Ingredients of a great relationship (and a great life)

Classic at home date with Rebekah

Once in a while – being somewhat of a “foodie” – I take pictures while I’m cooking. Usually it’s on impulse, along the lines of, “Hey, this looks pretty good I should post it on facebook….” And that was certainly the case yesterday evening when Rebekah and I enjoyed one of our stay at home date nights.

What struck me was the transformation between preparation and presentation.

TRANSFORMATION: Here’s the prep photo, taken in the kitchen. As you can tell, there’s not a lot of complexity here. In fact, by the time I had finished all I had used to prepare the meal was steak, asparagus, potatoes, bread, four ounces of onion, one clove of garlic, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, a wedge of lemon and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Good quality ingredients, prepared properly.

It may have been just the two of us, but a great meal in the best of company calls for fine china on the dining room table. Candlelight too. The key idea here is that we don’t take each other for granted.

Never stagnant

ADVENTURE: That’s why we still date; that’s why we still have great adventures together. This is a relationship that’s worth the effort, worth the preparation, worth the deliberation of bringing our best to the table and then working to make it better.

If we’re not careful, we can slip into “making do,” especially when life and work is overwhelming and we’re just so tired. That’s when we lose ground. Even the best relationships lose ground once in a while.

REALITY: There’s a principle at play here: we either move forward or we slip backwards. There is no coasting; it’s a fact of life.

Not that we shouldn’t expect to experience a little ebb and flow. That’s part of the natural rhythm of things. But when we chart the overall growth pattern – both of our marriage and our individual lives – it’s important to be moving in the right direction. Growth that counts doesn’t happen by chance, and it certainly won’t happen by neglect. It requires preparation, deliberation, commitment.

What an adventure!

DATE: So we date. We prepare. We bring our very best to the table. We are faithful not just to the other person but to the principle of commitment.

This last photo? It was taken earlier this year, at the entrance to the lost city of Petra in Jordan. This entire life is an adventure – or at least it should be…


The Life That Truly is Life The Life-Charged Life The Story Travel

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

3 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Derek, Wonderful article today. Sunday I also used the good china for dinner with my husband. Made it special. Love the new quote: Reality: There ‘s a principle at play here; we either move forward or we slip backwards. There is no coasting, it’s a fact of life.
    Linda LaComb-Williams


  2. Hi, Derek! Most insightful! We’d all be much better off if, as this implies, we’d treat our marriage vows (and we really take very few vows in our lives, because they’re so serious) as pledges to minister to one another in our marriages. Having dates is a wonderful way of keeping needed freshness circulating in our togetherness. Peace and Blessings! Henry


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