Mentoring Young Couples Webinar
Relationships with older, more experienced couples can be extremely helpful for young couples in the early stages of marriage. In this webinar, Kaleb Beyer walks through the mindset, approach, skills, and resources needed to mentor and disciple young couples in the Church. Learn more as you watch the webinar recording.
Building Up Marriages– resource community
Discipleship: Three Keys to Encourage Young Couples
Discipling younger couples provides an opportunity to be intimately involved in how God is at work in the lives of others. This is a place of privilege and opportunity and also a place that can encourage others by providing true help, hope, and growth. This new article walks through three keys to consider as you step into the opportunity of discipling marriages. Learn more as you read this recent article.
This mentoring guide is a series of twelve discussion aids through key topics of the marriage relationship. It is an excellent resource to use for guiding conversations with individual couples or in a small group setting. Copies are available for purchase at the ACCFS office or through the author’s website here. [dredgray]
The Mentor Guide
This website offers a wealth of information for addressing family-related issues in the lives of people you mentor. The guide is organized by topics and each topic includes key Scriptures, conversation starters, and helpful resources. [Family Life]
Marriage Discussion Aids
These discussion aids are intended to build conversation around common, core issues for couples. They are designed to be used in a small group setting as a way to seek truth, provide understand and draw couples closer together.
Welcome again to our webinar on mentoring young couples, and as I said before, I’m joined by Kaleb Beyer, who is our marriage and family therapist. My name is Arlan Miller. I’m here at the agency as well. And we are looking forward to this topic, Kaleb. And with your background supporting marriages, encouraging marriages, I’m guessing the idea of encouraging proactive mentoring and relationships in this area is something that’s high on your list of priorities. Is that fair to say?
Absolutely. Yeah. When couples come and they wanna work on their relationship in the sense of more in a proactive way and being able to grow and seek enrichment, I love that. I’m all about that.
And we wanna do what we can to just encourage and support that. And I think that it calls out something here just at the beginning, you know, cuz you might be coming into this from a couple of different places. There is a proactive element of mentoring and discipling and encouraging young couples. And then sometimes that goes to a place where it’s more reactive based upon a problem and that different lens I think is helpful just to have in mind. Sometimes we’ll be talking about a very proactive approach, just encouragement and maintaining. And other times it might bridge into something where, okay, this is a more problem specific type environment that we have to get into.
And Kaleb, at some point, and you can speak to that briefly if you want to, but at some point, I mean, then maybe one of the appropriate things for a mentor is to say, hey, I need extra help in this, which is where the counseling place would come. Is that correct to say?
Certainly. So the mentoring like you’re saying, of proactive and just living life together and being able to disciple, and then there are times that issues come up, whether it’s, betrayals, whether it’s, mental health issues, or maybe it’s just finding that they’re not able to work through conflict in a healthy way, or trauma, for example. There’s things that can come along where we would encourage moving into professional counseling to be able to walk through that in a way that leads healing, but it’s not an either or. I would say it’s a both and, Arlan.
The majority of the situations that we’re gonna talk about today, this is from the proactive side, right? And this is how do we build healthy relationships, mentoring type relationships, discipling type relationships just to encourage health and strength. And so as we walk into the content today, we’ve really got three elements we’re gonna focus on. A mindset. How do we frame up our mindset, how do we approach it? And we got three different models that we’ll walk through with you, different ways to actually get into mentoring and encouragement. And then the support side. What are some specific skills or resources that we have found helpful to encourage that? But lay the groundwork. You’ve called out a couple of verses here on the next slide here, Kaleb. Lay the groundwork of what is the value and the importance of just thinking about marriages and working together in an environment to support health and strength.
This first verse here in I Peter 4:10, I’ll just read it and then we can reflect on it together. As every man hath received the gift or a gift, each one of us, by the grace of God have been gifted. He’s gifted the body. The different members have giftings even so as we’ve received even so minister, the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. And so as a community and a body we’re called into this and that is to minister, to serve.
And certainly this would be under that umbrella, Arlan, of ministering and serving others, young couples, in this case, through the grace which we’ve received, and that is of the many graces of which God grants. And so seeing it as a calling and an opportunity to serve is, I think, important as we step into this space.
And then the second verse is just about throughout Scripture, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, we see that God uses certainly the marriage is a reflection of His relationship, whether it’s with His people of Israel in the Old Testament, or with Christ and the Church in the New Testament.
And I love the fact that this verse brings out, for as a young man marryeth a virgin, so shall my Son marry thee. And as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee. I think, those of us who have married, have either walked down the aisle or watched our bride walk down the aisle or been at a wedding where that happens.
And when I think about this as far as mentoring young couples, Arlan, it’s yes, God has rescued us, He saved us. There’s a restoration, there’s reconciliation, all of these pieces and He delights in us. And so how can we cultivate, as we’re mentoring young couples? That’s just a hopeful thing that we’re cultivating an environment where they are delighting in each other. They’re enjoying, appreciating as God delights in each one of us.
I love that frame up and a couple of reasons, Kaleb, the first off, I mean, it speaks to this is a spiritual calling is what you shared there, but it’s a spiritual calling that God equips us to or gives the grace to do it. Because there will be times, I’m assuming, when we enter into these places and we feel like we don’t really know what we’re doing or why me, or what do I have to offer? I think it’s that healthy place to push us back and say, no, we’re gonna take advantage of the grace which God gives us, and be willing to step into this place that’s half the battle, if not more of it, I think at that point.
And then you talk to the beauty of what marriage is. You know, sometimes we frame it up this way. We talk about how healthy marriages will lead towards a healthy church, which leads towards a healthy mission. And that idea that healthy marriages at the foundation are at the base level it’s worth investing in and it’s worth spending time in because it’s near to the heart of God and it reflects the inner trickles down through the rest of the church and the mission that’s there.
Let’s walk into then just this idea of mindset. Okay. We got a couple of different slides here on mindset, and you speak here, Kaleb, you speak of being relationship focused. What do you mean by that? How do we start to get our minds wrapped around to this calling that we’ve been given? And how do I begin to engage in it with the right expectations and frame of mind.
So, it’s not just about, and maybe more importantly, continuing to remind ourselves that it’s about the relationship that we have with this couple, and monitoring that relationship. So, both Arlan, I think the relationship that as mentor couples, that we have with the mentee couple. But I would also say this goes for the mentor couple relationship, how is our relationship? Because certainly as we meet with those that we mentor, we’re reflecting something in the room or the living room or wherever we’re meeting with them in the way that we interact together, and that’s communicating something to them, whether we’re affirmative of our spouse in the presence of the couple that’s being mentored, whether we interrupt. All of those are communicating something even if we don’t explicitly say it. So both relational intimacy for the mentor couple, but also between the mentor couple and the mentee couple.
And, so some of these questions or things that you can ask or check in with are really to monitor how is our relationship? What does it look like? You know, does this couple feel understood by me, by us? If not, why? Let’s talk about that, because that’s critical. If we are seeking to help them and support them, that they feel understood in the relationship. The second one is about safety. They feel like they can share and be open and be vulnerable. And we don’t do things that block that or make it where they don’t feel safe or comfortable to share.
And I think there’s probably another aspect here too, where sometimes, especially if it gets to more of a problem type place, you can view any mentor relationship, you can view as kind of a project, or we are going to fix someone, we are engaged because of x and once x goes away we don’t have to be engaged anymore. And I think the reality is what you’re trying to paint here, if I’m hearing you correctly, is this idea that this is about relationship and engagement with each other that transcends just a problem focus. How do we walk together, journey together, and encourage each other in our marriage relationships?
Yep. I’m mindful. Because I don’t think there’s ever been when you start to engage with a couple, and Katie and I have done this on a few different occasions, the mirror comes back on you pretty quickly. You’re asking questions and you’re reflecting and you’re saying, okay, well how are we doing at communicating, and how are we doing at conflict resolution and navigating some of these things. I appreciate what you shared there, because the power of modeling as we model behavior, not that we have to be perfect. In fact, sometimes working through differences in a non-perfect manner is just as important if not more important. But the modeling is a key aspect of this whole relationship.
And I think you hit on a key point there, Arlan, and that is this mentorship is not about imparting solutions to problems. There will be some of that, but there is that doing life, engaging life together, which also includes as mentor couples that there is appropriate kind of disclosure of things that we wrestle with that there’s not a couple out there that has it all figured out. And I think appropriate vulnerability by the mentor couple opens up space for also the couple that’s being mentored to be able to share some of the struggles or some of the things that they may have.
So that there is an element of self-disclosure that is probably okay. I mean it could probably be overdone and almost flip the model. So it’s too much about your relationship and not enough about the other person, but as a relatability, bringing in elements of self-disclosure or sharing how you walk through something. Not that it has to be prescriptive, you have to do it the way we did it. But, let me relate to you in this level. How do you use self disclosure in a setting like this?
Well, so it can be on things that you’ve found yourself stumbling with related to communication early on in your marriage and things that you learned from that. So I think the self-disclosure is being able to say and share areas that you’ve struggled in the past or you’re currently struggling, you’re still working on and you don’t have to be specific necessarily. And again, there’s some self-disclosure we would say, okay, that’s not appropriate, right? It’s behind certain areas of your relationship you would not self-disclose. But being able to be honest and open that this has been a struggle for us and we continue have to be mindful in this area of gender differences, for example. And you can talk about maybe some specifics there, but I think it just gives space for them to be open about those areas as well.
Vulnerability comes as you model vulnerability appropriately. That’s healthy. That’s helpful. What about the middle point there, Kaleb? You talk about monitoring your feelings towards both spouses. Speak into that a little bit. How do you navigate that where you’ve got multiple people in the room there and how do you make sure you’re not maybe showing favoritism towards one or the other?
Well, I think we need to acknowledge that at times we probably do show, perhaps not, but I think that happens. And partly maybe just because we have similar personalities or we really get the way that they move within the relationship, and so there’s a sense of, oh, I really understand them and I think this point is really about us monitoring. If I’m starting to have negative feelings towards one of the spouses, it’s going to come out as I meet with them, I will be more reactive, I’ll be less open. And all of those influence back to the first point, relational intimacy. And so, I think this is something healthy that you can talk about as a mentor couple.
How you feel like you understand wife, husband, how do you feel like the relationship is with them? And so the two of you can talk through, but I think it’s just important that we address that sooner rather than later because it likely will come out in interactions at some point if we’re seeing ourselves starting to align or connect. And this is probably more so when issues start coming out.
When it becomes that temptation to wanna take sides or they’re right, or they’re wrong or whatnot. Having that in our mindset to say, okay, watch the favoritism. Watch the partiality. And being able to walk that through and be aware that is something we can fall into.
Let’s go on to that last phrase and then move on past that. But this is just a simple phrase. The phrase we use in mentoring circles quite a bit. This idea of connecting and knowing and caring. You have to connect with someone and then seek to know about them. Just have that knowledge level and grow in a curiosity of knowing more to understand the story and what’s going on there before you can really care about them. I think sometimes we, at least I, can jump to the caring piece or just thinking, I’m gonna just engage without taking the work of connecting with them and spending time getting to know what’s going on there. I can jump to conclusions or make assumptions.
And so that simple model of let’s focus on connection, which is really what you were talking about here with relationships, focus on the connecting as a relationship. Put these into, with this couple in front of us and seeking to know and learn more about them, that allows us to more effectively care for them and meet what’s needs in front of them.
The next aspect of mindset though, I think comes in just, okay, so that’s maybe being proactive with the relationship and the caring and thinking about that. Now here we talk a little bit more about the limits that we may have or just the overall attitude we need to have. And so speak to this idea of defining what you are and what you are not responsible for. That’s probably a critical mentoring skill no matter what type of mentoring relationship you’re in.
So our heart and our desire when we meet with couples is that they grow, that they develop deeper intimacy, that they grow in more deeply knowing each other and understanding each other. But it’s also true that our role is not to make that happen. There’s actually a note on my desk to remind myself you’re responsible for the process, not the outcomes. Like what happens and through that is I have limited control over, and it’s not my role to fix them. It is my responsibility for the process, meaning being intentional about getting together, being intentional of us coming as we’re meeting there, that we’re present, not distracted and not stressed. But if I take on responsibility to fix their issues rather than guiding them and supporting them through them, then I’m not in a helpful place to be alongside them to support them.
It’s almost like the focus has shifted from them to you actually in some ways. Like, how am I doing something here. And your middle point there, the Word and the Holy Spirit bring the change. God might use us. That goes back to that Peter verse about being instruments of the grace or just using the grace that God has given. But I can see that’s a huge important mindset to have framed up before we enter into any type of helping relationship.
Sometimes we get pulled in to the kind of refereeing between situations and it’s not ours. It’s about helping and supporting the two of them to be able to find ways to work it out in a healthy way.
What about these three statements that you have? Relentless empathy, bold affirmation, validation, and patient persistent presence. Speak to those just a little bit, how they can be helpful as an attitude mindset for us.
So as we think about just being present and engaged and responsive to couples that we meet with, these can be helpful mindsets to take on. Relentless meaning you are relentless in seeking to empathize with and connect with the couple, both the husband and the wife. And so, relentless meaning ongoing you don’t let up, in other words. In that bold affirmation and validation is just affirming. Some of us are better at this, than others. And so we have to remember that you affirm what you see happening that they’re doing because all of us know relationships take work and the results aren’t overnight. And so, being able to affirm, but also validate. Validate is about making space for and it makes sense that this is really frustrating or hard or ways that we can really bring that into meeting with them. And then patient. The last one there, patient persistent presence is about being persistently with them. And in the process that we’re patient. Again, this takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
I love those frame ups though. So you’re speaking to the empathy that we have to have, you’re speaking to that affirmation because often I think there’s almost an element of coaching that happens in a mentoring relationship. I sometimes like to visualize our opportunity to coach someone and encourage them and too quickly, I think at least I can focus on the negative and not affirm the positive. So I have to push myself into that. And then that patient persistent presence, it’s a continual ongoing type thing.
Okay. So we’ve framed up our mindset. We’ve spoken to this idea of relationship focus. We clearly understand our limits, what’s in our control, what’s out of our control, and trying to have the right attitude going into it. So how, Kaleb, what are some ways to actually start to encourage younger couples and engage with them. And you’ve got three approaches here. Each one has a little bit of a different bent to it. But I want you to speak to this first one. We’ve got a triangle here of different aspects. And how are we to read this and how are we to use this when we think about mentoring?
So this triangle has four different levels, as you can see there on the base level, individual emotional, spiritual, health. And then as you move up communication skills, healthy conflict resolution skills and then intimacy and certainly our heart. And I think those of which we couple with come in at different places, perhaps on this triangle wanting to work on communication skills or wanting to build intimacy.
So in some ways it can be instructive in the sense of where this couple is at. But I think the other thing, maybe more importantly, is to recognize when a couple comes and they wanna work on, for example, healthy conflict skills, that there are building blocks for that to happen. And sometimes we just take that for granted. We go right into, hey, let’s build healthy conflict skills. But the reality is, which in some sense can be helpful to normalize. Just the difficulty in working through conflict, that there’s also some building blocks of individually being able to have self-awareness and being able to regulate in a healthy way my emotions and having a sense of spiritual maturity and humility that is also part of healthy conflict skills and they’re not separate from. And so seeing this as both. Okay. We can’t go into intimacy without having building blocks underneath that. And by the way, how we communicate with each other is reflective or informed by our individual emotional and spiritual.
So it’s diagnostic in some ways. I mean, you’ve got a diagnostic piece that says, okay, well there’s conflict going on there. There’s levels of conflict, or the communication isn’t as strong. And you could say maybe, okay, so what’s the foundation that’s not there? And do we need to go back and talk about individual emotional and spiritual health? But then it’s also a teaching. This could be used as a teaching tool to say, you realize you wanna go right up there to intimacy and have good intimacy. Well, there’s things that have to happen first before you get to that level. You can’t start at the top and work down. You start at the bottom and work your way on up. So there would be some teaching that would go along with this as well.
And I’m guessing, couples, there’s like one spouse could be at one level and another spouse could be at another level, right? So like, this could almost be viewed like an individual, like how is the man in this situation doing with their individual emotional health? And how is the woman in this situation at the same time. So you kind of view it individually, not just as a relationship all the time. Is that accurate to say?
Yeah, and, I just think of small example, but it applies here. Like when I tend to get stressed. If I’m not managing my stress in a healthy way, it affects the way that I communicate with Ang. And it’s in a detrimental way. I’m not as present. You too. Yeah. Just for example. Okay. Just for throwing it out there. So I think it’s to that point, Arlan, it’s how we are stewarding our own walk with the Lord, our own emotional wellbeing directly affects how we engage in conversation with our spouse as well as walk through conflict. And so we can see that in small and in big ways sometimes.
Yeah. But each of these factors matters and they build on each other. Yeah. And that’s the helpful piece. I think that one of the helpful pieces is just to realize you can’t start at the top. You’ve gotta work your way up there. And it’s okay that we’re spending time on these important building blocks.
And I think in some ways, if you think about it, it’s validating when we just struggle with intimacy sometimes it’s like a little more complex than sometimes we like to say it is. I mean, we get there and this isn’t like, okay, we move up and then we just stay up there. This is not, it’s continual. But I think, sometimes this can be a real struggle and to say it’s a real struggle because there’s a number of other things that are going on they’re important for us to consider.
And then within each of these there would be things to talk about or model or just reflect on. And we can get into that a little bit later on, maybe some of the specific resources and whatnot. Let’s go to another model here. So here’s a separate model. Okay? This is the triangle model of marriage. I’ve seen this before in different settings. And it pulls out the different aspects of love. Commitments on the bottom is a foundation, emotional intimacy that is there on your left has different components to that. And then you have the passion or the romantic sexual love there on the right. So how do you use this as you think about marriages, like you’re working with a couple fairly newly married and you’re navigating through trying to figure out where do you go, how can this model or way of thinking be helpful?
So, it’s a fairly straightforward and basic model, and so we can use it in a couple ways. One is just to facilitate dialogue. The whole concept is we say love, but it can have different meanings to different people. And so even the conversation when you think about love, what are some other descriptors or things that you would use to explain love? And then, what you can also do is ask the couple, thinking about this triangle, how would you scale each of these areas as far as how you feel like you’re doing? Yeah, like a one to 10. Where would you put like a one to 10? If 10, we’re doing the best we do. And 1 like, oh wow, this is really a struggle. Where would you put your relationship in the area of emotional intimacy or in passion?
And, so that’s a helpful way to get into, okay, so help me understand. You scale this as at a six. And so with that, obviously they’re at a six, they’re not at a three, so that’s positive. But you want to also move them to a 10. And so being able to just talk with them about, so what helps, in other words, what’s emotional intimacy to you? And when does that happen in your relationship? Can you share some examples with me and you’re just starting to facilitate dialogue about their relationship, about what’s coming up, and you’re gathering information, you’re connecting with them. That gives you a sense of where they’re at.
Because you would have a scenario, I imagine, where one spouse would be maybe at a six and one spouse would maybe be at a three. And so then that disconnect between the two, that’d be a great line of question and saying, so why don’t you feel emotionally intimate? Or, what does that mean? And, that awareness piece. I mean, part of marriage growth and marriage mentoring is helping couples grow in knowledge of each other. And, so I think that discussion and that dialogue can be really, really helpful. It doesn’t have to be, it can be formal, this is a little bit of a formal analysis, but I think just the discussion it could lead to will help grow in understanding the knowledge, which is really helpful and facilitating.
I mean, some of this may be facilitating just conversation between them as a couple. And, not us being the ones that are talking or speaking to, but we just start stepping in, asking questions and then let them kind of talk through things.
And I’m guessing an equal triangle is kind of the goal here, right? Where each side is represented. You don’t want just one, like commitment, being the only thing or passion being the only thing, you wanna have that every side represented in a healthy way.
And, we all also acknowledge, as I’m sure you would too, Arlan, there’s just phases of life and things, although we’re talking about young couples here. So, that, but I was gonna say that it looks different that it what emotional intimacy takes ahead or passion takes ahead and that’s part of transition and life circumstances that.
I mean, when children come along and that transition comes along, there’s a whole new level of knowledge and understanding that you have an opportunity to help facilitate conversation around. One of the questions that some people added as they registered, which is always so helpful cause it helps us think about the content. And one of them was talking about just the idea of transitioning someone from engagement to newlyweds, and I guess I’ll speak from my experience when I’ve done that before and worked with a premarital couple and then watched them go into marriage, this model has been very helpful for me. Because I’ll see where maybe they’re coming from. Some start at that very high commitment level. They feel called into this and they have a strong commitment level.
And then the opportunity is to teach and encourage towards emotional intimacy, to spend time together and get to know each other and grow in the friendship aspect of it. And others might come in with a very strong romantic attachment already. And then you’ve gotta realize that’s gonna ebb and flow a little bit and let’s talk about the emotional intimacy, or let’s make sure the commitment piece is shored up. It can just be a little bit of a helpful analysis in that regard.
Yep, for sure. One more model here and then we’ll walk into some specific resources. So, you’ve got this model of interaction patterns and there’s a few things here that I’m gonna just pop onto the screen. As far as the boxes, and I’ll let you speak to the whole thing here, as you talk this through. So how is this a little bit more complicated here? Help us understand it and how can this help us as we start thinking about couples here?
Yeah. So maybe we’ll explain it and then talk through how it can be helpful. So here, this kind of figure eight, if you will, is a couple. So you have one. You’ve probably heard the term of a pursuer. Let’s just say that’s the wife and the withdrawer is the husband. That’s typical, but not always the case.
So there’s an interaction that happens between the two of them. Yes, we talked about individually the triangle where individual emotional health and spiritual health impacts the relationship. But there’s also an interplay in the relationship as far as what happens with each other. So this right here shows okay, that you have the withdrawer. And at the bottom there you see connection, threat. So that basically means somehow something’s happened in the relationship that it doesn’t feel, there’s a rub of some type, there’s some type of attention, right?
And below this line is, you’re familiar with an iceberg, right? Underneath the waterline is things that we don’t see. Above it, we do see. And so, you know what the withdrawer tends to do is to pull back. And when the withdrawer pulls back the pursuer experiences fear or makes sense out of that meaning that I’m alone. And so then they do some type of protective action, which the withdrawer, the husband sees, so maybe pursues or protests or is a bit on edge, which then can lead to pulling back more and increasing the heat as it says there. And it begins to be what we would say is a cycle, right? That actually, so the pattern of behavior that keeps going and reinforces the other.
Sure. The more the husband pulls back, the more the wife steps in pursues. So all of that to say, when we work with couples, I think it’s helpful to remember that when we see certain behaviors with couples, to not be too quick to jump in and judge this as right or wrong, but rather see there’s a function behind that behavior. For the wife, in this case, right when she’s stepping into protesting, it’s for good reasons. She feels alone. Now, the husband doesn’t know that that’s underneath the iceberg, right? But if we are too quick to correct her behavior or the husband, you need to step into and engage well underneath that, there’s something going on for him.
And so I think the point Arlan, at least the takeaway would be, understanding what’s the function of the behavior of the wife and the husband? When they are more critical or more on edge or, what’s behind that, looking for those patterns of behavior and identifying the surface level but don’t stick there. Because you could correct the surface level and miss the whole point. What’s underneath the surface that’s driving the behavior? The events on top, what we see is on top, but the issue is really underneath there. And helping to navigate that. I think there’s another piece, tell me if I’m wrong here, but I think there’s another piece just about this whole idea of stories because sometimes, patterns of behaviors play out as in a spousal relationship I’ll see something that happens and I’ll tell myself a story of why my wife did what she did, and then she’ll see me respond and she’ll tell herself a story of why I did what I did. And these stories play off each other and can perpetuate. And so helping a couple kind of unpeel those stories and get to underneath the surface gently is probably a really healthy thing to do.
And I think the other thing it does with that is it helps us maintain or step into empathy and curiosity with this couple versus get caught on a certain behavior that isn’t helpful. Because they love each other. They want intimacy, but the way that they’re going about it is leading their spouse to move away rather than move towards. And so it helps us like, okay, they really don’t intend, I mean, the husband’s not trying to bury his head in the sand just cuz he doesn’t wanna be with his wife. Rarely your husband’s doing that. There’s something going on. And so it leads to a level of empathy to come in and try to understand and support different ways of, so the answer isn’t just tear down the man cave where the man goes and hides, right?
I mean, the answer is, okay, so why are you wanting to withdraw into that place. Like what’s going on underneath that? And I’m guessing this, I mean, so I’m seeing a pattern of behavior. So to me the trigger is, okay, what is the consistent patterns of behavior that I’m continually seeing here? And what does that kind of start to raise my curiosity? I like that word. Okay. I’m curious about why we’re doing what we’re doing or where we’re going. I’m guessing you could get to a point where some of these patterns get really deeply rooted and have a lot of background in baggage and history and there might be more help needed depending on how deep they go. But at a base level, I think this is just very helpful for a couple to think about. Because I bet those cycles become very demoralizing. Oh, here we go again. You know, same pattern, right? Same thing. Yes. And they’re self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling. And so helping just bring some context and language around it can be a really important aspect.
Yes, and I think that to keep in mind the way that they react is actually out of a desire to get connection back. It’s unhelpful. And I’m guessing usually we don’t see our own patterns unless we really push ourselves to grow and learn in our self-awareness. We need a third party almost to kind of point out and say, do you realize that this is this pattern of behavior? This is the fourth time you’ve talked about it. I mean, we’re starting to get into a cycle here. And in some of this, if I can just add to that, I know we need to keep moving here, but, is the way that they’re talking to each other in the room with you?
In other words, sometimes we can get so caught in content about what it is we’re talking about. Finances of, oh, he’s spending here. She, but, and that’s important, but notice how they’re talking to each other. Is one, using stronger tone it. And just sometimes making even observations about that can be instructive. Because we don’t know sometimes how we come across. And we can be a helpful mirror as you referenced earlier for couples when we have that relational strength, obviously being built with them. That we can be that mirror that they’re able to take it in and hear us well.
And I don’t wanna over generalize by any means, but I know, and this came up in some of the questions, how do we help through some hard situations? And a few people listed out a few hard situations. And, part of it is I think we, at least I’ll put it in my context, I would like hard situations to never happen. And for them not to even be there in part of the discussion, but the reality is they will. But if we can nurture and encourage healthy communication in the midst of them and be a sounding board as people walk through the emotions and see the reactions and the interactions that take place, how they talk to each other. And encourage that idea of turning towards each other in these hard times and working together.It seems like that’s a lot of help and hope that a mentor couple can give in the role that they play.
Well, let’s go into the last portion here. So here’s a couple of slides and just some more what do we actually do for support or what are some of the practical things we can do? And so this first one has a series of bullets, and then the next one will actually point out a few resources that’ll be on our website. So you list out a few things here. Okay, so what do we do? Okay, so open-ended questions. We hear about that, the point being there, fill this out a little bit, just listening and helping them share and asking good questions is a key aspect of marriage mentoring.
So open-ended questions are really questions that aren’t yes and no. We would say close-ended are, yes, no questions. So do you feel like emotional intimacy is a strength in your marriage? That would be a yes, no question. We want to step into just having them, the idea, the goal I think is to get them to start talking and sharing and communicating. And so you can say, tell me about emotional intimacy in your relationship. What have you found to be helpful or not helpful? So the idea is, again, I think just to get them to share and not ask questions that are just yes, no answers. And, so you have dialogue.
Going on second point we talked about a little bit with this last example, help separate the events from the issues. So it’s help separate out what is seen above the surface from what is maybe the issues underneath. That’s a good lens to have or just an important skill to help us think through that way. What is knowledge deficits versus skills deficits. So how do I interpret that one?
So when, just thinking about with this couple, is there a deficit of knowledge, information that needs to be imparted or is it a deficit of skills training that we’re seeking to walk alongside, to try out to be in training? Certainly there’s both of that. This isn’t an either or, but I think it’s more about thinking as we’re meeting with them, where would you say that we, cuz if it’s a knowledge, so maybe it’s studying, for example. So for a husband to know and love and cherish his wife, he needs to learn about that. But he also needs to, what does that mean? How do we come alongside and teach him how to actively listen? How to reflect and validate. And that’s actually the doing of the training in not just the knowing. And so I think it can be helpful as we’re meeting with couples to think about where are the gaps. And how do we intentionally speak into those gaps? Because we would approach ’em differently.
That, that’s a helpful lens. Because I think sometimes we can go into with all motivation in our mind, or just kind of encouragement and just say, oh hey, just let me do this and, you need to do that and that, and that kind of thing. And the reality is what we need to do is help actually demonstrate or model or walk through the skill side, because they already wanna do it. The reason they just don’t know how to do it. And so help with the how and model, role play, talk it through. Say this is what it looks like in our life. It might not look the same, but there’s an example if you start to resonate with that’s a very helpful thing. Next one is focus more on how they are talking with each other. You spoke a little bit to that. Anything more to add in that context?
Not really, I think it’s just a reminder of how are they looking at each other? There’s a lot that happens. We know the non-verbals, the non-verbals become extremely important, and I think that’s where a lot of meaning takes place. We make meaning out of those non-verbals that our spouse sometimes doesn’t even know. And so if we can catch and call out even. Sometimes like, oh, wife, I noticed, this just happened. What? And being able to, maybe it’s nothing but maybe there is something that happened that the husband isn’t picking up that would be helpful to have some conversation about.
Encourage talking to each other when grounded, talking to you when angry. So that’s maybe when there’s more of an issue base, but you become an outlet or a release for them and try to just have a little bit of a balance there. And then the next one kind of ties into that. Sometimes it might be appropriate for the man to talk with the man and the woman to talk with the woman, cuz you probably get different pictures. As a couple, you get one picture and then when you’re separated you might get a little bit of a different picture. To help fill out stories or that curiosity aspect there.
I think just being able to cultivate that relationship I think is good, right, with man to man, woman to woman. But also maybe there’s certain topics you want to bring up and talk with them individually on. Not for the sake of talking behind their back. Not at all. That’s not the purpose of this. But I think as mentor couples to be able to, hey, how did your individual meeting go with the husband or the wife? It’s clearly communicated, it’s clearly known. It’s not like a secretive thing, but it’s agreed upon. We’re gonna have some separation there. And what do you notice, like you referenced, is different? Is there anything different that you noticed in the way they responded to questions or engagement that was different when they were one-on-one versus how they’re responding with us when they’re together?
And, your last point there is just the timing is important, right? There’s certain timing in the use of spiritual interventions. Anything you wanna kind of build off on that, or is it just kind of that aspect of spiritually be sensitive to the right time for certain things? So, for example, if there is a couple that’s, in this case, again, we’re using struggling, but that is dealing with conflict and having a difficulty time walking through it. Recommending that they pray out loud together, even though that can be a helpful, beneficial, wonderful thing might not be the best timing to encourage something like that. And so I think we would encourage how in the way that it is engaged is important to think about based on the relationship dynamics that are happening.
Okay. I’m gonna ask one more question here and then we’ll go to some specific resources and if you have questions out there, if you haven’t chatted them in, feel free to chat them in or we’ll let you chime in here in just a couple minutes. But one of the things that I’m gonna ask you, Kaleb, just to be thinking about what is one practical level of advice that you would give someone who’s stepping into it? And I’ll start and give you time to think about your practical level. But I would say one thing for me that I’ve learned is don’t overcomplicate this. There are times to be a little bit more formal or to make sure things happen or whatnot. But going out to eat once a month or every other month or whatever the right pacing is, and just having some conversation together is helpful in itself.
If you go with that right mindset of seeking relationship, but curiosity to learn. I think sometimes just generally in mentoring, we eliminate ourselves from it because we think it’s gonna be too hard or too much time commitment, or too formal, or we don’t have anything to offer. And the reality is what a mentee is often wanting is just relationship and somebody to journey alongside them. And so just that idea of a meal once in a while together and some good conversations can be critical. Words are not always remembered, presence is and there’s truth to that. That patient persistent presence. But for you, Kaleb, what is a practical skill that you’ve learned? Just in your experience, what is important for anyone who’s stepping into this mentoring space to remember?
So, one thing that comes to mind for me, Arlan, is just the importance of feeling like I get both the wife and the husband that they have space that they feel understood by me. Cuz sometimes that doesn’t always happen. I can understand one but not the other. And oftentimes if I’m having a difficult time understanding one, I don’t understand their story, I don’t understand what’s behind it. And so being able to kind of spend time on that can be a helpful thing.
Making sure both sides, both wife and husband. I really appreciate that. And Kaleb, here’s a series of just some resources that we put together and the websites there that these are live links. And, a handout is gonna be posted on our website on this webinar page if you wanna access it later. But if you go to our website and go into the community section of our website, right there near the top, there’s a whole section on marriage mentoring or building up marriages, it’s called, and it lists out a whole series of resources on different levels. Some are like laying the foundation, I think it’s called, and others like general encouragement.
And then there’s one section on more marital distress type areas. But there’s podcasts, webinars, discussion questions or things to think about. They’re all laid out there in a way that could be referenced or resources for you as you walk into that and then we have a series of webinars, we record like this one on different topics that can become discussion. It can be a great opportunity to say, hey, watch this webinar. We’ll watch it and then we’ll talk about it when we get together next. And just see what we thought about that. Or podcasts. We have podcasts specifically in that marriage section. And then there’s also this idea of maybe even in an assessment where you kind of get a sense of where these couples are coming at. We have the Prepare Enrich down here, Kaleb, speak to that just a little bit. What is the Prepare Enrich, and when would it be appropriate to use that in a setting like this?
So, Prepare Enrich is a relationship inventory. It covers a number of different domains in the relationship and then some personality features, and then what’s called a couple’s map. So really anytime it can be used. We use it with premarital couples, we use it with married couples, both, married couples that are struggling, but also those that are just looking for enrichment. And one of the things I like about it, Arlan, is wherever it’s at, it is a help to facilitate and really zone in on specific areas of the relationship that the couple has said, hey, this is an area that we struggle in, or this is not, this is a strength or whatever.
So I think you’re using what they’re giving and then from that, facilitating some dialogue around that area. And there’s different on there, there’s some they can go out and do it on their own Prepare Enrich. If they do the Prepare Enrich, they need a facilitator. But the couple checkup, for example, is one they can go out, do on their own and then bring the results. And then as a mentor couple, you can sit down with them and talk through it. Use it for some discussion points or talking points or something, right? Yep.
I’m gonna open it up for any questions that are out there. If anybody has one, feel free to unmute and just ask a question. We got about three or four minutes left before the top of the hour. I will say this one question that came up often in those registrations was, how do I even get started with this? And that’s a little bit of a hard question to answer cuz it depends. Some churches I know actually do pairing up of premarital couples with somebody. So you have the luxury in some ways of saying, okay, we’ve been charged. And the couples agree to get together and spend some time together. And, that’s a great way to make it happen.
Otherwise I think the idea of just being very prayerfully sensitive to what the Spirit might be putting on your heart and being willing to reach out to a newly married couple and say, would you like to have dinner? And just start there and then see where it goes. If if it goes well, maybe you have another meal together, or if it doesn’t go as well, you had a meal together, that type of thing. But, I think there’s a lot of ways, but I think the intentionality of open yourself up to it is a great starting point for the opportunity to use gifting and encourage the health of the church.
And I think even, Arlan, expressing that sometimes in the ministry we’re not aware that a couple has a heart for that or desires that, and that would be a wonderful thing to know. Whether it’s the elder, the ministers that, this couple really desires to step into this and what are ways that we can help facilitate and make that happen. Make your desire known. It’s powerful. Any questions that anybody has or anything that anyone wants to ask on any of the topics, feel free to unmute your mic and ask.
Otherwise, I really am thankful for your time, Kaleb. Thanks for taking some time and walking through these. Hopefully we struck a balance there of the right mindset, some specific approaches for conversation, and then just some simple resources that can point us and get us started as we offer support. But let’s just end where we started. This is a calling and opportunity of the church. Healthy marriages lead to a healthy church, which lead towards a healthy mission and to walk alongside and journey together. It can be an exciting thing to build that relationship with a young couple and just be someone they can turn to or someone that they know will listen to them or be a sounding board to them.
Thank you for your interest and we wish you God’s blessings as you step into this journey.