Friends are part of one’s life journey. It is quite unlikely for anyone to go through life – from nursery to corporate boardroom – without making friends along the way.
Marriage brings two individuals together for an exciting journey ahead. Along this long journey, there could be times when help or sharing is needed, and friends could possibly play an important role to help strengthen your marriage. Sandy and Mike for example, knew each other for two years before they were married. The initial period of staying together was a little challenging but friends helped them to understand that such challenges could be managed and overcome over time.
Many marriages can benefit from more than an occasional chat over coffee with another couple. Ben & Dinah Lee, master marriage mentor trainers from Focus on the Family Singapore share their views on marriage mentoring, especially for couples who are in their first few years of marriage.
When the couple is going through a bad patch in their marriage, the sense of loneliness and helplessness can be very intense. It is not uncommon for the psychological condition of isolation to set in when couples feel that their problems are unique and are left to their own devices to deal with them. Without proper management and guidance, couples can easily be led to believe that it’s a make-or-break situation.
Marriages which end up in a divorce are often young marriages of less than five years, as couples tend to face challenges adjusting to married life in the first few years. The first year is a season of great change for some couples – from post-honeymoon blues, to a sense of loss of self, to the decline of ‘loving-feeling’ chemicals in our body. As with all huge changes, experimentation and adjustment help one emerge wiser and stronger – couples need to process what they experience and test their responses. This is when having friends with a few years of marriage experience could help couples tide over this challenging period.
In a study conducted by Life Resources of New Zealand, nearly 91% of premarital participants indicated that interacting with their mentor couple provided them with a more realistic view of marriage and fostered their relating to each other in more positive ways. Approximately 80% of the premarital participants reported that their mentor couple effectively modeled how to resolve relational conflicts and helped them identify issues they had not previously discussed.
Ben and Dinah suggest that couples can also look for less structured set ups by seeking out mentors at their places of worship or from among friends and relatives.
Older friends and relatives can help newly-weds navigate different areas of their marriage including:
- dealing with finances
- management of household chores
- sexual intimacy
- dealing with in-laws
- effective communication
- coping with conflicts, and of course,
- when and how many children to have
Marriage mentors can guide a young couple through these issues by taking on the roles of sounding boards, being role models and a beacon of hope.
Family Life Mentoring
When it comes to having and raising children, differences between a couple can arise as a result of diverse family backgrounds and upbringing. If not managed appropriately, the conflicts could overshadow the joy of parenting and even threaten to derail a marriage. Mentors could at this time come in to calm raw nerves and offer guidance to couples in managing differences and achieve win-win solutions. As life coaches, mentors could infuse a team spirit into a couple relationship, so that divisive challenges are overcome with a collective effort..
Successful and enjoyable parenting involves a couple learning to work as a team. It does not come easy, but with the wisdom of someone older to share simple tips and reminders, couples would be able to better adjust their expectations and set clearer boundaries for their children.
For couples who are keen to learn more about the value of marriage enrichment and apply simple skills in their marriage life, you can refer to the following website for Love Notes http://www.marriagecentral.sg/IdeasForLove/LOVENotes/tabid/256/Default.aspx, which is a fun and interactive course for couples getting married or in their first two years of marriage to build a strong foundation for their relationship.
I Love Children thanks Focus on the Family Singapore for their valuable input for this article.