Couple Marks 20 Years of Marital Instruction
Dr. Don and Shirley Schaefer started Knitting Hearts Together 20 years ago after being asked to counsel young people at their church who were to be married.
By Cheryl Anderson - Post Crescent Media - Life Section – 10/13/2014
Dr. Don and Shirley Schaefer, who've been married 42 years, believe they hold the secrets to a happy marriage. For the past 20 years they've been sharing them with others through Knitting Hearts Together Family Enrichment, an Appleton – based nonprofit helping couples' take control of their marriages and build stronger families.
It began when the Schaefers were asked to counsel couples at their church who were planning to marry. That led to the couple being asked to help those having marital problems. "We decided to take what we were doing for premarital (couples) and make a class out of it," Don Schaefer said. " A lot of these couples don't know the basics and they're not doing the basics. So we took the basic principles of a heathy marriage and we've developed those through the years into classes that we teach."
The Schaefer's went public with their classes in 1994 and began Knitting Hearts, offering Married for Life, Marriage Boot Camp and Fighting for Your Marriage seminars and Date Nights with a Purpose. They recently began a seven-week workshop called The Relationship Builder and Parenting 101. "What we teach and believe is if we teach (people) the correct way of being married the problems go away," Don said. "That's been our whole theme."
The Schaefer's don't want couples to obsess on problems in their marriages, which can lead to anger. "We want them to work and to be healthy," Don said." … Usually after we go through one class the light bulbs go off. We find where the mind goes the body follows. What we try to do is get them to change their minds. … That's what has really been spurring Shirley and I on."
"When we see the people's hearts being changed toward one another, that even excited us more," Shirley Schaefer said. "There are a lot of people that are hurting."
Jessica Harvell-Haessly and her husband, Mike Haessly, both 31, are being proactive. The Appleton couple, expecting twins in March, enrolled in a class to help strengthen their marriage before becoming first-time parents. "We thought it would be helpful for us to rekindle things and reset the foundation for our relationship so that we can have a stronger sense of communication and better raise our children in that environment," Harvell-Haessly said.
Harvell-Haessly said she appreciated the Schaefer's anecdotal stories and shared personal experiences. "With us, they've talked a lot about raising their kids and some of the communication issues they've been successful at and maybe not been successful at and learned from," Harvell-Haessly said.
Aside from 42 years of marriage, what makes the Schaefer's such experts on the topic? They've taken classes themselves, done a lot of studying and reading and worked with countless people using and developing basic principles. Sharing their own personal experiences with those taking classes who are assigned homework also has been helpful.
So what are the problems the Schaefer's most often see? Shirley said the world view of using things once and discarding them is the culprit. "People are not making that commitment," she said."(Marriage is) a disposable thing. If it doesn't work I'll just throw it away and move on to the next."
"People don't know how to have a good relationship because they haven't been raised in a good relationship," Don said. "We tell people their home is their school-house … especially when it comes to relationships. So when you get married you go back to what you learned. What we try to do is change their minds. Where the mind goes the body follows. We try to reset that mind."
Lack of communication and listening and a lack of respect in the household are other issues the couples expound on. "People enter marriage and say, I hope this marriage works, Don said. "They hope it works, but never put any work into it. I say to couples they should be able to write the greatest love story that's never been told because it's their own story. You can either write a love story or you can write a book called misery. It's your choice."
We hope you enjoyed this article and thanks so much for reading it!
We have been led by God to the Naples area with a purpose of helping couples in their relationships and now love the area. What we would like to do is set up meeting events for next year with your organization, to give us a whole year to plan and prepare for them. There is much that we have to offer people to give them a better understanding of what God's design is in life and relationships are and have listed some below. Please contact us by phone or email and we would be honored to schedule a time with you for future plans.
- Single Day Event (Happily Ever After)
- 3 Day Workshop – Seminar ( Married For Life)
- 7 Weekly Classes (The Relationship Builder)
Looking forward to meeting or talking with you, soon about scheduling a date for an event at your organization. Contacting us as soon as you can would be great, for we will be scheduling as we are contacted and would love to have room on our schedule for your organization next year.
Have a God Filled Day!!
Dr. Don and Shirley Schaefer, [email protected], (920)277-0764