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In her travels visiting Amish friends, author Wanda E. Brunstetter has attended several Amish weddings and witnessed the durability of their marriages. Married to her husband, Richard, for 50 years, Brunstetter, who has written more than 70 bestselling and award-winning fiction and nonfiction books featuring the Amish community, has observed what makes an Amish marriage work.
When an Amish couple marries they are expected to stay married for life. Divorce is not acceptable, and if an Amish church member should get a divorce, the person would have to leave the Amish faith, which would result in them being shunned. The spouse of the one who gets the divorce would not be allowed to remarry, as this would be considered adultery.
"The consequences of divorce among the Amish might seem harsh from an outsider's point of view, but I believe that knowing it isn't allowed in their church causes Amish couples to strive harder to get along and work through their problems," said Brunstetter. "Some, who are experiencing marital difficulties, will seek help through their church leaders or from a Christian counselor."
Wanda's fascination with the Amish culture developed when she met her husband, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. She said she yearned for a simpler life, and has appreciated learning about the Amish way of life, and getting to know them personally.
According to Brunstetter, an Amish man is the head of the home, but most Amish women have an equal say in many things, including making decisions that will affect their future. Most Amish men share in the responsibility of caring for the children.
"I have seen many Amish fathers in church, holding their small children," said Brunstetter. "Amish couples work together to share the load. Some Amish women can be seen helping their husbands in the fields, and some men help their wives in the garden and with household chores."
All of Brunstetter's novels are based on personal research intended to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Many of her books are read and trusted by the Amish, who credit her for giving readers a deeper understanding of the people and their customs.
"The Amish love to have fun, laugh, and tell jokes, and I believe this helps to keep their marriage strong. A good sense of humor can be a buffer during difficult times, and life is always more enjoyable when one finds something positive to smile and talk about," said Brunstetter. "The strong faith in God that a couple shares also helps to keep their marriage strong. Looking to God for guidance, and praying about things can help a couple through trying times.
In Brunstetter's latest work, The Tattered Quilt (Barbour Publishing, August 2013), the sequel to The Half-Stitched Amish Quilting Club, the main characters, Emma and Lamar Miller, share in teaching a quilting class to a group of students who need to learn a bit more about life than just how to stitch. The book illustrates how Amish couples share interests, but also how they make time for their own outside hobbies.
"The women are often involved in quilting, crafts, artwork, and many other creative things. The men frequently meet their friends or family members for coffee and to visit and catch up with local news," said Brunstetter. "Many Amish men like to fish and hunt. Amish couples enjoy getting together with their friends for indoor and outdoor games, such as volleyball, baseball, horseshoes, and shuffleboard. Amish couples enjoy traveling and will go on trips, either just the two of them, or with family or friends. A change of scenery, and doing fun things together, can help strengthen a marriage."