It takes a Christ-centered man and woman to make a Christ-centered marriage. So, if you’re already married right now, it would probably disturb you somehow to note that one significant factor contributing to a Christ-centered marriage goes back long before you two met each other. Yes, your family upbringing has much to do with whether or not you are Christ-centered or going to be one. There are always exceptions to the rule. The parenting you grew up with is a strong indicator of the kind of person you will become as well as the kind of marriage you will have. This is a given for two most obvious reasons: One, we usually replicate the family that we have. And two, we normally gravitate towards people of our likeness when it comes to spirituality.
When to start praying for a marriage partner?
Although it is true that opposites attract personality-wise, but convictions come with spirituality and greatly influence our choice of a marriage partner. I remember one of the songs I wished sung on my wedding day has this line, “Somewhere in the course of this life, our little boy will need a godly wife, so hold on to Jesus, Baby wherever you are”. Apparently, it is the boy’s mom praying that the Lord would prepare for her son a godly wife. That mom is doing something that many other moms miss out on. Since pregnancy, many parents pray and prepare their children for future life but for marriage. They tend to leave that out of their agenda when their children are still young and only think about it when the latter near their marriageable age.
So, if you are not fortunate enough to have had parents who intentionally trained you for a Christ-centered life, nor prayed for your lifetime partner, do not despair. There is still hope. So long as you are willing to learn, unlearn, and relearn certain principles, there is a bright promise for you.
Biblical Principles to a Christ-centered marriage
Also mentioned in part one, the most important prerequisite to a Christ-centered marriage is learning and living its biblical principles. In doing so, the wife will learn that the most important thing her husband desires from her is her utmost respect. In the same way, the husband will understand that the most vital thing the wife wants is his unconditional love. Suffice it to say that a respectful wife makes a more loving husband and a loving husband makes a more respectful wife. It may be just a cliché but it’s timeless nonetheless: It takes two to tango and it takes the same two to tangle. Hence, whether marriage is Christ-centered or not, it is not just the fault of one but of both parties involved.
“A respectful wife makes a more loving husband and a loving husband makes a more respectful wife.”
Women in the church today
It is sad to note however that looking at today’s trend, only women seem to be interested and willing to learn more ways to better the institution of marriage. As a matter of fact, even in our local churches, women are more visible in the ministry than men. Consequently, they also get elected to leadership even the top-most leadership position sometimes superseding not only husbands but also pastors. With that said, we need to pray for men to really take the lead as God has originally designed them to.
Apart from the parenting factor and living the biblical marriage principles, we need to choose for a lifetime partner one who is of the same faith. If not from the same church, the most non-negotiable qualification is that he should be someone saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and living like one. If the getting married couple have both satisfied the aforementioned characteristics, then the following tips will be more practicable and workable for them.
“We need to choose for a lifetime partner one who is of the same faith. If not from the same church, the most non-negotiable qualification is that he should be someone saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and living like one.”
Agreement before the big day
Before saying “I do”, have some sort of prenuptial agreement tackling the major areas of marriage. This includes church commitment, family planning, and financial management. Deciding which church to attend after the wedding is not optional especially for couples who have come from different churches. Otherwise, the family will end up church-hopping.
This is such a negative possible scenario because God has analogized his relationship with the church to the relationship of the husband with the wife. It must be vividly understood that being committed to a church is like being married — it comes not only with benefits but also with responsibilities.
Next to church commitment, it would be equally wise to agree ahead on the number of children. Also how to grow, discipline, and provide for them. But since this is not the best avenue for discussing family planning, as that requires specific professional knowledge, I would intentionally leave that out. After all, there are health institutions that provide that particular service. So, yeah, go ask your midwife or OB. I would like to emphasize though that discipleship begins at home.
Parents as primary teachers
Many believing parents every Sunday afternoon would ask their children what they have learned from Sunday school. The children normally anticipate this with a ready answer. Nothing is wrong with that except some parents think as though it is the Sunday School teacher’s sole responsibility to disciple their kids when it is really the parents’. At the end of the day, people are not going to ask who their teachers are. For both positive and negative reasons, people would always associate children’s behavior with their parents. Hence, it is a must to intentionally hone children at home in all aspects.
Financial aspects of marriage
Just like the two aspects above, it is also necessary to discuss the couple’s financial ideals and principles prior to getting married. One stewardship book emphasizes that we are not owners but only managers. God is! Therefore, we have to bring back to God what is due to him before appropriating for anything else. Although some believers are not amenable to tithing, most agree that only after setting it apart can one truly give.
Personally, for me, the gauge is tithing. As other preachers would call it, it’s just elementary giving. Whether it’s tenth or fifteenth or any percentage set, it is important to stick to a particular system in giving. Simply put, God first.
Why? Because our bills cannot bless what’s left after everything else has been paid. But God can when we put him first.
Needless to say, we will not be able to discuss everything that needs to be discussed prior to the wedding no matter how good at planning we may be. But we have our lifetime to figure things out, so that’s totally ok. After the wedding day, we have a day to day quest to adjust and blend our lives and make a new normal with each other.
“Our bills cannot bless what’s left after everything else has been paid. But God can when we put him first.”
The adjustment period
They say the first three years of marriage is the adjustment period. When the couple succeeds in the first three years, they are most likely to succeed in their marriage for life. The key to this is open communication. Married couples need to be open to questions and discussions. Otherwise, it would be next to impossible understanding and adjusting with each other.
A Christ-centered marriage could not thrive in a family where there is no devotional time and praying together. We may be open with each other but if we have closed our line of communication with God, everything will just fall apart. What works for a time would soon falter unless we make Christ the very foundation of marriage.
“A Christ-centered marriage could not thrive in a family where there is no devotional time and praying together.”
Cultivating a Christ-centered Marriage
Other practical tips would include eating together, spending leisure time together like playing guitar while singing spiritual songs. Also working out together, playing together, limiting social media and gadgets especially at bedtime, and studying marriage and parenting books.
God, being the very author of marriage is interested in every marriage and all the issues surrounding it. If we want to get the best of marriage, it has to be Christ-centered. But it does not just happen. It requires work and commitment. A Christ-centered marriage is an incremental result of the choices we make before and after the wedding. With Christ in it, it could be a haven of rest on earth. Without Christ, it could be a taste of hell. Whichever we want to experience, we choose.