Saturday, December 5, 2009
The Condiments of Marriage
Marriage is a very complex and tricky thing. We know how God intended for marriage to be when he created Adam and Eve, and we know that He knew all along that was going to be too hard. We cannot be married without God-- it's just too hard! I hear young people sharing with excitement their news, "I'm getting married! I just love him!". I just smile politely, bite my tongue, and know inwardly, "Yeah, Sister, just wait till he's not so cute anymore and you realize you actually have to WORK at living together."
I supported myself throughout my college years by waiting tables. At the end of every night, we servers cleaned our table sections, which included marrying the condiments. We would fill back to the top any ketchup, mustard, or salt and pepper shakers that had been used, so that all condiments were full for the next day's customers. A half-used ketchup bottle would be married with another half-used ketchup bottle to create something new for the next day. When two people get married they bring together everything they own and join it. They create a home from their joint furnishings and finances. They marry their talents, whether that be organization, patience, handyman, cook, or compassion. When everything that two people own physically, emotionally, and spiritually is married together, life should be easier for them and their potential for growth much greater than they could have as two singles. At least that's the ideal God had in mind. Actually getting there is pretty tough and doesn't magically happen right after you both say "I do."
When you go out to eat, you will readily find your most commonly used condiments right at your table. If marriage were the dining table, there are three main condiments that should always be married at that table to keep the two diners happy. These marriage condiments (the true life blood of marriages) are sex, money, and parenting. When one partner has more control than the other in any of these three areas, this couple is at high risk for an unsatisfactory relationship.
Sex-- both partners should always feel they have full ownership over their own bodies and sexuality and share it willingly when they want and in the ways they feel most comfortable. Any compromises are discussed and agreed upon by both parties. If one partner routinely gives in to the other, invalidating their own needs or feelings, then the condiment grows empty. You have to get married in your sex life. Actually, I tend to believe that when two people do not bring equally to the marriage emotionally, then the sex condiment gets drained pretty quickly.
Money-- both partners should always have complete access to and full knowledge of the money coming into and out of the household. What gets spent, where, and why are decisions made by the two partners who have married their finances and, thus, both have equal say in where the money goes. Often one person may write the checks, balance the account, etc. for simplicity's sake or because one person is more organized in this area. Even so, the married couple operates as partners and equals in the managing of their funds. There are no money secrets and no money dictators.
Parenting-- couples who join their parenting skills have reached an agreed upon plan of how disciplinary issues will be addressed, what rewards will be used and when, and especially how many children there will be, if any! Having and raising children is a joint operation, a business managed by two people who bring together their abilities and both parties are always kept fully informed of the goings on of the child business. When one person is solely responsible for parenting or the two partners are not in agreement on their parenting values and plans, this is a marriage headed for destruction!
You alone cannot supply everything a marriage needs. You cannot give your all, particularly in the areas of sex, money, and parenting, and believe that you will carry this so-called marriage on your own. There might be a piece of paper that says you are married legally, but when one person is in charge and keeps the other in the dark-- where is the joining? Is this really a marriage? If you are the one getting left in the dark or being left out of the partnering in any of these areas, it is your right to speak up. If you care anything at all about your marriage, you will insist to be made an equal partner in these areas, to be heard, and to be respected in these areas. Whether you've been married 15 minutes or 15 years, there is always room for more marrying. Bring what you have to the table and expect the same from your partner. Keeping the condiments of sex, money, and parenting equally married will make for happy couples!
Photo above found at: