What should a newlywed couple look for when looking for a mentor couple?
Is your newlywed boat rocking?
Or perhaps chugging at a much slower – and bumpier – pace than you would like?
Navigating to calmer shores if you started with a storm, is possible but requires a willingness to work.
My husband and I know know this full well, having weathered a few bumps as newlyweds.
Allow me to share a few things we learned in our early days.
Some couples give up rowing and end up stalling in the middle of a storm. But if you keep rowing, and although the journey is long, you will be rewarded for your effort.
Three things must be present for a newlywed couple to navigate those messy moments. Mentorship. Patience. Friendship.
Someone said, “People seldom improve when they had no other model but themselves to copy.” As spouses, we don’t change until we learn (and decide to do) better.
God sent mentors our way to help us navigate our newlywed season.
9 things I found out about mentors;
1. Mentors don’t replace God.
I made the mistake of putting our mentors ahead of God.
I wanted them to fix and righten the uncomfortable in our marriage, and I found myself getting frustrated when their counsel was hard to put to practice.
Instead of seeking God for ourselves, I wanted our mentors to show me everything. Eventually, I learned that the job of a mentor is (or should be) to direct a couple to God.
Mentors can translate a few things based on experience, offer how-tos and presence but a change of heart is Gods forte, and we should never ask or expect of mentors to do what only God can.
2. Mentors don’t read minds.
The best mentoring happens when the newlywed couple go out of their way not just to seek guidance but also to receive and implement it.
It happens when they work hard to get over their natural pride, fear or passivity, which tells them only to share a brushed-up version of their lives.
For a newlywed couple to be helped, both have, to be honest about their problems. Sharing your private travails is difficult, but protecting them is costlier.
3. Mentors don’t do the work for the newlywed couple.
You can sit and chat over coffee and glean amazing insights. But implementing the advice and getting the work done? That’s your job, not your mentor’s.
There was this time we sat down with our mentors, and after the meeting thought “we don’t believe that they understood us at all today. But it’s probably not their job to understand (and thereby instruct) all of our problems.”
It was revolutionary thought at that time, which eventually led me down the path of owning our marriage and beginning to work on it like it was dependent on me, not on our mentors.
4. Mentors ought to pray harder than they counsel.
I had no idea how much my mentors prayed until I started walking with newlywed wives.
And then I figured out that it’s not a mentors eloquence brilliance, experience or knowledge that helps a newlywed couple overcome challenges but the spirit of God working in the hearts of the couple.
A mentor is privileged with a first-row seat of a couple’s problems, not so they can spectate and offer human wisdom, but so they can intercede deeply.
Life changing marriage mentoring is bathed with more prayer than talk, more knee-sessions than coffee-sessions.
A mentor may not always be there to help with every bit of trial but as they keep praying, God is listening and prayer is the most important thing a newlywed couple needs.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
5. Mentoring does not always end the blame game.
When going through a stormy season, most newlywed spouses blame everyone and everything but themselves. A wife will imagine the husband needs a touch from heaven more than she does.
And while her perspective might be accurate, she nonetheless she has to ask herself a few questions too.
Like, who is unhappy now? Who needs joy? Who needs peace? Who needs to walk in faith and not fear? Who needs to love unconditionally? (unconditional love doesn’t mean without boundaries) Then that’s the person that needs to change. –
6. A husband might struggle with mentoring, at first.
Unlike women, men dislike putting their hearts out there. They don’t enjoy asking for direction. Or being corrected. This is particularly true if a husband is struggling.
I am not saying a man is right. But it does help a wife to understand why her husband doesn’t enjoy two hours of picking apart marriage issues with another man.
As his wife, you don’t have to insist that he likes it. Only desire that he commits anyway.
7. If you don’t have mentors, God is still enough
He was sufficient before you found your friends, he was enough before you found your husband and He will be enough when no one is around.
When my husband and I moved to the United States from Kenya six years ago, my biggest area of worry was our marriage. We were 3-years into marriage and enjoyed a very close relationship with our mentors.
With them gone, I worried for our marriage. I was concerned about finding other peer couples, a good church, a good place to life.
A few months of worry and God revealed my over-reliance on others; I seemed to need people more than I needed Him. Now I am so glad for the stripping.
You don’t have to move thousands of miles from your support systems to understand the place of God in marriage. You only need to let God be God and people be people.
Indeed, we should seek mentors, but if they are not to be found we are still without excuse; we can create a great marriage because we have the Author of marriage with us.
He will grow us, convict us, revive us and refresh us as we seek Him. Keep going to church, keep praying, keep reading the word, keep researching good marriage material, keep seeking relationships, keep doing your part and God will do His.
8. Great mentors are found within existing circle of relationships (e.g., from church)
Emptying your heart to a stranger can feel weird. Since mentoring is mostly informal and very hands-on (or life-on), it’s important to be comfortable in the relationship, to begin with.
And from experience (both as a mentor and mentee), people work hard to present their best sides; you can fool a stranger – someone without a lot of access and permission – but not a friend.
Consequently, the best time to develop marriage mentors is when you don’t need guidance. A newlywed couple should seek friendships with other couples, as part of their life.
Connect with people for who they are, not just for what they can do for you. And when you finally need help, you won’t have to look far.
9. Family might be biased.
Obviously, parents are excellent at their thing – being parents. Brothers and sisters and cousins and super close besties are good at their thing too – being family.
So don’t ask them to stop being themselves and provide unbiased guidance.
We keep our family out of our marriage details, because long after the trouble is gone and your spouse has changed, the record will still be playing in their head.
Join me next week as we talk about Patience and Friendship. (I meant to write a single post but turned out to be a longer post than I set out to write!)
So, let’s talk! Do you have marriage mentors? Anything else you can add? If you don’t have mentors, how are you growing and building your marriage? Lets talk in the comments!