Don't Go It Alone

two married couples in a cafe

I love the moment during some wedding ceremonies when the pastor invites family members and close friends to make a vow: "As a part of the community that surrounds this couple, do you pledge your support in keeping this marriage forever strong?" This call to commitment is a way of telling loved ones that they really do have an active role to play in the life of this young couple, and their involvement doesn't end when the last piece of wedding cake has been eaten.

God created us to be in relationship — with Him and with others. This is why we need to be intentional about regularly connecting with other like-minded couples. We need a strong community surrounding us. The best way to build and maintain a strong support system is to look for three different types of relationships. Every couple needs a "Paul" (1 Corinthians 4:15) couple in their life. This would be an older, more experienced couple who can offer wisdom. This couple acts as mentors, investing in the relationship of the younger couple through prayer and godly advice.

We also need several "Barnabas" (Acts 4:36) couples along our marriage journey. "Barnabas" means "son of encouragement," so this would be our peer group — couples in the same season of life. We might have been married close to the same number of years, or our children might be roughly the same ages. These couples offer encouragement and friendship.

Finally, we need a "Timothy" (1 Timothy 1:1-2) couple in our life. This would be a younger couple that we invest in. When we work alongside our spouse to help another couple, we often become more relationally aware and better communicators, and our marriage becomes stronger. It's amazing how much we receive when we mentor a younger couple.

We all have a responsibility to help build a community of support and encouragement for our own marriage and for the marriages of other couples.

Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author or co-author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.

Did you know couples are 30 percent less likely to get a divorce if they get some sort of premarital training? If you or someone you know is planning to marry, check out Focus on the Family's Ready to Wed curriculum, and then prepare for a marriage you'll love!

This article first appeared in the December 2014/January 2015 issue of Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine.
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