Cultivate a Christ-Centered Marriage

By   •   February 11, 2011   •   Topics:

For decades, Chip Ingram has been teaching men and women how to become better spouses. But it’s not because he’s an expert. It’s because he learned through his own need.

Long before he was helping other couples navigate the waters of marriage, Ingram and his wife, Teresa, needed help for their own relationship. Motivated by pain from dysfunctional families, they sought counseling. Now, he is able to give people the wise counsel he desperately needed and received.

“I came to a point where I realized I didn’t do relationships God’s way. My way didn’t work. Before I got married I realized that Christ should be Lord of my life, including my relationships,” he remembers. Even still, he said his expectations of marriage were unrealistic, and realized that he and his wife had difficulties communicating.

Now, the Ingrams have been married for 32 years and their marriage has never been stronger. “I’m more in love with my wife and more deeply satisfied in marriage than ever. I long for that for other people.” He teaches that the benefits of a good marriage go beyond the man and woman involved. The couple’s children also feel more secure and often make better mate choices for themselves.

“The greatest thing you can ever do for your children is to love your spouse. They need to feel safe. How they respond to the opposite sex is often based on how their parents related to each other. Kids model what they see in us, whether or not we realize it.”

He says the key ingredient to a strong, lasting marriage is loyalty to Jesus Christ. “When two people are in a Christ-centered marriage, they are saying they are not going to allow anyone to take His place in their lives. When you let another person take God’s place, it ruins the relationship,” he explained. “God designed marriage where He wants to be the center. When He is, good things happen.”

Years of observation have shown him that having Christ in the center of a marital relationship gives it lasting power, since other human beings are guaranteed to hurt our feelings or let us down. “When the focus is primarily on Christ, your security isn’t wrapped up in how the other person does or does not respond. Also, you need Christ first in your life, because you can’t give to someone else out of nothing. Only when you are filled up with Christ is when you can risk and give when they don’t give back.”

Investing in the Most Important Earthly Relationship

Along with commitment to Christ, maintaining romance is essential to the health of a marriage. Ingram explains that having fun and dating are really critical, and it is important to invest in the most important earthly relationship. We can do this by getting away with our spouse—away from kids, work, everyday pressures—and investing time into our marriages.

He adds that while investing time into our marriage also can mean investing money, the dividends are well worth the investment. “We are smart enough to know that if we drive thousands of miles in our car without changing the oil, bad things are going to happen. Many people take better care of cars than marriage. It costs money to tune up your car, and it often costs money to tune up your marriage—and your marriage is infinitely more important than your car.”

He advises that each married couple spend some time alone, away from all distractions and relax together, pray together, and “put gas in the spiritual tank.”

Nevertheless, a strong, Christ-centered marriage takes hard work. “Whether you are an artist, a business owner or an athlete, anything requires practice and hard work. Get help through counseling. Go through exercises to learn how to communicate better. Other than your relationship with Christ, your marriage is the most import one you can have. We always reap what we sow, and God honors hard work at relationships.”

Chip Ingram is an accomplished author and the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, California. He is also president and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship media ministry that provides teaching through radio, TV, and interactive online discipleship pathways.

Learn more about Chip’s upcoming parenting seminar at the Cove »

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9 Comments

  1. patricia says:

    I have been all by myself now for the pass 6yrs now i mean single for this long and you know what, it is all working for my good and all to the glory of God. I am now waiting for the lord to connect me with that husband he has for me. Praise him.

  2. Sikiti says:

    Please continue to have a fervent prayer life Joyce! Nothing is impossible with our great God (matt 19:26). Have faith in God and rest in His finished work. The devil is liar, God knows your side of the story and the truth and the truth will win.

  3. Grace says:

    Please pray with one another each day and read His word. Ask God to be the center of your relationship with one another. God knows best about relationships.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Please pray for my family. My parents split up about 3-4 months ago and me and my siblings are going through a rough time. I feel lost and hurt and pray for my dad to win custody of my siblings, he's a great father. Hes always there and his kids are his first priority to him. I love my mother but she is way too selfish and pray for my relationship with my boyfriend the father of my boys and pray for my boys to be healthy always have their daddy and pray for the poor to have food and a roof over there heads and for the sick children to be cured.

  5. jovy says:

    Find a prayer warrior, it helps a lot.. May God keep watching over us! jovy

  6. Internet@BGEA says:

    Dear Joyce, We are so sorry for what you are going through with you marriage and your family. We would like to pray and provide some encouragement. Please call 1-877-247-2426 to talk and pray with someone. There are people here who care. Or, you can send a private email to help@bgea.org. We will continue to keep you in prayer. The BGEA Internet team.

  7. JOYCE says:

    I NEED PRAYERS AND HELP FOR OUR MARRIAGE. MY HUSBAND MOVED OUT 6 WEEKS AGO. HE TOOK OUR YOUNGEST SON AND MOVED OUT HIS BELONGINGS ONE MONTH AGO. MOST OF THE PROBLEMS IN OUR MARRIAGE HAPPENED, BECAUSE WE DISAGREE ON HOW TO DISCIPLINE OUR SON. MY HUSBAND ALLOWED OUR SON TO TAKE OVER OUR LIVING ROOM BY LETTING HIM CONTINUALLY PLAY COMPUTER GAMES WITH A FRIEND. HE AND HIS FRIEND WERE DISRESPECTFUL TO ME. MY SON, ALSO, BECAME ANGRY AND ABUSIVE IF I TRIED TO LIMIT HIS TIME WITH THESE GAMES AND TALKING TO HIS FRIEND OVER A SPEAKER PHONE. MY HUSBAND JUST SAID DON'T OBSESS OVER THIS! I COULD NOT EVEN CLEAN AROUND HIM. OUT OF ANGER I SAID TO MY HUSBAND TO LEAVE, AFTER HE TOLD ME I COULD GO STAY WITH MY ELDERLY FATHER. I HAVE ASKED MY HUSBAND FOR FORGIVENESS MANY TIMES AND SAID I DID NOT MEAN WHAT I SAID. HE IS NOT FORGIVING ME OR LISTENING TO ME. WE, ALSO, HAVE AN 18 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER WITH A DISABILITY WHO IS A SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL. I DO NOT WANT OUR CHILDREN LIVING APART. MY HUSBAND SAID WE WILL HAVE TO SELL OUR HOUSE AND MY DAUGHTER AND I WILL HAVE TO MOVE IN WITH MY 90 YEAR OLD FATHER. THE RENT MY HUSBAND IS PAYING ON ANOTHER HOUSE IS NOT HELPING OUR FINANCIAL SITUATION WHICH WAS ALREADY NOT GOOD. WE NEED HELP. PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR MARRIAGE AND OUR FAMILY AND THAT GOD WOULD BRING US ALL BACK TOGETHER VERY SOON AND HELP US WITH OUR DIFFICULT FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. THANK-YOU AND BLESS YOU!

  8. giselle says:

    If every man and woman in the whole world thinks this way, there would be no breakups… nowadays people easily fall in love, fall out of love… divorces are rampant… kids hurting..the list goes on and on and on…we need GOD in our lives… I hope I would have a GOD fearing man… I'm tired of hearing breakups, and of unfaithfulness.. let us all pray

  9. Connie says:

    WOW…..a wealth of information. Thank you so much for your valuable insight. Connie