Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Marriage that Works free mp3 download.
About this series
Marriage that Works
God's Way of Becoming Spiritual Soul Mates, Best Friends, and Passionate Lovers
It's no secret that marriage is in trouble in America. This foundational building block of society is crumbling before our eyes. And Christians are not exempt from this trend. There is hope. Despite the mounting pressure on couples, you really can have a great marriage, raise Godly kids, and experience a healthy, life-giving home-life with the stability to weather life's storms. Join Chip Ingram as he challenges the status quo and gives clear, compelling help for couples that long for unity and fulfillment in their marriage.More from this series
And so, what I want to do is I want to give you God’s prescription, ladies, about what to do in a way that will fill the deepest needs of your heart. The “what” for a woman is to step in and support; and the “how” is, let me give you the woman’s top three priorities. It’s to nurture, protect, and provide.
And if you remember from our time with men, a man’s was exactly the same three priorities in exactly the opposite order. A man’s number one priority is to provide, then to protect, and then to nurture.
And here’s what I want you to see. I was walking through Home Depot yesterday. I get illustrations everywhere. And as I was walking through Home Depot and I was thinking about this whole issue of roles.
And the whole issue of roles, what the Bible does is it creates for us, by the Divine Designer, these are complimentary roles. There’s not a good, a bad, an inferior, or superior. There is a role for a man, and a role for a woman, that fits together that brings oneness, and beauty, and design, and intimacy, and love, and creates this thing called a home instead of a house.
And I was thinking of this bolt and this nut and, no explanation about who is who or what’s going on here, but what I want you to understand is, everything that is held together, it requires both the bolt and the nut.
And if you look on the outside, often, everything that’s held in between, if this was in a wall, all you would see is this thing on the outside. Often it’s more visible. Maybe that’s a guy out there doing this or that.
But the glue that holds everything together is the combination. And it’s interesting. These threads go one direction and the threads inside go a different direction so they fit perfectly.
And what we’ve done in the last thirty or forty years is argued about which one of these is most important and who ought to get to do what instead of recognizing the beauty is when they are made and fulfill what they are designed to do and that’s the Divine Designer and what God has for every one of us in our relationships.
And so He says, “Ladies, these are your top three priorities.” To nurture is to create a relational environment that promotes the spiritual, emotional, and physical welfare of those around you. And no one can do it like a woman.
To protect means to minimize the harmful influences that affect the lives that have been entrusted to you. And to provide means to maximize all spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial resources to do good to those that are in your relational network.
And so, what I’ve done is I’ve given three specific passages, as the box top. That these are the three primary things that God says to a woman, “This is what I want you to do.” And then what I want to do, in the rest of our time, is give you some practical ways, just like I did with the men.
Here are some ways to step in so that if these are the strengths of your man and these are his needs, God has made you to honor and respect and step in in a way that a man can never fulfill what God made him to do apart from a woman giving him what he doesn’t have. And the same is true for her.
And so, first of all, you’ll notice it’s Proverbs 31. It says, “An excellent wife, who can find? Her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her.” Ladies, circle the word “heart.” “And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good.” Circle “does him good.” “And does not evil all the days of her life.”
Notice the word “heart of her husband.” There’s a relational nurture. The heart of her husband, something inside of us insecure men, that wonder how things are going to play out when there’s pressure out there. The heart of her husband can trust in her.
It goes on to say she does him good. That’s provision. No evil. That’s protection. 1 Timothy 5:14 says, Paul is speaking to a situation in church. And when a young woman’s husband would die, in this culture, there were only two options.
As a woman, you couldn’t, as a single woman, go out and get a job. Either you dedicated yourself to the church and were full time with the church, and they would support you financially, or you could be a prostitute. Those were the only options.
And so, that’s the context of Paul writing. He says, “So, I prefer that the younger widows get married, have children, and take care of their homes,” circle the word “take care,” “so as to not give our enemies a chance of speaking evil against us.”
And the word “take care” it means “to rule.” It means to be the chief operating officer. It means “to make it happen.”
