Are You a Marriage Builder? | Engaged Marriage

Are You a Marriage Builder?

By Dustin | Spirituality

Marriage BuilderEditor’s Note: This is a guest post from Lori Lowe at Life Gems.  I am excited to bring it to you, as this is a subject that is near and dear to the hearts of my wife and I.

The Association of Marriage and Family Ministries (AMFM) serves churches of all denominations across the country by training, equipping and encouraging church leaders to build and repair marriages and families. I spoke with co-founder Eric Garcia recently, and he provided strong insights into how and why faithful people can be supporting and building marriages.

“We believe at the heartbeat of the transformation of faith is the marriage and family,” says Garcia. “If we are going to be successful in bringing people to Christ, we better be able to keep our own homes intact. How can you proclaim an eternal message of faith, but yet that faith is not strong enough to keep you connected in your own home? We can’t expect kids to want to marry today without modeling successful families.”

Garcia says the Church should influence the culture, and not the other way around, which is so prevalent today.

How Do We Influence the Culture?

“Every family should be a marriage-building family,” he says. “Parents and married couples need to impart those relationship skills into their kids. Model and teach them at home. If that happens, every church can be a marriage-building church. Every community can be a marriage-building community.”

How are you building marriage in your own home and community? What are you teaching your kids about Christian marriage? How are you modeling successful relationship skills? Are you seeking to learn and to improve? Are you modeling the priority of your relationship with God, then marriage, then family?

Why are Christians shy to talk about marriage and their biblical view of marriage in their own homes and in their own communities?

How Great is the Need?

Garcia says if faithful people don’t share their values, then the culture provides the predominant influence on our children and neighbors.

With 90 percent of Americans choosing to marry at some point, the relational needs of church communities are “off the charts,” says Garcia. Read How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? to find out how AMFM serves churches across the country, including the Catholic Church, African-American and Hispanic churches, and evangelical and Protestant Christian churches of every denomination.

Garcia says improving marriage skills, such as communication, can be important. After all, he cites conflicts about money, sexual intimacy and communication are the top reasons for divorce. However, he says, “Without a heart change, the skills have no stickability.” What creates that long-term heart change, he says, is a relationship with Christ.

“Marriage and family is the backbone of the local church, and if we help people get relationships right, we will see the church grow,” says Garcia.

AMFM provides online ministries as well as physical ministries in cities around the country. Technology has enabled the organization to reach a key demographic of those married less than eight years. Garcia says a whopping 75% of just-marrieds leave the church until they are expecting their first child. Therefore, more needs to be done to reach out and support these couples in their early years of marriage.

Many churches and faithful people are doing a better job of helping couples prepare for marriage, but are we encouraging couples once they are married, or are we keeping a safe distance and never discussing anything too personal?

Generation X grew up during a doubling of the divorce rate, which means many of us lack role models for positive marriage who were once common in families. Seek out positive role models within your church or community, and consider mentoring or encouraging other couples, particularly as you gain experience and wisdom.

What Are Your Thoughts?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments:

Do you feel like your marriage is supported by society and, in particular, your own institutions of faith?

What could churches do better to address this great need?

What are YOU doing to be a marriage-building family?

Photo by Bill Ward’s Brickpile

______________________________________________

Lori Lowe provides marriage tips and research at LifeGems4Marriage.com.  She is writing a narrative non-fiction book profiling couples who have improved their marriages through adversity.  She lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children.

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About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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(17) comments

Dan | Becoming A Husband

I think on of the main problems with the local church and the absence of young, married couples that don’t have kids is that most worship gatherings and ministries are built with families in mind. I’ve seen this happen because I was heavily involved with a church for 5 years and I don’t remember seeing a single young, married couple that didn’t have children yet.

Since my wife and I have moved to a new church, and are getting ready to apply for membership, I’ve noticed something that has helped.

1. The Gospel is the center of all their teaching, not family. While family is an amazing and wonderful thing, it’s almost worshiped by many church elders.

Churches need to make a concerted effort to have good solid teaching specifically for married couples. Teaching that doesn’t focus on children. In a family, children aren’t supposed to come first, the marriage is. Without the marriage being strengthened by those involved and by church family and family-family, the children suffer because they don’t have good examples.
.-= Dan | Becoming A Husband´s last blog ..When She’s In Pain =-.

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Sorry, I meant to say Dan!
.-= Lori Lowe´s last blog ..How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? =-.

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    I thought it was funnier when you said Dad! 🙂

    Reply

Lori –

Another informative read!! Love it. I had not heard that stat about 75% of newly married couples leaving the church until the birth of their first child. The stat you hear tossed around is that so many teens and young adults are leaving the church…etc. But that makes total sense.

Great research and information. We have to be marriage builders in our communities!!

Ps – Dustin, Love your blog man. 🙂
.-= stu@themarryblogger´s last blog ..The Silent Treatment Can be Good for My Marriage! =-.

