A few months ago we were out to dinner with a couple from our church. Although they had been attending the church for a few months, they hadn’t made many friends and were craving relationships with other couples. We invited them to the small group we lead and they came. Today, they are regular small group members and more importantly, our friends.
Most people acknowledge that small group participation benefits your marriage, but why is a small group so vital to the health of your marriage? Here are 5 ways a small group builds your marriage:
1. Small groups provide an opportunity to make friends.
Heidi’s parents have been part of a couples’ small group for more than 25 years. These couples have deep knowledge of each other’s likes and dislikes. They know each other intimately and have learned how to support and encourage each other. At times, the whole group has even vacationed together at a lake in Minnesota!
When you spend time with people who share similar beliefs and values, it’s a natural place to form deep and lasting friendships. Small groups are a place where you feel like you belong. Your group becomes a family. It’s creating memories with people who know you. It’s a place to be accepted, have fun, and laugh together.
2. Small groups can be a catalyst for spiritual growth.
Sometimes husbands and wives don’t mature spiritually at the same pace or perhaps one spouse isn’t interested in spiritual matters at all. A small group provides a safe place to learn about the Bible and its principles. Ideally, small groups can be a place to ask tough questions and to share areas of your life where you may be struggling. When spouses can experience group life together, it’s a unifying experience as they pray, study God’s Word, and build relationships.
3. Small groups bring wisdom and support to your marriage.
We’ve been in couples’ small groups for most of our married life. We’ve discovered that the people in our groups have been a treasure trove for practical wisdom and godly advice. Often small group participants have encouraged us in our faith and have given us practical tools for marriage and parenting.
I remember when we were raising young children, we had a couple in our group who were about 15 years older than we were. When we would get discouraged as parents, they would encourage us or offer suggestions on how to deal with various issues. At one point in our marriage, the husband (a former law enforcement officer) even drove past our house when we were out of town to make sure our teenage son was home like he was supposed to be!
4. Small groups help you through tough times.
In thinking back on the small groups we’ve been blessed to have been in, we can remember really hard seasons that we or other group members went through. During one extremely difficult season of our marriage, the women from our small group banded together and gave Heidi a gift certificate to Williams Sonoma. She loved it and it was a thoughtful gesture by women who cared for Heidi.
Over the course of our marriage, the small groups we’ve been in have experienced miscarriages, deaths, illnesses, moves, bankruptcy, affairs, job loss, and much more. Often when you experience something hard, you don’t want everyone to know about it – especially the whole church. But having a small number of confidants who will love you and pray for you is encouraging. Frequently another couple in the group has been through a similar experience and can be a support to others who are walking through that difficult journey.
5. Small groups remind you that you (or your spouse) are not crazy.
Sometimes we get discouraged or think our spouse is nuts. Having a group of men or women to validate our spouse’s (or our) thoughts and reactions can actually improve our marriage. As we listen to other couples explain their reasons for their beliefs or how they are navigating a particular situation, it helps us see our spouse as normal.
Small groups also provide accountability. In a safe environment, couples should be able to share their struggles knowing that “what’s said in the room stays in the room.” When everyone’s goal is to help build Christ-centered marriages, a small group is a safe, enjoyable place to grow relationally and spiritually.
So start a group by inviting 3-5 couples to get together with you. We wrote a great small group study that is easy to use and guides you through a study of eight different couples in the Bible. It’s called Build Your Marriage with Couples of the Bible and is available on Amazon by clicking the link or the book cover at the top of this page.
As you connect with other couples and begin to enjoy community, you will establish Christ-honoring friendships and you will build your marriage.