Making a beautiful marriage is one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavors my husband and I have ever embarked upon. People often ask what motivated me to write Making Marriage Beautiful. The answer is simple: we needed it. Every couple goes through seasons that make you wonder what you were thinking when you promised to love, honor, and cherish this very other human being. My book emerged out of one such season. What motivated me to create this four month series was the desire for you to be encouraged by the stories of diverse couples. Up today is my friend Bronwyn Lea.
Flour. Water. Salt. Yeast. That’s all it takes to make bread. Four simple ingredients, plus time to let the yeast do its beautiful, slow-rising work.
More and more, I see our marriage and our home symbolized by bread. If we were the types to name our houses, perhaps ours should be Bethlehem, the house of bread. Bread has become both a literal and metaphorical staple of our lives. But we weren’t always bready people.
We were a couple who met and married quickly. We were both surprised, I think, that two people with such different interests should find each other. Early in our dating relationship, he asked if he could take me camping. I was underwhelmed. He shared his plans with a good friend, and on hearing that his preparations included taking both his sleeping bags, his friend protested: “Wait. She doesn’t have her own sleeping bag? You can’t marry a woman who doesn’t own a sleeping bag. She’s not your type.” Like I said: we are different.
But we did go camping: just one of a long list of his activities that I tried, and he tried some of mine (dialog-heavy TV drama, anyone?) But we found a new, mutual interest in the kitchen. We liked to cook together, and in those early months of marriage we experimented bravely with things like pecan-crusted roasts of pork (delicious), and home made spring rolls (disastrous). Our kitchen-togetherness was short-lived, though: once we started producing babies, there was little energy or money for producing fine meals.
But then, one day, after several years of culinary drought, my husband started baking bread. He would spend Saturdays covered in flour, one eye on his family and the other on the clock, timing the moments between the first and second rise of the dough. Ciabatta. Pugliese. Artisan Breads. Challah. The same handful of ingredients over and over, combined in different quantities and at different times to create heavenly loaves that filled so much more than our bellies.
And so I, too, became a bread maker. Together we have learned about the importance of steam, and of when a dough is under- or over-proofed. Together we have experimented with wholewheat flour, gluten-free flour, and tried to discover what difference a dutch oven makes. But best of all: together, we have served loaf after steaming loaf to the friends and family that come through our kitchen. It fills so much more than our bellies.
More and more, I think marriage is like bread: a handful of key ingredients, plus time, can grow into something much bigger than it started out.
Friendship, love, kindness, companionship, and the Holy Spirit’s multiplying yeast can grow in ways that fill a home with its aroma.
We have attempted many loaves in our marriage. Some have flopped. Sometimes we’ve scorched or underbaked them. Sometimes the results are barely edible. But most times they aren’t. The basic ingredients work. They just do. And so we keep at it: this slow, faithful work of combining ingredients and trusting that over time, our skills in making something beautiful will get better. And we and all in our home will be nourished.
Bronwyn Lea is a South African born wife and mother of three, making home (and bread) in California. She writes widely for a variety of digital publications on faith, family, and justice issues. Find her online at www.bronlea.com, on Facebook, and Twitter.
You can read more stories from this series by clicking this link. If you want to check out Making Marriage Beautiful, you can download chapter one from this link. And please subscribe to this blog or for our bi-monthly newsletter. Every month I give away at least one book. Thanks for stopping by.
Photo credit of bread: iStock Helios8