Love and Relationships

Taking Turns With The Gardening

Recently, out of curiosity, I watched a BBC documentary on Carla Bruni Sarkozy. I’m not going to make any comments about her, but I was struck by something she said about her marriage. Quoting a poet, she said : “In any good marriage, one partner is the gardener and the other is the garden. We take it in turns to be either…..”

I thought how true this was of marriage and of any significant relationship. Sometimes we’re needy and the other tends to us and sometimes we’re strong and take care of the other.


I feel like I am fading

Problems in relationships occur when we take fixed roles. One person thinks that he must always be the strong one, always have the answers, always be the provider. In other words, one is always the gardener. Also in some relationships, people always want to be the garden. She is always needy and insecure and needs the other to give attention and be the provider. If we get stuck this way, then we can never evolve as individuals and neither can our relationship grow or blossom.

I’ve always found it difficult to be the ‘garden’. I would rather be the strong one than the needy one. It takes a lot of courage and trust to say to the other: “Hey I need help, I’m hurting right now, I need a hand, I’m not okay.” But I’ve learned to love and trust and to say to the other: “Please be the gardener for now – I need tending to.”

Are you and your and your significant others taking turns with the gardening? Ask yourself if you are the gardener or the garden in your significant relationships and attempt to vary the role – you’ll find much more growth and meaning in your relationship, I guarantee.


PS: This was first published as a guest post on My Reflections

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An inspirational writer, a creativity and writing trainer/coach, I write about life, gratitude, healing, wellness, relationships at Everyday Gyaan. I offer training/coaching to anyone looking to explore their creativity and heal through writing via The Frangipani Creative, located in Secunderabad, India. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, Bytes of Gyaan, on Substack.

41 Comments on “Taking Turns With The Gardening

  1. Oh yes…both of us take turns on being the gardener. Sometimes I’m needy and vulnerable and a simple hug from him works wonders. Sometimes he’s tired and exhausted and a simple head massage or a cup of tea without being asked for from me makes him happy.
    One cannot expect one gardener to know how to tend to each and every part of the garden right? With help from someone else he can help his garden grow better. 🙂

  2. I have always assumed the gardener role ~ maybe because I’m a nurse that’s why…but I’m learning to receive the joys of being taken care of too…still learning actually 🙂

    1. Being a nurse is your profession, Melissa – and it becomes hard to separate our care-giving. I’m glad you’re learning to receive. That’s the only way we can be healed.

  3. This is simply beautiful and such a profound thought! Simply loved it!
    Yes, we both take turns to be the garden and the gardener! Guess, to be in a relationship that works one must be both a giver, as well a receiver.

  4. Such a wonderful analogy, Corinne! When I look at our relationship, Danny and I seem to be able to switch those roles depending upon who needs what, when. We all need tending to from time to time, but we have to be willing to give nurturing to our partners when they require some tender loving care.
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. You’re right, Sangeeta. It should happen instinctively, but sometimes we either forget – or fall into patterns of behavior that may not be good for either spouse or friend.

  5. I don’t know much about Carla Bruni Sarkozi except that I liked her album very, very much. I used to play it in the cafe all the time. And you already know through my groans and moans that I have taken over most of the literal gardening in our marriage. But you’re right about the metaphorical gardening, sometimes it’s nice to be the one who gets tended instead of doing all the tending.

  6. Yes,Corrine.This is a very touching post.
    I do suddenly realise that we actually have been taking turns.Credit goes to my wife more than what I can expect

  7. Wow Corinne, such a beautiful thought. In my case too I am like the gardener and find it difficult to ask for help or care. But the beauty is that my husband knows when to be the gardener without any hints. Yes of course such a balance should be for all relationships not just wife and husband.

