Everyone wants the secret to a happy marriage. If you just do a, b, and c, your marriage will succeed. But we all know relationships aren’t easy, and there’s rarely a foolproof formula. People are complicated, and life is messy.
But Joe and I do have one thing we have fallen back on, again and again, that has made our marriage successful. From the moment we made our wedding vows, we knew the only sure foundation was Jesus. We believe a Christ-centered marriage is the best path to a mutually satisfying and successful marriage. But what does that mean? What does it actually look like for your marriage to be centered on Christ?
1. Seeking to please Jesus first.
I love to serve Joe and find ways to make him happy, as he does for me. But in the long run, if we’re only trying to please each other, we will be disappointed. The first priority of a Christ-centered marriage is pleasing God first in our thoughts and decisions. As we please Him, then that means our default is bringing every part of our marriage to God in prayer first. When we disagree, when we struggle, we look to Jesus first for hope.
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8
2. Understanding our own inadequacy without Christ.
All the dos and don’ts of marriage advice forget that at the end of the day, we can’t do it. Like Paul says in Romans 7:15, we know the right thing to do, but we lack the power to do it on our own. Just trying to be a better spouse won’t cut it. Instead, we place ourselves in submission to Christ and let His power enable us to do what is pleasing to Him.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
3. Living out the grace and forgiveness we have received.
There’s no better mark of a Christ-centered marriage than the one characterized by daily, generous forgiveness. Forgiving the wrongs done to us is extremely difficult until we acknowledge how much we’ve already been forgiven. Then our hearts are softened, and we are less easily offended. As we live in Christ’s forgiveness for us, then that grace and forgiveness will naturally overflow to our spouse. That’s the kind of marriage we want to have!
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10