Have you ever mixed 3 cups of flour, a cup of water and a teaspoon of salt into a dough, formed it into a nice smooth ball and let it sit for a couple of hours? If so, what happened?
I can guess what happened because, unfortunately, I’ve done it. Nothing happened. The ball sat there like a sticky, sodden lump. It didn’t grow, it didn’t change, it didn’t move. It didn’t look very good either, and I certainly couldn’t make bread with it.
Yes, it was an epic bread-making fail.
But here’s what happened when I mixed those same ingredients and remembered to add 2 teaspoons of yeast. In a couple of hours, the sodden lump had doubled in size. It grew, it changed, it moved. And it turned into a light, beautiful dough, ready to be made into delicious bread or pizza or rolls.
The only difference between the unchanging lump and the light, airy dough? A small amount of yeast.
Like dough, our marriages need a small amount of “yeast,” something that gives them a lift, making sure they don’t turn into soggy, sodden lumps.
Think of the things that make up the bulk of our lives – the jobs, the responsibilities, the commitments, the work. They’re the flour and water. They’re good things, but over time, without a bit of leavening, they become heavy and dull and start to look less and less attractive.
Then think of the things that bring joy and hope to our lives – the people, the experiences, the quiet moments, the opportunities to help and be helped. They’re the yeast. They lighten our load, making both routine and difficult times easier to navigate, and turning our lives, families and marriages into something beautiful.
I know you want that kind of marriage, and I do too. The kind that makes life seem a little lighter and airier, even when it’s hard. The kind that says, “We’re in this together and we’re going to get through it together – and find some ways to laugh along the way.” If you’re looking for that kind of life, here are 4 kinds of “yeast” you may want to add to your marriage “dough:”
- Generosity – Acting generously encompasses forgiving, extending grace, assuming the best, and going the extra mile. When you treat your husband with generosity, you forgive him easily for small mistakes and offenses, overlook minor flaws, generally assume that his intentions are good, and go out of your way to do small things to make his life easier. (I’m talking about normal day-to-day problems and issues, not serious marriage problems.) Instead of focusing on the negative or “keeping score” you focus on the positive and adopt a mindset of generosity towards him. It’s not a quid pro quo, but often the result is that he begins to treat you generously too. (Follow Lori at The Generous Wife for daily practical tips for adopting this kind of mindset and living generously in your marriage.)
- Fun. We need to find ways to have fun with our husbands. Without regular fun, life quickly begins to resemble that first batch of dough – heavy and dull. But when you add a bit of fun, life seems a little lighter and a lot more enjoyable. So plan something regularly that’s fun for both of you. It doesn’t have to be a formal date, although regular dates are great. Come up with a list of simple fun things you enjoy, post it on your refrigerator and try to do one of them at least once a week. You can watch a funny movie, play a game, go out for coffee or a glass of wine, play a sport you both enjoy, take a long walk, go for a drive – anything that provides a break from your daily routine and creates an enjoyable shared experience.
- Sex. You knew I was going to say that, right? Every marriage needs regular, enjoyable sex and intimacy. I’m not talking about the “your husband needs sex” kind of sex. That doesn’t lighten your marriage; it adds a burden. I’m talking about the kind of sex you both enjoy, the kind that reduces stress, brings you closer together and creates positive memories. If you don’t know how to add that kind of “yeast” to your marriage, check out the Passionate Marriage and Sex and Marriage Resources pages. And if you do know how to add it but have let it take a back seat to other things, decide to make it a priority again. Plan on enjoying sex together 2 or 3 times a week for the next month and see if it gives your marriage a lift.
- Faith. If you’re a person of faith, you know that trusting God can make a big difference in your marriage. As a Christian, I believe God supports, protects and cares for my marriage. Does that mean it’s always flowers and rainbows and romance? Uh, no. But when I pay attention to what He’s doing and make an effort to align myself with Him, my life and marriage thrive (even though circumstances may still be difficult). When I try to do everything in my own power, my life and marriage often flounder. (So why do I have to keep relearning that lesson?) If you believe God wants to work in your marriage, involve Him in your life. Don’t try to go it alone.
These four kinds of “yeast” aren’t the only things we need to create fun, strong and healthy marriages. But they’re important ones, because they add some leaven and lighten the load of work, parenting, and adult life in general. If we work on including them in our marriages, I think we’ll see more of the beautiful dough and less of the sodden lump. What do you think?