Schedule and Purpose of This Live Course

Strengthening Marriages in Your Community

Registration: Opens March 28, 2023 for up to 40 participants

Registrar: Susanne M. Alexander, susanne@transformationlearningcenter.com

Course Schedule-Weekly on Sundays, starting May 21, 2023 and ending June 25, 2023

All sessions are 2 hours long

  • May 21, 2023, Discuss Unit 1, Welcome; Orientation; Honoring Spiritual Assemblies
  • May 28, 2023, Discuss Unit 2, Assembly Role in Supporting Marriages
  • June 4, 2023, Discuss Unit 3, Responding When a Marriage Is in Difficulty
  • June 11, 2023, Discuss Unit 4, Couple Healing and Reconciliation
  • June 18, 2023, Discuss Unit 5, Building Marriage Strength in the Community
  • June 25, 2023, Overview of Some Resources; Evaluation of Learning

Starting Times for US/Canada: 4 p.m. Eastern; 3 p.m. Central; 2 p.m. Mountain; 1 p.m. Pacific

Starting Times for All Others: Please go to this link to determine the time in your area, using New York for Eastern Time: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html

This course draws together members of institutions to study and discuss the content in a live weekly Zoom session. Its design is to increase knowledge and skills for Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies, their members, or their representatives (such as a Marriage Task Force or other committee) who are responding to requests from married individuals or couples experiencing challenges in their marriages. The intention is that the Spiritual Assembly and its representatives improve their response and that the marriages they are serving have a greater likelihood of improved functioning and unity. (Members of other institutions and community members are also welcome.)

It is also hoped that when skillfulness improves there is less negative impact from marriages in difficulty on the Assembly itself and on the community that the Assembly serves.

In addition to addressing challenges, this course introduces Assemblies to educational and preventative measures they can take so that individuals and couples are less likely to get into difficulties.

Note: This course is an individual initiative in service to Spiritual Assemblies in support of an ongoing process of maturation of the institutions. It is not part of an official institutional training program, although the institutions are being kept informed about the course. This is one of many efforts to apply the Bahá’í teachings to the strengthening of marriages.

Course Content

  • 1

    Course Administration

    • Course Schedule and Zoom Link and Phone Numbers for All Course Sessions

    • Course Site Use - Instructional Video

    • Change Notes for the Course

    • All Units - Practical Scenarios for Discussion

    • All Units-ScenariosforDiscussion-2-10-23

  • 2

    Unit 1: Welcome to the Course/Assemblies

  • 3

    Unit 2: Assembly Role in Supporting Marriages

    • Unit 2, Lesson 1: Assemblies and the Institution of Marriage

    • Unit 2-Lesson 1-Quotations-Marriage-10-6-18

    • Unit 2, Lesson 2: The Power of the Covenant

    • Unit 2, Lesson 3: Service--Benefits and Balance

    • Unit 2, Scenarios for Breakout Groups

  • 4

    Unit 3: Responding When a Marriage Is in Difficulty

    • Unit 3 - Explanation of Year of Waiting Flowcharts

    • Unit 3-EXAMPLE-Year of Waiting and Divorce Flowchart-US NSA.pdf

    • Unit3-EXAMPLE-YOWDivorceFlowChart-OttawaCanadaSpiritualAssembly-July282013.pdf

    • Unit 3, Lesson 1: Building a Foundation of Trust

    • Unit 3, Lesson 2: Communication Skills

    • Unit 3, Lesson 3: Meeting with Individuals and Couples

    • Unit3-Lesson3-ConductingInitialMeetingswithIndividualsandCoupleswithMarriageProblems-5-8-21.pdf

