Marriage is in crisis. Breakdown of the family is epidemic. In 2014, 48 international scholars and marriage advocates sent a Commitment to Marriage letter to members of the Synod on Marriage and Family. The letter was a call to action for the Church to support the building of strong, healthy, lifelong, and holy families. The letter included concrete proposals, based in part on social-science data, that if implemented would reduce family breakups.
One initiative that the letter proposed was the establishment of “vibrant networks of strong married couples as mentors at the parish level.” The Archdiocese of Detroit has implemented a Marriage Coaching Ministry that utilizes strong married couples as coaches and mentors to help couples to improve their marriages. Matt and Mindy Dalton, founders of Marriage Missionaries, brought this much needed ministry to Detroit.
Marriage coaching is a couple-to-couple mentoring program designed to invite couples to live out God’s plan for marriage, giving them the tools needed for a thriving marriage. The program consists of seven sessions:
- Relationship Building and Family of Origin Factors
- God’s Plan for Marriage and the Importance of Forgiveness
- Priorities in Marriage and Praying Together as a Couple
- How to Love and Serve Each Other (Discovering the Needs of Our Spouse)
- Open and Healthy Communication
- Sexuality in Marriage
- Spiritual Relevance and Growth in Marriage
Coaching is not counseling. It is designed to help couples understand Catholic marriage and realize the fullness of Christian life in marriage. Coaches do not serve as referees, but rather help couples implement a proven way to live out their marriage with greater love, hope, peace, and joy.
Marriage Coaching is beneficial to all couples, whether they are struggling or not. We serve as coaches and have witnessed couples enhance their relationship, and discover a deeper understanding of their spiritual journey together.
Greg and Julie Alexander, founders of The Alexander House marriage apostolate, also offer marriage coaching. Greg and Julie were among the co-signers of the Commitment to Marriage letter. As a side note, Julie Alexander is sister to Matt Dalton of Marriage Missionaries, so it is obvious that they were raised in a family committed to marriage!
The letter also stressed that there is an essential need to build small communities of married couples who support each other in their vocations to married life. These communities would provide support grounded in the bonds of faith and family, commitment to lifelong marriage, and responsibility to and for each other. We wrote a blog on this concept which can be read here.
We have formed such a group and have been meeting for three years. Marriages have been transformed by this initiative. We have witnessed struggling marriages become vibrant and centered on Christ. We cannot recommend highly enough that you join, or start, a marriage fellowship group with other couples.
If you are in need of a marriage tune-up, consider marriage coaching or joining a marriage fellowship group. You will be glad that you did!