My son came home from Kindy yesterday with some craft, as he so often does. He had brought home a picture of a bucket with things inside. He’d learned about ‘love buckets’. You’ve probably hear about something similar – needs, love banks and alike. My son exclaimed that we need to put deposits into each others love buckets. You can make deposits be being kind, saying nice things, showing someone you love them. For the record, I’m accepting deposits into my ego bank at the moment 😉 .
Why do we put deposits into someone’s love bucket? I guess some answers would be because we love them, we want to show them and we want to invest in their life.
In a sense, love is an investment. I’m quite sure we invest love into someone, because we expect some type of return – love, support, kindness, companionship, the best for them. Whilst I think it’s wrong to give, expecting some type of return (this will usually lead to disappointment), deep inside I think we all want some type of return on our investment.
So the question is, what do you do when someone invests love into you?
What do you do with the love that is shown and given to you?
Some people’s hearts are high-risk investments. They are volatile, their return fluctuates depending on a myriad of factors. Sometimes, they give a huge return, showing massive amounts of appreciation, support and love. Other times, they are a negative investment, taking all that you have to give, the return on the investment is hurt and disappointment. The giver of love is left in deficit, the taker of love has squandered the gift entrusted to them.
There are hearts that seem to be closed to deposits. You know the type – people who’ve built walls around their life for whatever reason. People, where you’ve tried to show them you’re feelings and thoughts towards them, but they just don’t seem to be receptive to you in any way. Maybe you’re married to this type of person?
Then there’s are hearts who gives a steady return on an investment. A heart that pays interest adds to the love already deposited in it. What do I mean? Unlike a bank, there’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love in your heart. When a bank pays interest, they have already carefully calculated the cost of paying interest. There’s no cost to paying interest on a deposit of love, however!
So how can you pay interest on a deposit of love? I think there’s a range of ways. A word that isn’t used that often is gratitude. Being grateful to the one who deposited love into your heart. Being thankful of the love that’s being deposited can be a great way to pay interest on an investment of love. It might pay to ask the best way to pay interest on the deposit of love – you may be surprised! Showing love back is a huge return on the investment put in your heart.
Is there someone trying to put deposits of love into your heart? What type of bank are they investing into?
Are they risking it all to sow into your life – will their investment tank or will you allow it to build you up?
Is your bank open to deposits? Can you allow someone to invest love into your life?
Is your heart a bank that will warmly pay interest on the love it’s been entrusted with?
Open up the bank of your heart. Be receptive to the love someone wants to invest in you. Be generous with the interest you pay that love. It’s the only investment where both people give, and both people are richer for it.
I expect many of you read my recent post about Rethinking Infidelity. In fact, many people have – it’s turned out to be one of my most popular posts yet (excluding the one about the dance concert, which I’ve promised never to talk about again).
As is her want, my mother, St. Rosemary, often gives me helpful hints on my blog. With the recent blog about Rethinking Infidelity, she said it all with her eyes and disapproving look – the title was too suggestive and smutty. I get that and respect that, mum. I thought I’d make up for it by putting words in St. Rosemary’s mouth. For those of you who have both the privilege and pleasure of knowing this fine lady will truly appreciate what I have to say. So readers, welcome to Marriage, according to St. Rosemary: Marriage as a Garden.
Marriage as a Garden
By St. Rosemary
One does not need to look far these days to see the crumbling state of both marriage and gardens. Since all those Greeks and Italians came to Australia after the White Australia Policy sadly fell apart, gardens in increasing number turned from the ideal to concrete rendered monstrosities, replete with those tawdry concrete statues in lewd poses. Of course, things only got worse when those Slavs came, with their grape-vines and their smoking sheds. I would talk about those Arabs, but in this current climate, I’ll leave that for much braver writers. Foreigners aside, marriage is much like a garden. When I say garden, I mean a proper one, not one of those Japanese ones full of rocks and minature trees. Why, stunting a trees natural growth is hardly normal or natural! I mean a proper English one, where tea and conversation can be enjoyed in equal measure.
Marriage, like a garden, is truly a labour of love.
Many people, especially the Chinese, believe that a garden is merely a functional aspect of the home, perfect for planting all manner of fruit and vegetables. Indeed, the practicalities of marriage are often enjoyable, as are the fruits of a garden. In my own marriage, I have seen many wonderful fruits. Just thinking about it makes me smile! There’s Philip, my favorite fruit. Thomas my kind, caring and altruistic fruit. Matthew, who didn’t technically come from my vine, but is a delight never the less. There’s sweet Benjamin who is such a darling when he’s asleep, Annie who brings me such joy. Finally, of course Peter, who, apart from his quick wit, roguishly handsome good looks and devastatingly charming disposition manages to remain humble.
