Do you remember when the preacher at a wedding used to say something like, “If there is anyone present who knows of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace”? This was almost always followed by several seconds of awkward silence. “Speak now or forever hold your peace” meant that if you didn’t say something, you accepted the new marriage and must never express your objections.
But instead of telling wedding guests to hold their tongues, we should encourage them to pledge their support to help keep the new marriage strong. Family and friends have an active role to play in the marriage, and their involvement doesn’t end when the wedding cake is cut.
Your role in their marriage
I’ve learned that living in community is essential to keeping a marriage strong, particularly when the marriage is being tested. The God of the universe created us to be in relationship — with Him and with others — so we were never meant to tackle the challenges of life and marriage alone. This is why we need to be intentional about regularly connecting with like-minded couples.
This community will involve both give and take. Spouses who share a healthy, vibrant relationship rely on their support system, but they also recognize that they have a responsibility to help other couples thrive.
Be a support for couples
Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” We all have a responsibility to help build a community of support and encouragement for marriage.
You can support other people in their marriages by praying for the relationship, baby-sitting their kids so they can have a date night or starting a small group to study marriage topics. You could also read a marriage book together or attend a conference with other couples.
Whatever you choose to do, try to be transparent — create a culture where it’s OK to talk about relationship struggles. Lend an ear when other couples face frustrations or hard times, and encourage them to get counseling before they reach a crisis point.
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the co-author of A Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.