    • Unit3-LSAReflectionandGuidingQuestions-Meeting-Ind-Couple-12-27-22.pdf

    • Unit3-TheArtofListeningfromMindfulMatrimony-Copyrighted.pdf

    • Unit 3-DevelopingtheSkillsofSendingandReceiving-MindfulMatrimony-Switzer.pdf

    • Unit3-Non-Violent Communication Method.pdf

    • Unit3-LSAWorkshop-Consultation-1.pdf

    • Unit3-LSAWorkshop-Consultation-2.pdf

    • Unit 3 - Scenarios for Breakout Groups

  • 5

    Unit 4: Couple Healing and Reconciliation

    • Unit 4, Lesson 1: Providing Encouragement and Hope

    • Unit 4-Handout for Couples-Encouragement.pdf

    • Unit 4, Lesson 2: Resources for Accompanying Couples

    • Unit4-Lesson2-PreservingBahaiMarriagesMemoResearchDept1990.pdf

    • Unit4-Lesson2-PreservingBahaiMarriages2009.pdf

    • Unit 4, Lesson 3: Providing Referrals for Help

    • Unit4-Lesson3-Non-Bahai-Counselors-2-4-21.pdf

    • Unit 4 - Scenarios for Breakout Groups

  • 6

    Unit 5: Prevention - Building Marriage Strength in the Community

    • Unit 5, Lesson 1: Introduction to Relationship, Marriage, and Family Education

    • Unit 5, Lesson 2: Potential Actions for Individuals, Couples, and Assemblies

    • Unit 5, Lesson 3: Potential Lines of Action

    • Relationship-Marriage-FamilyEd-BahaiCommunity-12-6-20.pdf

    • Unit 5 - Scenarios for Breakout Groups

  • 7

    Unit 6: RESOURCES (See US NSA website for updates; Some materials also available in Persian)

    • Unit 6, Lesson 1: Introduction to Resources

    • US Assembly Confidentiality-2013.pdf

    • Assemblies and Marriage - US NSA Guidelines - Oct 2021.pdf

    • Assemblies and Divorce - US NSA Guidelines - May 2022.pdf

    • Domestic Violence Guidelines - US NSA - 2011.pdf

    • Character-Courtship-ChoosingPartner-Compilation.pdf

    • Quotations-Family-InLaws.pdf

    • Pornography-Response-UHJ-3-9-23

    • A Mental Progression for Overcoming Hurt Feelings.pdf

    • Some Guidance for Spiritual Assemblies Related to Mental Illness and Its Treatment (permission MK Radpour).pdf

    • Open Circle Network

    • BNASAA-OpenCircle-LessonsLearned2020.pdf

    • Alcohol/Addictions in Marriage and Family

    • Consultation Tool for Couples.pdf

    • BahaiMarriage Website

    • Intercultural Resources

    • Professionals-Bahais-January30-2023.pdf

    • ForNon-BahaiCounselors.pdf

    • Unit 6 - Scenarios for Breakout Groups

  • 8

    Ending Your Course; Course-Ending Survey

    • Thank You for Participating in a TLC.com Course! Please Provide Course Feedback

Ways to Approach This Course

  • You can take this course as an individual member of a Spiritual Assembly or as an appointed individual who is supporting marriages in the community on your own for personal development.

  • Your entire Spiritual Assembly or appointed marriage support team can take this course by individuals registering.

  • If you are unable to afford part or all of the fee, and you wish to request a discount, then please email susanne@marriagetransformation.com.

Appreciations!

“As Spiritual Assemblies are being asked by the Universal House of Justice to 'rise to a new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as channels of divine guidance...', the St. Johns County Assembly feels blessed to have cultivated a relationship with you. Your dedication to develop and implement an educational program that focuses on empowering couples, Assemblies, and individuals, has transformed our local Assembly. Our study with you has increased our capacity to serve our community. This guidance and education we received is allowing our community to begin the process of shaping new patterns of community life that will promote healthy marriages, strengthen the family, and increase bonds of affection in the greater community. We look forward to working with you in the future.”

