Natural is a funny word. The definition, from Dictionary.com: existing in or formed by nature (opposed to artificial). Also, growing spontaneously, without being planted or tended by human hand, as vegetation; free from affectation or constraint; arising easily or spontaneously.
As someone who says she is as natural as possible, it would seem like a given that I’d try to make everything in my life natural — spontaneous, easy, and free. Except for one thing: very few things in this world are, actually, natural. Marriage, in particular I think, is one of the least natural states you can find.
Marriage, in my experience, takes work. A lot of work. If I were to compare it to something in nature — a plant — I’d have to say it’s not a set- it-and-forget-it kind of vegetation. Marriage is not a spider plant, which grows even if you neglect it a bit. No, marriage is more like a orchid. Beautiful, but only when tended carefully and lovingly.
This is annoying sometimes. Not the work part. No, I’m willing to put in the work. No, what’s annoying is forgetting that it takes work. Finding myself coasting for a bit until smack, it hits me that we’re neglecting our orchid, which is losing its luster and drooping over begging for care and love.
For us, begging for care means that we’re both falling into crappy old habits. Mostly, I’ve stopped giving him positive feedback, hugs, and support. He’s stopped talking and stopped picking up after himself. As a result, I’m nagging and angry, and he’s snippy and defensive. Marriage starts feeling like drudgery. Work without benefits. (Since, let’s be honest, when you’re nagging and angry and snippy and defensive there’s no “benefits” going on.)
The good thing, of course, is that with a little tending, love, and care marriage can sprout new shoots. All the nasty bugs can be vanquished. The marriage can and does regrow to its old lushness — and then some.
Right now we’re working on weeding our marriage bed. Pulling out all the bad stuff (like me being nasty when he forgets to deposit a check and him being defensive when I ask him why he forgot to deposit a check), and feeding it the good stuff (me thanking him for putting away the dishes and him making an effort to put away the dishes). It’s amazing how quickly things can change for the better. Naturally.