The following are quotes from various subjects on the subject of Marriage Counseling and obtaining the counsel of others. (Below these you will find quotes on Marriage Mentoring.):
• Every competent counselor knows that no matter what the marriage problem, the system that sustains it is found in both people. Like a mobile hanging from the ceiling, a change to one piece impacts the equilibrium of the entire structure. In the same way, every marriage maintains balance as two people shift their positions, their attitudes, and their behaviors to counter one another. Thus in the long-term relationship, complete responsibility for problems rarely rests entirely on the shoulders of one person. Before a single step is taken, before a move is made, spouses will need to realize that it’s not who’s wrong, but what’s wrong that counts. (Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, I Love You More, pg.118)
• Ready yourselves for doing more work than you might have imagined. Scripture offers valuable instruction: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14: 28) This Scripture goes on to suggest that we are fools not to plan ahead for the true cost of finishing a project. Certainly changing life-long patterns of destructive relating is worth depth counseling to change those patterns.
• Husband, when you tell your wife to go for counseling alone is like having a car you love overheat and deciding it’s not manly to take it to the mechanic. You can keep on driving it but eventually you will ruin the engine. (Adam Hamilton)
• Going to see a marriage counselor is a great idea if you want to help your relationship. It can be very effective if you go prior to there being any major long term problem. For those couples who attend marriage counseling as a “final” effort to try and save the relationship the chances of success are much slimmer. One of the problems is that most relationship counselors are women.
This means that when a guy attends with his wife he is most likely to feel outnumbered by women and it can be difficult for him to believe he is being fully understood. Another difficulty is that the field of marital counselling has been dominated in the last 30 years by a primarily feminine attitude to how relationships should be or how they can be improved.
For example the emphasis has been on talking skills, feelings, and a female approach to intimacy. The subliminal message given to the bloke by his wife and the supporting therapist has been that if only he would change and learn how to “communicate” better (by female definition), things would once again turn into marital harmony. It was easy for the guy to feel even less adequate in the counselor’s office than he normally felt.
The fact is there are two parties to a marriage and both husband and wife need an understanding and connection to each other. Fortunately this is now being recognized and there are new approaches to match the needs of men and women. (Michael and Susan Hanley, Marriage Newsletter. Marriage.com.au)
• A significant step for me was meeting with a godly Christian counselor who had experience working with issues [I was dealing with]. Finding someone who knew the common pitfalls was helpful. This “good” Christian counselor was a powerful addition to the help given me in a support group. A Christian counselor was essential for me because I don’t know how a person works through the pain of betrayal without divine intervention and help. I didn’t want to waste time and money on someone who was not pointing me back to God and truth.
I will say at this point that not all counselors are the same. A counselor’s being Christian isn’t even a guarantee that he or she will point you to the right path. So, consult your pastor and/or another godly leader. Pray before you go, and then trust your instincts. If you’re not comfortable with the first counselor, try another. (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• There are a number of “standing for your marriage” type groups out there. Some of them are great, and some of them tend more towards blame shifting pity parties. Be discerning about those you open yourself up to, and those with whom you share intimate details. If you want to restore your marriage, people who talk your ex down are not helping, no matter how much you like to hear it. This is also true for consolers and pastoral ministry —if the person who is “helping” you is not all about seeing your marriage restored, they are not helping you. (Paul Byerly, from The-generous-husband.com article, “It’s Not Over Even When It’s Over“)
• Be Careful Who You Listen To. When one is hurt, taking advice from friends and family may not be wise. Typically, people who care deeply feel personal hurt by what someone has done to the person they love. They tend not to think in terms of forgiveness and reconciliation but in terms of punishment and alienation. In short, rather than being objective, they may be anything but. Wiser, godly counsel typically comes from those who are not directly involved. Even better, listen to third parties who are skilled and experienced in working with people and know something about relationships. (Joe Beam, from Crosswalk.com article, “Reconcile or Run?)
