7 Low Effort Ways to Start a Marriage Community

Marriages thrive best in a community where couples affirm and strengthen each other.

Group

As a champion for strong marriages, it saddens me to see how little many churches seem to be doing for the marriages in their midst. Most churches will have some form of premarital counseling, and some have divorce recovery support groups, but what about all those marriages in between infancy and death, the two ends of the marriage spectrum? What is being done for the vast majority of “average” couples? The answer is usually not much.

In the typical church you will always find a children’s ministry and usually a women’s and singles’ ministry, with men’s ministries growing in popularity. I have nothing against any of these. But where are the ministries specifically for married couples. I’ve seen a few shining examples, but the truth is there is a big lack in this critically important area.

Support Makes a Difference

According to a 2011 study by the National Marriage Project, husbands and wives with high levels of support from family and friends are almost 50% more likely to be very happy in their marriages. Such support is one of the top five predictors of marital quality and stability. Here is a chart from that study.

suppor-happiness chart

Bottom line: a supportive community matters for marriages.

What Can You Do?

Maybe you can’t solve all the marriage problems in your community, but you can make a difference in the lives of a few couples around you. Here are a few ideas for low-effort ways to start building a marriage-positive culture.

  1. Get together informally with some couples whose marriages you admire. Ask other couples to join in. Let it grow organically.
  2. Set up a date-night babysitting exchange for couples with young kids so you can take turns watching each others’ kids and give couples much-needed alone time.
  3. Ask your church to plan a marriage-building retreat into next year’s calendar and budget. (Not so low effort: offer to coordinate or assist with the event.)
  4. Set up a marriage-related Facebook page where you can post helpful blog posts and other resources on marriage. Invite all your married friends to join the group.
  5. Create a couples’ prayer partner network among friends so you can exchange prayer requests and check in on each other regularly.
  6. Start a marriage book-club group. Get together with a few other couples to discuss a marriage-related book. See the suggested materials list below.
  7. Talk to your pastor about starting a church sponsored marriage small group in your church. (Not so low effort: offer to facilitate the group. To lessen the stress, ask two or three other couples to co-lead with you.) We just launched a monthly group at our church and are loving it! The materials list below can help with this one as well.

Pray about what God might call you to do to help build a community of strong marriages. Don’t be afraid to start small and just see where it leads. Anything you do to encourage other couples is going to be a tremendous blessing to them.

I’d love to hear what is your church doing for marriages these days. I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. Leave a comment and let me know.


Marriage Group Resource List

For five years, Jenni and I have led a 13-week marriage small group based on a curriculum we wrote. I’m working on getting that ready to publish, so look for that announcement sometime this year. Meanwhile, I asked some of my CMBA (Christian Marriage Bloggers’ Association) friends to share with me the marriage resources they have used for small group discussion. Here they are, in no particular order (links are Amazon Affiliate links, and if you choose to purchase through these links, you’ll be supporting this ministry).

  1. His Needs, Her Needs by Willard Harley, Jr. (Participants Guide, DVD,  paperback book, Hardcover, Kindle book)
  2. What Did You Expect by Paul Tripp (DVD, Paperback, Kindle)
  3. Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs (Book + WorkbookWorkbook only, Hardcover book, Paperback, Kindle)
  4. Cherish by Gary Thomas (DVD, Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle)
  5. Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel (Kindle, Paperback)
  6. The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott (Paperback, Study Guide) and The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace (Paperback, Study Guide)

Note: I have read and can personally endorse 1, 3, and 5. The others have the endorsement of people I trust.

About Scott

Author, teacher and champion of great marriages. Founder of HMM Creations, providing resources that help you create the passionate, intimate and enduring marriage you always wanted.

2 comments on “7 Low Effort Ways to Start a Marriage Community

  1. My wife and I started a couples Lifegroup at our church this year. It never ceases to amaze how the Lord blesses us by serving and sharing with others. We look forward to the publishing of your curriculum later this year.

    Regarding your resource list, I have read the first four books on it. Though not opposed to any of them, I am not the biggest fan of His Needs, Her Needs (not enough scriptural connection/support; same sort of problem for Chapman’s 5 Love Languages). Love and Respect is almost solely based on Ephesians 5:33… biblical, but somewhat limited. I am also not fond of the gender stereotyping as I believe marriage is individually unique and more complex than a few simple principles. Admittedly, I might be a bit biased because it seems to be ‘the other way around’ for our marriage. I belong to ‘sensitive male minority’ (and proud of it) who longs for love while my wife needs to be more respected than loved by me.

    Concerning What Did You Expect?, I like Paul David Tripp’s views on marriage. Our pastor did a 6 sermon series on it a few years back. As a regular speaker for Family Life, I enjoy hearing Tripp speak on the radio as well as his comments in the Art of Marriage video event.

    And finally, Gary Thomas – a Houston baptist minister and writer. I have become a huge fan of his books (and blogs). His material is heavily based on scripture and best of all, challenges our personal journey with God first and then applies it to marriage. He doesn’t seek a ‘quick fix’ solution or as he puts it, applying a little Christian veneer here and there. His initial book, Sacred Marriage in 2000, is the one he’s best known for. My favorite is his 2014 followup book titled “A Lifelong Love”. He describes Sacred Marriage as “a picture of the destination” while calling A Lifelong Love “the road map of how to get there.” There is an 8 session video series for his follow up book on rightnowmedia.org (requires a subscription) along with a study guide download. Excellent small group material! As for his latest book, Cherish (released January 2017), it continues building on previous material (though has some repetition in the process). I enjoyed it, not quite as much as A Lifelong Love, but plan to buy the DVD and study guide. It may be good future material for our group.

    Thank you for this post and your marriage ministry Scott. I appreciate sharing these resources and as well as making your personal curriculum available to others. May God continue to bless your work.

    • Fred – Thanks for your detailed feedback on the resources I metioned. I’m with you in that the best marriage guidance is always based on scripture. While I support any of the resources mentioned, there is no panacea. Every marriage is unique. God bless what you are doing for the marriages in your community.

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