The third passage is Titus 2:3 through 5. And as I read this one, Titus is a pastor, Paul is writing to the pastor, Titus appointed elders, and the church is on this island of Crete. Now, the women in the island of Crete were known as wild women.
And so, in this very immoral, crazy island, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says to this pastor, “Here’s what I want the older women to do. The older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips or enslaved to much wine.”
Now, notice what they’re to do, “Teaching,” literally, the word is “training,” “clearly communicating God’s truth. Teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women,” to do what? “Love their husbands, love their children, to be sensible, pure workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands,” and notice the premise, “that the Word of God may not be dishonored.”
You see, if the Christ-centered relationship, if walking with God doesn’t work at home, he says, don’t export it. When people in your neighborhoods and my neighborhoods, when people at work, if they don’t see a transformational home where there’s love, and acceptance, and affirmation, and intimacy in a marriage, and a following for Christ that makes a difference, he says, “You know what? It calls into question everything we say that we believe.”
And so what you’re going to see, ladies, is there is a role that only you can fill. And when you fill it, the deepest levels of fulfillment occur in your heart.
And what we’re going to learn is that there are three specific roles and there are different seasons and different times for these roles. Some of you have more energy and less energy. Some of you have come from different backgrounds and so how you will apply what I’m about to say, the Holy Spirit is going to have to show you.
But there are three critical roles, from Scripture, that are absolutely, this is what God made you, as a woman, to do that no one else can.
Number one. So, how do you step in and support to lead your family in righteousness? A wife’s number one priority is to support, affirm, and here’s the key word, empower her husband to fulfill his God given calling, both within and outside the home. Empower. Affirm. Support.
We don’t like to think about this but a man’s biggest, biggest need is for respect or for honor. We can take a lot of different things. But a man, down deep, really wonders, “Am I a man? Do I have what it takes? Can I provide? Can I lead?”
And so, the areas that it’s easier for us is work and sports and things outside the home. And we can compensate. But when it comes to spiritual leadership, being a good dad, being a good husband, all those things? Those are tough. And the only way you can do it is when you have a wife who respects and honors and asks the kind of questions, and lives with you in such a way, that says, “You know what? You can do this. I’m for you.”
And here’s the role. It’s the role of a champion. It’s when the wife is the teammate and the best friend.
Any organization that thrives always has a champion. A champion is someone who champions the cause, the values, and the course, and the commitment. It’s someone who says, “We can do this.”
The most powerful influence in any family is whom? Always in every family. It’s the mom. Who’s the glue in a family? It’s the mother. And she champions the things that matter most.
Let me give you five practical ways, ladies, to be the champion to your husband. First is to make time with God your number one priority. The spiritual, emotional, physical. It’s, you have the most demanding job in the world.
The multi-tasking, the pulls from multiple people, the ability to meet needs here, meet needs, running a home. See, a home isn’t, do people have food and do they have clothes? A home, rightly understood, is a transformational organization where love gets created, received, and exported and the complete direction and trajectory of human lives are changed because of their experience in a home.
Ladies, the only way you can run a home in a way that makes it a transformational, loving experience is you need God. You need strength. You need wisdom. You need, as a woman, as hard as it is, with all the demands, to make time in His Word a priority for you.
Time where you’re unhurried. Time where there’s time for yourself. Time where, you know what? You can take some time away and be with some other women, either a mentoring relationship or a Bible study.
And I’ll use my wife as a few examples. I will tell you is when she understood one thing, she understood even when we had small kids, I’d find my wife five, five-thirty in the morning. And sometimes because kids get up early, it was only five minutes here or ten minutes there. She made meeting with God the number one priority in her life.
God, and His wisdom, and His power needed to be in her because she couldn’t impart what she didn’t possess.
You can’t love a guy that’s insensitive like a lot of us are. You can’t give yourself to kids and all their needs and their demands apart from God giving you what only He can give you.
Second thing is pray for him regularly. A woman’s power and influence in the home is often as much informal as formal. And it’s often indirect.
