The ink on my divorce papers dried a long time ago. Although I still carry around some guilt about it, I know I can do nothing now except love my big kids the best I can.
Some of the worst advice I ever received is “You only live once. You deserve to be happy.” It is true. You only live once (#YOLO) but let’s not use that as an excuse for poor behavior. Instead, use it as a springboard to living your best life and bring other people along with you through the peaks and valleys.
Unfortunately, I didn’t learn until it was too late that there are four types of people you need (or need to get rid of) to have a successful marriage.
Who Your Marriage Needs
1. Get a Mentor Couple
When Mr. B and I first started dating, he knew he was going to need some help. After all, he was a single-never-been-married guy about to marry a divorced-with-two-young-kids woman. He had no idea how to navigate that. He had an acquaintance, we will nickname him Elvis, he knew was in a similar situation.
Mr. B asked if he could sit down with Elvis and his wife to pick their brain about navigating this new territory. He gained a lot of insight we both have learned from. To this day, Elvis and his wife are still our go-to people when it comes to struggles in our marriage. They have become some of our best friends.
Like Mr. B, find a couple who is about 5 – 10 years ahead of you. You may be inclined to seek out the couple who has been married 50 plus years. Don’t get me wrong they have plenty of wisdom to help you but the couple who is 5 – 10 years ahead of you just navigated the road you are on and will remember it a little better. In addition, they will have used more up-to-date resources for navigating that road so their arsenal is a little more relevant. By all means, please talk to other couples who you feel have navigated life successfully together and you feel truly like each other and choose to love well every day.
Do NOT get family members to be your mentor couple. Most importantly, do NOT have your mentor couple be your parents. In fact, the only thing you should tell your parents are the positive things your spouse does. If your spouse wrongs you in any way, no matter how big or small, your family will remember it long after you and your spouse have made up. Inviting your family into your marriage is a BAD idea.
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2. Get a Couple to Mentor
After Sweet Firefly was born, Mr. B and I had a rude awakening to life with newborns. Sure, I had already dealt with it twice but we had never dealt with it together. And poor Sweet Firefly had reflux something fierce so not only was I up several times a night nursing, I was up several times a night cleaning projectile spit up and changing clothes and sheets! Needless to say, we were very unpleasant people to be around.
About 9 months into our journey, we were both exhausted and miserable. We weren’t on the verge of divorce (that’s never been an option) but we were struggling to find our connection to each other. I was calling Elvis’ wife (we shall call her Dara) frequently crying, complaining and even cussing about our situation. And even about Mr. B.
Dara suggested we join the marriage ministry at our church called Re|Engage. The Christ-centered curriculum and weekly group setting with assigned mentors/facilitators would be a great step before Christian marriage counseling. The facilitators were just couples that had strong foundations for their marriage and/or had been through the curriculum already so they were a great guide for others as well as a resource for the four other couples in our group. We took her suggestion and it changed our marriage (not after digging up some dirt and fighting through the hard stuff). Becoming facilitators during the next session helped us continue to work on our marriage since our preparation for each week including doing the assignments again.
We have since stepped away from facilitating because life with 5 kids gets a little hectic but we still tell our marriage testimony on occasion as a beacon of hope to other couples who are either fine-tuning or trying to restore their marriage.
Every time we tell our story, it is a reminder of how far we’ve come and why I originally fell in love with Mr. B. Finding a couple to mentor can do the same for your marriage.
Check to see if there is a church near you that has the Re|Engage ministry. Re|Engage may be just the thing you need to seek out a mentor couple and then move on to find a couple(s) to mentor.
Who Your Marriage Needs to Get Rid Of
3. Get Rid of Husband Bashers
In my experience, two types of people can wreak havoc on a marriage. You may not notice right away but spending time with these type of women can poison your marriage.
The first is the Husband Basher. This is the woman who takes any opportunity to talk trash about her husband – in front of him or behind his back. It is not difficult to spot them. You may see them sipping wine and cackling in the cul-de-sac and then shutting up when any husbands draw near. Come to think of it, that might even describe some moms just letting loose on a Friday night.
Anyhow, sometimes you learn a lot about someone just sitting back and listening. Be wary of women who say anything negative about their husbands but more so of women who spew downright insults about their husband.
4. Get Rid of Commiserators
One thing I love about Dara is that she’ll listen to me when I talk about struggles Mr. B and I may be having but she never tries to make him out to be a bad guy. Even if she agrees with me, she focuses on what I can do in the situation and not trying to control Mr. B. More importantly, when I’m the one who has messed up, she is quick to speak up about it.
She never sits there and engages in my venting. She doesn’t sit on the phone and agree that “he always does this” and “he never does that.”
Friends who are husband bashers and commiserators are not friends at all. Distance yourself from them a bit and to avoid the poison seeping into your thoughts and eventually your marriage.
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Finding these couples (and getting rid of these women) will not guarantee success in your marriage. It takes hard work every day. Make the next focus of what your marriage needs to be: (1) get rid of the people who are poisoning your marriage and (2) choose mentors who want to see your marriage succeed as much as (and on some days, more than) you do. After you do that, you are well on your way to a marriage with a strong foundation.