Do you and your spouse have mentors for your marriage? Forging a friendship with a couple who has been married longer than you can be a great way to gain support and insight into married life. It’s important for you and your spouse to connect with another committed couple that’s passionate about marriage — and about guiding the two of you toward lifelong love.
Marriage mentors can help during all of the three seasons in your marriage; we call this the Marriage Mentoring Triad. We look at the triad as three sides of a triangle that make up three major seasons every couple experiences:
- Prepare: the engagement season, plus the early years of your marriage when you’re working to launch lifelong love
- Repair: a season that involves navigating tough situations, ongoing conflict, traumatic events, or big life changes
- Maximize: a season where you’re ready to level-up your marriage, whether you’ve been stuck in a rut or are just ready to take the next step forward toward a more fulfilling marriage
Let’s take a deeper look at how your marriage mentors can help you navigate each part of the triad.
During the Prepare phase of your marriage, you and your spouse are starry-eyed and full of young love. This is the launching phase of your marriage; maybe you’re engaged or newly married, and you’re just setting out on your adventures together.
Marriage mentoring can be very powerful during this phase of marriage, because after you’ve crossed that threshold and the honeymoon is over, you’ll realize marriage isn’t simple. In fact, it can be downright hard, even during the early years.
Having mentors who can provide constructive and helpful perspective on the challenges you’ll face after the wedding will help lighten the emotional load you and your new husband or wife might be feeling. Your mentors can help bring humour back into a situation that might feel tense and unsteady, now that your new reality is sinking in.
Your mentors should be willing to share stories from their early years of marriage, and be willing to be vulnerable enough to share both their missteps and victories. You should be able to ask them for their take on things like first conflicts, first holidays, financial management, and clashing family expectations. They’ll help you see that you and your spouse can survive the challenges you’re experiencing, because they did, too.
The Repair phase of a marriage is the most difficult to go through, but at some point, every couple has to walk through it — sometimes more than once. If you and your spouse are in the Repair phase after going through some really difficult or traumatic times, you’ll want to seek out a marriage mentor couple who has not only experienced something difficult together, but who has also come out on the other side stronger than before.
Couples who have been through difficult times themselves have a story to tell about their marriage. When you’re in the trenches, you need a loving, experienced couple who knows what you’re going through and has walked in your shoes. The ideal mentoring couple will have gained strength and health in spite of the challenges they faced, and be willing and able to extend help to you and your spouse.
When you’re going through a hard season in your marriage, nothing compares to having a mentoring couple who have faced catastrophe together. Whether you’re dealing with financial disaster, infertility, unresolved conflict, or infidelity, connecting with a couple who has weathered the same kind of blow to their marriage is so helpful. Through the relationship you develop with your mentors, you’ll be able to see that if they made it, so can you.
Often, couples don’t tend to think about the status of their marriages until they’re in a crisis; it happens to the best of us. But what if we considered the state of our marriages when we’re in a good place? The Maximize phase is a great time to bring in marriage mentors who can help us take our marriage from good to great.
If things seem to be going smoothly in your marriage, it can be easy to just maintain status quo and avoid rocking the boat. But why not intentionally look for ways to increase your marital satisfaction — even just by 10 per cent in the next year? Seeing that kind of growth in your relationship could make a world of difference for you both.
During this season, connecting with a mentor couple can help you get inspired to set and meet specific goals for growth in your marriage. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from your mentors’ mistakes so that you have the chance to avoid making the same ones yourself in the future.
Think of mentoring as an investment for your marriage. Not only will you make lifelong friends and learn a lot along the way, you’ll also nurture the lifelong love you launched when you said, “I do.”
Used with permission. SYMBIS.com.
If you would like to know more about having a mentor or becoming one yourself, then visit FamilyLife’s Marriage Mentoring Initiative.