Marriage Mentoring Tip: Hope is Key
I can vividly remember the first time my wife and I met with a small group of people going through the Connected Marriage materials. As I looked around the circle of chairs filled by 5 couples, I remember thinking that everyone looked really worn out. I remember that each couple had been prompted to attend our group for different reasons. There were two couples in which an affair had just been discovered, another had significant financial trouble, and the others reported that they had just fallen out of love with each other. The pain that everyone in the circle was in was obvious and my wife and I were, to say the least, a little overwhelmed.
Honestly, things didn’t improve much through our first meeting with our couples. We all worked our way through the choosing your bond questions and conversation topics. As we concluded our meeting I asked all of the couples to practice choosing to love practically. I asked them to think about how they could show love to their spouse and to do they’re very best to do that over the next week. I told them that I would be checking in on them throughout the week to see how things were going.
That week I called each of our couples. Obviously one week of choosing to be kind and respectful to each other was not going to fix the complicated situation each of these couples were in. However, what I did hear, from many of the couples, was a feeling of hope.
As couples work their way through Connected Marriage, their emotions can be turbulent. What I have found, with all of the couples that I have worked with, is that hope is the sustaining emotion. Hope is what gives couples the energy to keep moving forward. Hope is what fuels couples forward after they have been discouraged or frustrated.
Whenever possible, ask your couples to remember what gives them hope in their marriages and remind their couples of that hope when things get difficult.
Marriage Mentoring Tips:
- Ask what brings them hope. Is it hope for a happy relationship? What would be a practical step towards their goal that they could achieve?
- Practice appreciation. Ask couples to express what they appreciate about each other. This helps the couple to not just focus on what’s wrong, but also on what they love about each other.
- Reinforce positive change. Ask what went well over the last week. It helps the couple to focus on the progress they are making. This validates the effort each person in the relationship is making and creates hope.
I have been a volunteer with Connected Marriage for five years. I started as a mentee, seeking to repair my own marriage. Once my own marriage was on surer footing, I began working with couples myself. I have taught and shaped content, led small groups and also led couple-to-couple sessions. It is because of that experience that I decided to go back to graduate school and pursue my masters in marriage and family therapy.
I am excited to be able to share with other mentors what I have learned from all of my experience: being a mentee, a mentor and a therapist. I hope to be a resource for mentors that feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to do next with their couples. Being a marriage mentor is challenging, but can also be deeply rewarding.