In a conversation about marriage, my wise sister, Chris, once told me,
Everyone has shit in their marriage, Karin. You just need to be able to talk about the shit.”
Over the past year, I have thought a lot about her advice and how much it describes what was missing in my marriage. It also brought to mind the marriage and relationship struggles my friends have shared with me, a few of which involved some pretty difficult things. Two friends in particular went through what most people would consider deal-breaking situations, yet in both cases, they worked through them and say their marriages are now stronger than they’ve ever been. They feel connected on a much deeper level.
Being able to transform the shit in a marriage or relationship made think about gardening and how the addition of manure helps to make a richer, healthier soil. Maybe the same is true for marriage or any other meaningful relationship. Depending on how it is handled, maybe some shit can actually be good.
As with a garden, the foundation of a relationship is a soil that must be worked on and tended to–a soil that is warmed by the sun of good times and watered by the tears of hard times. It can be dirty and messy. There may be times when some serious shit happens. The health and growth of the relationship is determined by how the two individuals are able to handle the shit.
Can it be acknowledged?
Talked about and worked on?
Or is it pushed aside and ignored?
In order for the shit to be helpful and healthy, both people must be willing to work on it. The ability to communicate honestly and openly is critical. If it is handled with love, trust, care, and some serious vulnerability, it can be blended into the soil of the relationship, making it richer and denser. This can bring two people closer for having weathered something difficult together. If it is ignored or managed poorly, it just festers, stinks and can cause separation.
When the shit is handled well, the relationship becomes a dense, rich soil into which two individuals can be planted, where their roots can develop and commingle. It provides healthy place for them to grow, bloom and thrive together.
And in this dense, rich and healthy environment, the relationship becomes soil for the soul.