Practicalities aside, marriage, like a garden, can bring a bouquet of joys to all who behold it. I’ve learned a great deal about marriage from gardening. One thing I’ve learned about gardening is that it’s something you need to do together. Now I’m sure many of you will scoff at this stage:
“But St. Rosemary, we’ve seen you and Ivica garden together, and it’s far from harmonious!”
To answer the critics, yes, sometimes it is hard working with someone who isn’t ‘from your own’, and let’s not beat around the bush, those Croats do have a reputation for short tempers! Of course, in the heat of the moment, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of what you are trying to achieve – a beautiful garden (and marriage). So when times get tough, don’t give up, press in!
Gardening, like marriage, requires you to have the right skills, the right tools, the willingness to experiment and a whole lot of patience. Why, I remember planting some natives once – boy was that a mistake! They are right when they say give those natives an inch and they’ll want all your land! It really gave me an insight into the hardships that Captain Cook would of faced all those years ago, when he landed in this now beautiful country of ours!
So I hear you asking “St. Rosemary, what are these tools you speak of?”
Well, I thought you’d never ask!
Seeds (or seedlings). You can’t expect to grow a rose garden if you plant weeds. Your marriage is exactly the same. You can’t expect to grow something beautiful if all you’ve sown is weeds (or natives). Good seeds will bear good fruit. Planting love, kindness, respect, understanding will produce the most beautiful fruit in your marriage.
Pruning and weeding. Sometimes in marriage, like with gardening, things truly just get on top of you. The business of life, sickness, distractions and even selfishness can let the weeds of discontent take over you marriage. Sometimes, you will need to get deep into the soil and get rid of the weeds choking your marriage. This can be hard! Some things can get stuck in your yard and seemingly never get out – such as an old piano or water tank, and despite YEARS of encouragement, it just stays there, gathering rust! So sometimes, you just need to hire a trailer and cart out all the rubbish in your yard. Hard work – yes! Worth it? Definitley! Then you can go back and plant proper plants again.
Sunlight. Every child in school learns the amazing process of photosynthesis. To be honest, I’ve forgotten most of that evolution nonsense, save for the knowledge that every garden, and every marriage, needs a lot of warmth. Simple, loving warmth. The light of the sun and the warmth of its rays bring life to a garden. Your marriage too will need warmth. Tenderness. Hugs. The intimacy of knowing your spouse is right there with you, regardless of what is happening.
Water. Water is the lifeblood of a garden. Water in a marriage is the communication you share. Starve a garden of water and it will quickly die. Starve a marriage of communication and it will quickly wilt. Be cautious, however! What happens if you blast seedlings or young plants with water? They rip through the garden, tearing it from the soil, ruining it! So some advice for wives – when your husband gets home, don’t burden him with your day, or the million things on your mind. Allow him to settle in, fix him a cup of tea, enquire about his day and allow him to feel relaxed before you burden him with your day. Remember, he’s been at work all day – the last thing on his mind is having to solve all your problems! Water, like communication, is all a matter of timing.
Fertiliser. Every garden relishes in extra nutrients. Your grass becomes greener. Your flowers become brighter. Trees become stronger and more hardy. Weeds are held at bay. Your marriage needs nutrients and fertilising, too, and it needs it regularly, too. Find out what really nourishes your spouse. It might be regular dates, going fishing, initiating conversation, watching football, loving touches, watching shows about fishing, organising domestic activities, chatting about that time you went fishing, being more involved with your children or a holiday where you plan on watching football and going fishing. What ever it is, find out what your partner needs and nourish them! It’s what turns a garden, and a marriage, into a true delight.
Sometimes, gardening can be hard yakka. Marriage too can push you to the limits. Missed communications, sickness, family pressures, unmatched expectations, parenting, financial strains and the rigors of modern life can really take a toll on a marriage.
Over the years, I’ve sowed much time and effort into both my garden and my marriage. I’ve sewn in tears, in joy, in heartache and in love, and probably everything in between. I know, however, that through all these years, I’ve had someone who’s been gardening with me. Someone who’s helped me pull out heavy weeds. Someone who’s laid down new turf when I’ve sprayed weed killer all over the lawn. Someone who I wholeheartedly agree with and wholeheartedly disagree with. Someone who’s supported me and who’s accepted my love in return. So Ivica, thank you for gardening with me. We’ve truly created something beautiful, something we can both take joy in and something we love.
Image from http://www.southernbrideandgroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Couple-Kissing-in-Garden.jpg
Many people will agree that being cheated on, is one of the worst betrayals. To break your marriage vows, to be unfaithful, to break the boundaries you have set in your own marriage – simply terrible. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment – it would be the ultimate betrayal.
