I’ve got this young friend who has not only done ministry with us over the years, but she’s one of those people who comes over and …it’s like time hasn’t passed. She is easily one of the smartest people I’ve met (working on her doctorate in anthropology) and one of the most missional
(living in an urban neighborhood of Atlanta so she can be a part of incarnating Christ there). She hasn’t lived a charmed life by any stretch of the imagination, yet she loves Jesus. And now she’s getting married to a very fortunate young man. He’s cute too.
They came over recently and introduced us to a concept they created called the Tour de Marriage. Like the Tour de France is a bicycle race around France, in the months preceding their marriage, they are ‘taking a tour’ of all the good marriages in their circle of friends. It is a time to ask questions, to be asked questions, to gain wisdom and input from those who have gone before them.
What a great idea!!! I told them I was totally stealing it (although very much giving credit where it is due) because it was one of the best marriage ideas I’ve heard in a long time. Young people seeking wisdom from older people. Older people offering wisdom to younger people. Experienced married people mentoring engaged and newlywed people. Imagine! The concept is so good in fact, you’d think it was God’s…oh wait… it is. (2 Tim. 2:2, Tit. 2:3-7, 2 Tim. 3:10-11)
The fact is, there is nothing new under the sun. Marriage is as old as people are. And the experiences of those who have done it well are available for those intentional enough to seek it out and brave enough to ask.
I’m sure a very positive predictor of marriage – those character qualities, behavior patterns and practices that lead to healthy, loving marriages – is the presence of marriage mentors in one’s life. And the practice of asking for help, opinions and stories that encourage and teach is an incredibly smart thing to do.
Right after Jeff and I married, we had the chance to sit with a couple who had been married almost 75 years. Yes, I said that right. In true South Georgia style, they were married very young and were now very old, still holding hands as they rocked together on their farm. So Jeff and I tried to seize the moment and asked them what advice they might give a couple who had been married for a few weeks. They said something that has stuck with us since.
With a strong country accent they said emphatically, “No matter what, just keep on talking. When you quit talking to each other, you quit solving problems. So talk a lot.”
Communication. Wisdom. From someone who knew. Priceless. And it was trustworthy because they had so obviously worked this truth out in their 7 decades of marriage.
I would encourage any young couple out there reading this to plan your own Tour de Marriage. Find a few couples in your circles who seem to be doing marriage well. Ask for some of their time. Ask questions. Ask them to ask you questions and to share things you don’t even know to ask. Listen really well. And then take what they say as the basis for intentional conversations between the two of you going forward. And put their advice to practice early in your marriage – building it right the first time instead of having to repair something later.
This practice predicts very good things for married couples.
Here is a link to my friend’s website if you want to read about someone making a difference in a difficult place. Vine City http://www.vinecity.blogspot.com/