Guest Blog: Maria’s Birdseed Buffet

Just a few feet outside my kitchen window hangs a small bird feeder.  Nothing elaborate, but it has four perches and four holes, just large enough for a bird to peek its little beak inside to secure a tasty morsel before safely taking flight back to its nest.  Each morning, after the birds stretch their wings and whistle a short good morning tune to each other, it is off to “Maria’s Birdseed Buffet” for an all-you-can-eat experience. All the birds in the neighborhood seem to show up at the same time.  It’s standing   room only around the small feeder.  Some birds alight on the porch railing; some rest on a nearby branch.  Others stand on the top of the feeder while waiting for a perch to come open or hop around on the ground to munch on another bird’s discarded seeds. 

I must confess that I’ve never been much of a bird watcher, but I can’t resist spending a few minutes in the morning sipping on a mug of hot coffee while watching the birds enjoying their treats.  The woodpecker, the sparrow, and the tufted titmouse all share turns with amazingly little conflict.  They all seem to understand the rules—the “pecking order” that determines who gets a turn next.  Occasionally two birds will get upset and flap their wings at each other but within a couple of moments the conflict is over and the brunch continues.  They never need a mediator to help them settle their differences.

I wonder…How did they learn this amazing skill?  How did they learn to get along so well and to get over their upset moments so quickly?  What lessons can I learn from watching them?  And what does this have to do with marriage?

As I continued watching, I noticed a few things that I think the birds are trying to teach me.

The first one I noticed is that it is okay to take turns.  Just make sure everybody gets one.  The birds figured out quickly that if all they did was fight and flap their wings at each other, nobody got to enjoy the birdseed brunch.  Take a deep breath, relax, and take your turn.  That leads into the second thing:  Sometimes things look like they aren’t fair.  Some of the birds get more birdseed or more chances to eat than others do.  An eagle need to eat more than a hummingbird does. That’s just reality.   Fairness doesn’t mean that everybody gets the same.  Fairness means that everyone gets what they need. (That’s a quote from author Rick Riordan.  I’m not smart enough to think that one up on my own.)  But choose not to hog all the good stuff for yourself.

The last thing is that every bird needs their own special nest to fly to when things get out of control.  Sometimes when we’re in a conflict with our spouse, we need to take a time out before we can find a good resolution to the situation. When there’s been too much wing flapping at each other, it’s okay to give yourselves some nest time, but after you’ve calmed down, see if you can come back to the feeder to help your spouse unruffle their own feathers too.

–Guest Blogger: Maria Current

Maria is a marriage/family therapist and a sex therapist at Recovery Technology/Solutions 2 Wellbeing in Jackson, Michigan.  She has been married to her husband for over 27 years, has three grown children and four delightful grandchildren. (Okay–The grown children are delightful too!)

She is also a Marriage Matters Jackson Marriage Restoration Facilitator.