back burner

A Back Burner Marriage

back burnerThe necessary back burner.

Doing a marriage well means that, sometimes, issues need to be put on the back burner. This happens when there’s a crisis with a job, health, relationship, or family situations. We agree (either verbally or by happenstance) that other things need to go to the back burner until this event has happened, the crisis is over, or the new job has been found.

We do that for the health of our relationship and our marriage. We know that, in time, we can deal with what must be handled in one way or another.

The problem is that, sometimes, it’s easier to just let “it” stay on that burner because that’s easier than dealing with “it”. Sometimes we allow “it” to remain there because the tension will be too great to turn the burner on high and start stirring.

Sometimes putting something on the back burner allows for time to evaluate, pray, and contemplate how to address the issue. It also helps us sort out the dross of emotions and come up with facts over feelings.

The problem comes when we become comfortable with letting the issue stay on the back burner. We are comfortable because then we don’t have to face the real issue. That’s when it’s time to recognize the danger of staying on the back burner.

Moving to the front burner

In the kitchen, items on the back burner are usually simmering and waiting until it’s time. Time to bring up the temperature and do the final touches on the dish. Time to move the kettle to the front, turn up the heat, and season or stir until it’s just the right texture, temperature, and taste. In test tasting, we communicate our desire for a particular flavor, taste, or saltiness.

That’s what we need to do in our marriages when something’s been on the back burner too long. We need to bring it to the front and walk through what has happened together. Unless we are willing to face that walk and do it together, we won’t find harmony from that fine kettle of fish on the back burner.

back burnerThe recipe. Season, Stir, and Taste

Here’s my recipe, and you can tweak it to serve your marriage.

  1. Timing. This is important because timing is everything. Find a time to broach the subject and agree together when you can talk about the issue. If one of you needs more time, agree together how much time is necessary.
  2. Season. Use words of grace, not bitterness. Oh yes, that doesn’t come naturally but it’s a must. If we’re honest, we know what it means to season our words.
  3. Stir. Listen to each other’s words, then stir them together until your emotions blend with each other’s to find harmony.
  4. Taste. Is your solution palatable to both of you? If it isn’t, then adjust the seasonings, the timing, and keep stirring. Communication is key, and it gets better with experience if we work at it willingly.

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