When mentoring, we sometimes realise that a few of the issues that we are talking about are a bit over our heads and that we don't have the needed tools or resources to help. That is okay, but this is when the couple you are mentoring need you most! It's important to have an honest assessment of what we are capable of and what we are not prepared to handle. If you face an issue you are not comfortable with, it's often best to suggest that a couple see a trained counsellor that can pick up the discussion and help. (Click here to see advice on finding a counselor.)
As a mentor, your recommendation of trying to find some help that will resolve some of these deeper issues could be the best gift that you give a couple. Remember, you're not there to solve all of their problems but rather to point them to the resources that will help them solve those problems.
Even if you do refer a couple on to a counsellor, there is still a lot that you can do to love the couple well and encourage their relationship to grow. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Offer to babysit and send the couple out for a date night. Going out for tea or at least supper gives the couple a chance to connect and not have to worry about the kids at home. Baby-sitters are expensive and so this would be greatly appreciated by many young families!
- Make them a meal. This means one less thing that the couple needs to worry about and gives the couple a bit of a break. Do remember to check first for food allergies as well as likes and dislikes!
- Have fun with the couple. Play a board game, go for a bush walk, go to a movie together, play a match of tennis or the bowls, or just throw some meat on the barbie. Whatever it is, have some fun and laugh with the couple. A joyful heart is good medicine!
- Take some time for them to process one-on-one. Blokes, take the other guy off for a wander, work on the car or have a hit of squash. Whatever it is, give him an opportunity to talk candidly man-to-man. You don't need to give advice, just listen. Ladies, go for a coffee or find a fun activity to do together and let her share what she's been learning. Your advice isn't needed but a listening ear can work wonders in communicating value!
- Stay in touch with them. Send a card or flick them a text to encourage them to keep hanging in there. Let them know regularly that you are thinking of them and praying for them as a couple. Remind them of the truth that, in time, this season will pass. Messages like these often help couples to keep pressing on!