I’m still celebrating the graduation of my new producer and son, Ethan Streblow! Now, Ethan received an abundance of gifts and cards… and cards filled with gifts. It’s amazing how much money he received for graduating high school. But, after doing the math, it’s more amazing that I spent approximately $20 in food for every dollar that he received from his family and friends.
I think if I just handed him a check at the beginning of it all, we could have saved everyone a lot of trouble. I mean, we bought enough sub sandwiches to feed all of Philadelphia, for crying out loud!
But, the ceremony was great. Ethan received honors and was chosen to sing a solo. Couple that with his cap and gown and he looked like a musical Statue of Liberty.
What made it unique, though, is that – being in Minnesota – the ceremony was held at a hockey rink. It’s not common for commencement ceremonies across the country to be timed perfectly around the laps of a Zamboni. Nor does it typically happen that a graduation speech goes excessively long and the valedictorian gets stuck in the penalty box for five minutes.
Next up, my buddy Matt Loehr joins the show. I met Matt and was immediately intrigued by his story. He left his career in the corporate world to help people across the nation strengthen their marriages. So, today, he and his wife Pam work through their organization called Dare to be Different, offering revolutionary tips and techniques in marriage mentoring.
It really seems like a no-brainer that someone should have thought up of decades ago: train up people with healthy marriages to act as mentors to newlyweds and people with struggling marriages; then pair the mentors and mentees together.
Yet, Matt and Pam seem to be the first to put these pieces together nationally, proving that there is a comedic side to God. In fact, when it comes to God’s comedy, consider the very premise of marriage: take two extremely crazy people, put them under the same roof, as they live together for 40-plus years. There’s no need for a laugh track there! You can just imagine God sitting there with a bag of popcorn and a grin on his face as he sits back and watches married people’s hijinx!
Marriage is difficult, but God is, in fact, very interested in it. As Matt puts it, marriage is the bedrock upon which the Gospel is built upon. There are so many analogies that circumvent or stem from marriage throughout Scripture – from the Church as the bride of Christ to the relationship between us individuals and Jesus. All throughout the Bible, we see that marriage is a big deal to God.
Throughout his life, Matt has had front row seats to the good, bad and ugly sides of marriage. He saw his own parents suffer through struggles, laugh through triumphs, overcome infidelity, and rejoice in restoration. It’s an amazing story featuring God’s power and grace. Once realizing what God has done in his life, Matt realized that He was positioning Matt to get out there and help make a difference in people’s marriages.
One of the tools Matt prescribes for couples is his Discovery Cards. These are conversation starters that go beyond the typical “How was your day?” questions. Some are as simple as, “What’s your favorite color?”; while others go a tad deeper like, “What is something you would like me to do differently when we disagree?”
I can speak as one husband whose marriage has been greatly impacted by these cards, as my wife and I have had some incredibly engaging conversations stemming from them.
You see, as Matt says, often times, once we get married, we stop discovering new things about our spouses. We seem to get ourselves stuck in a conversation rut, where we only discuss the kids, work, bills, or other stresses. However, there is an element of romance that can be found in the discovery of one another that is too often neglected.
One of the biggest “bombshells” of questions in Matt’s deck is “Describe your mother-in-law in terms of an animal”. No matter how deep or shallow the questions may seem, they almost always seem to draw out interesting conversations and strengthen the bond and romance between me and my wife.
According to Matt, the reason why we need conversation starters like the Discovery Cards is largely because men aren’t good at, nor do they really want to start these types of conversations. Typically, guys enjoy it early on in a relationship because they are pursuing their significant other – the chase is on! And when a guy is chasing after his bride, there is no stop sign he isn’t willing to run through.
But everything tends to change once married life settles in. We get lazy – both relationally and spiritually. That’s why Matt and Pam designed the Discovery Cards to draw out where husbands and wives are at, where they’d like to be, where they are happiest, where they want to grow in their lives, and maybe where they need to grow. These conversations aren’t always easy, but they do tend to be necessary.
Now, when it comes to their Marriage Mentoring program, life gets even more vulnerable yet rewarding for both the mentors and mentees. It’s a ten-week process, where participants spend one night each week with another couple for one-to-two hours. During this time, the mentors dive very deep into the mentees’ patterns and help them develop a new “Love Plan” for their marriage.
This stems from the fact that too often, husbands and wives loose sight on how to love one another.
Yet, when we look at what the Bible has to say about husbands and wives loving one another, the answers are pretty clear on how we should be positioning our spouse’s needs above our own and loving unselfishly. But since that is so difficult to consistently carry out, the Bible also instructs us how to mentor (or disciple) one another in things like marriage.
Where this all comes full circle for me are the marriage events called Never Stop Laughing. These are date nights featuring myself and Matt, where he gives a talk he titled “One Step From Stupid”, where Matt offers helpful advice for couples on how to stay out of the Land of Stupid in their marriages and lives; and then I take the stage and demonstrate stupid in a humorous way.
But these one-night events are merely entertainment. Our hope is that churches can use these evenings as a spring board to establish a group of couples eager to mentor other couples in their marriages.