    Well we are taking inspiration from Carla Bruni 😀 that is something 😀

  8. Great analogy, Corinne! Successful relationships do require give and take to thrive. My husband is extremely strong willed and has trouble assuming the “garden” role, but he is getting a little better now that’s he’s older. I must admit to being the “garden” more than the “gardener” lately, but, it’s been a rough couple of years and I’m grateful for the support. Am getting better too now, though. 🙂

  9. This got me thinking Corinne
    May b I feel I am a garden most of the times 🙁 at times m gardener but many a times
    I demand lot of attention but I feel it’s good to be strong and not cling to any one even if its partner for our own good
    Good post . Thanks for writing this

  10. Very interesting analogy and a thought provoking post. Indeed, marriage or any other relationship is about alternating roles between the garden and the gardener. And as you pointed out, it is difficult for so many people to seek. They somehow feel that they must be strong no matter what. I find that in my husband too. But, I’ve seen him open out more in his communication and about his needs which is good. On a tangential note, I find that people start equating strength with no dependence. Whereas, I believe that for any relationship to really thrive, we need to depend on each other and be depended upon. A lovely post! BTW, I am not getting your email notifications. You may want to check that.

  11. You have written a lovely post. At times I feel that I am always the gardener, but the reality is that I am not. Just as I feel that I am the only one who empties the dishwasher or takes out the garbage, I know that is not the case and sometimes we just have to ask.

  12. What a beautiful thought Corinne. I loved the way the whole gardening thing works out. You’re right, it takes quite a significant amount of courage to open up and accept that you are hurting and that you need help. I hope one day I find a guy whom I can show my vulnerable side to, maybe, just maybe he might understand without me having to tell too.

  13. Well, Carla Bruni once said that ‘monogamy bored her’. We French have mixed feelings about her.that said, maybe, this time, what she said makes sense!

  14. Corinne in marriage I am blessed…but in most other relationships tend to be the gardener which is terribly tiring….also the change over never seems to happen and when tried turns sour…still learning to make others see that at times I also need the tending….

  15. What a beautiful comparison and it makes so much sense! I feel lucky as sometimes I am the one being taken care of by my husband but some other times I am the “gardener”.

  16. Great insight Corinne! And I agree. Any relationship needs a give and take and taking turns makes both parties more committed and accountable to each one.

  17. We’ve noticed in our own relationship that we alternate these roles a lot. When one of us is falling apart the other one comes to put it all back together. I think we’re just lucky that we’re naturally so symbiotic together. It’s not really something we’ve had to work on. Then again, I believe we’re soul mates, so…. (That’s not to say we never fight. :p)

    I like how you point out that fixed roles tend to fail. I look back on my relationships that have failed, and I can’t think of one where we DIDN’T take on fixed roles. You’re enlightening as always.

  18. Usually, it is The Husband who is the gardener, but he sometimes does ask for help and depends on me to lift him up, so I guess you could say that we do take turns!

  19. “Sometimes we’re needy and the other tends to us and sometimes we’re strong and take care of the other.” Absolutely.

  20. This is a lovely post Corinne. All my life I’ve been the gardener in every relationship – granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, mother. No wonder I’m tired. There must be someone out there who will allow me to be the garden for a little while. Sigh!

  21. Depending upon the situation i guess i change roles.

    I am going to bookmark this post for my future reference. It would be much easier for me to make myself and the persons concern to understand the importance of exchange of roles for a happy, prosperous and a strong relationship.

  22. I find that I am expected to always tend the garden. While I like attending my partner’s needs, I can not fill them all and mine… will wait.

  23. Thanks for the visit, the comment and for feeling the connection. I am so grateful that the universe has brought me amazing people throughout my blogging experience. I love this post because I am constantly challenged to understand the need to be flexible, to help and to assume roles that at times might not be what I perceive to be mine. Thanks.

  24. What Carla says makes so much sense 😀 and hey that is not a comment about her 😉

    I guess knowingly or unknowingly all healthy relationships will be taking turns in being a gardener and a garden.

  25. Hi Corinne! I struggle at being the garden. Like you, I find it difficult to tell the Significant Other I need help or that I\’m not feeling well. That said, it is vital to take turns at playing these roles. Otherwise, resentment has a way of setting in and it festers. I must remind myself of this and be more active in interchanging duties! Hugs! 🙂

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