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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'If only ...'

If only we knew that before we got married ..." may be a less-uttered phrase among Gen-X and -Yers, who are increasingly consulting mentors as part of marital preparation.

A June 23 Time article called marriage mentors a "new breed of counselor" sought out by engaged couples "in search of wisdom about navigating marital obstacles." The article gave a nod to mentoring's roots in the Roman Catholic Church while noting the practice is moving into secular society.

Sue and Dave Edwards are the presidents of Lutheran Engaged Encounter International (www.leeionline.org). The pan-Lutheran group holds weekends for couples intending to marry. Three mentor couples (one married less than five years, another married more than five years and one in which at least one spouse is a pastor) lead each weekend.

"[Engaged couples have] seen so many examples of marriages that don't make it," Sue Edwards says, that they're "afraid to make a mistake. They want it to be right so desperately."

In the Encounter setting, engaged couples ask mentors for advice on individuality, finances, communication, decision-making, change, faith, sex and forgiveness. Mentor couples, in return, share what Sue Edwards calls "lived examples — times we made decisions that either worked well or didn't work well."


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