As much as being ‘cheated on’ is horrible, I think there is something as equally insidious. That’s being ‘cheated out of’ something. What do I mean by this?
The standard marriage vows go something like:
I, take you to be my wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part
You might not cheat on your partner, but are you cheating them out of a promise? Affection? Financial support? Love? Tenderness? Communication. Warmth. The list could go on. Things, that if a one off, probably aren’t going to ruin a marriage. You have a bad day, you don’t feel like talking and all you can muster is a ‘meh’ and an evening on the couch. But you can cheat your spouse out of the intimacy of knowing you, buy establishing a lifestyle of coming home and basically ignoring them. You could say the same for a range of things – sex, a hug, quality time, proper communication, domestic organisation. Missing or forgetting something important once or twice probably isn’t going to starve your partner, but continued practice will cheat them out of a promise you made to them.
It’s so easy to cheat out of things these days. Clocking into work 5 minutes late. Taking that stationary home from work. Using margarine instead of butter (BIG no no!!).
I’ve found in marriage, there are no shortcuts. You can’t rush intimacy. You cant hit ‘fast forward’ on hard times. You can’t hit rewind after a great evening with your spouse. You can’t mute the everyday and expect to draw closer to your partner.
Cheating on your partner is a pretty deliberate act, and an absolutely rotten thing to do. It’s just as easy, however, to cheat your partner out of your promises. I truly believe both are detrimental to a marriage. Being faithful to the ‘everyday’ promises is what strengthens a marriage – things you are probably doing anyway! It’s being present at the dinner table, chatting with your partner and children. It’s turning off the TV and asking each other how you are going. It’s seeing a job that needs doing around the home and simply doing it, rather than wait for your partner to do it. It’s extending warmth and love to your partner, even if you’re not feeling that way yourself.
I don’t want this to be a depressive post – to the contrary! We all get stale in many areas of our lives – our jobs, families, community work, marriages. The main difference in these, however, is that marriage is an explicit promise. It’s not a contract, like a job. It’s not an expectation, like your family. It’s a promise. A promise to be an active partner in your marriage, not a passive one.
Have a think today about if you’ve let passivity enter your marriage, and perhaps what you can do to deliberately love your partner. Don’t cheat them out of the love you promised – let them know you love them!
Have you found that you’ve unconsciously (or even consciously!) cheated your partner out of a promise? Was there a wake up call? How did it turn out? I’m interested in hearing!
Image from http://www.tacori.com/wedding-bands/
That’s right. Hurt your kids feelings.
Tell them that they probably won’t get the music award. Tell them they probably won’t take out the reading award. Chances are they won’t make state in the team. The dux? Forget about it.
There seems to be a push to stop hurting kids feelings. Not having winners or losers in sports. Not having school dux. Not having exceptional achievement awards. These days, every kid seems to win a prize.
I’ve won two sports awards in my 32 years on God’s green earth. That was in 1988. I got two third places in the running and marathon.I got third because there was only two other boys in my age group racing. I’ve still got the ribbons. It was at that point, in kindergarten, that I realised, I sucked at sport.
Anyone who’s lived in the real world realises that life has winners, life has losers, life has those that give it their best shot and grab every opportunity and others who squander whatever they have.
What’s better? Is it better to gloss over universal truths of winning or losing, or is it better to instill in our children positive self-esteem, an attitude of ‘giving it a go’, of fostering their talents, gifts and a willingness to tackle their weaknesses?
We seem hellbent on not offending people these days. The term ‘keep it politically correct’ comes to mind. What would you rather? A child (who eventually turns into an adult) who’s never been taught to nurture their talents and confront their weaknesses, or a child who relishes in new opportunities, who knows how to play fair, who gives it their best shot and who can win and lose like a champion?
So go on. Hurt your kids feelings. Not everyone can be first, but everyone can try their hardest. Not everyone will win, but everyone can be a team player. Find your children’s talents. Nurture them. Encourage them to appreciate differences in others. It’s not going to diminish your children’s effort and talent – it will teach them how to shine!
I’ve just bought a house and will be moving next week. It’s a very exciting time for me and my family! We’ve told our extended family and shared some photos on Facebook. We’ve had a look through home decorating magazines and catalogues for ideas to personalise our home and garden. We are very, very excited!
One of the most amazing things about life is sharing it with those you love. Your family. Your friends.
You would probably have people in your life that you miss – children that have moved away, parents that have passed on, friends you’ve lost along the way.
What I’ve been thinking about is who misses you?
Could it be a new girl or boyfriend, anxiously waiting your call or message in the evening, missing you even though you’ve just seen each other during the day?
Could it be the child who’s run away, and has a parent searching, missing, wishing they’d come home?
Could it be the old friend, wishing he’d never said those words, just missing his old mate.
