What Kind of Marriage Do You Have?

The following is an excerpt from a fine book by Gary Thomas entitled Devotions for a Sacred Marriage.  Thomas appeals to all of us who are Christ-followers to get to the heart of what makes a marriage tick instead of just trying to fix symptoms of our marriages.


How often we do the same thing with marriage!  We focus on the symptoms:

  • "We need to improve our communication."
  • "We need to get better at handling conflict."
  • "We need to show more appreciation for each other."
  • "We need to have a more unified plan with the children."
  • "We need to work harder at keeping the romance alive in our relationship."

We can spend a lifetime focusing on the symptoms, or we can replace the BCM — the basic control module.  I believe the BCM for marriage is our spiritual motivation. 

It all comes down to this: Are you a God-centered spouse or a spouse-centered spouse?  A spouse-centered spouse acts nicely toward her husband when he acts nicely toward her.  She is accommodating, as long as her husband pays her attention.   A spouse-centered husband will go out of his way for his wife, as long as she remains agreeable and affectionate.  He’ll romance her, as long as he feels rewarded for doing so.

But Paul tells us we are to perfect holiness out of reverence for God.  Since God is always worthy to be revered, we are always called to holiness; we are always called to love.  A God-centered spouse feels more motivated by his or her commitment to God than by whatever response a spouse may give.

Spouse-centered Christians try to make excuses to stop loving their spouses because of their spouses’ sins.  But if this were a valid excuse, every one of us could avoid the call to love since every one of us married a sinner!

 (Gary L. Thomas, Devotions For a Sacred Marriage, pp. 11-12) 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “What Kind of Marriage Do You Have?

  1. Jim,
    First off, thanks for your warm words regarding my recent blog. When I got your comment I followed the trail to your web site. What a wonderful resource! Do you mind if I link from my blog page?

    Regarding the article on couples being “God-centered” vs. “spouse-centered”…. I can validate this from my own marriage. My wife Deb, has demonstrated over and over again a grace that can only be centered in her faith covenant with God. With only the “spouse part of the equasion” I don’t know if our marriage would have made it.

    Thanks for recommending the Gary Thomas book. I’ll check it out soon.


  2. Gary,Thanks for the kind words.  You might also enjoy the book Sacred Marriage by Thomas.  It is the foundation for the book to which I referred.  Feel free to link.  Thanks for your interest, Gary.

  3. I think most of us begin as spouse-centered. But then life happens. And we are faced with a choice… God’s view or ours. When I take God’s view, I am definitely more able to live like Paul, “Now I no longer consider anyone from a human point of view.”

  4. L.L.I suspect you are correct.  Probably most of us do start our marriges that way.  And–as you say, "Life happens and we are faced with a choice…" 

  5. This thought has captivated my thoughts for the past few days. Am I acting in a spouse-centered way? Is my spouse? When I’ve seen traces that we have been, it makes me aware that a burden is placed on the other person to fill shoes that were never meant to be filled by the other. What a burden to have to be more than a spouse to someone, but to also be expected to fulfill every need that God should have that opportunity to fill.

  6. Gloria,You said it well!  And–I think of the incredible pressure that we put on these marriages to meet our needs, make us happy, etc.  As you say, we look to one another to fulfill what only God can give. 

  7. Mr. Martin. Thanks very much for this post. My wife and I were married young and celebrate our 15th anniversary this year. Only the last few years of it have been Christ-centered. (That was my fault.) Anyway–this is sound advice. Thanks. I really enjoy your blog.

  8. Patrick,Thank you so much for this comment.  I think many of us can relate to what you have said.  Marriage often requires a lot of maturing on the part of both.  I think one of the most important areas in which we can mature is to move from self-centered to Christ-centered.  I think that most of us who are married would say that has been one long process.  I know it has in my case.