“People are not very good at taking orders but they are great at imitating.” –Wayman Mitchell


Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing. –Ecclesiastes 7:11

We’d been married less than a year, total beginners, when Dennis and Lucy Guernsey, a married couple for decades, invited us to their home. We’d recently moved to Los Angeles from Chicago to start graduate school. They must have seen the uncertainty in our eyes as we were trying to navigate the uncharted waters of our new marriage. Actually, we learned later that Dennis and Lucy mentored plenty of new couples before we came along. And we couldn’t have been more grateful.

“One night I got so mad at Dennis,” Lucy told us while the four of us sat in Adirondack chairs circled up in their back yard, “that I took my wedding band off and threw it at him.” Wow! We didn’t see that coming. Dennis laughed loudly as they recounted the story. “She drove off in our little Volkswagen and left me looking around to find the ring.”

They told us it was their first fight and that nobody ever taught them how to fight right. Their vulnerability and authenticity – as well as their obvious love for each other – immediately drew us to them. So much so that Dennis and Lucy literally mentored us through our first ten years of marriage, up to the point that Dennis passed away at 56 of a brain tumor.

The Boomerang Effect

In one of our last mentor meetings with Dennis and Lucy, before Dennis’s illness took over, we told them how deeply we appreciated their investment in us. “Oh, you kids have no idea what we get out of doing this,” Dennis said. “We get more out of this than you’ll ever know.”

Maybe he’s right. But one thing is certain: we’d be foolish not to learn from the experience of a wise couple. In fact, on a Monday evening in our Marriage class at the university many years ago we interviewed Dennis and Lucy, and when we posed a question about some advice they might have in a single sentence, Dennis may have given the wisest counsel of all: “Find a relatively healthy and happy couple who will walk along side you for a season and serve as your mentors.”

Why Marriage Mentoring?

The Guernsey’s gave us more than a treasure trove of marital wisdom. They gave us a vision to help other couples discover the amazing gift of Marriage Mentoring we’d received from them. We’ve been mentoring other couples ourselves now for years. And we’ve seen incredible benefits – for them and us.

Why? Because marriage mentoring works. Not only that, couples are eager to have a mentor. Consider these facts from a recent survey of more than 3,000 couples:

  • 84% of church going couples want a marriage mentor couple
  • Only 22% of couples say they have a marriage mentor couple

It doesn’t have to be for 10 years as Dennis and Lucy did for us – even just a handful of meetings can help a couple make it through a rough patch or help an engaged couple successfully launch into lifelong love.

Can you imagine what would happen if bands of couples in churches decided to mentor other couples? Truth be told, we don’t have to because it’s already happening. Churches everywhere are catching the vision and training groups of couples to be Marriage Mentors. And we couldn’t be more grateful.


Are you in a position to explore being marriage mentors to another couple? If you had a couple mentor the two of you what would you focus on?

Related Resources

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