Emeritus Members | Members | Better Marriages | Educating Couples - Building Relationships

Emeritus Members

Who are Better Marriages Emeritus Members?

Emeritus Members are part of the Better Marriages Family – either as former Leader Couples, Board Members, or Members at Large. They share 3 things in common:

  1.  they have lost their spouse
  2.  they have historically contributed to the ongoing work of ACME/Better Marriages OR have been personally invited by the Emeritus Member group
  3.  they want to find ways to continue to contribute to Better Marriages from whatever talents,   experience, knowledge, wisdom, and inspiration they possess.

Susan Saunders approached Priscilla Hunt, Executive Director, about her passion for finding creative ways to continue to make a contribution to the ongoing work of Better Marriages. Priscilla readily agreed to work with her to establish services to this important part of the Better Marriages family.

Susan and Larry were married almost 48 years when Larry suddenly died in 2014. Larry and Susan spent most of their married life deepening their connection, often with the assistance of leadership training, conferences, books, MEGs, and exercises offered by Better Marriages.

Susan led the charge. Now, additional Emeritus Members have stepped up to facilitate the group’s ongoing activities. Our Emeritus Members still have so much to offer!

For more information, contact Nancy Nickerson at



From Nancy Nickerson, Emeritus Member:

“Emeritus means ‘veteran soldier.’ I don’t feel like a veteran when it comes to living life alone again. Better Marriages Emeritus has given me a ‘home’ to share my celebrations and trials. Emeritus members have come from a background of listening and validating feelings. We are non-judgmental and supportive. We all grieve differently and for a different period of time. There are no rules for how we grieve or finish, if we finish. The Emeritus group is refreshing and high point in my month. We pool a lot of life experiences and help each other to adapt. I am grateful for the friendships.”

From Larry Coleman, Emeritus Member:

“When my wife passed away April 11, 2005, my first nightmare was that we would not be able to pick up doing marriage enrichment weekends in retirement. It was a symbol of what I lost when I lost her. What about Better Marriages now?

Better Marriages, through a cofacilitator, led me to Beginning Experience, a child of Marriage Encounter designed for those who had lost a marriage or their spouse. What a wonderful ray of hope that there was something I could do with my spouse, Judy, after her death, helping with Beginning Experience weekends, a wonderful light at the end of a dark tunnel of grief and loss. When I got a letter from Better Emeritus, it triggered the sadness that I could no longer be connected to something to which meant so much to my wife and me. Couldn’t there be something from Better Marriages for people like me who had lost their spouse?

It has been an 18-year journey, attending a conference by myself, conversations with Priscilla, going on a cruise with better marriages by myself to present what helped me to prepare those in attendance for the inevitable, the loss of their partner. It helped me through my grief and filled a little of the void in not being able to offer a Marriage Enrichment weekend. But the fruition has been the emergence of a support group for those of us who travel without the relationship we spent so much time building. Most gratifying has been being there for those who have had a recent loss. Helping others helps ourselves. I have been blessed, and after all this time I have found new ways not to pretend that I’m not without my spouse but to bring what my wife and I had into my life of living by myself.”

The emeritus members support group is helping others and is helping me!”

From Huw Christoper, Emeritus Member:

“In the midst of my grief following the death of my wife, Rachel, on February 10, 2021 from metastatic breast cancer, one of the positive new experiences of my life has been to be part of the Emeritus Group of Better Marriages. Each of the members of the group, like Rachel and myself, had been active in Better Marriages at a local, state or national level but has become active in the Emeritus Group because of the death of our spouse. In one of our very meaningful virtual third Thursday monthly support groups, I was encouraged to check out Beginning Experience which had been a very meaningful experience for another member of the group following the death of his wife.

As I began to accept his invitation, I found that Beginning Experience since its founding in 1973 by a Catholic sister and her divorced friend has been helping “people of all faiths to deal with the natural grief that comes from being Widowed, Separated or Divorced by offering an opportunity, through God, for turning the pain of loss into an experience of positive growth.” The program is now offered in many parts of the United States and Canada as well as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Great Britain and Ireland. More information about the program and where it might be available is on the website at www.beginningexperience.org.

I was happy to find that there were two locations in my area that offered Beginning Experience weekend retreats twice a year. In March 2023 I was happy that I could participate in the retreat offered in Orange County, California. Like many, I went there alone anxious in my grief to meet a group of strangers and yet wondering for what in the world I had signed up!! My spirits when I arrived were probably as gloomy as the wet weather through which I had had to drive to the retreat center.The retreat turned out to be far more than I could ever have anticipated as the group of strangers soon became friends “who also knew the pain of the experience of loss” and so helped me to process more of my own grief following the death of my wife. After being in several online grief support groups, this in-person retreat was so much more meaningful. I think I had more hugs that weekend than I had experienced since my wife died.

Beyond the weekend the continued beginnings, the reunions and the supportive friendships that they helped to create have come to mean so much in my life. After our last reunion I said, “If laughter, even in the midst of our grief, is good medicine, then I have found the right group!”
I am grateful to my friend in the Emeritus Group who suggested that I check on Beginning Experience and I would encourage anyone who is widowed, separated, or divorced to do the same by checking the website for locations near you. If you are not in a position of needing such a retreat experience for yourself, please bless the life of someone you know who is widowed, separated, or divorced by sharing the information about Beginning Experience with him or her.”


Quarterly Business Meetings

Emeritus Members gather on Zoom the first Thursday of each month at 2 pm Central (1 pm Mountain, Noon PST, 3 pm EST).

Our Executive Director, Priscilla Hunt, meets with us and shares updates, concerns, and needs of the organization. In turn, we share the concerns and needs of the Emeritus group.

Some of the ways our Emeritus Members have supported Better Marriages:

  • Reaching out to newly widowed members to offer encouragement and support
  • Writing articles for the Leaders’ Forum
  • Helping edit the Leaders’ Forum
  • Creating a project to compile gratitude statements for former spouses
  • Updating the Emeritus membership list with current contact information
  • Presenting workshops for Better Marriages on the topic of widowhood
  • Supporting Better Marriages through their financial giving and providing Marriage Enrichment in their local communities

Monthly Support Group

Emeritus Members gather on Zoom the third Thursday of each month at 2 pm Central (1 pm MST, Noon PST, 3 pm EST).

There is generally a facilitator and an agenda/topic for the conversation, provided in advance. This is a safe place with others who are at a similar stage of life. Stories are shared; encouragement is offered; friendships are made.

“It’s been wonderfully reassuring to have a group I can go to to talk about issues I might’ve talked with my wife about. I was struggling with my WILL, and the group became a place to process things and access others experience. It’s an invaluable resource!” Larry Coleman


Private Facebook Group

For those who are online, a private Facebook group has been established for the exchange of ideas, photos, poems, song lyrics, etc. that are particularly meaningful. This is a private group, by invitation only so that our Emeritus Members can comfortably and confidently share with each other in whatever capacity they choose.

If you’re interested in joining this Facebook group, either to contribute information or be a “fly on the wall”, you can request to do so HERE.

More Information

Interested? Want more information (no strings attached)? Contact Nancy Nickerson at .