Ladies, jot down Proverbs 21:1. This is a powerful verse for allowing God to do things that only He can do. It says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord. He turns it whatever way He wishes.”
See, a lot of times, as a woman, I’ve watched this in my wife, she would have an issue with me and she’d talk with me and she made suggestions or we would read a book and there’d be no change. Or we’d have a problem with one of our kids or there’d be a circumstance here.
And finally, what she learned is, you know something? “Father! Chip isn’t listening to me. I want You to take him on. Get under his skin. Show him what he needs. Do what’s, this child of ours is making me crazy. I want You...”
And what she learned was the greatest ally to do an impossible job to create love in the heart of human beings, that will determine their future, is a woman who understands ask, seek, knock and you’ll receive and the door will open and the heart of God longs to hear a mom pray for a husband and kids and He’ll answer you.
Third is plan for him daily. Life doesn’t just happen. With all demands that happen to a woman’s life, overwhelmed, I watch. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know how you all do it. And most women are juggling all kind of things.
And some it’s kids, and work, and home, and a husband, and outside responsibilities. And one of the first things that goes is you don’t plan for your husband. Special deeds of kindness. Remember you used to write him a note and put it some place where he’d find it?
Or when you’d have a special dinner, he’d come home, and there are candles lit? Or you got rid of the kids in a nice friendly way to a friend or a neighbor so that you could have some time alone?
Or you wanted to make him think it was his idea and so you hinted a little bit and then created something so you guys could actually get away for a weekend together? You’ve got to plan time.
Whatever you invest in grows. Whatever you neglect dies. And what happens, when you’re a woman, there are so many demands. What you hope for is not what happens. What you plan is what happens.
You’ve got plan in – “How do I invest in my husband in ways that honor him, and respect him, and remind him that he’s loved, and keep our love alive?” And, by the way, ladies, when you do that, at first he’ll go, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
And then he’ll love it. And often, as systems work, as you begin to meet some needs in his life, he’ll start to lead a little better. He’ll start to love a little bit more deeply.
Prepare for him daily. What a woman does to attract a man often in the early days is smothered and depleted by kids, and work, and fatigue. And let me just be sensitive here. But do you remember, some of you it’s a long time ago, when you were dating and we all did the dance, right? And you wanted to attract your husband.
Can you imagine, like, when it was starting to get serious and you thought, “I think I really, really love him.” And he says, “Hey, I’m going to be over in about an hour.” Would you greet him at the door with like, brushing your teeth going, “Hey! Really good to have you!” Right?
But here’s what happens, under pressure and over time, pretty soon, we get too familiar with each other. Men are visual. God made us visual. A very wise woman understands: how I look and how I prepare myself for when I see my husband, because, guess what – he’s out in a world where everyone’s looking their best everyday. And smelling their best.
And he’s getting all kind of strokes for what he does, not who he is out there. And this is one of the areas I have to say Theresa did a great job. I, probably a half hour before I got home, we ate at a real regular time, my wife, about ninety-eight percent of the time, greeted me looking nice with fresh makeup on and has worked very hard over the years.
Now, life is life, right? So, ladies, the figure you had when you were twenty usually isn’t quite the same at forty. And there’s usually a little slippage by about sixty, right? And it goes on.
But, and I’m not saying that we all need to work out seventeen hours at a gym. What I’m saying is this: we get sloppy about how we look and we don’t invest in the things that matter and that makes a big difference in how a man thinks. And one of the ways that you can love your man is to prepare. Prepare for him daily. Emotionally. Physically. Relationally. Communication.
You know when you come home or when you see each other and many of you, both of you work. If one person’s on the phone, when my wife, when the cell phones got real popular, I still remember one time… every time we were in the car I had this thing in my car and this good little gadget.
And every time we were together the phone would ring and I’d be answering the phone. I remember one day, it was a Friday, it was our day off. She looked at me and she goes, “Do you want to be with me or are you going to talk on the phone all the time?” I said, “I was just taking a quick call.” She goes, “You’re always taking quick calls. I feel like taking that thing and throwing it away.”
