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Interview with Chip and Theresa - Practices that Strengthened Our Marriage

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2024 5:00 am

Interview with Chip and Theresa - Practices that Strengthened Our Marriage

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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February 27, 2024 5:00 am

What are some habits that make for a deep, intimate marriage? Not one that’s perfect but one where both husband and wife work well together. In this program, Chip and Theresa Ingram will highlight a few as they continue reflecting on 45 years of marriage. They’ll explain how practices like praying and studying the Bible, paying bills together, and having a weekly date – have strengthened their commitment to God, each other, and their family.

Main Points
  • Introduction: Chip and Theresa discuss the learning curves, expectations they had, and communication challenges they had to navigate in their marriage.

  • Daily Spiritual Practices: They emphasized the importance of starting their day with prayer and Scripture reading.

  • Financial Transparency: They discuss financial matters, such as managing bills together.

  • Regular Family Meals: They strongly encourage eating together as a family to foster connection and communication.

  • Intimacy and Sex: They acknowledged the importance of scheduling intimacy and overcoming differences in sexual desires.

  • Lies About Marriage: They dispelled common lies about marriage, including the idea that a spouse can complete you and the notion of following your feelings.

  • Being a Light in the World: They highlighted the importance of having a healthy marriage that reflects the image of God and serves as a beacon of light in a dark world.


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About Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.


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What are the habits or practices that make for a deep, intimate, great marriage?

Not one without problems, but one that really works. Today, Teresa and I are going to share the habits and practices that have been the glue to our marriage, that's kept our relationship strong with God, with one another, and helped us get through the storms. Stay with me. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.

Living on the Edge is an international teaching and discipleship ministry motivating Christians to live like Christians. And in just a minute, we'll pick up in our new interview series with Chip and Teresa Ingram as we continue celebrating their 45 years of marriage. Last time, they reflected on how God brought them together and the meaningful lessons they learned in the first few years of marriage. Today, they'll highlight the habits and disciplines they've committed to that have kept their relationship going. So get a notepad ready or pull out your phone because you'll want to jot these practices down and apply them to your marriage. Okay, let's get going.

Here again is Chip and Teresa's daughter, Annie, to continue the conversation. One of the things now that we've heard a lot of your early days, now that you got married, what were some of the learning curves that you experienced? What are some of the biggest things that you had to learn to navigate? Well, I'll give you three or four that when I look back, number one, my expectations about what it was going to be like, we chose to be sexually pure. We were in the Bible. We prayed together. We sang together. We did ministry together. And I just thought I was going to get the equivalent of, you know, Betty Crocker, Raquel Welch, and every dream all in one package.

We did it God's way. It's going to be awesome. We're really not going to have any problems. And my expectations were so skewed that I just had to totally learn and reorient those. The second one was I thought, you know, when you're dating, you want to be around them all the time. I didn't think we'd ever have any problem communicating. And I found out, oh boy, we couldn't communicate well at all. And then the third was before we got married, I can never remember getting angry at your mom. And right after our honeymoon over the silliest thing in the world, I got so angry and she raised her voice to me in such a way that I thought, I can't believe, oh my gosh, have I married the wrong person? I mean, I was so, I was so out of it.

So then I didn't know how to resolve anger. And probably the last one was I was convinced then since we did life, quote, God's way, that sex would just be awesome and no learning, no problems, no troubles. So other than expectations, communication, resolving anger and problems in our sex life, everything went perfectly.

How about you, mom? What were some of the hardest things for you guys to navigate early on from your perspective? Early on, it was communication was probably the number one. And I can look back now and see why I came from a family that never talked. We never shared deeply. We sat at the table for dinner sometimes and nobody said anything. And dad came from a family that never stopped talking. That's true.

Yes. And so he was very, very verbal. And I was very, very quiet. And I didn't really, I didn't really know how to share with a man.

I could share with my girlfriends, but with a man, things inside. And so communication was, I think, a big, a big learning curve for us. I've heard that communication is a meeting of meanings.

And I think that's a really great way to describe both of you that you both were trying to talk to each other, but meeting each other with the meaning of what you're each trying to communicate is really important. We didn't understand each other. I didn't understand why he would get angry when I would, because I have to ponder. If somebody asked me a question, sometimes I don't have an answer right away.

I have to, I have to ponder it for a while. And sometimes my pondering took too long. Why won't you talk to me? I ask you a question.

