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 | By Nancy Rosebush Schertzing

Don’t be afraid to strengthen your marriage

It was November when Brook Manchester asked her husband, Scott, to join her at an event called Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage. It was scheduled for Friday night and all day Saturday. A fervent University of Michigan football fan, Scott’s first reaction was … “What?!”

Scott laughs now looking back. “It felt like a big sacrifice, but I went. We laughed so hard! The speaker had a really funny way to help us understand each other better. It was worth so much more than a football game.”

“That was the first Marriage Matters event we attended,” Brook smiles. “We’ve also gone to other big things like Valentine’s Day dinner dances or weekend retreats. But we have as much fun at the little things like dinners and short presentations. They give us a great, inexpensive night out, and we come away with ideas to make our marriage stronger.”

“They really have helped us understand each other better,” says Scott. “Like that first weekend presentation – Mark Gungor was hilarious explaining how men think and how women think. I bought his CDs so I could go back and listen again.”

“Marriage Matters gives us different tools we can put in our ‘tool box,’ as they call it.” Brook explains. “The things they host are affordable so couples from all income levels can attend. And they include good, practical tips. Simple things like text your spouse every day just to tell them you’re thinking about them. I would say they have something about once a month.

“They can keep their events affordable because they do fundraising and grant writing. Their major fundraiser once a year helps cover a lot of their programming costs. Last year it was a prom theme dinner dance, but it varies from year to year.

“They also host conferences and smaller group sessions for couples interested in strengthening rougher marriages,” Scott adds. “We’ve seen some friends’ marriages change over the years, and we wish we could get them to come to something like that.”

Brook nods in agreement. “I’m not sure why people are afraid to come. You’re never singled out or even asked to share personal stories unless you want to.”

“Maybe they’re afraid,” Scott offers, “of what they’re going to find out about themselves and their relationship. 

“When we were first married,” Scott explains, “I was in chiropractic school, working full time and studying practically around the clock. Our free time was really precious, so we made the most of it in silly and simple ways.”

Brook laughs, “When we started out, we couldn’t afford an expensive night out. Even after Scott graduated and we started our family, we appreciated how fun and affordable Marriage Matters events were. They really helped us keep our connection with each other.”

“I think the things we learned on those early dates helped strengthen our relationship so that now when we’re going in different directions with kids and work we still keep our marriage strong,” Scott adds.

Marriage Matters Jackson

Started in 2006, the Marriage Matters Jackson (MMJ) vision is to promote, prepare and preserve healthy marriages. More than 90 percent of participants report a deeper knowledge of and satisfaction in areas such as communication, conflict resolution, and healthy relationship skills. MMJ receives non-material support from organizations such as the Diocese of Lansing, which provides financial scholarships for workshops and promotes MMJ activities.

For more information on MMJ, visit