How many times, ladies, do kids occupy your attention? This occupies your attention or you’re on the phone with someone. Ask yourself, “What am I going to do the first five to seven to ten minutes that I connect with my husband?” And plan for it and do it well and you’ll be glad you did.
Final thing here is protect your time with your husband. This may come as a shock but he’s the number one responsibility, the number one human relationship that you have on this earth. And something that’s very empowering is he needs to see you say “no” to the kids if you have children, and “no” to some other demands, and “no” to some hobbies that make him feel like you really think he’s number one.
Second priority of a woman is a wife’s second priority is to create an environment in the home, here’s the key, that nurtures and develops her children to fulfill God’s will for their lives. 1 Timothy 5:14.
The role of a woman is to manage and rule, to be the chief operating officer, to set direction, to develop systems so love can grow to meet the needs of her family. And the role is, are you ready for this? The mother. Somehow, somehow this esteemed, God-given, amazing, unique role that you’re designed and only you can do has been dismissed as though if all you are is a mother, like, your life is wasted or you’re not important. And God would say just the opposite is true.
The mother is the key teacher, the counselor, the consoler, and the refuge for her children and her family.
There’s a single mom boom in Hollywood. There’s something inside these women that say, “Being a mother matters.” They bought the whole deal and now they’re either in their late thirties or mid-forties and realizing there’s something about the connection and this role and I can tell them why. Because God put it in you. Does it mean that every woman needs to become a mother? No. But, in likelihood, a great majority will be. And God says this is a high and holy calling.
Practical outworking is model dependency on Christ. Your children will not end up doing what you tell them. They’re not even doing that now, right? They will end up being like you. You might jot down Luke 6:40. Jesus said, “When a student is fully trained, he or she will be just like their teacher.” How you think, how you drive, how you respond in a crisis, your love for God, how you treat your husband. Your kids, more really is caught than taught.
That’s why the greatest thing you can ever do, when you just live out the life, the imprint. It’s not what you say. I had one of my sons go through a season, about three and a half years of real rebellion. It was horrendous and it was painful. And he came full circle and now he writes music for a living about God, which is a great answer to prayer. But I remember later when he came full circle, I remember asking him, I said, “Jason, what was it?” I’m thinking maybe one of my really great sermons did the trick.
He said, “Dad, Jesus is so real to Mom and her life is so powerful and when I rebelled, I didn’t see you get uptight and worried about what people in the church would think. I saw tears come down your face that I didn’t embrace the Jesus that you love.” You know what he was really saying? At the end of the day, our kids emulate what really matters to us.
Second, pray for your children, and let me just give you this word, “fervently.” Fervently. The things that mean the most with your kids, ladies, you have very little control of. When they’re outside the home, the decisions they make, the values, eventually, that they pick up, the priorities that they’re going to have.
You have so little control. You do the best you can and you teach them and they’re out in the car this night with this person, and there’s school over here, and they’re doing something over here.
And someone says, “Oh, it’s not that bad. Just take a drag on this.” All the kind of things that you have no control over but God does. And you talk to your heavenly Father and just pray very specifically.
And not just for external things like you hope they do good in school and this. Pray God will give them a heart for Him. Pray God would give them a thirst for righteousness. Pray God would cause them to love holiness. Pray God will give them wisdom in choosing the right friends. Pray God will help them resist temptation. Ask God to work in your kids’ lives and He will.
Third practical outworking is create structures and scheduled times that make family life a priority. You’re the chief operating officer of the home. Speed kills relationships. That which is hoped for but not scheduled rarely happens.
There are times where, as a mom, you just lay down the law. “We’re going to eat at this time. Everybody, do you understand? That includes you, dear. Turn off the computer, turn off the ballgame, we will, look, you can watch ESPN. All the highlights will be on here later anyway.”
Everyone’s going to be together. Mealtimes, bedtimes, vacations. You develop a structure and a system where love can grow. And enforce it. You’re the glue. And we will all listen to you.
