Newlyweds Tap Mentors
Daily News, Los Angeles; June 22, 1997
by Carol Bidwell
By early next year, many newlywed couples will have guides to
help lead them through the mistake-prone first year of marriage,
courtesy of Pepperdine University and 15 Southern California
The Malibu university's Center for the Family will sponsor a
Marriage Mentors program that will pair a couple, happily married
for several years, with each couple that gets married at each of
the 15 churches. The object: to show the newlyweds where the
marriage minefields are, said Dennis Lowe, the center's
"The 'veterans' will sort of walk alongside the newly married
couple for a period of time," Lowe said. "We hope the long-marrieds
can give the newlyweds a perspective on many of the situations
they'll face and help them through."
More happy marriages and fewer separations and divorces should
result as newlywed couples learn the art of compromise and how to
argue without disastrous results, resolve money-managing techniques
and cope with myriad other problems that face the newly married, he
The program, pioneered in Seattle, has resulted there in what
appears to be a "significant" but as-yet-unmeasured dip in the
divorce rate among young couples, Lowe said. It's also helped
further cement the marriages of the mentor couples, he said.
Each of the local churches participating in the Pepperdine
program has been asked to find among their congregations a number
of volunteer couples equal to the number of weddings pastors expect
to perform in the next year. The goal is to find at least 30
volunteer couples who, beginning in September, will undergo a short
course in peer and marriage counseling. By January 1998, newlyweds
can be assured of veteran shoulders to cry on over marital woes as
well as a been-there, done-that attitude toward problems ranging
from sex to money and everything in between.
"A lot of couples go into marriage with the assumption it'll be
a happily-ever-after kind of thing," Lowe said. "That's not the
case. And they're at a loss about what to do when problems occur.
We hope the mentoring program will show them a way to handle those
Even with the best mentors, though, there's no guarantee of
having a lasting marriage, Lowe said. But here are some things that
seem to work:
--Go into marriage with a strong love and a strong sense of
commitment. Don't think, "Well, if it doesn't work out, I can
always get divorced." If that's your attitude, you might as well
call a lawyer right after you call the florist and book the
--Pack you sense of humor along with your trousseau. Be prepared
to overlook you spouse's foibles or laugh them off.
--Compromise. Voice your complaints, but don't be sarcastic or
hurtful. Respond to your partner's complaints, likes and dislikes
to find a common ground.
--Develop shared interests. It's the things you do together that
result in companionship that lasts for decades.
--Don't let babies, jobs and in-laws take up all you time.
Reconnect with each other, emotionally as well as physically. Keep
the romance alive, even if you have to hire a baby sitter and
"date" one night a week.