Monday, May 10, 2010

Marriage is More than a Partnership

When we get married, many of us believe that we have entered into an equal partnership; husband and wife; each giving our equal fifty percent to make a marriage "work."

But the ideas above are deceptive.

First of all, as anyone who has been married more than a year or two can tell you, if one spouse only gives fifty percent to the relationship, and then waits around for the other to dole out their fifty percent of effort, BOTH parties will end up disappointed. But when each couple gives all their hearts and souls to their partner's happiness and comfort, there is more than enough love and happiness to go around.

For today, I'd like to focus on the mistaken idea that marriage is a "partnership" made up of one husband and one wife. True, as the scriptures say in Genesis 2:24 " Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. " And by this scripture we know that no one in our lives-- our parents, our siblings, or even our children-- should come before our spouse.

But I am talking about the third person who is a big part of our marriage. The glue that keeps a marriage strong, the one whom is an active third participant in the covenants we make at the sacred altar. I'm talking about God, our Father in Heaven.

I once read an analogy that explains the role of God in our marriages beautifully. It's found in an out-of-print book called "Woman's Divine Destiny" (printed in 1978) by a Latter Day Saint author named Mildred Chandler Austin.

She likened this "sacred triangle", as she calls it, to the ingredients for making lemonade. In her words:
Lemonade is made of three ingredients: juice, sugar, and water. A good marriage also has three essential components: the man, the wife, and the Lord. The juice, the agent that decides the flavor distinction, is like the husband; the sweetening agent that "comforts" the sourness of the juice and enhances its tart delightfulness is like the wife; and the agent that provides for expansion and real refreshment, the life-giving water, is like the Lord. (John 4:10-14)
I love this analogy, because I can see how each ingredient has an important, specific role to play in creating GOOD lemonade. No one is no more important than the other-- they are each needed if one is to make lemonade.

Our husband sets the tone. He is the head of our family; our protector, our provider. His role is essential. Without his vital "flavor", there can be no lemonade.

Wives bring the sweetness; we temper the juice to make it more palatable, more appealing. We are the hearts of our homes, giving love and encouragement, nurturing the relationships in our family. Our softening influence is needed.

And then God provides the bond for both the lemon and the sweetness. The lemonade cannot quench thirst or provide refreshment without the "living" water that the Lord provides. It holds the juice and the sweetener together, and makes them more than they are on their own, or combined. There cannot be delicious lemonade without this last, third ingredient.

We all know the axiom, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." So what are we bringing to our marriages? Sweetness, or bitterness? And, most importantly, are we inviting the refreshing, renewing influence of the Master into our marriages as a third, equal party?

May the Lord bless us all in our efforts to make our marriages sweeter every day.


  1. Wow, I loved your thoughts on Marriage. Thanks for sharing this. We can all use this advice; sincere marriage does take work and should never lightly. I have been married for almost 43 years so I see the truth in your words.
    I just started a new blog named Living Waters by LeAnn check it out if you get a moment.

  2. Thanks for your kind words, LeAnn! I did check out your blog, and really enjoyed your tribute to your daughters.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting! :-)

  3. Nice post! I was especially struck by what you wrote in the beginning: that if each spouse only gives 50%, then disappointment will ensue. If we compare marriage to a sacred covenant with God, then the concept of grace/graciousness should also apply. The Hebrew word for grace is 'chen' (the ch is guttural and this word is related to the Biblical character of Channah - Hannah!) and refers to 'abundant love'. Grace within marriage means that each spouse must (sometimes) go above and beyond the call of duty to merely 'pitch in'. Graciousness is about doing that little bit extra, that little abundance of love.

    (I wrote an article about marriage on my own blog, feel free to check it out if you're so inclined :))

    Blessings and thanks for sharing,
    This Good Life


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