Read an Excerpt
In this section you'll find several practical suggestions for mentoring any couple,
no matter their age or stage. Feel free to make these ideas your own by changing them in ways that may work best with your mentorees.
This little idea is a winner that works for every marriage mentoring relationship. And it's simple. Within the first thirty seconds of a meeting with your mentorees, say something encouraging to them. Give them an uplifting compliment.
This can be more challenging than you might think. Most of the time, upon meeting someone, we human beings focus on ourselves,
searching for ways to make ourselves look good. Out of habit, we ask the generic 'How are you doing?' Or, 'Tell me about your day.' That's fine, especially when it is genuinely focused on the mentoree couple,
but if you truly want to see the spirits of your mentoree couple soar, try this thirty-second rule. Deposit good words in them before you even get started. Once you begin to practice this regularly, you'll see it really doesn't take all that much effort.
Everyone feels better when you give them attention and affirmation.
So be sure to focus your attention, genuinely, on your mentorees right upfront. If you're distracted by something else at the beginning,
that sets the tone for your time together.
Next, go out of your way to affirm them. Say something like, 'You two always look so sharp,' 'I love the enthusiasm that exudes from you two,' or 'You guys have really been working hard, haven't you?'
If nothing else, you can always affirm your mentorees for being mentored:
'I'm so proud to be mentoring you two.'
In thirty seconds' time, you just might say some of the most uplifting words they've heard all day.
Early on in any marriage mentoring relationship it is imperative to discuss confidentiality. Your mentorees will be put at ease if you assure them of your confidence. After all, they will only share information to the level that they know you are not going to be blabbing it to others --- even strangers.
So take some time to explore this matter with them. Tell them flat out that the information that they share with you stays with you.
Assure them that you would never betray their trust and that you will protect the information they share.
And while you're on the subject, you also might talk about 'marital gossip.' This is the all-too-common scenario that evolves when one spouse begins to talk to a friend or relative about their marital issues. Is this always inappropriate? Of course not. But it can soon become harmful if it makes the other spouse feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
For example, if he doesn't want others to know he locked himself out of the car which in turn became the source of a marital spat, she should keep that information to herself. If she doesn't want others to know that she regularly loses her temper with the kids, he should keep that information to himself. But by expressing general frustration to a trusted, supportive friend in order to gain objectivity about a situation,
they are not unduly embarrassing their partner nor are they complaining about specific behavior.
You get the idea. It basically comes down to helping them see the difference between seeking support from somebody outside the relationship versus venting feelings by complaining. And venting is almost always unhealthy for a marriage and damaging to a couple's sense of loyalty to each other. In fact, you can let mentorees know that if either of them wants to vent, you --- as their marriage mentors --- are a safe place for doing just that, as long as both spouses are present. (If you do this one-on-one, it creates an unhealthy triangle in your relationship with your mentoree couple.)
Here's a final thought that may help curb marital gossip. Have your mentorees consider the remarkable energy that would be restored to their marriage if they 'gossiped' about good things instead of bad. If,
for example, a wife confided in a friend how sweet her husband was to clean up the kitchen. Or if a husband told his friend how generous his wife was in giving to the needy. This is another way of saying that if you want to curb marital gossip, you can't go wrong by becoming your partner's publicist. In short, urge them to gab about the good with other people and never betray one another's confidence.