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    Thanks, Stu! I was also caught off-guard by the 75% statistic, but I can totally see it.

    And thanks for the blog props. Everyone needs to check out The Marry Blogger as well for some awesome marriage enhancement stuff!

    Reply

    Thanks for the feedback, Stu. I agree that statistic was a bit surprising, but you find young couples have different priorities until they have a child. Then they start thinking about how they want to raise their child and consider their own religious traditions again. This is also the time when married couples with different or opposing religions may have some conflict as they work through. Glad you are a marriage builder!
    Lori Lowe
    http://www.LifeGems4Marriage.com
    .-= Lori Lowe´s last blog ..How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? =-.

    Reply

we are starting a program in our diocese for young married couples where 3 or 4 couples meet up for dinner once a month for some fellowship, and prayer (and guitar hero). We had the first one at our place last weekend, and it was a great night, and i hope it continues, and that we can develop more groups at a parish level.

I think alot of couples come back to church when its time to baptise their children, and they don’t feel that there is anything for them until then.
.-= Mary´s last blog ..The Guild Comic Preview =-.

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    Wow, Mary, that’s a great idea! I really think young couples can benefit by feeling like they’re not “alone” in their church and that it’s a place for fellowship. After all, IT IS! (and I love me some Guitar Hero 🙂 )

    Reply

      I agree. You should definitely look to your peers for fellowship opportunities. I think supporting one another in good times and bad is an important part of creating a church family. Great idea to create your own group where none exists. Thanks, Amy.
      Lori Lowe
      .-= Lori Lowe´s last blog ..How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? =-.

      Reply

[…] Read my guest post at Engaged Marriage: Are You a Marriage Builder? […]

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We are committed to helping young couples grow in their relationship within the local church. Our church provides premarital counseling (6 sessions in all) that takes them through every aspect of married life: finances, child-rearing, intimacy, goals, etc…and helps them discover areas where they either agree or disagree. This enables them to talk through these all-important issues before it’s too late.

This is also what led us to start The Romantic Vineyard. Sadly, many couples stop dating each other once the honeymoon is over. In our relationship (31 years TODAY – Woo-hoo!) we have never stopped dating. I am looking forward to my husband “picking me up at 5p for dinner” tonight. The thrill is still there, and we are jealous to see other couples experience this type of relationship too. It is only possible by the grace of God!

Thanks for providing this excellent, informative post. Love it!
.-= Tom and Debi Walter – TheRomanticVineyard´s last blog ..Project 52: Alphabet Memories =-.

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    Wow, congrats on the 31 years and thanks for the feedback on my post! You are one of those great role models for others early in their journey. I hope you reach out and try to mentor others with your wisdom and enthusiasm! Best,
    Lori Lowe
    .-= Lori Lowe´s last blog ..How Should Churches Support Marriages & Families? =-.

    Reply

Yep, definitely a passionate marriage builder here! My darling wife of 27 years and I have counseled some young couples and we both feel strongly that there aren’t enough good resources for young marrieds (or old marrieds either for that matter). Those first few years are such important and formative years. I believe with Tom and Debi that it is possible to have a marriage that gets stronger and more passionate with time. I know it’s possible because we are living it.

I’m new to the marriage blogosphere and appreciate this and so many other great blogs I now follow avidly, including Lori’s.
.-= Scott´s last blog ..The Audacity of the Bridal Paradigm – Part 4 – The Message Behind the Question =-.

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    Thanks for following, and please chime in with your experience! Welcome to the blogosphere. 😉
    Lori
    .-= Lori Lowe´s last blog ..Join Online Love Dare™ Community =-.

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Lacey

Garcia says a whopping 75% of just-marrieds leave the church until they are expecting their first child.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of doubt most people that this statistic is describing are in the church until they marry and then just opt out until they have a child. I think a large part of the solution is reaching out BEFORE marriage, keeping people involved and plugged into their churches as they transition from adolescent member of a family to starting their own families. Many seem to get lost between those two points, perhaps touch down in church for the wedding ceremony, and don’t really latch on again until they have children. I agree with the other suggestions, however I think part of the solution to supporting marriage and family is supporting those who are not yet married. Coming into marriage with a strong relationship with God, a strong faith, and a place in a church is a great start as I’m sure you will agree!

My recent college experience of watching peers drop away from their faith in a secular environment with minimal spiritual support definitely shapes my opinion. Some may not come back, many will not until they have children and start to put down roots.

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We look forward to being marriage builders! We’re currently building our own, but we did start our blog so we could share our insight because we found a lot of people were coming to us for advice.

Project M has been discussing arguments for and against early marriage and I think the lack of community/culture to support young married couples is a significant setback. I like the comment about getting couples together to enjoy evenings and I’d love to see organizations that assign marriage mentors within one’s religion/social group.
.-= Newlywed & Unemployed´s last blog ..What do You Bring to the Table? =-.

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