• Seek counsel from your church. It is important to seek the counsel of your pastor or other church leaders. If you are not active in a Bible-believing, gospel-centered local church, take steps now to find one. Ask church leaders to recommend a Christian counselor who can help you.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
(From Familylife.com article, “How to Choose a Christian Counselor”)
• Pray and fast if you are confused. If you begin to feel confused or backed into a corner after receiving counsel, don’t make any decisions at all. Be still and wait for clear direction from God (see Psalm 46:10). Sometimes skipping a meal or two and just focusing on God’s Word and asking for guidance is all it takes to get clear direction when you are feeling confused. It may be you are trying to move in direction God doesn’t want you to go and, therefore, the Holy Spirit isn’t giving you peace. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), and you shouldn’t make important decisions when you are feeling confused. (Joe and Michelle Williams from the book, “Yes, Your Marriage Can Be Saved”)
• Pastor Rick Warren: Within just a couple of months after we got married, I ended up in the hospital, I was so sick from the stress. I was angry. It was, like, wait a minute, I saved myself for this? …I was just flat out angry at God — and felt cheated — and [my wife] Kay thought she was going crazy. And that’s where we had to say, “Okay, we’re going to get help.” Kay: [Rick] was a youth pastor at a church, and we just felt like there was nowhere to go, nowhere to turn.
Rick: And even 30 years ago there was much more of a stigma even than there is now. I was making $800 a month working at a Christian college. I was actually going to college and teaching college at the same time, and our counseling bill cost was $100 a week. So half of our income was going to counseling, and we racked up a $1,500 counseling bill. That’s the best $1,500 I ever spent.
People say, “Well, I can’t afford counseling.” “Well, you can’t afford not to get it. How much is your happiness worth?” My wife is my best friend today. There would be no Saddleback Church, no AIDS ministry, no peace plan, no tens of thousands of churches going through our seminars without that. And I’d pay $1 million for that counseling today — really — if it put me in the rest of my life.
Kay: It didn’t solve everything, I mean, I don’t want to make it sound like if you go to counseling, man, everything is going to work great. It just opened the door for us to begin to talk. We didn’t even know how to talk to each other about all the places that you have conflict – sex, money, marriage, in-laws, communication, and we had conflict in every one of those. (Family Life Today radio interview conducted with Rick and Kay Warren)
• If you had an emergency, you broke a bone, you wouldn’t hesitate to go and have it fixed. And we need to realize we have many families in crisis. We have marriages in danger of disintegrating which is much worse than a broken bone. We need to take emergency measures to combat that, which can kill the marital relationship. (Unknown)
• If marriage counseling is needed, Doherty advises that this is a time when being a good consumer is important. Selecting the right therapist can make all the difference. He suggests talking to people who can make a recommendation based on successful personal experience. He recommends asking questions and making it clear that you want to hold onto your marriage and make it better. (Intentional Marriage – Marcia Segelstein)
• Look for a Counselor Who:
- Loves people, perseveres through tough times, and is confident that Jesus works in people who need help (2 Timothy 2:24-25, Romans 12:9-12).
- Believes that the Bible provides counsel for all of life’s issues (2 Timothy 3:16-17; John 5:39-40).
- Gives clear evidence of a personal, passionate relationship with Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10).
- Your pastor or trusted Christian friend recommends as a counselor who provides wise, biblical advice (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 15:22 and Proverbs 24:6).
(From Family Life Today article, “How to Choose a Christian Counselor,”)
• I once did a series of private phone sessions for someone who had been in therapy for over a year. In our first session, I asked what changes she and her husband implemented since beginning therapy. She said, “Well, no real changes. But I understand our problems much better.” I call that “analysis paralysis.” The great philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This is very true. But the unlived life is not worth examining! THOUGHT and ACTION are like husband and wife. If you’re missing one, you can’t have a marriage. (Mort Ferel, MarriageMax.com)
• Make sure that the person you are working with to turn your marriage around has a specific plan for you and your spouse to fall in love and stay in love with each other. If there is no plan and/or they don’t know how to make such a plan, give your counselor or coach a copy of “Fall In Love and Stay In Love” to read and then to come up with a plan.
