We've all heard it: "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Watching my husband's actions in the kitchen confirm that this adage is true. Allured to the stove by the aroma of whatever is simmering, he will lift the steamy lid, close his eyes, and inhale. Like a forklift in motion, he'll grab a nearby spoon and plunge it into the pot, pulling up a hot, savory surprise. He'll longingly blow on the spoon and at last, open his mouth to taste my "love potion." The food passes from his lips to his stomach—all the way to his heart—and then, he smiles. Success! He knows he's loved.
Taking the time to prepare a meal, no matter how simple, communicates love and care. So, if you want to add a little spice to your relationship, start in the kitchen. Here are a few tips to warm things up.
Plan for success
For success in any area of life, you first need a plan. And if you want to have food on the table for dinner, you definitely need a plan. Take a few minutes each week and decide on your menu. If you need some fresh inspiration, dust off the cookbooks and recipe file and try one new recipe a month. Cooking, like marriage, becomes boring when we get stuck in a rut and don't have fun exploring new ideas. Keep a list on the refrigerator of recipes for the food you have on hand to prepare. Decide in the morning what you'll serve in the evening.
If your home life is busy like most, stock up on food so you'll have things on hand to prepare quickly. Fill your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with staples and favorite items you frequently eat. The more convenient you make healthy eating and cooking, the more apt you are to eat at home; this actually saves money and can eliminate some stresses in your marriage. Proverbs 21:20 affirms this: "In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil." Be wise, stock up.
Keep it simple
Keep your menus simple and fresh. A lean meat, delicious salad, and whole grain bread or pasta make a superb, simple dinner. I make no apologies; I am a simple cook. If a recipe has more than five ingredients, I rarely prepare it. Proverbs 15:17 says it this way, "Better a meal of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened calf with hatred." In other words, better to serve a simple meal with a loving attitude than labor over a fancy feast in a rotten mood. Simplify for your sanity and everyone will benefit.
Believe it or not, you hold the keys to much of your good health and happiness with the foods with which you choose to fill your kitchen. How? When you eat healthy foods, you feel better. When you feel better, you act better and that affects your marriage big time!
Jeremiah 31:12 says, "I will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord." Celebrate and serve the simple things God has created for us to eat. For a yummy, healthy meal, stir-fry some chicken and fresh vegetables and serve with brown rice.
Uncooked or minimally cooked fruits and vegetables retain the most vitamins and nutrients. I often put out fresh veggies and dip as an appetizer to nibble on while preparing dinner. Dessert in our home, almost always, is just fresh fruit. Simple, inexpensive, and best of all, good for you.
Fill it with fragrance
There's no more powerful enticement to draw spouses homeward than walking into a yummy-smelling kitchen. Why? The smell makes them feel expected. They sense you are anticipating their arrival. What good smells are coming from your kitchen?
A tragedy in many homes today is the lost art of cooking and therefore, the lost aroma of cooking. Filling your home with good food fragrances can be as easy as a chicken roasting in garlic butter or scrubbed potatoes baking in the oven. Sometimes, I just throw some garlic in a frying pan with a touch of oil before Bill arrives home. I may only be making croutons for a salad, but the house smells irresistible and he feels welcomed.
Food tastes better when there's beauty to behold. Think of your plate as the canvas and your food as the artwork. Keep color in the forefront of your mind when shopping. God has given us an endless range of foods in a rainbow of colors. Enjoy his colorful blessings.
Imagine some ruby red sliced tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, bright green broccoli steamed, then buttered and peppered alongside roasted chicken. This is simple yet beautiful enough to tantalize anyone's tastebuds.
Whenever I want to put a guest at ease in our home, I invite them to help me in the kitchen. In the same way, if things in your marriage are tense or you just want to have fun as a team, whip up something together. One can chop. One can stir. Often, Bill will grill our meat and I will prepare the salad and side dish. Many hands make the load light and build a stronger marriage.
Set the stage
Think of the five senses as you set the stage for your meal. Set a pretty table or sit in front of a roaring fire. A well-set table heightens the anticipation of the meal. Dim the lights and light a candle. Turn off the television and turn on some peaceful music. Take a minute to pause, hold hands, and praise God for his provision. Creating a pleasant atmosphere encourages us to slow down and linger over a meal, which helps build relationships.
Sit and enjoy
On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your marital satisfaction (five being most satisfied)? How many times a week do you sit down at home and eat a pleasant dinner together? More than likely, your marital satisfaction is directly related to how often you eat together.
A dear friend going through marital difficulties recently told me, "I never cook anymore!" Later as I was praying for her, I wondered, "Which came first? Does she no longer cook because her marriage is suffering, or is her marriage suffering, in part, because she no longer cooks?" Keeping an attitude of servanthood and care, even in the details of dining, goes a long way.
Though a chill may be in the air this season, it need not be in your marriage. Warm things up in your home this winter and get cookin'!
Terry Willits, interior designer and author of Creating A SenseSational Home, Simply SenseSational Decorating, and Simply SenseSational Christmas (all Zondervan), has fun preparing simple, tasty meals to tantalize her husband's tastebuds in their kitchen in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.