For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
One of my husband’s favorite dishes is beef or venison stew. A good stew, however, takes time. All the ingredients – meat, vegetables, herbs, and spices – must be mixed together and allowed to simmer for several hours before serving. He says he likes the stew even better the second and third day after I’ve made it because the different flavors have more time to blend.
The best stew I ever made was when we’d lost our electric power for three days after an ice storm. I cooked the batch in a cast iron Dutch oven on top of the woodburner. It took all day, keeping a slow fire in the stove, but the aroma of homemade stew, made the old-fashioned way, filled the house – and whet our appetites. I had to watch the fire, though. Too much heat, and the stew would burn. Too little heat, and the vegetables would still be crunchy, the meat raw, and the stew flavorless.
A lasting, satisfying marriage is like a good stew: It takes time for all the ingredients of both personalities to blend together.
Like a stew, which must first come to a boil before simmering, a marriage also has boiling times, especially in the early years. Bringing a stew to a boil allows it to get hot enough for the vegetables, stiff and resistant at first, to begin to soften. Yet, when allowed to simmer together, each vegetable still retains its individuality – a carrot does not turn into a potato. But at the same time, each vegetable lends its unique flavor to the whole and receives the flavor of the other ingredients. But it must soften first, and that’s what takes time. Cook it too quickly, and you get crusty, uncooked vegetables that stand out but don’t blend into the whole.
Too many couples mistake the first turbulent years of a marriage as a sign the union isn’t working out. Instead, their personality traits, stiff and resistant at first, are being softened so that they can add something to the whole, as well as absorb flavors from the other. Yet each spouse does not get completely absorbed and lose his or her individuality. God made each of us unique, and we retain that uniqueness even after marriage. Like the herbs and spices added to the stew, each spouse’s uniqueness adds flavor and zest to the whole.
As time goes by, we sometimes get too busy and allow the fire to die down. The stew stops cooking and cools. But, to get it cooking again, all we have to do is tend to the fire. So with a marriage. Our many roles and responsibilities consume our time and energy, and we assume the stew is cooking. “She knows I love her.” But she needs to hear it every day. “He knows I love him.” But he needs to see concrete evidence – like his favorite meal on the table after a long, hard day.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). “A good wife . . . is far more precious than jewels . . . the heart of her husband trusts in her . . . she brings him good, and not harm, all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10–12).
A man and woman become married in a moment, but it takes a lifetime to make a marriage, where two individuals, with all their different personality traits, like the ingredients in a stew, truly become one.
Dear God, thank You for seeing us through the boiling points and the cooled-off times in our marriage. Amen.
Read and meditate on Genesis 2:19–24
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.