When you are on a team that is struggling to become successful, it is absolutely critical that a plan be created and followed in order to succeed. Without a plan, your team will fail. Please don’t let that happen. Talk to your coach or counselor and work together to create a plan that will allow you and your spouse to look forward to spending the rest of your lives together happily married. (Steve Harley, Marriagebuilders.com)
• Just utter the words “marriage counseling” and you’ll likely conjure images of a distraught couple seated in a quiet office, perhaps crying and shouting as they air their most intimate complaints about each other. Tony and Melissa Giordano opted for a different approach. On a recent weekend at Boulder’s St. Julien Hotel and Spa, the Denver couple sat barefoot on the floor of a conference room, taking turns rubbing each other’s feet, as a reflexology expert taught them and four other couples how to relieve each other’s stress. Across the hall, five other couples made their way through 6 samples during a wine tasting class, as other couples learned about bike maintenance in the room next door.
What do wine, reflexology, and cycling have to do with a healthy marriage? Everything, says Marcie Pregulman, president of Love Your Relationship, a new marriage education weekend workshop that combines research-based lectures with planned romantic activities.” Positive connections are so important,” says Pregulman. “Without them, there is no buffer there, no reserve in the bank. The idea here is to build up that reserve so that if you do have a fight, it is not going to wreck the relationship.” (From article: “Working on it — Keeping Marriages Intact Is Hard Work” by Lisa Marshall featured in The Daily Camera in Boulder, Colorado, February 11, 2006)
• So many come to my office feeling like the ultimate failure in life. If they can get their eyes on the Redeemer of failure they will celebrate that he can take anything and bring good out of it to Glorify Him. (Delores Stone, Counselor)
• Pray. Don’t forget to submit all situations to God. In the midst of so many swirling factors, the Lord can be a source of peace and clarity. (Joe Beam, from Crosswalk.com article, “Reconcile or Run?)
The following are quotes on the subject of Mentoring:
• Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. -Anonymous
• Throughout human history, mentoring has been the primary means of passing on knowledge and skills. In the past, mentoring took place in the university where a student learned in the home of the scholar. It took place in the studio where the artist poured himself into the formation of his protégés. The Bible is certainly filled with examples of mentoring (Eli and Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy). Up until recently, mentoring was a way of life between the generations. But today, mentoring is in short supply. (Dr David Stoop and Dr Jan Stoop from, “The Complete Marriage Book”)
• For those who have walked a broken road and survived, share your story, wisdom, failures, hugs… as God leads you. Offer hope to those who can’t see past today! God allows us to go through trials because He has a greater purpose than we can see. One of those purposes is to comfort those on a similar journey. You understand what they are dealing with… when no one else can. You know how to pray for them. You know how to help them avoid things that you didn’t avoid. Guide them through the deep waters so that one day they can guide someone else. Most importantly, point them to the ultimate Guide: Jesus Christ! (Janet Thompson from the Crosswalk.com article, “How To Mentor From Your Mess”)
• You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. (Titus 2:1-8)
• God’s Word makes it clear that we’re not meant to be individual islands. He calls us to meet together, to encourage one another, and to confess to other believers our struggles. He designed us to be in community and understands the meaning of synergy, the benefit of combined effort and operation. Pray for God to direct this important step of finding mentors. If something doesn’t feel right, get another opinion from someone you trust. (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• When you learn to drive a car, you get an instructor. You get a permit and your first experiences driving are with an experienced driver. When you plan a vacation, you get a travel agent to help you know what is available. You may get a map drawn by someone who knows the route, or book the reservations with professionals to get you there. When you pursue a career, you get training from experts. You earn a degree and have teachers to educate you. When you want to improve your golf game you get a pro to help you… and you practice. When you design a house you employ an architect. When you build the house you hire a contractor to get it done. When you get married, you get a minister to perform the ceremony …but who helps you build the marriage? Marriage mentors can help you do that! (Dr Ed Gray – 12conversations.com)
• Practical wisdom from mentors can help you learn to do the first-year tasks of marriage right the first time. Which would you rather do —keep making the first-year mistakes of marriage for ten years OR learn the first-year skills of marriage in year one and move forward with growing a successful marriage? …Why not seek out a mentor couple to share their love and experiences with you? They have helpful stories to share from lessons they have learned. They have road maps of experiences to help you with to find your way in dealing with communication, couple friendship and dating, finances, in-laws, solutions to problems, recreation, intimacy, and healthy marriage habits. (Dr Edward Gray, Marriage Mentoring –12 Conversations)
