The Most Powerful Marriage Secret
By Dr. Greg Smalley
Smalley Relationship Center
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
These powerful words were penned thousands of years ago. In today's
world—with the divorce rate in the United States around
fifty percent—these words can have a tremendous impact upon
your most important relationships.
One important method that is employed in our Secrets To Lasting
Love video series can help you discover the most powerful
way we know to infuse encouragement, motivation, and even positive
correction into a person's life. Equally important, this series
can provide the greatest source of protection we know of from
the incredible pressures facing the family today. What we are
referring to is not found within the content of the series; instead,
the power to impact relationships is found within a small group.
A small group can be like a four-year-old little girl who became
frightened one night during a thunderstorm. After one particularly
loud clap of thunder, she jumped from her bed, ran down the hall,
and burst into her parent's room. Diving right in the middle of
the bed, she snuggled into her parents' arms for comfort. "Don't
worry, Honey," her father said. "God will protect you."
The little girl hugged her dad even tighter and said, "I
know Daddy … but right now I just need someone with skin
No matter what our age, when it comes to protecting our relationships,
there's nothing like someone with skin on to do it. As you will
soon discover, having a small group of individuals committed to
you and your relationship provides an enormous amount of protection
when the "thunderstorms" of life hit.
Basically, a small group can be defined as a voluntary, intentional
gathering of three to twelve people (12 being the ideal) regularly
meeting together with a shared purpose. Some of the key aspects
of this definition include voluntary (people cannot be forced
to join a small group), intentional gathering (must be a premeditated,
planned gatherings of people), three to twelve people (when group
membership expands beyond twelve people, it becomes difficult
to accomplish the group's goals and to maintain effective interpersonal
relationships), regularly meeting (must meet on a consistent and
frequent basis), and shared purpose (members must work toward
agreed upon goals).
Several benefits you'll enjoy every day when you have a lifeline
of support through a small group include:
- Increased life span, and decreased susceptibility to sickness.
- Loving support.
- Higher motivation to do what's right.
- Gain self-control over unwanted habits and thoughts.
- Dramatically increased self-worth.
- Healthy independence.
- The resources, reassurance, and perspective of others.
Let's take a closer look at the power of a small group. During
the early 1980s, Gary and Norma first experienced something that
has been true in all their group experiences since. Out of more
than thirty couples and over nearly three year's time, no couple
who regularly attended their marriage groups separated or divorced.
That is not to say that there were no problems. Several couples
certainly threatened divorce. But it appeared to be the warm,
loving support of these small groups that kept them together through
the crises in their lives, and on to more loving relationships.
This support came in a combination of ways that seemed to give
enough strength to the hurting couple to "make it one week
at a time" until they worked through their problems, conflicts,
There are times when we simply don't have the strength on our
own to combat our problems. At times like that, it is a tremendous
blessing to have a supportive small group that can help to "carry"
a couple through their time of crisis. How does that happen on
an everyday basis? A key aspect of a small group is accountability.
In its simplest form, accountability is being responsible to another
person or persons for the commitments you've made. The important
ingredient is having someone to ask the difficult questions. For
example, "How are things going this week?"; "Are
you satisfied with the methods you're using in your marriage?";
or "What could you do this next week to make your relationship
even more fulfilling?" Ideally, these questions force us
to carefully consider our choices because we know that someone
will be checking.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, met every day
at noon with a group of loyal friends. During this time they would
ask each other what they had accomplished the last 24 hours that
would count for God's kingdom—and what they planned to accomplish
the next 24 hours. He accomplished great things in life. Secrets
to Lasting Love does not demand or require a lifestyle this
strict, but even simple accountability is often necessary for
a person to lay down old habits and build new, positive ways of
relating. Meeting once a week and holding each other accountable
to the goal of honoring your families, can allow powerful changes
to take place. Like John Wesley, through your own small group,
you can accomplish great things in your marriage.
Want more advice from Dr. Gary Smalley on how to strengthen your
marriage? Purchase Secrets to Lasting Love book
or video series.
© Copyright 2005 Smalley
Relationship Center. Used by permission.
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