tending to a delicate flower, we need to care for the love we share with others in the same way.
How great is this analogy?!
Love and Relationships Take Work
In our society, there’s an entrenched belief that love should be easy — that when you build a loving relationship with someone, things should just “work out”. But this simply isn’t true!
Relationships require work in order to thrive, the same way flowers need tending to in order to flourish. Our word and actions — what we say and do — impact others, and they can bring joy, but they can also hurt. If we do not take the time to nurture a bond we have with someone, especially after it’s been hurt, it will suffer over time.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t fight or experience tension with your loved ones. Arguments and conflict are normal and healthy aspects of a relationship. As you’ll have heard me say in previous blogs, the issue isn’t that you fight because, of course, you’ll have disagreements. What matters is how you fight and address the tension you experience in relationships. (And if you’re not already doing this, you might want to carve out the time to think about what you can do to heal the hurt your actions or comments may have caused.)
And here’s what’s so interesting: sometimes it’s in the greatest of turmoil that love can become even more beautiful. When I first told my boo that my sister called love a delicate flower, he said, “Yes! It’s like a lotus flower that grows in a shitty swamp!”
How to Nurture Love and Relationships
Every meaningful relationship you have is special in its own way. Like the many species of flowers that need varying amounts of water, fertilizer, and sunlight to flourish, your relationships may need to be cared for differently in order for them to grow or heal. To help you out with your relationship “gardening” (ha, couldn’t resist!), here are a few things you can do to help nurture your bonds with others:
Know Your (and Your Loved Ones’) Love Language
Have you heard of love languages? The Five Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman that outlines the ways we express and experience love. Simply put, our love language is how we show others that we love them and how we like to receive love from others. For example, my dominant love language is words of affirmation — I love showering my beloveds with words of admiration, appreciation, and encouragement. Knowing your loved ones’ love languages is important as you’ll uncover what means the most to them and how to heal any hurt you cause. You can do the Love Language test online for free here.
Learn to Fight Better
As I’ve already mentioned, conflict is a very normal part of relationships, and it can actually bring people closer together. The important thing to note is how you fight. For example, one of the most useful things I do whenever I feel stressed in a heated discussion is to take a pause. This simple act can stop potentially harmful words from flying out of your mouth — all you need to do is literally pause! When you slow down and check in with yourself, chances are that your response will be more thoughtful and deliberate.
Going forward, choose to work hard at nurturing your relationships through proper care and attention, so that the love you have in your life can thrive, feel beautiful, and be lasting.
Reflect on your most important relationships. Are there any that need a little TLC? What will you do going forward to nurture and cultivate that bond?
Remember that it may take time, and some relationships may require more nourishing than others. But all of this is worth the sweet smell of roses (cheesy, I know, but true)!
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