• We define a marriage mentor as a happy, more experienced couple who empowers a newly married couple through sharing resources and relational experiences. It’s a broad definition because there is no one right way to mentor. Each mentoring relationship takes on its own style and personality. (Dr David Stoop and Dr Jan Stoop, from “The Complete Marriage Book”)
• Practically speaking, marriage mentoring is a fancy name for catching up with another couple, and talking about your marriage. Sometimes discussing personal issues can be difficult, so marriage mentoring is an approach that can make this process much easier, and more effective. For example, you won’t end up chatting about your kids instead! (From article “What is Marriage Mentoring” posted on Marriage.com.au web site)
• Practical wisdom from mentors can help you learn to do the first-year tasks of marriage right the first time. Which would you rather do — keep making the first-year mistakes of marriage for ten years OR learn the first-year skills of marriage in year one and move forward with growing a successful marriage? …Why not seek out a mentor couple to share their love and experiences with you? They have helpful stories to share from lessons they have learned. They have road maps of experiences to help you with to find your way in dealing with communication, couple friendship and dating, finances, in-laws, solutions to problems, recreation, intimacy, and healthy marriage habits. (Dr Ed Gray – 12conversations.com)
• “How can a couple become mentors to others? Look for younger couples that either have leadership potential to other married couples, who are in crisis, or who might not have received marriage training. Try leading a small group study with a few couples, using a marriage book. Or spend time with one couple at a time. The key is to let the relationship develop naturally. A younger couple will learn best by simply observing a mature couple in all facets of life.” (Bill Farrel)
• Invite a couple you admire into your world. Whose marriage do you look up to? Who in your life is a stage of life ahead of you; has kids that have turned out well; seem to love each other late in life? God has probably strategically placed a couple in your life that would be honored to be invited into that space. Maybe it’s finances… maybe it’s parenting… maybe it’s business… maybe it’s conflict resolution. You can’t change beyond your own wisdom and experience.
[With this couple] be vulnerable and share your junk. It does no good to invite a couple to mentor you if you withhold the dark parts of your marriage. Sharing the parts of your marriage that are broken and frustrating is the only way to improve and find healing. Transparency is the key to transformation. Be vulnerable and watch God show up. The book of James says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other, that you may be healed.” (Justin and Trisha from Refineus.org article, “The One Thing Every Marriage Needs”)
• Each mentoring relationship takes on its own style and personality. The amount of time couples spend together and the content they discuss can rarely be prescribed. However, we recommend a minimum of three meetings throughout any given year for the first few years of a marriage. The first year of marriage is especially ideal and when this is the case, we suggest a meeting at three months, another at seven months, and the final one around the one-year wedding anniversary. Of course the meetings don’t need to be limited to just these three meetings. These times provide the skeletal structure upon which additional meetings, other meals, phone calls, and so on can occur. (Dr David Stoop and Dr Jan Stoop, “The Complete Marriage Book”)
• For years, the assumption was that therapists were the only ones who could help struggling couples, and even then it was an arduous quest. But researchers, delving into the vagaries of relationships, have found that almost all couples —those who divorce and those who stay together —have about the same number of fights about the same issues: kids, money, sex, time, and other people. To them, the key is to help couples understand how to handle disagreements, the theory being that these techniques can now be taught by almost anyone.
The result is a curriculum like the one being used in Oklahoma, where workers from churches, schools, and counseling centers are being trained to teach marriage skills. “It’s like a marriage renaissance,” says Diane Sollee, director of The Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education in Washington, D.C. “When people have new knowledge and new understanding, they’re going to start thinking differently about marriage.” (Smartmarriages – Subject: Can Marriage Be Taught?)
• Reflect on one or two specific occasions when a Christian couple reached out to you and provided support, a “safe haven,” timely counsel or whatever was needed at the time. What did their willingness to include you in their home and relationship mean to you and your journey? In what ways have you opened up your home (whether you are married or single) to provide such help along another person’s journey?
