Marriage Mentoring by Les Parrott

Dr. Les Parrott, along with his wife, Leslie, are the authors of The Complete Guide to Marriage Mentoring.

Throughout human history mentoring has been the primary means of passing on knowledge and skills. In the Greek epic The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus had an elderly friend and adviser named Mentor. Before Odysseus went to fight in the Trojan War, he made Mentor the guardian of his son, Telemachus. The Bible is also filled with examples of mentoring (Eli and Samuel, Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, Elizabeth and Mary, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy).

But mentoring is in short supply these days. In our modern age, the learning process has shifted. It now relies primarily on computers, classrooms, books and videos. In most cases today the relational connection between the knowledgeable and experienced giver and the receiver of that wisdom has weakened or is nonexistent—especially in the early years of marriage.

What Is a Marriage Mentor?

"What I need is someone to talk to who has walked down the path I'm just beginning," said Lisa a few weeks into her new marriage. "Whenever I go to my mom or dad with a situation, they end up being a parent or teaching me something I don't really need to learn."

While a mother and father can certainly servea helpful function in the life of a new bride or groom, they usually cannot offer the distance and objectivity that a mentor gives. For this reason, it is important first to realize exactly what a mentor is not:

  • A mentor is not a mother or father
  • A mentor is not a friend
  • A mentor is not "on call" for every little crisis
  • A mentor is not a know-it-all
  • A mentor is not committed long-term

In addition, the relationship between a mentor couple and their mentorees has a natural cycle of its own, which is not always predictable. Each mentoring relationship takes on its own style and personality. The amount of time couples spend together and the content they discuss can rarely be prescribed.

The Boomerang Effect

An interesting aspect about marriage mentoring is that it can actually help the mentor couple.

"I don't know how much we helped Doug and Sarah," Joan told us, "but we sure got a lot out of it." Joan laughed as she was telling us about being a marriage mentor couple along with Larry, her husband of 18 years.

"Helping a young couple seemed to spark a lot of things in our own marriage that we had neglected," Larry added.

Something wonderful happens when a more mature couple reaches out to a younger couple. We call it the boomerang effect. By helping another couple form and live out their dreams, one's own dreams for marriage are reawakened and fulfilled.

Once you take the time to listen to a questioning couple, your own "answers" become clearer. You will also be refreshed by this relationship. Almost by osmosis, the vim and vigor for marriage that a mentoree couple enjoys will begin to rub off on you. Simply being around their energetic spirits will revive and rejuvenate your marriage. There is also an overwhelming sense of having done good, of helping a couple build a love that will last a lifetime.