Spiritual Assembly of St. Johns County, Florida

“The Course was extremely useful and applicable to my personal service in that I serve on a Counselling Committee in the city of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The quotations, some of which I had never seen before, provided clear insight into many of the challenges that arise during a year of waiting. The course deepened and elevated my appreciation for the fact that a "Baha'i Marriage" is a sacred and divinely ordained eternal institution unlike any other institution in the history of civilization. The quotations provided guidance in what we needed to know and learn. The scenarios gave us practical experience in how to deal with reoccurring and similar situations. The discussions were a bridge to the future in that they inspired many of the participants to engage in supportive activities with the Assemblies in their home communities. Yes, I would highly recommend the course for individuals who serve on those institutions in the communities. I would also highly recommend the course for anybody in a marriage or anyone considering getting in a marriage or anyone considering getting out of a marriage. Thank you very much to all of the faculty who made the course an engaging and rewarding learning experience.”

David Andrews, Member Counselling Committee, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“The course is a comprehensive and much needed source of information and guidance, especially in this time when relationships are being swept back and forth by a variety of divisive forces. Thanks so much for your gracious hosting and in-depth content. It's a ton of work and we all appreciate it so much.”

Clark Connelly, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Marriage Counseling Committee

“The course offers Local Spiritual Assemblies an excellent opportunity to think about the role of healthy families in the advancement of the Plan and, consequently, the responsibility to help build and maintain these cells of society as points of light that light up and illuminate everyone around them. Grateful for the opportunity.”

Fariba Vahdat, National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil

“This course about marriages in difficulty has offered a wealth of resources, organized in a systematic manner in trying to touch on all essential elements, and grounded in study of the guidance available to us. The exploration also takes into account various research in the field of communication, intimacy, and relationships, thereby offering a scientific input to balance the spiritual approach to very real problems. It was a very useful exercise, one that I recommend for all individuals, couples, and institutions to become familiar with. I hope it becomes available to a greater audience each passing year.”

Hayat Rushdy-Hanna, Spiritual Assembly of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

“I am extremely grateful to Transformation Learning Center for offering this vital course. I was so impressed with the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience of the faculty, and their commitment to this field and course. I highly recommend any member of an LSA or individual called on to help with challenged marriages in a community take this course. It provided so much clarity about essential issues--and also provide a valuable space to talk through approaches to issues that have little clarity. Thank you!”

Ley Schleich, Spiritual Assembly of Anchorage, Alaska, USA

“Nurturing and supporting marriages that are thriving and flourishing are foundational to our community's health and wellbeing. It was helpful to understand the relationship cycle from: family's health and well-being to searching for a mate, to finding a marriage partner, investigating the character of the potential mate, all the requirements for Baha'i marriage, starting marriage, nurturing and growing the marriage, supporting and protecting the marriage and working on challenges. Also, it was helpful to know what could help a marriage that is in crisis and what resources to use when during the lifecycle of a marriage. It is an exciting time in the Baha’i Community to have such deepened and experienced Baha’is who are also trained and knowledgeable professionals collaborating at the Transformation Learning Center who can serve as resources to the Local Spiritual Assemblies.”

Khotan Harmon, Spiritual Assembly of Austin, Texas, USA

“I am very appreciative for this course and all the materials provided. The breakout discussions were quite helpful and will definitely be put to good use in our community.”

Marianne Riofrio, Spiritual Assembly of Columbus, Ohio, USA

“Outstanding programming. All that I hoped for and more. It’s a very special relationship you have helped to create with all the participants. In my mind, I believe you have created a learning community of the highest order, one that can easily be recognized through a number of unique traits and characteristics inherent in its design. I believe that the relationship that participants have with the numerous learning resources available to them (including each other) are functioning as one. Even without mentioning the notion of a learning community to students, the design of the material and the role that the participants play is already encouraging its organic establishment.”