If your marriage is strong and you know of a couple experiencing difficulties, consider how you might embrace them more fully with your friendship and offer your home as a place to share, explore and seek perspective and support for their marriage. If you are experiencing difficulties, consider asking another couple for such support. Your pastor might have some ideas about whom to ask. (David A. deSilva, from the Crosswalk.com article, Marriage: Made Within Community, Made for Mission)
• To be a Marriage Mentor: You do not have to be an expert … simply be willing to share your experiences. • Share your stories of married life with a younger couple. • Be a mentor couple to a younger couple. • Help them strengthen their marriage and reap benefits for yours. (Dr Ed Gray – 12conversations.com)
• What is fundamental to look for in a mentor? When deciding if a person or group is safe, the first step is always prayer. The Holy Spirit is able to give amazing insight. Next, look for people who are: • nonjudgmental (they don’t decide, they guide); • respectful (they set and observe healthy boundaries); • spiritual (they point to Christ not to pat religious answers); • listeners (they really hear you); • objective (they’re able to give and receive loving criticism); • humble (they know when to say, “I don’t know”). (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• Marriage Mentors are an impartial sounding board. Usually the mentors and soon-to-be-wed couples meet for 6 sessions to discuss questions on the premarital quiz or other issues. [As Jeffrey and Lisa Brathwaite —an engaged couple, at the time] have said, “We want to have someone who can be a role model, someone you can ask about things who have been there and done that. This is my 2nd marriage, and I didn’t know how to be a good husband the first time around. I didn’t have a real good role model. My dad was a great father, but he wasn’t a great husband.” (Don O’Briant, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article: BUILDING A STRONG MARRIAGE: More Couples Are Turning to Mentors)
• “Marriage mentors help by serving as a sounding board and by alleviating the isolation some couples feel,” said Dennis Lowe, the director for Pepperdine University’s Center for the Family in Malibu, California. “49% of the couples admitted they had serious problems in their first year of marriage” he said. Before couples are married at Second Presbyterian, the church requires intensive premarital counseling. After the honeymoon is over, couples are encouraged to attend one of several Sunday school classes for married couples. Marriage 101 is for those who have been married for less than 3 years. Covenant Keepers is for couples married less than eight years. In addition, the mentors meet with 3 – 4 couples in their homes twice a month. (Don O’Briant, “BUILDING A STRONG MARRIAGE: More Couples Are Turning to Mentors to Start Their Lives Together on a Strong Foundation)
• I call them lanterns —because they are mentors who shed light. As the process of looking out for obstacles continues, you’ll find that your desire grows for God and for truth. As the Lord reveals additional obstacles, He graciously provides people who also see pitfalls and roadblocks that we might otherwise miss. God uses others who are ahead of us on the path to shine a light to help us. They’re living proof that two are better than one. When we’re in a weakened state, it’s important to be surrounded by people who are safe and who provided biblically sound advice that points us in the right direction.
Allowing others to see that we are visually impaired makes us vulnerable. So it’s essential to approach possible lanterns carefully and slowly. Beware the tendency of being too open —sharing indiscriminately —as well as being too closed off —not sharing at all. Both delay healing. Just let God identify the right people and the proper timing, because the wrong person can cause more damage, while the right one can be a craftsman of God. I’ve met many women who can attest to the damage wrought by the wrong person. (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• “We’re not saying we have figured it all out,” said Matt Terhune, 34. But what the Terhunes try to do is address any problems and look to the Bible to see what it teaches about marriage. “We share our own personal experiences on things we’ve totally messed up on,” Terhune said. He believes the mentoring is creating lifelong friendships and is helping to strengthen his own marriage of 10 years. The group provides a safe place where ideas and concerns can be addressed by the young couples. “We’re able to say things within the group that we might not say when it’s just the two of us,” Terhune said. (From: Smartmarriages – Subject: Mentors help ease marriage pitfalls)
• Few problems are more urgent in society or the church than the soaring divorce rate, said Mike McManus, who’s based in Potomac, Maryland. “The divorce rate among atheists and agnostics in the United States is below that of almost every Protestant church,” he said. McManus offers 5 steps churches can use to cut their divorce rate by at least half over 5 years: Help people avoid getting into bad marriages, give people who do marry marriage insurance, enrich the marriages of church members so they’re happier, save troubled marriages, and help stepfamilies be successful.
