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Author Biography: Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are codirectors of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships. Les Parrott is a professor of clinical psychology at SPU, and Leslie is a marriage and family therapist at SPU. The Parrotts are authors of the Gold Medallion Award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Becoming Soul Mates, Love Is, Relationships, and When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages. They have been featured on Oprah, CBS This Morning, CNN, and The View, and in USA Today and the New York Times. They are also frequent guest speakers and have written for a variety of magazines. The Parrotts serve as marriage ambassadors for the Oklahoma governor's ten-year Marriage Initiative. They live in Seattle, Washington, with their two sons.
Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are codirectors of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University (SPU), a groundbreaking program dedicated to teaching the basics of good relationships. Les Parrott is a professor of clinical psychology at SPU, and Leslie is a marriage and family therapist at SPU. The Parrotts are authors of theGold Medallion Award-winning Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, Becoming Soul Mates, Love Is, Relationships, and When Bad Things Happen to Good Marriages. They have been featured on Oprah, CBS This Morning, CNN, and The View, and in USA Today and the New York Times. They are also frequent guest speakers and have written for a variety of magazines. The Parrotts serve as marriage ambassadors for the Oklahoma governor's ten-year Marriage Initiative. They live in Seattle, Washington, with their two sons.
Read an Excerpt
MARRIAGE MENTORING: A SLEEPING GIANT
The "till death do us part" of the marriage vow rings increasingly hollow. We've all heard the startling statistics saying fifty percent or more of today's marriages will not survive. Two hundred thousand new marriages each year end prior to the couples' second anniversary. The numbers can be massaged and debated, but most marriage experts agree that divorce is epidemic in our society. For too many of today's new couples, marriage has become "till divorce do us part."
Equally as startling as the predictions and statistics, however, is the fact that less than a fifth of all marriages in America are preceded by some kind of formal marriage preparation. And since three out of four U.S. marriages are blessed by a member of the clergy, author and columnist Michael McManus has come to call churches "blessing machines" that miss out on a huge opportunity to prepare couples for lifelong love. He makes a good point. The truth is that most engaged couples prepare more for their wedding than they do for their marriage.
A Tale of Two Churches
Consider two different churches. Church "A" has a straightforward, highly structured premarriage counseling program securely in place. Qualified counselors meet with every engaged couple planning to be married. A timetable is established, appointments are scheduled, and the engaged couples are put through a rigorous set of exercises involving objective assessments and skill-building exercises.
In church "B" the marriage preparation is almost perfunctory. The focus of the two or three sessions is mostly on preparing for the wedding ceremony (e.g., "Will you be having a unity candle?") rather than the marriage. Due to a lack of time or training, the minister in this church has not yet discovered the value of equipping new couples with modern-day tools for making love last a lifetime.
Take a moment to rate where your church's ministry to engaged couples falls on the continuum between church A and church B:
Church B Church A - Minimal Marriage Preparation - Exceptional Marriage Preparation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Whether your ministry fits into one of these extreme categories or is somewhere in between, you can use marriage mentoring to strengthen marriages--old and young--throughout your entire congregation. Without a great deal of effort, you can set the wheels in motion for tremendous ministry to couples that, once begun, nearly runs itself.
In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he says the job of a pastor is "to prepare God's people for works of service" (4: 12). And we know of few other works of service that could be of more value in this age than marriage mentoring. We believe it is a sleeping giant within the church--ready to rise and offer immeasurable hope and help to the next generation of married couples. As a minister or counselor, you can play a significant role in waking the giant of marriage mentoring in your own sphere of influence.
This Leader's Guide is designed to help you do just that. It will show you how to recruit, screen, and train marriage mentors in your local church. Along with the Participant's Guide and the accompanying video segments, you will introduce a team of committed, seasoned couples to the fine art of marriage mentoring. You will help them assess their personal qualities as a mentor couple and provide them with the tools they will need to be effective.
By the way, marriage mentoring has a boomerang effect. Older couples who mentor almost always find it an enriching experience for their own marriage and can't wait for another new couple to mentor.
Putting the Odds in a New Couple's Favor
Oddsmakers say the chances are five in ten that a marriage will end in divorce. If one or both partners are still teenagers, they say, the odds for divorce are even higher. If either partner witnessed an unhappy marriage at home, the odds increase again. If one or both partners come from broken homes, the odds rise yet higher. If either partner has been divorced, the odds soar. If there has been regular sexual involvement before marriage, or if either or both partners abuse alcohol or drugs, the odds skyrocket.
Regardless of contemporary couples' "odds," counselors, ministers, and mentors can do much to help couples beat them. Our prayer is that, despite the daunting statistics, a new generation of couples will go back to "square one" and learn the rudiments of lifelong marriage all over again. With the help of a national network of marriage mentors it can be done.
If you would like to receive information about receiving a newsletter for marriage mentors, send us a note. Write to Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott, Center for Relationship Development, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA 98119.
Should You Mentor Before or After the Wedding?
This curriculum is flexible. It is designed for you to integrate it into your particular ministry with your unique personality. It is also designed for you to use it in a way that will meet the biggest need in your outreach to couples.
Mentoring After the Wedding
If you have a rigorous premarriage program already established in your church--one that requires a set number of counseling sessions, an objective assessment of the engaged couple's strengths and areas for growth (such as PREPARE), communication exercises, training in conflict resolution, and so on--you will most likely find the real benefit of marriage mentoring to take place after the wedding, during the couple's first married year.
No matter how much premarriage counseling a couple has received, and no matter how well they are prepared for real-life marriage, something takes place after a -couple crosses the proverbial threshold. There is no more planning and preparing; marriage, the real thing, is here. And it is often not all the couple thought it would be. Just as the photos on a vacation brochure depict a setting in its most spectacular light, so the images of marriage before the wedding lose their luster for many newly married couples.
Table of Contents
|Marriage Mentoring: A Sleeping Giant||17|
|Session 1||What Marriage Mentoring Is and Isn't||28|
|Session 2||Are You Fit to Be a Marriage Mentor?||46|
|Session 3||A Toolbox for Marriage Mentors||60|
|Session 4||Questions Engaged and Newlywed Couples Ask||76|
|Session 5||The First Mentor Meeting with Your Couple||92|
|Summary of Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts|
|Resources for Marriage Mentors|
|Dyadic Adjustment Scale|
|Potential Mentor Response Form|
|Marriage Mentor Meeting Report Form|
|Marriage Mentor Final Feedback Form|