WHY I MENTOR MARRIAGES
“Marriage mentoring? What in the world does that mean?”
15 years ago, this would have been my response if someone had asked me if I knew what a marriage mentor was. Sadly, at that time I was already 14 years into my marriage! Until recent years, our understanding of marriage was that it’s this thing that almost everybody does, but it’s up to each individual to figure out how it works. We, like so many others, didn’t do such a great job of it, and found our marriage off the track and face first into the dirt.
In mid-2011, after Tiffani and I had finally come clean with each other about our ugly hidden pasts, we needed to really figure out how we could move forward into this “new normal”. (Things are NEVER the same after infidelity enters a marriage.) Through the winter months of late 2011 and early 2012, I began to pray “God, how can we use our experiences to help somebody else? Is it possible that we could stop another marriage from taking the rocky path because we’ve already done it?” He answered by showing me other people online who were using their bad choices of the past to educate struggling marriages around them with some great results.
Once upon a time there was a thing known as “apprenticeship”, which was when a person (usually a YOUNG person) was bound to an older Master Craftsman in order to learn a trade such as cabinet-making, stone-cutting, carriage-building and the like. So much furniture that was made in the 1700-1800s is still around today – which means that it was BUILT TO LAST! Compare that quality to the high-priced plastic and particleboard junk we buy today and it’s quickly obvious that the tradition of apprenticeship is long lost. But what if the time-honored art of apprenticeship was applied to marriage? This is exactly what I was seeing those other ministries doing, and I thought “Thank you Lord! We CAN do this!”
I was excited to get started, and began to formulate in my mind how I might help those within my own circles – both locally and online. “SongSix3-My Beloved Is Mine” began to take shape. After writing pretty much our entire story out in several blog posts here, I learned that I don’t have tons of words in my head that I can share on a regular basis like some of my fellow CMBA marriage bloggers. But I learned that I can write bits of marriage wisdom in 1-2 sentence blurbs all day long! So while my blogging is fairly erratic and not-very-often, I’ve been faithfully posting on Twitter and Facebook since 2012 with only a couple of very short breaks. This has opened doors to ministry that I could only have previously imagined. It’s always been my policy to keep an open door to our readers, to always let them know it’s perfectly ok to ask for help, advice, and prayer from us. And we follow up after a time to see how they’re doing.
A few examples of successful marriage mentoring look like this (without using any names)…
A Midwest USA couple had drifted apart. Husband had moved out and taken at least one girlfriend. Wife decided she was going to stand in prayer for her marriage. She communicated with me regularly through Twitter for prayer and encouragement, and I always asked “will HE speak with me?” She always replied “He will not.” Then a couple months went by with no contact. One day she messaged out of the blue and said “He wants to talk to you.” I nearly fell out of my chair, but I said “Here’s my number, have him call me!” And that very night, he did! Today, that couple is doing great, and I chat with them both regularly. I consider them friends, and it’s great to see that they are happy together and serving the Lord!
Another Midwestern lady followed my Twitter account for a LONG time, interacting with me a little bit every now and then, and it was obvious she was hurting. One day a short conversation I had with her seemed right to ask her what was up. Her husband’s job was offering him opportunities to be unfaithful and their blended family was falling apart. She wanted help but didn’t know where to turn. Soon she was able to get her husband to agree to chat with her in the room and me on the phone to help them navigate their issues. We prayed, we talked… we agreed to talk some more. And we did, over a period of time. This couple still have some things to work on, but they are TALKING, they are LOVING each other, they are actively working together on their marriage – and they are serving together in their church. I look forward to their continuing friendship!
Another situation involved a fellow marriage minister who lives 700 miles South of us. Greg Beavers and his wife Carrie lead the ministry called “One Flesh Awakening.” As our friendship has developed, Greg and I have found that we each have certain strengths and experiences that compliment each others’ ministries. He called me and asked if I’d help a couple walk through the infidelity minefield. Tiffani and I began to talk regularly with that couple by phone and text, while Greg continued to minister to them face to face. Our tag-teaming has worked very well, and I am overjoyed to let you know that this couple, in spite of going through some hellish things, appears to be in it for the long-haul. They are living for Jesus, and serving each other in ways they never imagined just a year ago.
As a side note to the previous paragraph about One Flesh Awakening, I learned something really cool through the course of our tag-team ministry… the couple that was in crisis had gone to a One Flesh Awakening marriage conference two full years before all this went down. They had won free tickets to the event, and on the day they attended they also won a door prize at the conference! They met Greg and Carrie that day, but when they left the conference they had no further contact – until the day (2 years later) that things went south for the couple. The husband needed help and the only one he knew he could call was Greg. After Greg got off the phone with the husband, he rang me up to ask for our assistance with their infidelity issues. This was how Tiffani and I got involved. When Greg told this story later as we (and the couple) were all on a conference call together, the lightbulb went on… God Himself in foreknowledge had aligned things so that, at the moment this couple’s world exploded, there were willing servants right there ready to walk through the fire with them. Friends, that right there is Romans 8:28 in action! “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
I don’t say any of this to pat myself on the back. Let me make this crystal clear – we didn’t do anything to save these couples from their issues. All THAT credit goes to Jesus Christ! We were merely obedient to our call to point the way because we’ve been where they are. Each of the individuals described above first had to demonstrate a willingness to be helped. Once they gave us permission to speak into their lives, we began to teach them how to communicate with each other according to God’s standards. This is often one of the hardest parts of good marriage mentoring. Communication is *THE* key to virtually every aspect of marriage. Kids? You’ve got to talk about them. Money? You need to talk about it. Sex? Same as the previous. I have only ever turned away one couple, and it was because of communication (a complete and total lack of it!) They simply could not get beyond rehashing their issues. Every single attempt at getting them to hear each other’s heart degenerated into an overheated “She did this!… He did that!” With a very heavy heart I had to tell them “I can’t help you.” I continue to pray for this couple. I know from experience what a wonderful future they could be having, if they would learn to really communicate. And if by any chance that couple reads this, and believes they can turn the situation around, I’m still a willing mentor. (You know who you are!)
So, WHY do I mentor marriages? There are 5 really good reasons that I can come up with.
1. I like to help others
2. I hate to see married people hurting
3. I like to see hurting people healed
4. I like to see healed people attain a great marriage
5. BECAUSE GOD HEALED MY MARRIAGE!!
If I were to pick a passage of scripture by which to write this article, it would be 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
God, You comforted me when I needed it the most. Please give me opportunities to share some of that with others. You filled me up to overflowing… now let some of it spill over into the broken marriages of those around me.
I am grateful for every opportunity that comes my way to pour some love and humanity into a hurting couple. Sometimes the subject matter they’re dealing with can be very heavy. Other times it’s as simple as they’ve drifted apart and need a little guidance on how to get back on the same page as a couple. It all comes down to sharing the love of Christ and teaching husbands & wives how to LISTEN to each other.
On August 28th (roughly 10 weeks from today), my gorgeous bride and I will celebrate 29 years of marriage. Not all of those years were good, but ALL were used by God to teach and educate us. Do you need a marriage mentor? Get in touch with me… let’s talk.