Howie Cummings, Spiritual Assembly of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Faculty/Advising Team:

Susanne M. Alexander (Relationship/Marriage Coach), Leslie Asplund (Psychotherapist), Daniel Dashnaw (Marriage and Family Therapist), Dave Grammer (Marriage and Family Therapist), Wendy Hanevold (Psychologist), Karen Tucker Lynch (Family Coach), Riaz Mostaghim (Marriage Therapist), Taravat Ostovar (Psychologist), Ana Maria Pavon Marin (Clinical Counsellor), Shiva Sabet-Kazilas (Marriage and Family Therapist), Lolita Schmalenberg (Social Worker; Psychotherapist), and Shiva Yan (Individual, Couple, and Family Therapist)

Karen Tucker Lynch

Lead Faculty

Hi, I’m Karen Tucker Lynch, your facilitator and companion on this learning journey helping Assemblies support couples with challenged marriages and prevent marriage problems. For many years I have used and honed my skills to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah. Some of the roles I have performed include: being an Assembly member, secretary, and chairperson; developing course work 'Applying Consultation for Family Unity' for the Portland Assembly’s Office of Marriage and Family; serving as the Project Coordinator for the Northwest Regional Council’s Office of the Secretariat; coordinating the Portland Metro Bahá’í Sunday school; and children’s class teacher in our community and neighborhood. I’m a professional life coach with Dawn of Well-Being (dawnofwellbeing.net). In addition to helping individuals and families achieve their goals, we provide them opportunities to improve the quality of their lives and relationships in their families. Professionally I’m a certified training developer and trainer. I’ve helped people develop new skills, identify creative solutions to problems, enhance family communication, and explore new opportunities. I hold a Masters degree in group and family communication. Over the years, I have integrated the Bahá’í teachings, laws, and principles into my years of service, education, and professional development. I’ve examined how to strengthen family unity through applying the Bahá’í marriage teachings and laws.

Dave Grammer

Faculty Member

Dave Grammer received his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2011 from Pepperdine University, and he has been a licensed therapist since 2017. He then worked in community mental health with adults battling homelessness and prolonged substance use. Dave worked with adolescents and families in residential treatment focusing on substance use and major mental health disorders from 2014-2019. In 2019 he founded Grammer Family Therapy, and he currently focuses on helping men improve their relationships with themselves and their families. Dave has been married for over 12 years and they have two sons. He has worked through difficult situations while serving on several different Local Spiritual Assemblies over the last 12 years. David Grammer, MA, LMFT #102139 Grammer Family Therapy (562) 457-0339 www.Grammerfamilytherapy.com

Faculty Leader

Susanne M. Alexander

Relationship and Marriage Educator and Coach

Hi, I’m Susanne M. Alexander, your course creator and companion on this learning journey. While I am a Relationship and Marriage Educator and Coach, I’ve also had a lot of experience. I’ve likely walked in your shoes. I’ve been single, dating, engaged, married, divorced, and widowed (currently married). I am a child, stepchild, sibling, step-sibling, parent, step-parent, grandparent, and step-grandparent. All of this has given me a diversity of experience to share! I meet with clients globally via the Internet for relationship preparation and navigating, marriage preparation, and couple relationship or marriage strengthening. I am the lead instructor here at Transformation Learning Center (www.transformationlearningcenter.com). My company is Marriage Transformation®, www.marriagetransformation.com, where I am President and also the author and publisher of numerous books. Books authored or coauthored include Couple Vitality, Creating Excellent Relationships, All-in-One Marriage Prep, Marriage Can Be Forever--Preparation Counts!, and Re-Vitalizing Our Marriage. I am certified by Prepare-Enrich to offer a research-based assessment to couples at any stage and accompany them through learning about themselves and their readiness for the next stage in their relationship (www.prepare-enrich.com) I'm also certified to offer the Character Foundations Assessment. I'm a member of the National Alliance for Relationship and Marriage Education and the National Association of Women Business Owners. Media and Writing Experience: Quoted as an expert in Upjourney.com, HerCampus.com, eHow.com, Washington Woman, Ladies Home Journal, Inc., and more. I'm also a journalist with a background in freelancing for Newsweek, SimpleMarriage, and many others. I have been creating and offering online relationship and marriage courses for over 10 years.