Why are you shutting down? I would say for me early on communication was, was huge. And, and over, over the longer in our marriage was just moving. We just moved. I like to build my nest, my home, and I want to stay there and, and I'd always get to that place and then we'd have to move across the country to another state, start all over again. So I think, I think that was one, one of the big adjustments for me because I, I times I would think, well, you know, other pastors just stay in the same place for 45 years. How come we can't do that?

Why, why do we have to move all over the place? You married a very unique man. Yes. So in light of you navigating these early challenges of communication and expectations, what are some of the daily practices that you put into place that help you overcome these struggles? You know, we know we, you guys made it to here.

Yes. What are some of those foundational practices that were lived out every single day or weekly in a, in a rhythm that you really think held your marriage together and allowed you to enjoy each other and overcome those struggles? Well, I think the most important one is we have a habit. It is a habit, but it's a desire of our hearts. Even from the time we were on our honeymoon, we'd get up in the morning and have time with the Lord.

Time being in scriptures, time praying, getting our focus on God was the primary habit of our day. And even all these years, that's still what we do. Even if we're on vacation, we do the same thing. We all, it's just, we just, we just react that way.

It's just, it's what we want to do. It really goes back to both of your stories, even before you met, that the practice of meeting with the Lord, of being in His Word, that just continued on. It wasn't something that started with your marriage.

It was cultivated prior. Yes. And it continued.

Yeah. And not, it's not a like ought to, and that's what good marriages do. Or, you know, I have a couple good friends that, you know, they read the Bible with their wife and pray together in the morning and kind of have this picture. And we tried that for like three days.

It was like, you know, like this does not work. I didn't want to spend, you know, we pray together and we share, but even like when we're on vacation, I know that if she gets a couple hours by herself or I get a couple hours by myself on vacation, because we have more time, that you can read and pray and walk and journal and ponder and reflect. The person who shows up in our marriage is really, really different. And my personality, too.

I'm an introvert and I need that time to get refreshed just by myself. You know, everybody doesn't need that. I know, and they do things differently, but that's what I need in my life. Absolutely. And for those who don't know you both very well, you're an extreme introvert and you're an extreme dad, extrovert.

Yes, that's true. And you had some personality challenges going into, you attracted to one another, but in learning to work together, it created some challenges. So the first one is just individually being in God's word and together.

What else? Well, one habit that we cultivated out of necessity is on every Friday morning for years, all the time we had children at home, in school, or when they were home after college, when we had children at home. Every Friday morning, like clockwork, we got up and sometimes we had to drop off kids at school, but we went out to breakfast together every Friday morning. It was just something I really looked forward to.

We look forward to. And so we had that time we knew that whatever came along in the week, we had that time we're going to sit down and look at each other and talk and just enjoy one another. So I think that was our date for then. Now we don't have, well, now we can take a date anytime. We don't need to get, even go out of the house to have a date. But that was something that was really, really positive because I knew if there's anything we need to talk about, well, Friday's coming.

Yeah. We didn't often like take a walk or we just knew until actually until it's time to go pick up the kids, it's, this is our time. So it might be a couple of hours, it might be four or five, but it was like at least every seven days at a really deeper level, it was both fun and we connected.

And your mom, one of the great things I like about her is, I don't mean this negatively toward anyone else. She's very simple and we don't have to do something really big to have a great time. I mean, we can take a walk, read a little bit, drink some coffee, do things that, well, we didn't have any money, so it was really good that it was inexpensive. But I think that cultivated that being together versus, oh, we have to do this. We've got to do that. We have to experience that. We have to go away and have some vacation like this or that.

Now we are like everybody else. It's nice to get away or go to a nice place. But I think the habit was we're going to make each other a real priority over work and kids and every seven days connect that way.

That's great. I think another thing that we did started early on that became a habit and still is a habit is doing our bills together. About three months after we got married, we moved to Dallas and dad was going to seminary. I was staying home with the boys and we didn't have hardly any money. We were just living in government subsidized apartments where a lot of the seminary students lived, which we could get rent cheap. But we just didn't have hardly any money. And I've always been one that keeps the checkbook right. Make sure there's enough money there to pay the bills.

Make sure there's, you know, it was never off until dad did something that I didn't know about. And we needed that money. I mean, we needed it for food.

We needed it for something for our family. And he bought something for me. And the funny part is, again, our personalities. In my spontaneity, I felt this loving feeling. So I got flowers for your mom. And back then, you know, you could get decent flowers for 10 bucks. But I mean, we were, we were living on under a thousand dollars a month. And it was like, honey, you just drained our checking account.

