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Getting to the Root: Relationship Tending

‘Tis the season for gardening! We are finally getting some moisture here in Colorado and little leaves and sprouts are budding all over the place. It’s amazing to me how plants grow in the wild without much care other than nutrients in the soil and rain from Mother Nature. Of course, if you want a beautiful weed and pest-free garden, some human intervention is usually necessary.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a naturally green thumb. I’m starting to come around on gardening, but having just moved from an apartment into a house in the last couple of years, I don’t have a lot of practice. I’ve tried my hand at a small herb garden and I take care of a couple of house plants, but nothing too complicated. As I currently write this, I’m looking out my window at my backyard and anticipating pulling some fledgling weeds this weekend so they don’t take over my entire yard if left unattended.

To me, taking care of a garden is like taking care of a relationship. You’ve got to clear out the stuff that’s not important, prioritize and care for what is, and continually keep an eye on it. Yes, it takes a little time and effort, but if left to its own devices for too long, then it’s so much more work later on. The roots get deeper, the weeds get stronger, and they crowd out the plants that are supposed to be part of the garden. Pests can invade and destroy what you’re trying to grow and leave you with next to nothing to be proud of.

Relationships are exactly the same. Without some intentional time and effort, the unimportant stuff can take over. The good stuff (connecting on dates, laughing and having fun together, supporting each other’s dreams and wishes, going on vacations, etc.) does not take priority and the daily routine dictates the direction of the relationship. I see this happen quite often and it saddens me that people don’t realize they’ve let the weeds and pests into their space for so long that sometimes it’s nearly impossible to get it all out.

Weeding is not one of my favorite activities, but there is something oddly satisfying to me about getting to the root of a weed. Gently nudging around the stem and prying it up out of the ground reminds me of being a therapist in a nerdy sort of way. As a therapist, I help people get to the root of their issues in communication, conflict management, interpersonal relationships, and personal development. I do this by gently nudging and uncovering more below the surface. It’s always uncertain how far down the root goes, but I’m willing to follow it until we reach the bottom together. Once exposed, it becomes much clearer what’s going on and how to address it appropriately. If I were to rip a weed out of the ground without gently guiding it, I would only be taking care of the surface level and the root would likely remain in the ground. The same goes for working through issues in my counseling room. If only surface level concerns are addressed, the root is not yet exposed. Digging deeper, we find there is so much more than what the surface shows. Typically, emotional dysfunction and disconnection lies beneath the surface where the root lives. When we can get to that space, healing can take place much more effectively.

I urge you to tend to your relationship just as you would a garden. No, don’t spray pesticides all over it if that’s what you’re thinking. Examine it closely. Find the weeds and pests. Get the unimportant stuff out of there before it takes over. Most importantly, get to the root of those weeds. If there are past hurts or unhelpful patterns that keep coming up, address them directly. Find out what’s underneath the surface that is still lurking and hasn’t yet been resolved.

If you find that you are having a difficult time with relationship tending, I’d be happy to meet with you and gently get to the root of some of those concerns. Give me a call at 720-381-2755 or email me at tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com to set up our first appointment today.

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