The strongest marriages are those that are lived in community.
My lovely wife and I are excited to be leading another marriage group at our church this fall, using a curriculum that we developed. The photo above is the bin full of His and Her binders for the 12-week study, ready to be given out this week.
I’ve lost track of how many times we have done this study, but each time has been unique due to the different marriages involved. I love how each couple brings their unique history, perspective, insights and yes, problems, to our group. We get real and share openly with each other, and we all learn from each other.
We always have a great deal of fun digging into what God has to say about marriage in His Word and applying it practically.
Marriage is Best Done in Community
In many ways, marriage is a very private affair. No one else can (or needs to) know the intimate depths of any other couple’s relationship.
Yet, I do believe that marriages benefit greatly when couples choose to place themselves in a community with other couples. And I’m not talking about men’s groups and women’s groups, which have their place. I’m talking about making a habit of engaging with other married couples as a couple.
The sad truth is that many, if not most, churches don’t have an official marriage ministry. But even if that is true in your church, there is nothing to stop you from getting together with other couples whose marriages you admire.
Finding Other Couples
Good, strong marriages are usually not that hard to spot. I’d suggest you start with couples in your church. Look around for couples who show honor to one another, who support one another. Watch for those who speak to each other with admiration and respect. Watch how they look at each other.
Trust me; you’ll be able to discern pretty quickly which marriages are filled with the kind of intimacy and passion you want and which ones are not.
Should you pick couples who are a little older and more experienced? Or should you get with others who are in a similar life stage to your own? There are good reasons to do both. It depends on what you hope to gain from the relationship. If you want more of a mentoring relationship, look for more seasoned marriages. If you want to develop long-term mutual friendships, look for couples near your own age.
Anything you do to build your marriage is a significant step forward.
Regardless of whether you join a regular marriage group or just get together with another couple or two once in a while, you’ll gain the most benefit by being honest about your marriage, the good and the not so good. This kind of vulnerability requires that you develop a certain level of trust, and that can take some time.
I would suggest that you, your spouse and your new couple-friends agree to a few ground rules before discussing the nitty gritty of your marriage:
- Agree with your spouse ahead of time about what is okay to talk about with others.
- Have a firm understanding of confidentiality. What is shared among you stays among you (again the requires trust).
- Invite the other couple(s) to speak into your marriage. They will be for more forthright if given formal permission to do so.
- Acknowledge that it is okay if you are not in agreement about everything, but agree to disagree respectfully and with honor.
Regardless of how you choose to go about it, be purposeful in seeking out a robust marriage-positive community in which to live out your marriage. You’ll be glad you did.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any advice to share with couples looking to grow their marriage in community? Does your church have a marriage ministry? What benefits have you seen in your marriage from rubbing shoulders with other married couples?
If you are interested in putting together a marriage small group among your community of friends, be sure to register at my Resources page. I’m planning on making our 12-week curriculum available for purchase in the near future. Those on my Resources mailing list will be the first to be notified when it is published and will also receive a special pre-launch discount offer.