Today we have Meagan and Sam Smith sharing on how community changed their marriage. I first met this couple a couple years ago when they were the models for my promo video, and I've thought they were the sweetest ever since. When I heard that Meagan worked for the marriage ministry team at Watermark Church, I knew I wanted her heart and wisdom sharing with us on my Marriage Mondays blog. I'm so grateful that she did, and I hope you enjoy!
Better Together: Why Couples Need Community
Community can mean many different things to different people. The word alone can make introverts run for the hills, or make extroverts feel “all the feels” at the prospect of new friends. But no matter your outlook, and no matter your situation, community is an essential component of a healthy marriage.
But before I get into why into why community is so important in your marriage, let me tell you a story about how my husband Sam and I realized that doing this marriage thing without others around us just wasn’t going to work….
I remember it so clearly. We hadn’t been married one month and we were having the same argument for what felt like the hundredth time. I went for a walk to clear my head, but not before I escalated and said some not-so-kind things to my new groom. Let’s just say that we were not experiencing healthy conflict. On that walk, I remember wishing I had someone to talk to, someone that knew the both of us equally who could step in and help us work through this continuous argument…truthfully I was hoping someone could step in and convince Sam how he was wrong and affirm me that I was right (I know, I know…shake my head at my selfish self!).
After 7 months of really enjoying marriage, but just stuck in the same selfish sin patterns, we got into a newly-married community group at our church. We had no idea what was in store for us when we first stepped into that room with four other couples, or how much better our marriage was about to become….and better it became. Why was there such drastic change? Because God’s Word tells us that isolation is a dangerous place to be, yet that’s exactly where Sam and I were -- living in isolation. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
When you start to go deep with other folks, it’s just a matter of time until true transparency and authenticity begin taking place. Once you get the messy stuff out, there is really only one way to go, and that’s up. Sam and I soon had people speaking into our conflict, but with an unbiased and Biblical perspective. People were meeting us each right where we were at, really living out what it means in Colossians 12 to “bear with one another.”
So why is community essential for a strong, Biblical marriage?
1) Community gives you perspective. Because we are fleshy (sinners, selfish, etc), we often think our way is the best way and have trouble seeing our spouse’s point of view, therefore conflict arises. Our community group has become a place where we bring our conflict. They listen to each of us, help us make sure we are owning our own part (drawing the circle around ourselves), and point us to Biblical truth. Often in doing this we realize how selfish and wrong we were. The things we learn in this time of conflict help us manage conflict in the future, making our marriage one of more grace and more forgiveness.
2) Community makes you a better you. That thing you are struggling with? You bring it to the group. Not loving your spouse well? Tell someone in your group that you need help. As you confess your struggles to one another, true accountability begins to take place. It’s an amazing feeling being able to confess things to friends, knowing they will love you and meet you right where you are at, but also walk with you through your challenges as you overcome them.
3) Community celebrates with you and mourns with you. Romans 12 tell us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Community makes this verse come to life. That promotion you just got at work? Your circle will celebrate with you. One couple in our group is about to move into their first home after saving and searching for a while and we are celebrating big with them! Another girl in our group lost her grandpa last year. You better believe we were at that funeral to celebrate the life of someone who we never knew, but someone that we knew deeply, who loved that person very much.
4) Community lives life with you. As you process big decisions, like buying a new car, moving to a new house, having kids, changing jobs, etc. community asks the hard questions. They help make sure your heart is in the right place and offer wisdom to make sure you are doing the right thing.
5) Community is fun. Coming into marriage, he will have his guy friends, and she will have her girl friends, but your first community group will most likely be your first set of married friends as a married couple and there is nothing sweeter. Getting away together for some weekend trips, spontaneous movie nights, dinners and game nights at each other’s homes, are a few things that our community puts in to practice as often as we can.
There is a reason why my church uses the phrase, “Better Together” as their viewpoint for community groups. We need people in our lives to encourage and lift us up, also to challenge us to grow. Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Now don’t get me wrong…community is messy. Naturally we will hurt others, and not always mesh with everyone. But that’s the beauty of it. Different people, saying, “Hey, we are different in a lot of ways, but we both love the same God and believe the same thing and I’m committed to walking through this season of life with ya with whatever comes.” That’s the beauty of community and that’s the beauty of the Gospel.
Not in a community group? I highly encourage you to get plugged in with one! Not married yet but wanting to start your marriage on a good, Biblical foundation? Take a premarital class like Merge at Watermark that can help prepare you for things you will most definitely encounter as you become one, while also giving you an introduction to what it looks like to live life in a community with other believers. You won’t be sorry! :)