The key to making this happen is equipping and training married couples to become mentors, McManus said. Every church has members who have gone through adultery, abuse and other problems and come out with their marriages intact. “Our goal is for couples who’ve been blessed with good marriages to be trained and motivated to help others prepare for marriage or save existing marriages,” he said. (Alan Goforth, From the article: As Pastors Ban Together, Divorce Rate Drops Dramatically)
• Is it possible for a church or synagogue to virtually eliminate divorce? Yes, if the congregation trains a network of Mentor Couples who create a safety net under every marriage. What matters are couples such as Carol and Jeff Long, married 31 years in Tallahassee. Their marriage nearly came apart years ago when he had an affair. “We were able to pull out of that and maintain our marriage,” he recalls. “We felt like we had a lot to offer to couples in a similar situation. We can offer hope that even after adultery, it’s possible to pull marriages back together.”
Every church has couples like the Longs, but hasn’t appreciated them as the marriage-saving treasure that they are, or trained them to tell their stories of hope. Most clergy assume professional credentials are essential to help a marriage heading to divorce. However, many of those therapists with the Master’s degrees are ineffectual with troubled marriages. Or worse, they actually recommend divorce! Rev. Bob Tindale, senior pastor of Killearn UMC, has a different view.” Crisis couples can be given hope if they sit down with someone who can say, ‘we’ve been there and we made it.’ (Churches Can Virtually Eliminate Divorce – By Mike McManus)
• Couple-to-couple mentoring has proved to be an effective method [for helping stem the tide of divorce], said Bob Ruthazer, (Executive Director for the Marriage Builders Alliance of Richmond). Statistics projecting that between 40% and 50% of marriages starting today will end in divorce or permanent separation. “We believe the church needs to be part of the solution,” Ruthazer said. “We’ve done well at introducing the clergy to the concept of premarital mentoring to augment or replace most of their pastoral counseling. What we haven’t done is create any good, effective models for helping couples in crisis. This is the area that’s in many ways of most concern. In place of prevention that we didn’t do well before, it’s the pound of correction we have to do now.” (Couples to Mentor Other Couples -Richmond Times-Dispatch – Bill Lohmann)
• Friends don’t let friends disapprove of their marriage. Hang around with other couples who support your marriage. This means finding couples that you know are happy in their relationship and happy themselves. These couples are good role models, and set a good example of how you two should treat each other. Couples who are having difficulty will undercut your relationship, and marriage in general, often without realizing it. And it’s really easy to start behaving badly when other people around you are behaving badly. Rather, you want to surround yourself with friends who support the institution of marriage and truly believe in you as a couple. (Pat Love, from the article, “The Love Recipe“)
• So where do you find safe people when it seems so easy to find unhealthy? In truth, with God’s help they get easier to find. The best place to start is with prayer. The hard part is to patiently wait for God to identify these safe people. When we’re looking for a lantern to shine some light on this path of obstacles, pitfalls, and roadblocks, it’s difficult to wait for a person to reveal his or her character. But this wait reduces the chance of trying to read our maps under a wavering light, while reminding us first to place our lives under God’s steady light. The best way to avoid additional injury is to move slowly and always talk to God before you talk to others. (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, so, no more drinking from death-tainted wells! (Proverbs 13:14, The Message)
• Ask God to reveal one person you can count on for support. Watch for a mentor or someone who is farther on in their life’s journey. Pray for someone who will encourage spiritual growth. Always be looking for people who have character qualities you admire. Then pray for God to open a door for the relationship to go forwards. (Meg Wilson, “Hope After Betrayal”)
• Marriage mentoring can be as simple as finding a couple you respect and hearing their stories of married life. A neighbor, a family member or a church could be a great source for a mentor couple. …Consider: Is there a couple in your life that you look to as a positive role model for a healthy marriage? Many of us have such a couple. By their lives and behavior they have encourage us to be better husbands and wives. Some have spoken to us and led us intentionally. Others, simply by their example, demonstrate love, respect and joy in their marriage. (Dr Edward Gray, Marriage Mentoring –12 Conversations)
• Harriet McManus (who runs a marriage mentoring program with her husband Mike McManus) says that one reason that older couples are drawn to mentoring is, “You cannot focus on another couple’s relationship without focusing on your own. All those inventory statements —you have to think in your own mind, how would we have answered those questions?” (Washington Post Sunday Magazine article: Can This Marriage Be Braved?)
