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.

A Great New Resource for Christian Wives

Four lady blogger friends are teaming up to create a powerful new sexual intimacy resource for wives.

Sex Chat for Christian Wives

When four marriage blogging powerhouses team up to talk about sex in marriage, it’s time to pay attention!

Bonny Burns (Bonny’s Oyster Bed7), Gaye Christmus (Calm, Healthy, Sexy), J. Parker (Hot, Holy & Humorous), and Chris Taylor (The Forgiven Wife) agreed to let me interview them about their brand new podcast project Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

So here is what they have to say about it:

You all have successful platforms of your own, so what is your motivation for doing this particular project?

Our initial responses to this question were “Because we’re crazy,’ “Because we don’t have enough to do,” and “Because 4 ¼ brains make up one complete brain!” Seriously, though, we’re doing this to reach more women with a positive message about sex and intimacy in marriage. Our current platforms (blogs and books) reach women who read. But many women don’t have much time for reading, or they prefer to take in information by listening. So in addition to our readers, who we hope will become listeners, we want to reach women who may not have time to sit down and read a blog post or book chapter, but do have time to listen to a podcast while driving or working out or just going about their day.

We also like the idea of working on a joint venture with friends, and of creating a model of women sitting around the table (in our case it’s a virtual table) talking about things that are important to their lives and marriages. We also want to show that it’s possible to have positive and productive discussions about topics that can be difficult or controversial, even if you have differences of opinion about them. Because, believe it or not, four Christian marriage bloggers can have quite different viewpoints on some topics related to sex and intimacy! So we want to model how people can discuss these kinds of somewhat difficult topics, and hope we will encourage women who may need to address difficult topics in their marriages. And, last but not least, we want to show that it’s okay to laugh and have fun when talking about sex and intimacy!

What kind of wife would most benefit from what you will be doing in the Sex Chat podcasts?

Christian wives will probably make up the core of our audience, and in some ways we’ll be speaking primarily to them. But we welcome other wives too. We hope that women of other religious backgrounds (or no religious background) who are interested in building great sexual intimacy in their marriages will listen to the podcast. And we hope that women who think that “sex positive Christian marriage” is an oxymoron will listen too! Because the church hasn’t done a very good job of presenting sex in marriage as a great thing, especially for wives, and we hope to play a small part in changing that.

How can wives expect to benefit from your podcasts? What impact would it have on their marriage?

We’re hoping to change the game by playing offense. Christians and the church have tended to play defense when it comes to sex – by focusing heavily on “don’t do this and don’t do that” – but we’re going to play offense. We’re going to encourage women to embrace their sexuality, learn to enjoy sex and build deep emotional intimacy in their marriages. And we’re going to make it clear that God’s design for marriage is that both the wife and husband enjoy a fabulous sex life!

We’re also going to share a lot of practical tips. All four of us have a practical focus in our blogs and books. We tend to say “Here are things that you, as a busy woman, can actually do to make a difference in your life and marriage.” And we’re bringing that focus to the podcast, by sharing a variety of practical tips and ideas. From those tips and ideas, we hope that every woman who listens will find some that work for her.

We also think that women will benefit from the collaborative nature of this venture. They’ll hear regularly from four women who have different ideas and perspectives, plus the guests who will join us from time to time.

How can women connect with you?

As you can see there are many different ways to get the podcast. Pick your favorite way and follow/friend/like them right now. They launch tomorrow!

I don’t have the scoop on what their first podcast will cover, but J. mentioned in a recent blog post that so far they have recorded episodes about: Getting in the Mood, Sexual Positions, 50 Shades of Here-We-Go-Again, Stress, Sex Scheduling, Female Arousal/Response, Exercise and Sex, and Mismatched Drives. Quite a starting list!

I’m not a wife, but I assure you I’ll be listening in to what these ladies have to say about sexual intimacy. It promises to be a frank and open discussion ranging over many different helpful and important topics.