Finally, teach your kids how to live. The most powerful teacher, all the research, the most powerful teacher in any person’s life is the mom.
And so, let me give you some things that I’ve seen and you don’t have to write all these down. But if one really, these are things that I think you should teach your kids or consider teaching them.
Teach them to read. It’s interesting, before my kids got to school, my wife taught all my kids to read and they all became readers. Teach them to pray. Teach them to cook. Even when they’re small. Both sexes. Teach them to listen. Teach them to celebrate. There ought to be, we live in this fast paced, make a difference, go, go, go, perform, perform. Teach them to celebrate.
Teach them to be generous from early on. Teach them to be generous. Teach them a craft. Teach them how to make a talk. Introduction, transition, two or three main points. Teach them how to communicate verbally.
Teach them how to resolve conflict. Whether apologizing or attacking the issue instead of the person. Teach them to write a paper. Teach them to play an instrument. Teach them to play a sport. Teach them how to relax and not feel guilty.
And, ladies, when you get some intentionality about this role and you see your kid light up? When are we going to stop and say we ought to decide what matters in our home. We are going to take responsibility for how our kids turn out. Not the school, not the Sunday school, not somebody else.
We are going to be what our kids need and we’re going to give them the direction that they need to learn, both spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
And then finally, make time. The best things in life are rarely on your official schedule. Have you ever noticed that? The teachable moment, the epiphany, the time when nothing’s planned and you just laid across the bed for a few minutes and all of a sudden your daughter opens up and talks about this huge fear that she has or this relationship that she’s thinking about or this temptation she had.
Or all of a sudden you see harried, stressed out, overwhelmed, overworked mothers with no margin miss the first step of their kids. Miss when the lights come on, possibly when they come to Christ. Miss those special conversations and those times. And you know what? You have to just be available. You have to create a world where we aren’t always going somewhere, we’re not always accomplishing something, and there isn’t always some technology blaring.
Boredom is a gift that you give your kids that is the birthing place of spontaneity and creativity. And some of the greatest things you’ll ever experience is when you’re just hanging out. And as you’re hanging out, some pretty exciting things happen.
The third thing you’re called to do is, beyond the role of a champion and a mother, it’s the role of a mentor. A woman’s third priority is to train younger women in the art of becoming a godly wife and mother. Older women are commanded to impart wisdom and provide direction for the next generation. You are a spiritual guide to provide practical insight and coaching in their personal life, their development. See, we used to have a world where grandmothers and extended families live close to one another and one generation would pass on everything from recipes, to wisdom, to how to resolve conflict, to how to get along. And we don’t live in that world anymore. Some of us have family across the nation, some have family across the globe. Now, we live with such speed and performance and your young daughter? What’s her view of a woman?
She wasn’t made to be strong enough. That’s not weakness. It takes both. And she needs a man that will love her for her and put his arm around her and be sensitive, and be caring, and lead, and raise a child and say, “You were made to put the imprint of your gifts and qualities into the life of this child and we’re going to grow closer and closer together and I can’t do it without you and you can’t do it without me. And you know something? I love you through thick and thin. I love you ‘til death do us part. ”That’s what she needs. And that would fill her heart.
And we got all, we got women in this room from teenagers to twenties to thirties to forties to fifties that our culture has so given us that picture and the people that have hit the very top of what we’re supposed to be fulfilled by are now trying to figure out how to be moms and find mentors and be champions without a man. And God would say, “I’ve got a better plan.” This raises some very important questions to ponder. One is, should a woman work outside the home? When, why, or why not? And talk with a mentor, kick some stuff around, but here’s what I can tell you.
If priority is number one, in your marriage, as a champion and priority number two, all those things are taken care of, as a mother, then you just figure out when and how and why to work. It will depend on the stage of life, the stage of your kids, or if you have kids, your energy, your giftedness, your personality, and your capacity. It’s going to be really, really different. But here’s what I will tell you, all the research is very, very clear.
