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Style Magazine

He Said, She Said

May 29, 2014 01:22PM ● By Style

by Dr. Debra Moore

This is a beautiful time of the year—sunny days, warm evenings and a profusion of blooms! Every landscaper knows the best gardens result from informed choices, careful planning and meticulous tending. Apply the same strategies to your relationships with these 5 tips from the garden.

1. Prepare the soil properly and clear out underbrush.

The best relationships are built on a foundation of thoughtful preparation. Timing is important—gardeners know that soil has to “rest” between crops so that nutrients can rebuild. People need the same recovery time between relationships. Be sure you allow time for self-restoration; “rebound” relationships often fail because they are built upon depleted ground. Clear out that negative energy so it doesn’t contaminate your newly planted garden.

2. Weed regularly.

We know all gardens have weeds, so why should we be surprised when our relationships sprout unwanted “weeds,” too? Instead of ignoring them (they won’t go away by themselves!), get out your tools and carefully target them. Folks tend to react to relationship weeds one of three ways: They deny their existence (which causes proliferation, and before you know it, they’re everywhere); they attack them so aggressively that they cause collateral damage to valued parts of your garden; or—hopefully—they judiciously and ever so gently isolate and remove them. And yes, they keep coming back. That’s okay, just check your garden consistently: Weeds and relationship challenges are easiest to overcome when they’re caught small, before more damage is done.

3. Don’t forget the fertilizer.

Few gardens do well without regular, extra boosts of nutrients. If you want a showcase garden, you have to regularly help it out and give it an added edge. Same for relationships—they need regular infusions of special attention, nurturing and time. A master gardener knows that waiting until plants are visibly tired is often too late. Even when everything is “coming up roses,” relationships need continuous nurturing so they’re strong and fortified for every season.

4. Be willing to get dirty.

How silly would it be if a gardener thought they were above getting dirty? It’s a mandatory part of the job description. The same goes for relationships. Intimacy is dirty, and authentic emotions are messy. There are lots of thorns to be found on some of the most beautiful flowers.

5. Take time to smell the roses.

What’s the point of all the effort of preparing and toiling in the garden if you don’t allow time to appreciate and admire it? Sometimes in relationships, we put the hard work in but then get so busy that we rarely stop and immerse ourselves in the bounty. Slow down—honor what you have created—and enjoy it together.

Dr. Debra Moore is a psychologist and director of Fall Creek Counseling Associates. She can be reached at 916-344-0900 or