by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
One of my mentors, Marion Solomon, introduced me to the brilliant idea of mentor couples. Also known as marriage mentors and sponsor couples, this concept originated in the church setting but is becoming increasingly popular. Basically, a mentor couple is one you admire and and look to for guidance. I was impressed that Matt and Marion Solomon have at least one mentor couple. Tracey and I proudly claim two mentor couples. One of course is Matt and Marion. Their relationship is the epitome of secure-functioning. They protect each other in private and public; they most definitely maintain a secure couple bubble; they tell each other everything; neither would ever threaten the relationship or be threatening to the other; they take one another’s distress seriously and provide prompt relief to each other; they know each other and most definitely have each other’s owners manual; and they are a lighthouse to other couples. They put relationships first.
Tracey and I have another mentor couple: Jim and Myrtle Pinsky. They are parent-like figures to us, and we aspire to be like them, as we do to Matt and Marion. Jim is 91 (just turned) and Myrtle is short of that figure (by how much I don’t know). They knew both my parents, and like them, belong to a culture of human beings that puts relationships first. Like Matt and Marion, they serve as a beacon of light to others and authentically live by secure-functioning principles. As world travelers, they are like magnets, drawing people from all over to their warmth, kindness, generosity, and modesty. They put relationships first.
I’d like to give mention also to my late cousin, Pat Kaplan, and her surviving husband, Harold, because they, too, exemplified secure-functioning in their long marriage together. Both put relationships first.
The happiest people I know put relationships first. They value their loved ones, their friendships, and their ability to remain loyal and true. Many of us didn’t experience secure-functioning love relationships as we grew up, and many of us never saw our parents take good care of each other. In a great too many families, relationships do not come first.
It starts with the couple. If the state of that union is poor, everyone living beneath the same roof (and beyond) suffers. It always starts with the couple. If we don’t have a good model, we typically look for it somewhere… in literature, film, or those around us. But we may not have thought of looking to a mentor couple. My hope is that this blog post inspires some of you to keep an eye out for at least one mentor couple, and perhaps even endeavor to be one for others.