• “74% of weddings are performed in churches,” said Susan Zencka, pastor of Dyer Presbyterian Church. “There’s a 50% divorce rate. We know it’s high. Once we recognize that churches perform 74% of weddings, it makes it clear to the clergy that we have a special responsibility to help couples do this better. No one who gets married plans to get divorced.” (Local churches team up to support marriage -BY EMILY HISER -Northwest Indiana Times Staff Writer)
• Second Presbyterian, like many churches around the country, is making it a mission to help married couples get a firm foundation. The program focuses on the basics —how to talk about money, in-laws, sex, and how to fight fair when problems inevitably erupt. Since 1997, the church has worked with about 100 couples. Currently, 8 couples act as volunteer mentors, helping 32 younger couples maneuver married life… “It’s good to get outside of your family for advice and for a different perspective on things like how do you handle the holidays or do you have a separate checking account or a joint checking account,” said Melanie Alexander. (Smartmarriages – Subject: Mentors help ease marriage pitfalls)
• Even if brides and bridegrooms in Leavenworth believe they’re ready to say “I do,” the preachers in town have banded together to say “No, you don’t.” Statistics show that the town has an unusually high divorce rate of 80%. The Rev. Randall Terrill uncovered that statistic recently. Now, he and 14 other clerics are refusing to marry couples unless they’ve been through months of counseling. The preachers are calling it a “community marriage policy,” which is designed to lower Leavenworth’s divorce rate. Terrill says the same kind of counseling has worked in other towns. In Modesto, Calif., the divorce rate dropped by 40% after a similar policy was implemented.
In all, couples will need 3 to 4 months of counseling from the clergy before they can tie the knot. Terrill said couples will have to meet with their counselors 4 or 5 times. The couples will also have to meet with couples who are already married. Terrill knows that some couples won’t like the idea and won’t want to take the time before exchanging nuptials. But he said something must be done. “We want this marriage to last a lifetime. If you’re not willing to invest some time to prepare yourself for that, then we wonder about your commitment to each other,” Terrill said. The policy isn’t a law, Hubbard reported. Couples can still be united at the courthouse. However, Terrill is confident he can get every church in town to agree to his plan. (Cheryl Wetzstein, The Washington Times article, “Federal Official Urges Promoting Marriage)
• All praise to God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, The Message)
• Emily Hood and her husband are grateful for the support the older couple has shown to them. “I think we all have a desire to develop a strong relationship,” said Hood, 25, of Memphis. “It’s good to have a couple you can model your marriage after and who are totally committed to keeping their marriage vows and looking for God’s guidance.” The transition from single to married life isn’t always easy, Hood said. “I think we all need some kind of instruction and help in how to be married,” she said. (Mentors Help Ease Marriage Pitfalls – By Lela Garlington)
• What can a happily married couple do to improve the state of marriage in our culture? Simple, Horn says: advertise. Be role models. The more good marriages young people see, the more a good marriage becomes the norm, not the exception. “One of the things that drives young people toward cohabitation,” he says, “isn’t a fear of marriage but a fear of divorce. And there’s good reason to be fearful of divorce, because there are a lot of divorces out there. So the more models we have of successful marriages, the more our young people will understand that this is an attainable aspiration —something they can go into joyfully, as opposed to with great trepidation.”
Next, Horn says, a happily married couple can support and encourage other marriages around them. Do you know a couple whose marriage is struggling? Encourage them to stick it out. Remind them that divorce introduces at least as many problems as it solves. And research shows that about 8 of 10 couples who persevere in “bad” marriages are much happier and rate their marriages as stable and happy just 5 years later. In short, don’t stay silent while we lose marriages that could be saved. That not only brings more pain to those getting divorced, it also sends a damaging message to kids: When marriage doesn’t go so well, flee. (Promoting Marriage – By Jim Killam – Marriage Partnership Magazine)
• Marriage mentoring is not a just a program. It’s a way of life. It’s married couples (with ourselves included) continually being pro-active, seeking the Lord’s wisdom through whatever learning opportunities He brings our way, to help ourselves and others live out our marriages in such a manner that honors each other and honors the Lord. (Cindy Wright)