Necessary Ingredients

 

When the time is right, the ingredients can work together to create great comfort and love in our marriages.

Monday is Big Guy’s least favorite day of the week. It’s hard to get back into his weekday routine involving the alarm clock and getting on the road while it’s still dark, and Monday often has a heavier workload for him at the office.

In order to make his Monday a bit easier, I try to make a nice meal for him to look forward to at the end of the day. It isn’t that I don’t cook nice dinners the rest of the week, but Monday meals are usually the ones that take a bit more work for me or that I know he considers to be comfort food.

Preparing the Stuffing

Yesterday was Monday, and he got meatloaf. Normally I make mashed potatoes to go along with it, but yesterday I made old-fashioned bread stuffing. (Yes, in my neck of the woods, we call it stuffing. So does my cookbook. I know that lots of you call it dressing.)

I use a simple recipe that calls for simple ingredients: bread cubes, celery and onion cooked in butter, broth, and seasonings.

The bread cubes were left over from our Thanksgiving preparation. I’d cut up too much bread, so I set aside the rest to use another time. I had the perfect amount to use today.

The broth came from last year’s turkey. I’d made turkey stock and had put it in the deep freeze. Today it was a simple matter of pulling it out of the freezer—but making the stock last year involved a lot of cutting, boiling, straining, and packaging. It wasn’t hard work, but it did involve several steps. I was glad today I’d put the work in last year.

The celery and onions were freshly purchased and chopped, but they needed to spend time in slowly melting butter. They needed to simmer until they were ready. They needed softening.

So there I was, with a desire to do something to speak love to my husband. I gathered things from different times—fresh from the grocery store, from the very recent past, and from long ago (last year is long ago in turkey stock age). I pulled all these things together and made them into old-fashioned bread stuffing.

Renewing Our Marriage

When I worked on my marriage, it was a similar process. I had one clear moment when the scales fell from my eyes and I realized how I’d been hurting my husband. That moment gave me the desire to speak love to my husband sexually.

But I was working with ingredients that had been brewing throughout my life.

I had feelings that I’d carried with me for a long time. I felt shame about my premarital sexual past, along with the idea that I didn’t deserve a happy marriage because of those sins. I had lifelong feelings of low self-worth. I thought that God’s love was for others, but somehow not for me. I believed that I was completely unlovable, by God or by my husband.

Instead of dealing with these feelings, I’d frozen them away in storage.

I also had other feelings and memories. I’d had countless conversations with my husband about the lack of intimacy in our marriage. I carried the memory of his sad, sad eyes—eyes that pierced my heart even when I refused to let his words do so. I remembered a friend’s words years ago when she mentioned a friend who was having sexual problems in their marriage: “It isn’t fair that she is the only one who decides what their sex life is like.” Years later, I wondered if she’d been talking about me.

Most recently, God had been softening my heart toward my husband. I’d begun to recognize that he had no one to touch him and love him throughout the day except for our kids. I’d started to recognize the look in his eyes as sadness, and I felt bad for him. I’d finally admitted to myself that we were not in a good marriage. I even wondered if I was part of the problem. These feelings and thoughts were fresh, and God had been slowly simmering them so I would be ready.

My hard realization gave me the desire to speak love to my husband through sex. I gathered what I’d gained from different times—fresh from my softening heart, from past conversations, and from long ago.

I pulled all these things together and made them into something new.

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It isn’t like I get all the credit for what we have now. Big Guy’s own efforts have helped renew our marriage as well. God is the one who had assembled and readied all the ingredients in preparation for the time when I wanted to take a step forward.

It was a sweet coincidence-that-isn’t-really-a-coincidence-because God-has-a-sense-of-humor thing. I wrote most of this post as my meatloaf and stuffing were in the oven. Big Guy called on his way home from work. He wanted to tell me that he would make his own contribution. He has a special recipe for peas that we both like, and he wanted to do his share of making us a nice dinner that would speak love and comfort to both of us.

Just like in our marriage, our dinner was better because both of us had made an effort.

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Sexual intimacy reaches deep into the core of who we are. It pulls together beliefs, feelings, desires, and memories that stretch across our entire lives. Some are from long-ago childhood. Others are more recent or are even fresh.

When the time is right, the ingredients can work together to create great comfort and love in our marriages.

When the time is right, the ingredients can work together to create great comfort and love in our marriages.

Image credit | Chris Taylor

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One Comment on “Necessary Ingredients”

  1. Oh the stuffing/dressing argument; the third rail of culinary discussions in our house. Its not my wife and me that are the problem but her parents/my extended family. Its amusing and depressing all at once.

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