Dear Engaged Couple,


Our “Growing a Healthy Marriage” marriage mentoring program started three years ago in NW Arkansas by Dr. Gary J. Oliver and staff at the Center for Healthy Relationships (CHR) at John Brown University. The goal of the program is to encourage, grow, and strengthen the marriages of newlywed couples (1-3 years of marriage) as they go through what can be one of the most challenging seasons of a marriage.


The CHR staff has identified seven aspects of marriage that can be sources of significant conflict but, if understood, can also be a source of greater happiness, a richer love-life and increased mutual satisfaction. Mentor and mentee couples commit to meet once a month for seven months where they have a “conversation” based on each one of those key areas.


An essential part of the program involves pairing a newlywed couple with a more experienced, successful and happily-married couple (5 or more years of marriage). Mentor couples receive special training by Dr. Oliver and his team and are equipped to lead those seven “conversations” on subjects ranging from communication and conflict management to role expectations and personality differences. Mentors are not teachers or counselors but are trained to share of themselves, their experiences and their training to facilitate these seven “essential conversations” in a safe, confidential and comfortable environment.


Given the growing interest in the program, we are currently recruiting, evaluating and training additional marriage mentors for the new groups that will be starting next year. As part of that process, they will complete a Couple Checkup online, which gives us a snapshot of their relationship, showing their relationship strengths and potential growth areas. We want to be as certain as we can that our marriage mentors are happily and successfully married before we invest in training them and pair them up with a mentee couple.


If you think you would like to be mentored after your marriage by one of our trained mentor couples, let us know and we will have you take the Couple Checkup online as well. Once your results are in, we can determine if this program is a good fit for you and if so, to assign you to a mentor couple in your area once one is available. They will introduce you to the Couple Checkup during your first session and continue to “unpack” your results through the seven month program.


Below are the expectations for mentee couples.  Please read and discuss these carefully with your spouse and make sure you are prepared to make this commitment before requesting to take the Couple Checkup online.


1. Agree to take the Couple Checkup online.

2. Agree to meet with your new mentor couple to get acquainted. They will contact you to schedule this meeting. This will help you to feel more comfortable and be ready to jump into the first sessions with eagerness and anticipation.

3. Agree to meet once a month for seven months. You will work with your mentor couple to decide how soon you want to start and to schedule meeting times and dates that work well for both of you.

4. Agree to read and complete the material for each of the seven sessions prior to your monthly meeting (around two hours per session) so that you will be prepared to discuss it with your mentor couple. Remember, this is not a “class” and they are not there to lecture you but to share with you and help you discover ways to apply what you have learned.

5. Agree to do two double dates with your mentor couple. The first will be your “get acquainted” time. The second occurs in the month following the completion of the final session. It will be a time to reflect on what you have learned and what has been most helpful to you. Of course, you are welcome to work together with your mentors to plan other double dates just for fun during the seven months.

6. Agree to take an assessment at the end of Session #7. It usually takes about ½ hour and provides valuable feedback to help us evaluate and continue to improve the program.


Feel free to e-mail or call us with any questions you may have. We are very excited about this program and hope you decide to participate. If you do, let us know. We are confident that it will be an encouragement to your relationship and help you build an even stronger foundation for your marriage and a love that can last a lifetime. In the meantime, check out for resources and upcoming marriage events that will help keep your marriage growing strong.