That's our last 10 bucks. But I think it was at that point that we realized we've got to know what each other are doing with money. We have to have an understanding of what's coming in, what's going out just together.

So we understand. So we started, this was way back when we were in seminary, we started every two weeks. We sat down together, got out our, you know, at that time we didn't do it on computer or anything, but we got out our bills. This is what's going out. This is what we're giving. This is what we need for food, for clothes, for whatever it was. And we did that every two weeks for years and years and years. We still do it. I have memories as a child walking into the dining room and it being like, it's bill day and dad's writing out checks and you're filling in the leisure's and adding up all of to make sure it's balanced. And you would be writing a check to the church or places that you're giving and you would be writing out all the bills for whether it was sports or electricity or water. And I know you guys were faithful to save some too.

Right. And I think, you know, as we have grown over the years, what I realized was doing our bills together. Yes, it was good for knowledge and the checkbook, but what we really developed was a time every two weeks where we were talking about priorities and values because we, for years and years and years, we never had enough money to go through the whole month. So it's like, okay, Eric needs a pair of shoes. Uh, Jason is, you know, can we afford piano lessons?

You know, Annie is, well, we're getting some clothes from friends right now. I mean, every two weeks it was okay. We're talking about what's most important now, you know, what are we going to do? And having that conversation. So we were on the same page and, uh, and that habit, you know, fortunately we're, we're not in a position now to try and figure out God's given us plenty to pay the bills, but we still have questions and values.

And because it's a rhythm, to me, the key is when you develop rhythms that draw you near to God, when you develop a rhythm that connects you to one another, and when you develop a rhythm where what really matters and what matters most you agree on. I mean, we still had plenty of problems, but that eliminates a lot of big ones. While we're on the topic of money, is it important that married couples share one bank account?

You know what? This is a real key issue. God's design is for oneness and it's for spiritual, emotional, physical, financial. It's oneness in everything. And our money reveals where our values is and where we feel control.

And it's where we can be very independent. So I would ask most couples, would you like a marriage where you live in separate bedrooms? Two separate purposes, two separate agendas. The fact of the matter is your money always says where your values are. And it is a very slippery slope when you have two different bank accounts, when it feels like this is mine and this is yours. In marriage, there's only hours.

In fact, it's even in arguments. There's never a winner and a loser. There's either two losers or two winners.

There is one. And at the heart of two bank accounts is I don't fully trust you. I don't fully trust you. And trust is the highway upon which communication and love flow. And that's a really important thing. And for a lot of people, that's scary because what are they going to do with my money?

Which here's the lie. It's not your money. You may earn this and he may earn that or vice versa, but it's ours. What does God want to do with our money?

And how do we work together to figure out what he wants it to be for our good and if you have children for their good as well? So I think that's one that has just creeped into Christian couples and is one that sets you up for getting a part instead of being drawn together. I think that separate bank accounts can, there can be a tendency to hide behind them.

Yes. When I think about a wife and a husband, especially if it's my money and your money, because we know that where our money is, is where our heart is. And so there's easy things that our heart can do with how we spend our money and we can hide it.

It's not out in the open. And in order for us to have true intimacy in our marriage relationships, there needs to be vulnerability and there needs to be trust. And so if you're listening to this today and you find yourself in a situation where you are sharing two different bank accounts, see it as an opportunity for intimacy, that you will go and be able to join accounts so that you can actually build a stronger foundation for your marriage, not to make it more uncomfortable, but to make it deeper and more satisfying. Yeah. And the thing is, one of the spouses might say, well, I'm just not any good at keeping track of money or that's not my strength. That doesn't matter.

One of you probably is. So you can still sit down and talk about where's our money going, how are we viewing things that we need and just discuss everything about our finances. It sounds like you guys developed places to meet and have that regular time to discuss those things. I think it's pretty easy to kind of like life go on and ends up becoming a fight or a you did this or you did that, but you guys created the space to have, oh, I know this Friday or this Tuesday, we can talk about that.

So it seems like it really created the space to be able to resolve those conflicts in a safe place. Dad, is there anything else you want to add? There were two things. The habit of eating together as a family. It was 5.30 and you can pick whatever time, but as a family, we all knew. And your mom, this was a day when people actually cooked the meals and stuff like that.

