FAMILY FUSION: Recipe for marvellous marriage (Pt 2)
“There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends. – Homer
In my last article I examined the first three of nine ingredients of God – The Master Chef’s prized fruit recipe labelled The Fruit of the Spirit.
This recipe is written in Romans 5:20-21 of the Bible. It reads: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.” Love, joy and peace, the first foundation ingredients, though vital, are incomplete without the other essentials. The next three ingredients – longsuffering, gentleness and goodness – when placed in the mixing bowl of the Supreme Master Chef, add sturdy muscles to one’s marriage. These three components are character-building in nature and act as the marriage defence mechanism while adding much zing to the end product.
Long-suffering (Greek: makrothumia) carries the meaning of an individual who steadfastly endures challenges no matter how tough they may appear. The Master Chef adds this ingredient. Although not pleasant to the taste on its own, it enhances the overall flavour of marriage. Like white pepper, salt, garlic and other similar ingredients, if savoured separately, it will be unbearable. However, when these same items are added to a recipe, the end result is often a delicious dish. Some people enter the adventure of marriage with the idea that the relationship will run smoothly at all times and when a situation of an adverse nature arises, they want to get out of the marriage.
Although I have never had the opportunity to meet them, I read of a committed husband and wife who were experiencing great success in their marriage but suddenly faced unfortunate adversity. Their once booming million-dollar business failed. They were distraught. I also found out that the couple had several grown children who were doing very well, but one day at a birthday party a freak accident occurred and all of them died. In my mind I was wondering what next could have happened to this loving couple.
I was floored when the husband developed major health issues which the health care professionals deemed terminal. I was not prepared for what happened next. It blew my mind. The wife apparently could not handle the seemingly insurmountable pressure and one day she was insistent that her husband curse God and commit suicide.
This patient and understanding husband’s response was gentle but firm. He asked his wife why didn’t she think of giving up when things were going good, but now feels she needs to throw in the towel during this time of crisis. This couple eventually worked through the issues together, painful as they were, and later became stronger, sweeter and very successful.
Every marriage will go through difficult times where it would appear as if there is no end to the struggle. As a couple, you must realise that rough times are not designed to destroy the relationship but to develop each of you into something more pleasant.
Gentleness is the next ingredient that the Master Chef adds to His unique dish. Gentleness (chrestotes) speaks of an individual whose speech and behaviour shows forth kindness when dealing with others. This is not characteristic of the spouse who is rough and crude, but instead, the spouse who seeks to make the home a pleasant place in which to live.
A husband once said to me that he likes to be frank when getting across his point. The problem with his frankness was that he was loud, hurtful and did not care how his words were impacting in a negative way those he claimed to love. I continue to listen to husbands who relate how painful it is for them when their wives cut them down to size with their less than gentle words.
When a couple makes a decision to add gentleness to their marriage on a daily basis, their home becomes a pleasant dwelling place. The nature of gentleness adds a measure of tenderness to the marriage, giving it a flavour that stimulates the couple’s appetite to desire more and more every day. If gentleness stimulates the appetite, the next ingredient, goodness, draws the couple even closer to each other.
Goodness (agathosune) conveys the meaning of an individual who is virtuous, generous and God-like in life and conduct. When goodness is operating in one’s life, one is not pretentious but genuine in whatever is said or done. It is reflected by the traits that are portrayed in the light and what actually happens in the dark; because an individual who has goodness of character is decent in public and private.
I meet husbands and wives who say that they are sick and tired of keeping up appearances with their spouses who like to show the public that they are such wonderful partners, but are really devils at home. The Divine Master Chef adds goodness to marriage, because without it the relationship would lack the subtle sweetness of security that habitually relaxes a couple. When goodness is operating within the marriage, the couple are constantly seeking to help rather than hurt each other; they will promote rather than pull down each other, and embrace rather than embarrass each other.
With long-suffering, gentleness and goodness now added to the recipe, one would have thought that these six ingredients alone would have been enough to bring pleasure to the heart of the marriage. But for the Master Chef, the recipe will fall far short of excellence. Without the final three very important additions: faith, meekness and temperance, the recipe would be incomplete. I will explore those final three in the next article.
• Reverend Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant.