It takes a village to sustain a marriage. It’s vital to regularly connect with like-minded couples that are committed to our relationship.
It takes a community to sustain a marriage. Thriving couples spend time with people who want to see their marriage succeed, and they have positive examples of marriage in their lives. They have people they can count on in times of need and are careful not to isolate themselves. They choose to interact with those around them for their own good and for the good of others.
The word friendship belongs in every healthy community. No man, nor couple, is an island – we are made for relationships in a community. We were never meant to tackle the challenges of life and marriage alone. Couples need a strong community surrounding them at all times.
When you're caught up in the euphoria of the first flush of romantic love, it's easy to adopt an "It's-you-and-me-against-the-world" attitude. But where do you turn for help when it becomes “You-and-me-against-each-other"? And what can you do to help when you see other couples falling into the same ditch? The answers are found in friendships in a community. Here are a few thoughts on the need for community and some of the best places to find it.
1. The challenge
Let's face it, marriage can be difficult. The pressures of life are always threatening to break couples apart. And each partner's innate self-centeredness is bound to create problems in a marriage. Even the healthiest relationships go through conflict, disappointment and temptation. This suggests that family and friends have a continuing role to play in a couple's grand adventure. When hard times come, loved ones who have pledged to support and fight for your marriage can make the difference between life and death in your relationship. In the same way, you can step in and help rescue others from the marital snares and pitfalls you've successfully survived. It's all a matter of being connected, available and involved before problems arise.
2. Like-minded couples
The first and most obvious place to make these connections is with strong couples who share your marital values and commitment to long-lasting marriages. Naturally, this is a two-way street: you as a couple need other couples and they in turn need you. To be strong, you have to learn how to give and take. You have to step outside your private lives, reach out to other couples and do something for and with them.
3. Mentoring relationships
Within the larger community, there's a great deal you can do to establish bonds with people on a smaller and more personal level. For example, you can connect regularly with other like-minded couples by joining a charitable organisation, hiking or exercise group, etc.
You can also make yourselves available to mentor newlyweds and younger couples who are in a position to benefit from your experience, insight and wisdom. All you have to do is be yourselves. Show them by example what it means to have an intimate relationship, how to work together, and how to be caring, effective parents. You'd be surprised what you can gain by offering empathy and encouragement to husbands and wives whose marriages are in need of practical, tangible assistance.
4. Community outreach
Thriving couples also make a conscious choice to interact with people around them in their neighbourhoods and local communities. They do this by finding ways to engage with nurturing groups of all kinds – service organisations, social clubs and common interest groups. This kind of outreach and involvement is both crucial to the health of your marriage and a strong indicator of its vitality. Thriving couples also care about loving people. In an important sense, the strength of the bond that holds you and your spouse together is directly related to the value you place on human relationships of every variety.
Wondering where to begin? If you think about your world as a series of concentric circles, you'll discover a wealth of opportunities for building relationships. Start with your neighbourhood and the local schools your children are attending. Connect with others, particularly with the needy and disadvantaged. Workplace relationships are another good place to look – they form a natural bridge to building trust and growing closer to folks who may come from very different backgrounds. Finally, you may want to consider getting involved with others nationally and internationally through global outreach such as worthy causes and healthy social activities.
4. Community outreach
Putting it into practice Why not make your next Date Night a group activity? How about visiting a charitable home? If you call ahead, it should be easy to set up a time when your group can stop by. Bring along some gifts and food and have a party with the residents of the home, with games and songs. You'll be amazed what an enriching and bonding experience it can be for all the couples!
From the Focus on the Family website at focusonthefamily.com. © 2016 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Questions for Discussion
- How can we be more community-minded and invest in the lives of other couples in the days and weeks ahead?
- What are some social causes that we can be involved in together?
- What experiences have we had in marriage that might be helpful to share with someone else? What younger couples do we know who might benefit by our input?