I often ask couples this question: On a scale of one to ten, with ten being awesome and one being terrible, what number would you give your marriage? Here are five questions to help you assess your marriage right now:
1. Does it feel like your spouse is more of a roommate than a soulmate?
2. Do most of your conversations revolve around finances, the kids, and tasks?
3. Do you and your spouse enjoy leisure activities together on a regular basis?
4. Do you and your spouse have mutual friends that you enjoy spending time with?
5. Do you have a circle of friends who you can share with and care for?
These five simple questions will help you assess your marriage right now. Often husbands and wives rate their marriage significantly different. Chances are, one may think everything is good and the other everything is very bad. This is not uncommon and it tells me that at least one person in the relationship is not connecting on an emotional level. The truth is marriage is tough and takes work to keep it healthy. Studies show that couples generally rate their marriage satisfaction high when they are first married which is to be expected, but add a few kids, a little debt, some work pressure, and you have a recipe for stress. Most couples marriage satisfaction ranking goes down over time if they have kids, but once the kids are gone, most couples report that the satisfaction level skyrockets back to where it was when they were first married. I am not sharing these facts to scare you, I am sharing these facts to prepare you.
Part of our five year vision includes lowering the divorce rate by 5% in our community. The only way we will see this vision realized is if we are bold enough to take an honest look in the mirror to see how we are doing. We did a recent study of the congregation at Freshwater to give us some solid data to use as a starting point. Part of the survey included questions about marriage satisfaction. This is what we learned:
1 out of 9 couples are in a bad or struggling marriage
1 out of 4 couples are at best in a “fair” marriage.
1 out of 3 couples do not know where to get help.
So if we want to lower the divorce rate by 5% in five years, we had better start helping couples now. The stronger marriage you can develop now, the better off you will be later, it’s that simple. That is why we have developed multiple resources to help strengthen couples. Here are the resources we currently have in place:
1. Marriage mentors. We have seven couples trained as “mentor couples.” If you would like to meet with a mentor couple, just send us an email (email@example.com) or connect with one of our pastors to get started. All of our couples are solid, friendly, and care about helping you to have a better marriage. Most of the time our mentor couples meet over diner or coffee for three or four times to help you work through a sticking point. There is no cost to work with a mentor couple but there is a fee to take the marriage assessment. If you can’t pay the fee, we will pay it for you.
2. Professional counseling. We work closely with two counselors who use the St. Boni campus to meet with people. You can send us an email to connect you to them. Both counselors take insurance.
3. Small group support. We offer a wide variety of small groups that meet during the week. Several of the groups are doing marriage studies right now and we can help you get connected to one if you let us know. We also have a Celebrate Recovery group for people healing from bad habits, hurts, and hang-ups that meets on Thursday nights. Check our web site for more info.
4. Pastoral counseling. All of our pastors are great at working with couples. If you want to schedule a meeting with one of them, contact them directly. You can access their emails on the web.
5. Books. We have an extensive resource list for you to use. I keep several copies of a variety of marriage books in my office because I give them away on a regular basis. If you want to order a book on marriage yourself, here is what we recommend:
a. “His Needs, Her needs” by Willard F. Harley. Bill is a friend of mine and this is a great book for all couples.
b. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This best-selling book is worth the read even if you have a great marriage.
c. “Love and Respect” by Emmerson Eggerichs. This is one of my all time favorite books on marriage.
If your marriage needs a little work, don’t wait and just hope the problems go away. Do something about it now. Set up a time to talk with someone, buy a book, give a shout out to let us know you need some help and we will gladly help you. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. Kathi and I have had counseling in the past. We didn’t do it because our marriage was falling apart, we did it because we both wanted it to be better. Our counselor helped us to work through some tough times and I am glad we did it. You will be glad you did something too. If you need help go get it now. It is available to you or someone you know. By focusing on building stronger marriages we are ultimately strengthening our community and helping kids grow up in healthy families. This is a cause worth fighting for. So if your marriage is in trouble, we are here to help it get better. Our vision involves lowering the divorce rate by 5% in five years, we have committed to helping couples in tangible ways right now. No judgement, no shame, just love, grace, and the encouragement you need to find hope and healing.