When my husband Bruce and I first got married neither one of us knew how to cook – nor bake. Some friends gave us Sunset’s “Easy Basics” cookbook as a wedding gift. It was one of the most helpful and appropriate gifts we received; it has been well used and loved. Once a week or so, we would choose a recipe to make together. The recipes from the “Easy Basics” book always turned out well and tasted great. We came to count on this book for fairly easy yet always good recipes. Some of our family’s enduring favorites have come from it and are still part of our family traditions and so are connected with some of our fondest memories.
The Apple Pie Bruce still makes from this book has become a staple in our home for Thanksgiving and sometimes is still requested for birthdays or other events. Another winner, which will by itself draw our children back home for a visit, is the Lasagne Belmonte; Bruce just has to threaten to make it, and “they will come” (he still actually follows the recipe—something I have wandered away from faithfully doing over the years). The waffle recipe is another that is often requested for birthdays or family gatherings when breakfast is involved.
Related to “Easy Basics,” Bruce and I have been asked by different people during our 31 ½ years of marriage what our “recipe” has been for staying together as a couple. We could say the above recipe book helped, and for sure, it would be part of the many ingredients which have worked together to hold us together, but I don’t think that’s what people are asking.
What are our “basics” for a marriage that lasts? What are the reliable fundamentals that have given us good results?
Before I tell you, I will warn you, what has helped us are truly “Easy Basics.’” Sometimes, for some reason, we want more complicated or sophisticated answers or solutions to our problems or for our life situations. But complicated is how things get when we don’t follow the “easy basics.” And in reality, seeking complicated or sophisticated answers is one of many ways of avoiding responsibility.
Here are our “easy basics”:
First is a total commitment to God – which means getting to know Him better through Jesus, not loving anything or anyone more than Him, seeking to follow Him in wholehearted trust demonstrated by faithful (sometimes inconvenient) obedience to His Word through His loving and Holy Spirit. This is the one solid foundation upon which all other relationships can be built, and the foundation, when lacking, which will result in one relational disaster after another.
The second “easy basic” is commitment to the relationships and life that God has given or allowed us to have. It is intentionality in seeking to know and apply God’s Word in our daily relationships and activities (through prayer!). It is not giving up on each other when each is undeserving—which we always are. It is tough love—learning and holding ourselves and one another to the responsibilities which our lives entail as given by God, not generally according our own or other’s expectations—but according to God, as revealed in His Word, Jesus, and in the book that testifies of Him, the Bible. It is encouraging one other to magnify (or live out) the gifts God has given each of us individually for the benefit of human kind. It is pulling together to learn more of God and His ways and then practicing what we learn as we go along, together. In other words, it is being committed to helping each other do the first thing.
About these “easy basics,” Jesus summed it up when He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).