I don't remember many specifics from our premarital counseling sessions (except for tons and tons of feeeeeeeliiiiiinggggs...which I will spare you) but there is one conversation that I think about from time to time and I'm warning you now it is a visual metaphor. I know. You are welcome in advance.
So there we were, about to get hitched and up to our eyeballs in excitement and to-do lists and expectations and okay fine, a bit of terror too (Exhibit A).
And every Wednesday at 4:30 we sat nervously awaiting the insider tips on How to Not Ruin Each Other's Life But Rather, How to Still Love and Really, Genuinely Like Each Other in 50 + Years.
This day in particular, as we discussed Our Relationship, we were given some homework.
"I want you to think about what kind of fence you want to build," we were told with immediate question marks flooding our eyes.
She elaborated, "Think of your relationship as a garden. And surrounding this garden is a fence. There is no right fence or wrong fence to put around the garden, but there a lot of options. Your fence could be thick and tall and sturdy so that no one else could ever peek inside your garden. Or, you could have a tiny, flimsy plastic fence with big holes so that your garden is easily seen by nearly anyone. You could have a chain link fence, a big fence, a little fence. It is up to you. Choose carefully. What kind of fence will you build?"
And we talked about it then and we've talked about it since. And for some reason, it's been a helpful image. One that sticks with me and resurfaces now and then. One that has helped us think about our marriage, and in many respects, has helped me think about other relationships as well.
Perhaps you are thinking, "Well, the choice is obvious! Fences should be ___!" But you see, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Large, sturdy, hole-less fences are durable and they will certainly keep people out. This can be a very good thing! People are very nosy, after all, and is it really any of their business what you are growing? And what if all your plants fail? Or they tell you your watering technique is all wrong?
But, then again, gardens are beautiful! And why not share some of that beauty with others? After all, maybe they will have really great tips on how to keep the weeds out. They may even inspire you to have an even better garden.
And maybe you are thinking, "What's the big deal? It's just a fence!"
But more and more, I'm realizing that fences matter.
For a fence is going to be built one way or another. You might as well put a little thought into it.