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Sometimes, as a woman, I’m a total stereotypical cliché.
I like bubble baths, candles, predictable romantic comedies, chocolate, and red roses for special occasions.
The nice thing about being a stereotypical woman is that it makes it easy on the husband to know how to take care of me. Valentine’s Day this year was celebrated with a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a sappy card, and a date-night at home with a brand-new copy of The Lucky One. And it was perfect.
My husband has often bought me flowers…he sent me 2 dozen on our first anniversary. But, as I’ve gotten older, wiser, and more practical, I struggle to see the point of getting flowers, as pretty as they are. Because they are expensive, and they die. That’s a total waste of money.
On our third anniversary in March of 2011, my husband was deployed (again), and sent me a tiny rosebush.
It sat in a tiny pot on my doorstep for about a month and the tiny buds died away. I wondered if it would survive if I planted it in the front flower bed. I thought it couldn’t hurt. It sort of naturally split into two sections and it fit better that way in the flower bed anyway. I accompanied the rosebush with some other flowers and daffodils.
The rosebush didn’t just survive, it went on to grow larger and it was blooming again by the end of May, even though the rest of the flower bed had been weed-whacked away by our lawn helper.
The bushes started producing different color blooms. One side produces pink, the other produces red. This is how much it had grown by October of 2011:
I was nervous about the bushes surviving the winter. Again, they not only survived, but grew taller and stronger!
By May they were blooming again:
By August they had grown even taller!
(I also discovered Instagram.)
The roses were still blooming in November, when I took these:
In five years of marriage, this is the best gift my husband has ever given me. Not only is it something I see on a daily basis, but it is ALIVE, growing, and changing all the time! A daily reminder of my husband’s love for me, and a picture of our marriage. It truly does keep on giving and giving.
Although I don’t think that my husband meant this gift to be symbolic, it has become so. This rosebush has weathered everything from the hot dry weather of summer to the ice and snow of winter. Much like our marriage has weathered times of separation, two deployments, miscarriage, family problems, and severe anxiety.
I think that a lot of people get married expecting their marriage to be like a bouquet of roses. Stunningly beautiful, full of life and color, all the time. But then, the bouquet starts to whither and die, and they are disappointed.
A rosebush is a much better picture of what marriage is really like. It has thorns. It is beautiful when it blooms, but it’s rather plain looking the rest of the year. It’s very much alive, but it isn’t always stunning or colorful. In the same way, marriage isn’t this wonderful, breathtaking thing day-in and day-out. Sometimes marriage just a thorny green bush. But the times when the beauty comes through in stunning blossoms makes the plain times, the painful times, worth it all.
And sometimes, the bush needs some pruning. Just a few days ago I cut back all of the dead blossoms and the extra branches to make room for new growth. Now, it looks kind of ugly. But this is such a necessary part of caring for a rosebush.
Sometimes, marriage needs pruning too. Sometimes a couple needs to reevaluate their relationship and cut out things in their life that are unnecessary and are keeping the marriage from growing strong and healthy. Sometimes, they need to have long, hard talks in which they are brutally honestly about each other’s faults. Sometimes, pruning comes in the form of marital, or even individual, counseling and therapy. Sometimes, it means a change…a career change, a church move…or letting go of a hobby, a friendship, or a relationship that is coming between you and your spouse. For us, pruning in our marriage has encompassed all of these things. Pruning is never pretty or comfortable, but it makes room for more beauty and more growth. And it is necessary.
I thank God for five long, hard, messy years of marriage. I’m thankful for all the storms and uncomfortable situations that we have weathered together and apart. I’m thankful that even though I can’t always see the blooms and the vibrant colors that I wish were there 365 days a year, that I know that the green in the branches is proof that our marriage is still alive and well, growing stronger every day. And I’m thankful that those blooms keep coming back. The beauty that is produced by two people giving of themselves to each other is worth all the thorns, all the storms, and all the pruning.
Today, I’m thanking God for our five years of marriage… and for my rosebush.