Some years ago, in an effort to draw on the experiences of those who have lived together harmoniously as husbands and wives, we asked married couples to participate in an informal study. More than 600 people agreed to speak candidly about the concepts and methods that have succeeded in their homes for 30, 40, or even 50 years.

They each wrote comments and recommendations, which were carefully analyzed and compared. The advice they offered is not new, but it certainly represents a great place to begin. In attempting to learn any task, one should begin with the fundamentals — those initial steps from which everything else will develop.

What, then, according to our seasoned panel of experts, is the single most important key to enjoying a successful marriage, the one thing most likely to guarantee a lifetime of intimacy and love?

The answer is to establish and maintain a Christ-centered home.

When a husband and wife are deeply committed to Jesus Christ, they enjoy enormous advantages over a family with no spiritual dimension. Everything rests on that foundation.

Only through a spiritual connection to Him can we experience genuine love and begin to fulfill all the potential of the relationship we call marriage.

I once received the following letter:

Dear Dr. Dobson:

My husband recently left me after 15 years of marriage. We had a great physical, emotional, and intellectual relationship. But something was missing. We had no spiritual bond between us.

Please tell young couples that there will always be a void in their lives together without Christ. A good marriage must have its foundation in Him in order to experience lasting love, peace, and joy.

Since my husband walked out on me, I have tried to rebuild my relationship with God. I am now growing steadily in my walk with the Lord, but I am alone.

This is great truth in this sad letter. Our Lord, after all, created marriage, one of the most marvelous and enduring gifts ever bestowed on humankind.

This divine plan was revealed to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and then described succinctly in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (KJV).

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With those 21 words, God announced the ordination of the family. Five thousand years of recorded history have come and gone, yet every civilization in the history of the world has been built upon it. To expect a loving, intimate marriage without relying on the Lord is foolhardy indeed.

In contrast, the couple that depends on Scripture for solutions to the stresses of living has a distinct advantage over the family with no faith. The Bible they love is the world’s most wonderful text. It was written by 39 authors who spoke three separate languages and lived in a time frame spanning 1,500 years. How miraculous is the work of those inspired writers!

If two or three individuals today were to witness a bank robbery, they would probably give conflicting accounts of the incident. Human perception is simply that flawed. Yet those 39 contributors to Scripture, most of whom never even met each other, prepared 66 separate books that fit together with perfect continuity and symmetry.

The Creator, who began with nothingness and made beautiful mountains and streams and clouds and cuddly little babies, has elected to give us the inside story of the family.

The entire Old Testament makes a single statement: “Jesus is coming.” And the New Testament declares, “Jesus is here!”

By reading these Holy Scriptures, we are given a window into the mind of the Father. What an infallible resource!

The Creator, who began with nothingness and made beautiful mountains and streams and clouds and cuddly little babies, has elected to give us the inside story of the family. He tells us in His Word how to live together in peace and harmony.

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Everything from handling money to sexual attitudes is discussed in Scripture, with each prescription bearing the personal endorsement of the King of the universe. Why would anyone disregard the truths revealed therein?

The Christian way of life lends stability to marriage because its principles and values naturally produce harmony. When put into action, Christian teaching emphasizes giving to others, self-discipline, obedience to divine commandments, conformity to the laws of man, and love and fidelity between husband and wife. When functioning as intended, marriage provides a shield against addictions to alcohol, pornography, gambling, materialism, and other behaviors that could be damaging to the relationship.

Is it any wonder that a Christ-centered relationship is the best ground floor for a marriage?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, that great Soviet dissident, once wrote, “If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire 20th century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.”

Don’t let this happen in your home.

Dr. James Dobson is founder and president of Family Talk, a nonprofit organization that produces his radio program, “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk.” He is the author of more than 30 books dedicated to the preservation of the family.

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