Marriage mentors are like skydiving instructors–without all the jumping out of planes stuff.
Imagine that you are about to go skydiving for the first time. You make the appointment, and you spend the next two weeks reading everything you can find online about skydiving. You watch a million videos and gather as much information as possible before the big day.
The day of your first jump arrives. The sky is blue, and the wind is light. It’s the perfect day for a jump. You reach the site. You are full of both excitement and butterflies the size of bald eagles in your stomach. Enthusiastically, you walk up to the counter and give your name to the somewhat disinterested teenager with the earbuds in his ears. He hands you a backpack and sends you out to the airfield.
Once you get to the airfield and sit down on a bench under a sign that says, “Wait here.” Some time passes while you keep an eye out for the instructor, and you start to wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Finally, a short, stocky guy with grey hair meanders out of the hangar and beckons you to follow him. You’re confused, but you let him lead you in the direction of a small plane on the runway.
The man opens the door to the plane, and you climb in. He disappears into the cockpit and fires up the engine.
You lean in over his ear and yell, “Wait a minute! Where’s the instructor?”
He bellows back, “You don’t need one!”
“What do you mean, I don’t need one?” you scream with a panicked voice. “I’ve never done this before.”
And the pilot says, “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. You read all the stuff.”
That’s how many people feel about getting married. Before the wedding, you read all the stuff on all the websites and in all the magazines in anticipation of the big day that would begin your new life. The ceremony and reception went off without a hitch, and the honeymoon was perfect.
Then you got home.
This moment is where the trouble often begins. And you realize that reading “all the stuff” just isn’t going to cut it.
Young people getting married for the first time face a 40-50% chance of ending up divorced. Most of those will end it after only three or four years.
Why does this happen?
Unfortunately, too many people enter marriage with three issues stacked against them; undeveloped relationship skills for essential communication, unrealistic expectations of marriage, and a lack of good role models from whom to learn the first two.
These missing pieces can take down a marriage quickly. Even when you don’t see it coming.
If you are serious about making your marriage last “‘till death do us part,” you can fill these holes by finding a marriage mentor.
What is a marriage mentor?
According to Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com), a mentor is a trusted counselor or guide. You can think of mentors as similar to coaches or tutors. These people work with you and guide you through a journey that they themselves have already navigated.
People have mentors for all kinds of reasons. Anyone that you think you can learn something from can take the role of a mentor. These relationships can help you with any area of your life like work, home, discipleship, or any other part of your life. Being mentored is similar to an old-fashioned apprenticeship. Mentors teach how to do something successfully based on what they have learned along the way.
There are many examples of mentoring relationships in the Bible, including Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Timothy, Moses and Joshua, and Jesus with all of His disciples. God has designed us to benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of people who are more experienced than we are.
When I started teaching elementary school back in 1991, I had a mentor. She was the designated person I could go to when I had questions. Working with her helped me to understand the culture of teaching at that particular school. She gave me lesson ideas and let me know what needed to do at different times of the year. Most importantly, she taught me to keep my mouth shut until I was tenured.
She knew that I needed these types of supports to be successful in my first year of teaching. We became good friends, despite the age difference, and I still have fond feelings for her, and look forward to the times when I get to see her. Without her, I would have run out of things to do on my first day of teaching before morning recess! (True story!)
Marriage mentors do the same types of things. A marriage mentor couple has taken on the responsibility of guiding a younger, less experienced couple through the challenges of married life. Sometimes these relationships are in a group setting, but most often they are one couple directly working with another couple.
Being a mentor is not the same as being a counselor. Mentors are just regular people like you who have the experiences under their belts that will benefit your marriage. Instead of a counseling degree, they’ve gotten their education from the school of hard knocks. They’ve lived through it and come out the other side victorious. Marriage mentors help with most everyday challenges encountered by their mentee couple but will recommend outside professional help when something they are not trained for comes up.
Benefits of Marriage Mentoring
Marriage mentors provide guidance and advise you from their point of view as someone who has already been there. They help you tell the difference between issues you need to address and those you can set aside. They won’t let you sweat the small stuff, so you have the focus and energy to put into the big stuff.
The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130
Marriage mentors listen. Their unbiased view of the situation gives you a sounding board when you need to vent. They will offer possible solutions to the problems you are having.
Your mentor’s marriage is a marriage that you can look up to and be inspired by. You can learn from their successes as well as their failures.
They are a source of encouragement. Mentors give you hope that having a successful marriage for life is indeed possible, regardless of what we hear from the rest of the world. Real love should last. And it can last. Your mentor couple can prove that to you.
Your mentors can be open and honest with you about everything, and they won’t sugarcoat their thoughts. They will give you the feedback you need and speak the truth with love when they see that something you are doing that negatively affects your relationship.
A good marriage mentor assists you in setting goals and identifying priorities in your marriage. They will also track your progress toward those goals to keep you on the right path and accountable.
You have access to years worth of marital experiences through your mentor couple’s wisdom they gained through the situations they’ve faced during their lives.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20
They can identify lies you need to abandon and baggage you need to surrender to improve your relationship. They can also see where some of your blind spots lie and can help you avoid them.
Mentors teach you strategies for problem solving and communication that worked for them in their marriage or in the marriages of others they know. Just one approach that you didn’t think of yourself could be the thing that takes your marriage to the next level.
This couple will pray for you. They know when they need to pray for you, and they are aware of specific prayer topics based on their interactions with you. They prioritize you and your marriage, which is good, because marriages need all the prayer they can get!
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
Marriage mentors are advocates not just for you and your spouse as individuals, but they are also advocates for your marriage. Your marriage is like a separate entity that has different needs than you and your spouse have, and a marriage mentor who has been through the various stages of marriage can identify those needs.
When should you look for a marriage mentor?
The most obvious time to look for a couple to mentor you and your spouse is at the very beginning of your marriage. Being married is a different relationship than the one you had as a boyfriend and girlfriend. Living together is a whole new ball game, and mentors can make the transition more comfortable and less daunting.
However, it’s never too late to find a mentor couple to guide you through the difficulties of marriage. If you think you could use a hand keeping your marriage strong, find someone out there who has been where you are now.
Nobody becomes an expert all by themselves. Not an expert skydiver, or an expert spouse. The more support you have, the better.
So, if you think you and your spouse could benefit from a mentor couple to guide you, look around your church and see if there are any couples you admire. Who do you know that seems like they still love (or even like) each other after all those years? Strike up a conversation. Take them to lunch and ask them if they would be interested in mentoring you.
You may be pleasantly surprised at the results shown in your marriage.
Can we help you?
If you don’t have a couple that you think would be a good fit, we would love to help you. We are in the final stages of planning a mentoring program, and we’re excited about those of you who will feel led by God to let us have a part in your life.
My husband and I have been married for almost twenty-eight years. We’ve raised two kids (to adulthood) who serve Jesus. We’ve been through the wringer enough times with health issues, job loses, addiction, and we came out the other side even stronger.
Dan is a pastor’s kid who, for better or worse, has inherited his parents’ hearts for people. So much so that several individuals call him Pastor, despite his efforts to dissuade them from using that word.
I’m the research and goal setting girl who loves to share everything I’m learning to make other’s lives better. I believe that knowledge of the Bible and proven strategies for communication and problem solving can be truly powerful. Years of being a teacher will do that to you.
If you think you would have any interest at all in a mentoring relationship, either in a group setting or through more private interaction, sign up and click on the waiting list button below. You are not signing up for anything now, don’t worry! We’re just interested in knowing if this is something that appeals to you and may improve your marriage.