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.

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  1. Michael says:

    Need a Christian life with my wife, so that we are equally yoked.

  2. Diane says:

    What exercises are there that we can do to build our communication? I, not surprisingly talk, he doesn’t even listen well 🙂

  3. Cathy says:

    Thanks for the article.

  4. Karla Koerner says:

    Great advice! Praising God for your commitment to this ministry. God bless

  5. dione says:

    Ladies, I have been married for 20 years and God has taught me two important things that is be quite and look at my own self before I start telling God about my husband.

  6. Elizabeth samuel says:

    God bless you all who worked on this article

  7. Chassity McDonald says:

    I need prayer for my marriage it’s been a month and 2 weeks since we have been separated and my husband quit talking to me . I have hope and faith in god that things may work out for our marriage but I need prayer for us plz I have rede dictated my life to Christ now it’s his turn plz pray.

  8. Francisca Garratt says:

    I am a newlywed Christian wife. My husband and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary on Valentine’s day. I was overjoyed when we got married and I completely agree with you. You have to spend time and money with one another away from the chaos of life. Life is not a pretty picture all the time you will fight sometimes. Sometimes you can’t wait to see one another and other times you need some time by yourself. My advice put God first at all times even and do as God says. You will have a lot of people telling you how to be married and some advice is good some advice is great and some advice is awful. So pray for God to give you wisdom and discernment and God will help you just trust and praise God at all times.