When you’re dating seriously, with the ultimate goal of marriage, do you need a mentor? Is it essential to have someone with experience who can tell you what to expect and teach you to build a strong marriage, as well as providing emotional and spiritual support? Or is it enough to make a commitment to someone you love and learn as you go along?

A good mentor will guide you in building a Christ-centered marriage and will speak with the voice of experience. Typically, you and your partner will pair up with a mentor couple who are willing to share their wisdom and experience. The Bible speaks to the practice of seeking wisdom from another with a good example in the Book of Proverbs:

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. —Proverbs 1:5, KJV

One of the benefits of being mentored while dating is to get a real-world view from someone who truly can increase your learning with the wisdom of years. Many couples are starry-eyed when they start out in their relationship on the path to a lifetime union. The honeymoon phase begins before marriage because it feels so good to be in love and to imagine a perfect life together. Unfortunately, when expectations are so high, they can easily come crashing down when you hit those first bumps in the road.

An experienced mentor couple has already been over those bumps and managed to survive and grow from them. They’ll teach you how to get through the conflicts that are inevitable in any relationship, no matter how compatible you might be. The goal shouldn’t be to never have a fight because that means you and your partner are probably holding things back and glossing over problems. Instead, it should be resolving conflicts in a healthy, God-focused way, and your mentors can teach you to do this.

Mentoring is a good idea even if you believe that you already have a good handle on what it takes to build a strong Christian marriage. Proverbs reminds us that you can be wise and still benefit from learning:

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. —Proverbs 9:9, KJV

In dating and marriage, there are many gray areas. Certain principles are clear-cut, like a choice to remain pure until marriage and staying faithful to your partner. Others have room for interpretation, like how you’ll resolve disagreements and what you want for the future. Your mentor couple may give you a new perspective on something you already know or share a new strategy on how to handle certain situations.

While a mentor is not absolutely essential when you’re dating, you can see that being mentored has many upsides. What if you choose to go it alone? The first thing to remember is that “alone” doesn’t mean it’s just you and your partner. God should be a major presence in your relationship, too, and you can always turn to His Word for help and guidance. You can also reach out to your pastor, if needed; friends from church; or even a Christian counselor if you’re tackling a serious problem that threatens to end the relationship.

You’ve always got resources at your disposal in the Christian community while you’re dating, but linking up with a mentor gives you ongoing, reliable support. As you get to know your mentor couple, and they get to know you and your partner on a deeper level, they can give you advice from a place of personal knowledge. Not only will you get valuable, faith-based guidance, but you’ll develop a bond with people who want to see your relationship succeed and who have the wisdom and experience to help make that happen.

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