Three local women are committed to marriage, and not just to their own. Newport residents Susan Bramel, Teri Gundlach and Lucie Moore have a passion to help strengthen marriages, and they are doing so in an innovative and neighborly way. They invited friends and neighbors to join them for nine weeks to study a book called “For Women Only, What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men” by Shaunti Feldhahn.
“We are teaching this class to help make marriages the best they can be.” Lucie said. “We can all work to have even better marriages.” Lucie explained that whether someone’s marriage is struggling or strong, there are always ways to learn and grow.
Susan, Teri and Lucie first taught a class based on ‘For Women Only’ years ago at church, but they are particularly excited about teaching the class in a neighborhood. “We wanted to make it a comfortable place for anybody to feel welcome, and we love the warmth and community feeling of being in a home.” Teri said.
The book is based on Biblical principles, but it is filled with meaningful information for any woman who wants to understand men better.
Over thirty-five women signed up to learn from the teaching trio, who have 115 years of marriage between them. The teachers acknowledged that they each have strong marriages, but they have had to work at it, work that is clearly worth the investment.
Those attending range from being married four months to 43 years, and there is honest sharing as well as laughter and ‘ah-ha’ moments. There is also a support team of women who help every week with logistics, such as set-up and refreshments. “We couldn’t do it without the them,” Lucie said.
The three women gave clear parameters at the first meeting, making it clear that the class is not counseling, and encouraged women to seek professional help when needed. They also stressed that there is no husband bashing or gossiping, and that the group is to be a safe place with no personal stories shared outside the room.
“We’re here to learn to understand the men in our lives, and to know how to support and love them in the way they need,” Susan said.
This is the second year that the women are teaching the class in the same Harbor View Homes neighborhood because of the overwhelmingly positive response last year. Some of the same women even signed up again; a few said the class helped save their marriages, and others appreciate the practical information and helpful reminders. “I’m back again, not because I failed the first time, but because I learned so much, and our marriage is a work in progress,” said one of the repeat attendees.
The women aren’t the only ones who appreciate the class. Last year several husbands thanked the teachers and said, “I don’t know what you are doing, but please, keep doing it.”
The three women had independent reasons that led them to the same decision about teaching the class. ”God put it on my heart that marriages were hurting, and were especially stressed because of the economic climate.” Susan said.
“I actually had six different encounters within a one week period with women who said things that made me realize the tremendous need for marriages to be strengthened and supported.” Teri added.
“I first thought about it when the marriage of close friends fell apart,” Lucie explained. “It really broke my heart. It’s so important to encourage people to be committed to their marriages. Yes, it takes work, but it’s worth it – for us, for our spouse, for our children.
Kids get security from the stable marriage of their parents. The best gift we can give our children, at any age, is a good marriage.”
The leaders love “For Women Only” because they feel Shaunti’s book is packed with powerful insight to learn and re-learn for strong and successful marriages.
Shaunti, bestselling author, nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, originally interviewed men for her novel “The Lights of Tenth Street,” to gain insight for the book’s main male character. She thought she understood the male mind after years of marriage, but continually found herself surprised during interviews.
After the novel was published, Shaunti conducted a professional national survey of over one thousand men. She learned that many of them had similar fears, feelings, concerns and needs, which included many things her own husband wished she knew but couldn’t explain. Shaunti put her findings together in “For Women Only”, and there is also a companion discussion guide filled with questions and applications.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]