Who’s missing you?
Who’s waiting by their letter box, waiting for a letter from you?
Is there someone who still checks their phone, hoping for a text from you?
Is there an old mate of yours out there, just wanting to have a beer with you one more time?
I bet there are people out there that miss you. They don’t need to know all the intimacies of your life, they just want to be part of it.
I’m going to challenge you. Send that text. Pick up the phone. Write (and send) that letter. Go out for that drink. Because you know what’s worse than being missed? It’s not being missed.
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Harvey Bay. Heaven’s Waiting Room.
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1950’s. When ‘Darkie’ was an observation, not a criticism.
Open hand or wooden spoon? Your guide to modern parenting.
Spoonning. What do you do with that awkward boner?
Twitter, because there’s bound to be someone out there who’s interested in your inane, boring thoughts.
‘Cool post’ and other lies you write on Facebook
‘Hide relationship status’ – Zukerberg’s gift to cheaters.
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I’m interested in all the blogs that you haven’t written, but really want to.
Rituals. We all have them. Sport-stars have pre-game rituals. Lovers have intimate rituals. Families have rituals. Cultures, societies and religions all have their own rituals.
So often when we think of rituals, we think of old-fashioned, staunch practices. A boring church service at Christmas. The pomp of a military parade. The inflexible practices of yore.
Why do we have rituals? Do we have them to celebrate the past, or protect the future? Could it be both? Why do we brush our teeth? Is it so we remember our baby teeth, lost many years ago or to protect our mouths for many years to come? Certainly brushing teeth is an important, yet informal ritual. What about having dinner together as a family? The benefits of eating regular meals together are immeasurable. Do we eat meals together to remember times of old, or to set practices to keep the family together in the future?
There are some rituals that don’t seem like rituals at all. Going to your parents for dinner on a Sunday. Watching a game of football every Friday night with friends. Regular church attendance. Some rituals aren’t that exciting, some actually do seem boring and mundane. Some argue that rituals have no use – that we should be free to do what we want, when we want with scant regard to culture, religion or society.
I’d argue that a healthy ritual (and that does not always mean exciting or fun), keeps an individual strong. A strong individual will have strong relationships – strong individuals have strong family and friendship networks. He feels connected, depended upon and supported. He is a contributor for his family, a good employee or boss. Strong families mean a strong community. A strong community means it’s members contribute, understand their role and their place. A strong community keeps a country strong. Strength comes with strong rituals, from the ground up and the top down.
If rituals are the machinery that builds up, intimacy is the oil that keeps the parts moving.
Most defiantly, some rituals do feel clunky and dry. Rituals however build a framework. A framework that protects when many other things fall down. There is a security in a ritual. Something to turn to, to keep you going when everything seems to be falling apart.
What brings a ritual to life? It’s the people. The connections. The ritual is the framework. The structure. The people fill up the structure and bring it to life. The structure supports the intimacy.
I think of my family ritual of reading Bible scriptures at dinner. The ritual is the reading, the intimacy is the children choosing the story, of learning about what the Lord has done.
I think of the ritual of shaving. The ritual is a boy taking pride in his appearance. The intimacy is his father teaching him the ways of a razor.
I think of the ritual of having a coffee in the morning. The intimacy is me being able to talk to my family again after I’ve enjoyed my daily brew!
Intimacy does not have to be structured. Some of the most special times anyone can have are the unstructured times, the times that catch you by surprise. I was packing some boxes the other day when I came across a harmonica that belonged to my late Grandfather. My children were amazed at this palm-shaped musical instrument that played a strange tune. In that short time, I was able to share with my children about their great-grandfather. An everyday moment, turned special.
You can’t have stability just with intimacy. If you chase pure intimacy, at the risk of neglecting ritual, you’ll end up chasing a fleeting feeling. This is true in families, in marriages, in work, in study, on the sports field, in your faith. Feelings come and go. Many times, it’s the ritual, the practice that will keep you going. Can you imagine a sports team who chases the winning feeling, instead of practicing the rituals of fitness, teamwork and discipline? The team will surely fall apart. Can you imagine a marriage where the partners chase a feeling of closeness, rather than practice the rituals of giving, patience and gratitude? Surely the marriage will be lost in a sea of instability.
Rituals aren’t the most sexy thing to talk about. Some are doggone boring. Find healthy rituals to engage in – for yourself, your family, your faith, your relationships. Doing will often bring about ‘feeling’. When you’re doing, enjoy the closeness that comes from doing it together. The laughs that come from ‘doing’ ritual wrong. The closeness of doing something together. The strength that comes from the ritual and the closeness you find when engaging those you love in them will surely help when times of trouble come.
Picture lifted from: http://www.helenahistory.org/frontier_town.htm