You just didn't call somebody. And I understand the world's changed, but there's something very, very powerful about sitting down around a table and yes, our kids did sports and this and that. And so it wasn't seven out of seven, but it was probably four or five nights out of seven, we sat around a table and we ate and we talked and how did your day go?

And you may share, what are you learning? And maybe we read a proverb or something, but I don't want to make this idea like leave it to Beaver or picture if anyone can remember who he was, but eating together really mattered. And there's tremendous research, Christian or non-Christian, the power of eating together in families. And then I'll just touch on one because different personalities, different backgrounds, different baggage, and many couples have this problem. The frequency of having sex can be very different in expectations.

And we had very different expectations and it was a real struggle. And this may sound very unromantic, but I will just say for us over the years, we came to where there was a bit of a schedule that we know the kids are doing this and that, and they're going to be gone. And that this is our rhythm, whether it's once a week or something, we're going to plan that in because I think a lot of men it's like, it's going to be really passionate.

It's going to be great. And you're waiting for this perfect moment. And you know, all of a sudden men do stuff like this. Like it's been 23 days.

It's been 34 days. It's been, you know, we had so many fights about this and finally it was, okay, we both want to be together. It really matters. It's, I mean, we have biblical commands, you know, 1 Corinthians 7 that this is an important area. And again, there's research about as you come together physically of what happens in the brain that builds connection and networking and it really matters. And so we built in a rhythm that's kind of set some expectations that... It took us a while to learn that.

We didn't start that rhythm right away. I think it's a very difficult topic to, you know, navigate. There's a podcast called The Savvy Sauce with Laura Dugger and she is a marriage and family therapist and hosts a podcast and shares incredible resources and counselors and advice on navigating the topic of intimacy and sex and marriage. And I've personally found it very helpful. And I know mom that you've even, you know, 45 years later have listened to some of those podcasts and found it really helpful.

Yes. And I would just say that when our wives find that helpful, I find that helpful as well. Along with all the other men. The men need to listen to it all.

That's what I would say. That's wonderful. Well, I really appreciate you guys taking time to share with me the practices and habits that have laid a strong foundation for your marriage.

And my husband and I have actually modeled a lot of those and this helped us tremendously. One of the things I have observed, though, as well, is that although we put those practices in place, there's still conflict. There's still brokenness.

There's still hardship. And I thought it would be really important to remember that as Christians, we have an enemy. Satan, he's out there. His goal is to steal, to kill and destroy. And if God's design is that marriage would be one, Satan's greatest tactic is to divide.

He just wants us to fail. And I think a lot of times, as I'll quote from you, dad, most of those attacks are between our two ears. It is what we are thinking about. And it's the lies that are infiltrated into our mind, comes through culture, comes through things that people say, and then our own self. Our flesh actually is quite broken apart from Christ. And so we have tendencies to drift towards lies and towards not believing correctly. And so I wanted to take some time to just dispel what are some of the lies that we believe today about marriage that are not true? Your mom and I both together and individually have certainly experienced that. And then because of what I've done for the last 40 years, we've counseled hundreds and hundreds of people. And you see the same kind of problems.

You see the lies behind them. First is over and over and over, I'll meet with a man and it's like, why is this so hard? I mean, this is so really hard and I'm trying really hard. And I always use the example because I have a good friend who's played professional football and I was kind of teasing him and I said, when you came across the middle and a linebacker hit you, did you get up and go, wow, you shouldn't hit me like that.

This is really hard. And he would laugh. And I said, you're representing God's message to the world. There's an enemy that wants to have you disagree with your wife, assume the wrong things.

Here's the deal. It can be super great and it's super hard. Another one was this lie that my mate's going to make me complete. Somehow if I just find the right person, well, guess what? No one can make you complete but Jesus. And so as your mom was saying earlier, once you put your hope in that person, they're going to let you down.

It's not an if, they will. I mean, I've certainly let your mom down. And so then you get disillusioned. And then the lie is, well, I guess I married the wrong person.

And then this is the one that is just dripping everywhere is just follow your heart. In other words- What do you feel? Yeah, what do you feel? In other words, reality is defined by how I feel in this moment. And if I don't feel ooey gooey, rushy, connected, when it's hard, when it's difficult, when I get little resentments or I feel rejected, then we start questioning the marriage rather than saying, you know, I feel really good when it's sunny. I feel good when I get a raise.

