Advice

My girlfriend has grown obsessed with her garden at the expense of our usual summer fun. What should I do?

Hi Wanda and Wayne,

What an amazing summer so far, and my girlfriend certainly thinks so — she spends every spare minute in her yard perfecting her lawn and flowers, which are everywhere, and growing her veggies. This is a new passion for her after getting a new house last summer. She talked and planned all winter and I knew she was excited about it but I’ve been shocked by how it’s taken over.

I wasn’t prepared for this intensity. It’s eating into our usual summer activities like hiking, kayaking, riding bikes and weekend road trips. The landscaping and gardening have taken over her life to the point where she’s anxious if she misses an evening of working on/enjoying it. She was previously a very social person! Now she prefers me grabbing takeout or me cooking for us, then we eat on her deck.

The obsessiveness has caught me by surprise. I’ve tried to talk to her about it and she’s been mildly defensive but mostly dismissive. She’s always wanted a house with a nice yard and a greenhouse and a garden and flowers everywhere, and now that she’s got them she wants to make sure they stay that way. She said things will calm down in the fall, but I’m not so sure.

I don’t want to lose my gal and my summer to a first-gen garden. We’re barely in our late 20s and she’s acting like an old farmer. Any advice?

Wanda says:

While Wayne and I have never fielded questions around someone grappling with their partner’s landscaping and gardening obsession, we have advised several who find themselves feeling upended when their significant other discovers some new consuming passion. At least your girlfriend’s hobby is apparently seasonal, but I understand the issue: that season so happens to be summer which is arguably the best time to get out and enjoy Alaska. She’s getting out and enjoying it all right; just within a 50-foot radius of her house.

Obviously your path of least resistance is to make the most of it, of course. Instead of moodily watching her water flowers, maybe you can find ways to enjoy the backyard time — like lounging with a good book, or trying new outdoor cooking recipes on the grill.

That said, I get it: you can compromise sometimes, but you can’t spend the entire summer anchored to her patio, and you do have options. So if her complaint is she can’t leave because everything will go to wilt and rot, then find help! There are plenty of local landscape companies — not to mention friends with money-hungry teenagers — who can weed and water and tend the crops while you two enjoy a weekend away.

Wayne says:

You clearly know almost as little about tending a yard as you do about maintaining a relationship, my friend. On the farm — and in many families of olden times — everyone pitches in on the chores all day so they can all enjoy time together at night, eating dinner and singing songs on the porch until bedtime. And while you don’t need to run out and buy a banjo quite yet, you should probably get some overalls and grow your girlfriend’s gardening obsession.

You don’t have to love it. But lending a hand will get you more quality time in the summer sun with her. And some decent exercise. And, if you are actually helpful, it would lessen her workload, which would create more time and less anxiety in her life. Which, in turn, would likely make her more amenable to leaving her yard every once in a while to go biking, hiking, eating out and hanging with her man, who I’m sure she misses when she wraps up the evening’s work and cleans the dirt from her fingernails.

It’s her dream, man, she’s finally living it, and she’s committed to it. I appreciate your summer struggles, but drawing a line in the topsoil is only going to upset her and annoy you. So get in the garden, buddy. Who’s got two green thumbs and a happy girlfriend? This guy!

Wayne and Wanda

Wanda is a wise person who has loved, lost and been to therapy. Wayne is a wise guy who has no use for therapy. Send them your questions and thoughts at wanda@alaskadispatch.com.

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