‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:7-8).

We started growing spaghetti squash for the first time this year.  As it grows, it spreads out so that it’s hard to tell the roots from the vines, making it a little difficult to know I’m watering the right part.  If you look at it closely, though, it’s actually very beautiful.  The leaves are wide and the flowers are dotted all over, adding splashes of color to an otherwise ordinary plant. 

Inspired by this squash. I started to think about my marriage.  My husband is the root and I am the vine.  He is the one who is the head of our household: the spiritual leader and one who makes the ultimate decisions.  I am the privileged one who gets to be his helpmate.  He loves me enough to ask my opinion about decisions for our family, but protects me by shouldering the responsibility.  We need the right amount of sunshine and water (a primary relationship with Jesus Christ) at regular intervals in order to thrive and reach our fullest potential.  It is only when we pay close attention to keeping those areas consistent that the fruits of our labor (our children) can grow, blossom, and branch out.  

I want to have the kind of marriage where my husband and I are so closely intertwined that people can’t tell the difference between his roots and my vines.  I want us to present a united front when disciplining, instructing, and training our children as we help them navigate their own individual paths on their journey into adulthood.  I want us to continue to regularly fellowship together - whether that means praying together every day, having daily devotions, or attending church so that we can build each other up and encourage each other as struggles and problems arise.  Out of that oneness, I would love for another purpose to include spreading in various directions to serve others or minister to needs that we see around us.  Whether this is done individually or jointly, both of us will receive the blessing of that gift because of our unity.  

And I don’t want to forget the aspect of just plain having fun together.  It’s important to take time to remember why we fell in love and to enjoy shared activities as a couple and as a family which will keep not just the marriage relationship thriving, but most importantly, the friendship on which it was built. 

Another element that cannot be ignored is to make time to enrich ourselves individually.  That could mean taking additional classes to advance our work or even change to a more passionate career, learning a new hobby, joining a gym for overall health and increased energy, or belonging to a small group at church.  The purpose of this is to continue to grow as an individual.  Then, instead of keeping that enthusiasm to myself, the idea is to share the new discoveries and my newfound investment with my spouse.  

The idea of being there for each other emotionally and physically cannot be forgotten either.  This means going the extra mile and having unconditional love toward each other while living with an other-centered focus.  There is a lot of stress put on marriages and individuals from outside influences.  When one is down, the other needs to be right there to help, encourage, and shoulder extra responsibilities.  That could be physically taking over the chores at home or just taking a walk with my spouse to listen to him vent about a problem at work, with a friend, or whatever he needs.  In different seasons of a marriage relationship, the burdens and problems will change.  That is why it’s so important that each spouse can count on the other to be there, in whatever way necessary, to help the other regroup, heal, or distress.  A spaghetti squash marriage doesn’t keep track and there is no “me” in this union - it’s all about us and doing what needs to be done to help the other.  

That is what a true partnership looks like to me.  By implementing and then working on these various aspects of my marriage, my goal is for people around us to see a cohesive unit, two people working together as well as individually for the greater good. Not seeing where my husband ends and I begin but instead seeing us as connected in all the right places.  Most importantly, I want our marriage to reflect God in all aspects, being the best example we can be for our friends -believers and nonbelievers alike- so that they can see God in our day-to-day interactions.  

When we started our garden this spring, I never imagined that the spaghetti squash was going to become my favorite vegetable.  

Cheri Swalwell is a Christ follower first and foremost, wife, mother, and avid reader. She has been blessed to guest blog at various sites including here at Crosswalk and Christiandevotions.us. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog or like her on Facebook.

Publication date: July 23, 2012