There we stood in our third year of marriage… more like enemies than lovers. It seemed the odds were stacked against us. We came from broken families, buried ourselves in over $200K of debt, are the MOST stubborn people you’ve ever met, and living in a county with a 71% divorce rate (Orange County, CA stands as one of the highest in the nation). We were lonely and desperate for help, but too embarrassed to ask.
One Sunday morning, something caught our eye with an older couple at our church who seemed to be laughing, holding hands, and madly in love. Curiosity turned to near stalking as we carefully observed how they interacted with each other. We gathered up the courage and invited them to lunch and asked them what felt like a million questions on marriage. We learned that they too felt alone and empty inside long ago and that it was normal, which instantly caused us to let down our guard, lean in and learn from them.
There is something powerful about Paul’s encouragement to bear each other’s burdens; that we shouldn’t do life alone. We were created for connection and marriage will be the most significant relationship you will have on this earth. Our bond with this couple continues to this day as they taught us the skills to have a thriving marriage. No matter what community you may be a part of, we have the power to create intentional relationships that bring hope and encouragement to our marriages.
We believe that every marriage should be surrounded by other couples who support and encourage each other to continue fighting for their marriage. Through our own process of finding marriage mentors, we discovered that there are 3 characteristics of a mentor relationship that are essential for it to work.
1. They have a marriage you look up to. These couples are going on date nights, enjoying each other, apologizing when they’ve messed up, forgiving each other daily and have the marriage that you want.
2. They’re willing to be vulnerable with you. Our mentor couple holds nothing back in sharing with us their struggles and heartaches in every area of their marriage. In their transparency, we see ourselves in their story and find hope knowing they made it through okay.
3. They are there to pray and affirm you. Knowing that our marriage is being prayed over by another couple is so comforting. This couple knows our struggles and is joining us in praying for protection, wisdom, and courage. They consistently stand by our side and shower us with words of encouragement.
We live in strange times where love is confusing, relationships seem complicated, and even marriage itself is being questioned as relevant today. If there has ever been a time for married couples to be surrounded by other married couples to encourage them in their journey… it is now.
Marriage is not a natural talent. None of us are born with the ability to do relationships well. Marriage is a learned skill that must be taught by those who have weathered the storms of life. From how to flavor your words with sweet grace to how to properly apologize when you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong, finding a mentor couple could be the exact thing your marriage needs to get past the areas you are stuck on.
It’s time to take inventory of couples that are in your life that have a marriage you admire and desire. Find a pathway to connect with them and ask if they can join you in your journey.
There is a saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” You have to be proactive in seeking out a healthy marriage mentor… it may the one overlooked strategy that can take your marriage to the next level. It did for us!