Column from Finland: Why are we still helping married couples, after 20 years?


Christian Life

Sari Savela, CNE.news

"God is committed to marriages and families." Photo AFP, Timothy A. Clary

My husband and I are just back. This weekend, we were once again facilitators of a marriage course. Early November, we will travel about 600 kilometres from our home to another marriage course. There, we will give a lecture and lead a small group. We also meet regularly with individual couples to help and support them with their questions.

Last summer, we gave an introductory lecture at a marriage camp organised by Better Marriage Association in Pieksämäki which is a small city in eastern Finland. The week-long camps there are legendary and have been held for almost 50 years. Countless couples have learned new things about their relationship and have received tools for improving their marriage from the courses and camps organised by the Better Marriage Association.

Better Marriage is an NGO (non-governmental organisation) that promotes well-being of families by supporting the relationship between spouses and their individual growth. The work is based on voluntary peer support. Each year more than 1200 couples participate in Better Marriage events in Finland. The work is based on a Christian understanding of marriage.


We participated in the first week-long marriage camp 20 years ago. Since then, we have spent probably six months in total at various camps and courses. We have helped and supported dozens of couples. Walking alongside them, sometimes for a shorter and sometimes for a longer period.

We are often asked what makes us come back again and again and use our free time for the benefit of others. And not just time, but money too, as usually group leaders only get a small discount on the participation fee.

The saying “Giving is receiving” comes true in marriage ministry. When we help others, we will get blessed ourselves. At the same time, we are addressing important relationship issues. The work also serves our own relationship. It is important to be reminded repeatedly of the power of forgiveness, of effective communication, of the importance of commitment, of the importance of cherishing time together, of taking responsibility for our own behaviour, and so on.

One important aspect of marriage work is growing as a person. It is a fallacy to think that you can change another person. You can't, you can only change yourself, and that's not easy either. You must humble yourself to grow as a human being and take responsibility for your own words, actions and choices – as adults do. With God’s help it’s possible.

In marriage work, we have seen that nothing human is alien to Christians either. There is infidelity, mental and physical violence, subjugation, different addictions, hate, misunderstanding, pride, and so on, in Christian families too.

With God's help, even the impossible can become possible. The knots can be untied. A lost connection can be found. Even a dead end can be overcome together. God can give you power to forgive. Forgiveness sets you free.

When you do this marriage work in prayer, you can see how God works. He is committed to marriages and families. Miracles happen.

Last spring, we supported a couple who had no ties to a Christian church. We met with them a few times and were able to help them move on from a crisis situation. We also had the possibility to pray for them. It was very meaningful. Perhaps no one had ever prayed for them before. Heaven invaded their life when we prayed for them. I’m still praying for them every now and then when the Holy Spirit reminds me.


Marriage work is the work of the Kingdom of God, which spouses can do together. It is one of the reasons we want to spend our time for the benefit of others. We work together and we are on the same side.



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