Some of us have been conditioned to believe that a relationship – of any kind – is a lot like a transaction. You agree to do something for me, I agree to reciprocate in some way, we sign an agreement either literally or metaphorically, and then we don’t have to worry about anything. We just go about our business, secure in the knowledge that our relationship is locked in. We don’t even pay it much attention.
The truth is that relationships are a lot more like a garden. We plant a seed in the best soil we can find. Then we water the seed. Even after it germinates, we have to care for the plant by continuing to water it, fertilizing it now and then, removing weeds as needed, and so on. If we neglect to do those things, our relationship starts to wither and die. Sooner or later, someone else may come along with water and start caring for our garden – and if we haven’t been paying attention, we soon won’t have anything left to feed and water.