Yes, you need a marriage mentor

Written by Angela Startz
Published on February 12, 2021

As the old saying goes, our children will learn what we live. 

As a child, I learned a keen sense of humor would keep me out of trouble. Sarcastic humor became an art form and my default response to conflict within my marriage. 

One day while I was babysitting my neighbor’s nine-year-old daughter (I’ll call her Sally), I asked my six-year-old son to complete one of his chores. His reply was laced with sarcasm, and he laughed as he disobediently sauntered away. 

Sally turned to me and said, “He only acts like that because he’s seen y’all treat each other that way.” 

Out of the mouths of babes. . . 

God’s purpose for marriage 

Families are one of God’s classrooms. It is where we learn about love, human behavior, the art of negotiation, and the appreciation for those who are different from us. It is where we learn our relational skills. 

The foundation of the family unit is the marriage. An unhealthy marriage creates an unhealthy environment in which children grow. To create healthy marriages, we must understand God’s purpose for marriage, his plan to cultivate it, and take practical steps toward making it our reality. 

God designed marriage to represent Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:32). In other words, marriage bears witness to the love, unity, and sacrifice that characterizes Jesus and the church to an unbelieving world. 

It is another example of how God uses the weak and foolish things to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:26–31), a perfect union of imperfect people to unveil the mystery. 

Is a marriage mentor necessary? 

Scripture directs wives to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord, and for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22, 25). 

I do not believe there is a person alive who instinctively knows how to do this. So, yes, I believe marriage mentors are necessary.

I would argue that people have unwitting marriage mentors—those people in whom they confide and seek advice. God encourages mentoring. Older men and women are instructed to train the younger generation. 

Older women are to “train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:3–5 ESV). 

Likewise, the older men are instructed to “urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech” (Titus 2:6–8). 

How to choose a marriage mentor

There are two critical considerations for choosing a marriage mentor. 

One, he/she must be objective. In other words, they must advocate for the marriage, not for one spouse. 

Two, both spouses must agree about the suitability of the mentor(s). Notice, I did not say a mentor needed to be married or that the spouses needed the same mentor. A mentor is a safe place to discuss marital challenges with someone who prioritizes the union’s health over a fleeting victory for a spouse. 

I do not advocate the use of a couple’s parents as mentors. It can hinder the leaving and cleaving (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31) that needs to occur to establish a healthy marriage. Additionally, they lack the objectivity required to support the marriage and not their child. 

I also caution against leaning on friends as mentors. They, too, lack objectivity, and the information disclosed can strain the friendship. 

Spouses must agree on who serves as a mentor. Understanding that sensitive topics can arise in the mentoring relationship, each person needs to be comfortable with whom this information is shared. In other words, do both spouses find the mentor trustworthy, of good character, likeminded, i.e., possessing a shared worldview, willing to prioritize the marriage, and unwilling to hold a grudge? 

Can mentoring improve parenting? 

Marriage mentoring improves communication, increases transparency, and fosters intimacy by strengthening the marriage bond or the “oneness” of a husband and wife. When spouses experience total acceptance and support from one another, every area of their life together is improved—parenting included. 

Their children have a vibrant, stable, supportive environment in which to thrive. They benefit not only from their parents teaching them God’s Word but also see it lived out before them. These children learn how to live authentically, love deeply, and forgive quickly.

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Angela Startz

Angela W. Startz is a radically transformed woman. Turning away from loving and serving herself, she now lives to love Jesus and serve him through helping others. Angela is a relationship coach with Called2Rise LLC. She has extensive training in increasing intimacy (Into-Me-See) in couples with past trauma and infidelity, and coaching premarital couples, and couples facing life transitions.

Read more about Angela

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