I don't feel so good when I sprained my ankle. I mean, there's all kinds of things in life that doesn't mean your life is wrong. Your feelings are a terrible barometer for decision making. And maybe the last one that I would say is that the lie is that it's really about me, self-fulfillment. If my needs aren't being met, if I'm not getting what I need, then that moves very quickly to I need to find someone or something else. And whether it can be work or whether kids or an affair or people go to all different places. But at the end of the day, it's about this is what I need for me.

And the reason Jesus has to be the center of our marriages is it only works when you're actually considering Philippians 2, this other person is more important than you. And you don't feel like a lot, but it's that action of don't focus on your own personal interests, but also the interests of others. Do nothing from pride or empty conceit. And so much of our marriage problems, if I'm honest and look in the mirror, my pride, my empty conceit, my desire for things to be my way, so I'll be happy. And realizing when I think that way and when I act that way, it doesn't work. Another side to pride is probably more from where I would come from is what's wrong with me. If it's not working, if this area of our marriages, we're having so much disagreement, so much struggle over what's wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Instead of thinking that a person, when I think about dad, I always think he's probably right most of the time.

But because of my background, I can just so quickly go to, I'm doing something wrong. That condemnation. Yeah, the condemnation that comes with it.

And that's a big lie. That's so critical because I just think that we did that. We went and got marriage counseling and we read books together and we learned and got tools. Thinking it's broken just because you can't figure it out is a lie. We've tried and tried and tried.

It doesn't work. If you're sick, you go to a doctor's, you break your arm, you need to go get a cast. I think one of the things we learned was, yeah, early in our marriage, but there's been other times when you're trying really hard and the more you try, the worse it gets, and you know both people are sincere, you realize we need some outside eyes. We need some help.

And most every area that people struggle with, if they had just a little bit broader background, they'd realize everyone does. Yeah. Well, that leads me to Satan goes after these marriages with these lies. Why? Why does he? Well, I think he does it because when he destroys a marriage, he destroys a family.

And for all the nice thoughts about we're still friends and it's an amiable relationship, the damage, the research, my background is in psychology and graduate and undergraduate work, the research of the impact of divorce on kids is overwhelming. And it begets similar thoughts about marriage in the future. And yeah, it is when Satan does that, he wins and he hurts the kids, he hurts the people. He hurts the image of God.

Yes. That's I think we are as a husband and wife, we are a picture of the gospel of Christ. And people don't realize that there is something so beautiful when you see a man and wife love each other and be faithful.

It's a bright light in a really dark world. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. And you've been listening to part two of our interview with Chip and Teresa Ingram as they continue sharing some insightful advice and wisdom from 45 years of marriage. For more information about this ministry or our many helpful resources, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003.

Again, that's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. Well, Chip's back in studio with me now and Chip, so good to have you and Teresa back again. And today you guys were pretty vulnerable about the challenging periods in your marriage and how that led you to get some counseling. Share a little bit more about what both of you got out of those sessions and how our listeners can benefit from the lessons you learned.

Dave, I have to tell you that we were students at Dallas Seminary and it was like $90 a session, which was huge money back then and still quite a bit for me now. But the fact of the matter is that we did 12 sessions and we got tools, tools on communication, tools on roles, tools on how to resolve anger. And over the years, you know, I taught it, I made notes, we've done small group resources, but it actually became a book called Marriage That Works. And all those tools are in there and it became a small group resource, one called Marriage That Works.

Are you ready for that? And another called Experiencing God's Dream for Your Marriage. So I just want people to know we have marriage resources that can really help around the very things Teresa and I have been talking about.

It's all online, but why don't you take a minute and let people know how they can get them. Be glad to Chip. To learn more about either of these resources, visit livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. We want to help you strengthen and grow your marriage.

And these two tools will help you do just that. Again, for more info about Chip's book, Marriage That Works, or our small group Experiencing God's Dream for Your Marriage, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. App listeners, tap Special Offers. As we wrap up, I want to thank those of you who make this program possible through your generous financial support. Your gifts help us create programs, purchase airtime, and develop additional resources to help Christians live like Christians. Now, if you've been blessed by the Ministry of Living on the Edge, would you consider sending a gift today? You can do that by visiting livingontheedge.org or by calling 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit livingontheedge.org. App listeners, tap Donate. And please know how much we appreciate your support. We'll listen to next time as we wrap up this insightful interview with Chip and Teresa Ingram. I'm Dave Druey, and I hope you'll be with us then.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-27 05:10:03 / 2024-02-27 05:22:04 / 12

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