We’ve heard lots of advice when we were preparing for marriage. Some of it was good, and some of it was just plain distasteful. One of the best pieces of advice that we both received at the exact same time in different places is “You need to join a couples small group.”
One of the girls that I’ve watched grow up in the church told her mother that I had just gotten engaged. Her parents had a small group for couples who were engaged and married up to five years (newlyweds). From the other side of the Atrium, her mother called me and invited me to her group. I instantly wanted to sign up, but I needed to get permission from my then fiance first.
My husband was in Florida, helping his grandfather who was terminally ill. He visited his aunt’s church that Sunday. While I was being invited to join her Bible study in New York, a woman that I had never met was praying over my husband, encouraging him to join a small group with couples so that we could learn from each other. When I called him about the small group, he knew it was a complete confirmation.
We have been in the group for almost two years now, and it has been nothing short of a blessing. We have a safe place where we can be real about our struggles and we can hear the struggles of others so we know that we are not alone. When we see each other at church, we ask each other how we’re doing and we truly feel encouraged by each other’s company. They don’t just throw advice our way; they talk to us and ask us specifically how they can pray for us (which is what newlywed couples need most). We also go over a Bible study each year to help us center our marriages around God.
We have other couple friends who are not in our Bible study, but we see them at church and are involved in ministry with us. We have taken a front-row seat into their marriage to see how all this theological stuff on marriage is played out in everyday life. We have watched them interact with each other, go through the process of raising kids, engage with in-laws and relatives and friends. All the while, they provide us advice and encouragement as well. It is such a blessing to have them in our lives.
When we got married, we wouldn’t have known what to expect if it wasn’t for these people in our lives. We wouldn’t have been aware of the conflicts that would arise or the feelings we would encounter or the struggles we would face in our first year of marriage. The couples who have blazed the trail before us were able to give us an inside look into their stories so that we could learn from them. We are so thankful to have friends and family who are married and can simply share their lives with us.
Do you have that sort of accountability?
Find a couple in your church or in your family that is a good example of marriage to you. Whether it’s your parents, your aunt/uncle, your cousins, your older siblings, small group leaders, or a well-respected couple in the church, you can simply start off the conversation by asking them about their marriage. Pray that you can be real with them as they are real with you. Then, learn from them. Sit at their feet and see what it’s like to be married. May they be people who give you an inside look into their marriage so that you will be prepared. You will learn so much from their wisdom and experience. What you learn will encourage you in your struggles and your successes as a couple.