At The Center - The Uncommon Marriage Adventure

At The Center

CORE PRACTICE #1: Make Christ the center of your marriage.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.Philippians 2:1-2


When Tony served as a head coach in the NFL, the coaches’ wives often visited classrooms in inner-city schools to read to and talk with students. This practice continues to be one of my priorities, and now that Tony is retired, he has joined me. We have visited two third-grade classrooms in the heart of Tampa almost every Tuesday since 2009.

After we finish reading one of our books to the students, we take their questions. At first, some of the inquiries surprised us. “Are you two married? To each other?” We’ve learned to expect surprised looks or exclamations like, “Wow, you’re kidding me!” when we tell them that, yes, we’ve been married for more than thirty years.

My favorite question came from a boy who eagerly raised his hand and asked, “Are you guys Christians?” I felt such joy that a third grader recognized our love for God and desire to follow His plan.

Tony and I have fulfilled many roles during our marriage: spouse, parent, coach, teacher, speaker, and broadcaster, to name just a few. Yet nothing is more important than being Christ followers. Christ is also the center of our marriage—the source of love, grace, forgiveness, and perseverance we need to make it through each day.

During most of my single life I hadn’t been focused on getting married. But when my thoughts finally drifted to marriage and whom I might marry, I knew I wanted to marry a Christian—an authentic, deeply committed, passionate, and growing follower of Christ.

When I met Tony, I learned he did too.

We both felt blessed to have parents who were happily married as well—we knew that was unusual. Within our circle of family and friends, Tony and I had numerous other examples of couples with great marriages because they were following biblical principles. Those principles guided not only their decision making, but also helped them as they raised their children, developed friendships and other associations, handled their finances, and became active in churches. We had also seen how some couples with different faith walks or none at all sometimes struggled to navigate the challenges of marriage. They lacked a common source of wisdom and grace.

Striving to keep Christ at the center of our relationship has been and continues to be the key to building our marriage. He is the source of true and lasting encouragement, comfort, and love, which makes it possible for us to set aside our selfish interests and live in ever-increasing harmony. Tony and I like to remind couples that the process of two becoming one may begin on their wedding day, but that is just the beginning of a lifetime journey of commitment. We never stop growing with and learning about each other.

Maybe it’s because I once taught math as a sixth-grade teacher, but one of my favorite analogies of a Christ-centered marriage is an equilateral triangle. As you may recall from geometry class, all three sides of an equilateral triangle are the same length. (See? Your teacher told you you’d be using this later!) I picture Christ at the top of the triangle. The bride and groom, respectively, form the other two corners. The only way for a married couple to grow closer to each other is for each to grow closer to Christ—shortening the sides of the triangle. And making Christ the focus of one’s relationship is all part of God’s inviolate plan for marriage.

While our journey hasn’t been perfect every moment, Tony and I have always known that whenever we start to get off track, whenever we feel strain or tension, we can turn toward our center and draw closer to Christ—and thereby to each other.

Adventure Application: Take a moment to each draw a triangle. Be sure the sides reflect the distance you currently feel between each other and Christ. (The longer the sides, the further apart you feel.) Now compare your triangles. Discuss why you drew them the way you did, and how focusing on Christ could shorten the sides and bring you closer together.

From the Book:

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure cover image

The Uncommon Marriage Adventure
By Tony Dungy and Lauren Dungy with Nathan Whitaker

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