That first, about, six years to seven, eighty percent of your child’s personality will be formed and about seventy to eighty percent of the bonding that occurs and the imprints as that child is soaking up like wet cement what matters, what’s values, what are my morals, am I secure, what is life all about? You just have to decide how much a second job, a second car, owning a home is worth compared to outsourcing your most precious possession. And hoping that someway, somewhere there’s a really nice person in a daycare that will love your child the way that only you can. So, you’ve got to just ask that question. Because what happens is, we mortgage and think, “I have to work.” Well. we have these invisible things like we have to have these kind of cars, we have to own a home. Who says you have to own a home? Who says you have to own a home?
Oh, well, we have to because we need to build up equity. For what? Well, for later. Well, what’s for later? Well, so, good things can happen later. Well, like what good things? Oh, good things like we can have financial security and our kids who don’t know us, and don’t want to be around us, and don’t hang out with us, can come to our really nice house that they…Boy. Hold on. Wait a second.
And I will tell you, God will honor this. And it’s a pretty short window but it might be hard. I was full time in seminary and working full time and I had two kids. And then, somehow, a third one came along the way. And I made a thousand dollars a month.
And I just said, “My wife’s going to stay home with my kids.” So, I got up at four in the morning, and I did school work, and I went to school, and I worked, had dinner. I put in about fifteen to seventeen hour days. It was crazy.
We just decided we’d rather be poor with money and rich in family. But everybody makes decisions. So, you decide what matters most.
See, this is a disturbing series. It challenges some of our premises. Some of your lives are going so fast at such a speed and you’re pulled in so many directions.
Some of you men need to say, “Honey, would you, I don’t know how you’re feeling. Would you like to stay home?” Maybe she’ll say no. But what would happen if a man said, “Would you like some margin in your life? I don’t know what the implications are but would you like to either go part time or would you like to stay home during this window of time?”
Now, you understand, whoa. And we’re going to be on a journey because what we’re going to say is, your role as champion, mother, and mentor will pay a lot more dividends than the extra money that we can bring in.
I saw one study and it may be different, especially for women that have very high powered jobs, so, I don’t want to exaggerate. But I saw one study that after you pay for the second set of clothes, the amount of time that you eat out, the nice second car, and all the issues that come with the second job, the average couple’s income increases by only about fifteen percent by having both work.
So, it’s just a life of trade-offs. Am I saying it’s wrong to work? No. I’m just saying that Proverbs 31, it commends a woman for working. It’s different for different people in different seasons – the ages of your kids, your personality, your energy, your capacity, you need to figure it out. All I want to say is, God makes it clear what your top three priorities are.
Single moms, wow, this is where the Church, we’ve got to step in and just keep helping. And, ladies, you need to hear this and say, “The grace of God will cover what I don’t have. I have to work. And so I need to be with some other women to get support, and I need to get my kids around some really positive environments, to make up some things.” And God will give you grace.
And then, I made a little list. Just, I’ve kind of gone to meddling so I might as well just go for it. It says, “What husbands can do to lighten the home front.” I saw a list, as I was studying this week, of about thirty things that happen in a home. Thirty things that happen. And it’s, like, an organizational, unbelievable number of things. And I looked at that list and I realized, in most homes, the women do about twenty-eight of the thirty. Wash, clean, plan, groceries, cook, finances. It listed, like, every possible thing that has to happen. Dress, wake up kids, think ahead.
And so, I thought, how could a husband, men, here’s a list of things that we might do to help your wife step in and support you.
One, list all the jobs that happen in a home and just make a list of everything that happens in the home and say, “Who owns these?” And it’s just a little exercise that you might say, “Wow.” Might ask where could you help with homework? Where you could you help with housework? We live in a whole different day. I wash dishes, I do some vacuuming, I clean up after my, you know? Finances. How could you make sure she has some time with some other women? I’ll take the kids.
See, it’s, guys, us stepping in and saying, “Where and how can we step in at home and take the load of some of these responsibilities to say, ‘I’m in this with you and I want to help you.’”