We all need good examples for the roles we play in life: as a parent, in the workplace, and in our marriages. But today’s young married couples are likely to have grown up with divorced or single parents. A full half of today’s young adults may have missed out on the opportunity to learn what a good marriage looks like and how it works on a daily basis. just by observation The remedy? Finding a set of marriage mentors who can fill the void.
Why You Need a Marriage Mentor:
- So you don’t have to learn everything yourself—the hard way. Benefitting from the experience of an older, wiser couple who have already survived the season of life you are currently in with their marriage intact is just smart.
- So you have a sounding board when you’re upset. Marriage is hard, and there are times that you’ll need to vent a little. Doing this with your own parents isn’t wise because they may become protective of you and angry with your spouse if they think he’s wrong. Your marriage mentor will be a more objective, less emotionally invested third party, and can see your situation clearly enough to coach you through it without creating tension throughout the extended family.
- So you can see down the road. We sometimes get a little near-sighted in life, only able to see where we are today and what’s going on right now. A marriage mentor who is in another season of life can keep our focus forward and help us remember what the long-range goals are, and what not to sweat.
What to Look for in a Marriage Mentor:
- Shared values. Your marriage mentors should share your faith and view of the marriage covenant and encourage you to keep to the values you hold most dear, even when it’s hard.
- Marriage success. It may seem obvious, but we’ll say it just in case: your marriage mentors should be another couple who are happily married and have a great relationship. Not perfect (nothing is), but solid.
- Age and Experience. A couple who have been together for a long time (ideally, at least 10-15 years longer than you), have already survived the season of life you’re currently in and can tell you how they did it, and what they wish they’d known back then.
- Discretion. You may find yourself sharing sensitive or personal things with your marriage mentor from time to time, and you’ll want to know that those things will be kept in the strictest confidence.
- Other common factors. Similar career paths and other common factors can help you and your marriage mentors relate to one another.
How to Structure Your Mentoring Relationship:
- Spend time together. Sounds too obvious, huh? But truly, by simply spending time together on a regular basis (going to dinner together, getting together for coffee) as a foursome will allow them to observe how you interact together (and offer advice when needed), and will allow you to observe how they treat one another. It gives you a chance to ask questions together, like “How did you manage to make time for one another when your kids were small like ours?” or “How did you guys agree on how to manage the family budget and stay on track financially?”
- Check in wife-to-wife and husband-to-husband. Make an effort to check in regularly with your mentor wife, and your husband with his counterpart. Just a phone call will do the trick. Sometimes you need to be able to discuss things woman to woman in a way that wouldn’t be appropriate when you’re all together.
- Be transparent. Don’t dump all the dirty laundry of your marriage just for sport, but be as honest as possible (without unnecessarily disparaging or compromising your spouse) about what your challenges are so your mentors can offer targeted advice.