A common phrase passed around when a couple is considering a divorce or break-up is, “We just grew apart.” Personally, I am of the belief that seldom does this ‘just’ happen. Usually, there is an event, or series of events, that lead up to the parting of the emotional branches. Let’s take a minute to explore how this occurs and then hopefully prevent it from happening to you.
The most common example of growing part is found in nature with a tree. A tree starts with one solid trunk and expands out into branches. There are certain conditions however that will cause the trunk to split, creating a situation where there appears to actually be two trees growing apart from one base. While technically together, they are no longer joined or growing in union. There are many factors to cause this occurrence, including storms, soil erosion and, of course, outside influences. Sometimes these trees can be saved, but other times the damage is irreparable. We can learn from these trees to avoid having our own relationships become split down the middle.
Storms. We will all experience storms in our relationships. Family, work, health, the list is endless of things that can whip up without warning. What is the single most sustaining factor in weathering a storm? A good root system. Start early in your relationship to develop those roots. Establish trust. Be honest. Be loyal. Share dreams/fears/goals. Understand the benefit of having a true partner to walk through life with and work hard to earn that right with them. The deeper and stronger your love (and root system) the easier the two of you will withstand life’s storms and the less chance of them causing a crack that could grow with time.
Soil Erosion. What erodes the love and commitment in our relationships? Letting life become a distraction. Not putting your partner first. Being selfish. Forgetting the little things that are actually pretty important. When we start to ignore our partner or the relationship, slowly, but surely, it starts to erode. Our career goals become a priority. Maybe even the kids. A hobby or dream. All of these things are healthy and some, even necessary, but should never be at the expense of the foundation of your relationship. There may not be time every day for all the things in your life, but you should ALWAYS make time for your partner. Just a simple kiss good morning, a completed chore, a text that says I Love You. These little things add up and keep love’s soil rich.
Outside Influences. Most foreign objects that ultimately affect the strength and growth of a tree start out small and seemingly harmless. Isn’t that also true in real life? Very few people start a relationship expecting to hurt or betray the other person. We all have good and loving intentions. It is when we aren’t paying attention and lose focus that outside influences can creep in. It may be a habit or substance that gets the best of us. Or a friendship is allowed to go too far. That first decision to ‘hide’ something from your partner/spouse is the first sign that you are cracking the tree. You can tell yourself it is innocent or harmless, but truly successful couples do not keep secrets. We must guard our hearts and our love against any outside force that would threaten to undermine it. When an activity or another person ‘divides’ our time and affection, the splintering soon follows. Do not allow this to happen.
My Hopefuls, my goal for you today is to cherish and appreciate the strong and sturdy trunk that your relationship is being built upon. Please make every effort to take care of that base and develop the root system. Honor and respect each other. Support and defend. Do not let petty disagreements or differences start to splinter the core. Keep the love fresh and alive. Have fun. Laugh. Be silly. And understanding that growing apart is the result of not sustaining the bond and commitment you started with. I accept that some relationships start foolishly or without much thought for the work involved. Most likely those are not heading for the long term. However, if you lovingly entered into a bond with another person, please do your part to keep the tree growing straight and strong. Your love WILL make a difference. I promise.
And always….Hope With Abandon