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The Most Powerful Marriage Secret I Know!

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 on!"

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, and discouragement.

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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