Ask a hundred people, “How do you make a great banana split?” and they’d probably list the same core ingredients—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream nestled between the two halves of a banana, drizzled with chocolate syrup, crushed pineapple, whipped cream and topped off with one or more maraschino cherries. Depending on personal preference, some might lobby for a few spoons of wet walnut topping.
Ask a hundred people who loved to cook, “How do you make a great Alfredo sauce?” and I imagine their recipes would easily be boiled down to four or five core ingredients—sweet butter, heavy cream, shredded parmesan cheese, and a pinch of white pepper and garlic salt. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
However, ask a hundred couples, “What are the top five ingredients necessary to make a great marriage?” and I dare say a consensus would be hard to come by.
In fact, I bet the answers wouldn’t roll off of their tongues so quickly, either. Keep in mind I’m looking for the core ingredients—things which go beyond the self-evident basics of “love,” “respect,” “trust” and “commitment.” Without them I highly doubt many people would ever make it to the altar in the first place.
Aside from those givens, how would you answer the question?
As you think about your response, let me add that this isn’t an academic exercise for me. If you’re familiar with my story, you know my parents didn’t have a “great” marriage. Far from it. In short, my mom decided to divorce my dad when I was almost five years old due to his unshakeable addiction to alcohol. Dad wasn’t the least bit happy about the news that Mom was going through with the divorce.
One night while Mom was at work and my siblings and I were home watching some television, Dad showed up. He was drunk and armed with a ball-peen hammer and a jug of burgundy wine. The fiery look in his eyes and the threats he spewed in slurs made it clear he had every intention of hurting my mother.
Staggering through the house looking for, yet not finding her home, Dad roared, “This is what I’m going to do to your mother!” Boom! He plowed the hammer into the wall blasting a giant hole where metal met drywall. The force of the blow seemed to rattle our house to the foundation—not to mention the damage it did to the five of us young kids who were praying they weren’t his next target.
Like I said, my parents didn’t have the kind of marriage that anyone would want to emulate.
Whether you’ve been married for a few months, years, or have celebrated your golden anniversary, I’d love to hear from you. What would make your top five list of essential ingredients for a marriage that thrives? Financial security? Regular date nights? Communication? Sexual intimacy? A spirit of forgiveness? Teachability? Praying together? Engaging in devotions as a couple? Romantic getaways without the kids? Spontaneity?
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. If you’ve never done this before with your spouse, why not talk about it on your next date night? I’d love to know the outcome.