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
One of my memories of growing up was the trip to my grandmother's house, two doors down from Mrs. Schuler's house, where I took piano lessons. Among the pool of memories I will always treasure is the platter of oatmeal cookies which Grandma always had available. After I married, I asked Grandma for the recipe. "Well," she said, "you take about a cup of oatmeal and a couple tablespoons of this, and a pinch of that” and so forth.
There was no recipe, no precise measurements. She had years of experience and knew what mix was necessary to produce cookies that were marvelous, batch after batch. A recipe for marriage is much like the one my grandmother had for oatmeal cookies. The success or failure depends entirely on what you put into it and in the right amounts. Leave out an ingredient or use too little of it, and it's just not the same.
In developing a recipe for marriage, let's start with the mixing bowl of faith which is foundational to all of the relationships that take place in a home. It's a proven fact--leave God out of your marriage, and you're headed for trouble. You are a composite of the emotional, spiritual, and physical. Thus, without God, you never communicate at the same level or relate to each other in the same way.
The first ingredient that goes into the mixing bowl is the flour of commitment. Nothing is more basic than flour, and in marriage nothing is more fundamental and important than commitment. Sadly lacking in many marriages, is the kind of commitment that was pledged at a marriage altar: "till death us do part!" Commitment means, "God brought us together, and come hell or high water, someway, somehow we're going to get through this problem!"
To the flour of commitment add the oil of communication. Effective communication is the mutual exchange of ideas, thoughts, attitudes, information and feelings. It's prerequisite to real love, and without it your love withers and dies. Before I can love you, I've got to get to know you, and if I can't communicate with you, love is going to wither and die. Get the picture? Commitment precedes love because if you're not committed to a marriage, when difficulties come, you don't care enough to try to communicate.
Now add the ingredient of love, which is the like the sugar in the cookies. Though we talk so much of love, it's tough to define. It’s better understood when you are on the receiving end of this commitment to care. In tennis lovemeans “nothing,” but in marriage it means everything. No wonder Paul wrote, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church" (Ephesians 5:25); and that should be enough love to satisfy any woman.
Another ingredient that allows both marriages and what you put in the oven to come out successfully is the baking powder of forgiveness. Leave baking powder out of oatmeal cookies, and you have tough, flat little wafers, and apart from a measure of forgiveness in a marriage, it's apt to collapse in the time of stress. Simply put, forgiveness means I give up my right to hurt you because you hurt me.
Now, add the eggs of meeting each other's needs. In baking, eggs bind the ingredients together, and meeting each other's needs keeps temptation away, and adds joy to a relationship.
Another ingredient needs to go into this mixing bowl. Call it the spice of humor. In cooking we use salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and other spices. In marriage, it means we can laugh at ourselves, our failures and our foibles.
Finally, add a touch of frosting. We think of it as the frosting of understanding which puts the other first.
A final thought: None of these ingredients tastes very good separately, but mix them together and apply heat, and you have something very, very good. Grandma's recipe works for marriages just as it did for oatmeal cookies.
Resource reading: Ephesians 5: 17-25.