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Does your marriage need a tuneup?

"Marriage is ever-changing," said 62-year-old Linda Myers. "As we age or change _ and nothing stays the same."

So, she says, marriage seminars make good refreshers.

Myers is referring to today's seminar, "A Marriage Tune-up Experience," which is the second part of a presentation by Thomas Waterhouse at Brooksville's Christian Church in the Wildwood.

The seminar is one way Waterhouse fulfills his personal mission "to inspire new beginnings and lasting outcomes for marriages, families, organizations and communities."

A psychologist and mental health counselor, Waterhouse has a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in humanistic-clinical psychology. His doctorate focused on personality theories, psychopathology, legal and ethical issues in psychology and the cognitive and affective bases of behavior.

In his private practice in Palm Harbor, he has counseled individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years.

Why did he branch out into presenting seminars instead of concerning himself only with his private practice?

"I have no answers really, I was just called to it," he said. "As unique as every session is, I found there were certain things I found myself saying over and over and certain techniques I would use repeatedly. It occurred to me that if I packaged those things, I could (counsel) one couple as well as many couples and larger audiences."

Waterhouse said he will talk about God's plan and purpose for marriage and his understanding of God's relationship with people. There will be exercises in which the congregation will participate, followed by a discussion and question and answer period.

"It's very interactive," he said.

Waterhouse encourages teens and newly engaged couples to also attend.

"I will talk about safety in marriages _ why we fight and what we do with our fights and how we resolve our fights in a way that honors God," said the 52-year-old married Christian speaker.

John Campbell, a member of Christian Church in the Wildwood for 16 years, was instrumental in bringing Waterhouse for a repeat visit (he presented a seminar to the church several years ago). Campbell describes Waterhouse as "one of the most insightful human beings I've ever met."

Said Campbell: "He's extremely knowledgeable . . . and has a wonderful way of relating the truth of scripture and the principles of God's word to everyday life and situations. Like most things, if you read the owner's manual you tend to get the right information.

"(Waterhouse) can apply the manual so we understand and get along with one another by applying those principals to lives and marriage."

Although it has not been so in the past, Campbell thinks that in the future the church will offer more such presentations and exercises. He said they are beneficial not only to church members but also to the community as a whole.

Currently, Pastor David Pardue conducts a series of classes titled "Parenting God's Way," which is open to the community. Also, said Campbell, occasional speakers present a program on financial counseling for seniors, families and individuals.

"We try to do practical things where people come in and teach the principals of God," Campbell said.

Linda Myers remembers Waterhouse's seminar several years ago on marriage enrichment. She found the event "very worthwhile," enhanced by the fact that it was Christian-based.

She remembers "he opened you up to communication within the couples. Even though you've been married a long time, you forget you need to communicate, and that's what I got out of it mostly: the interaction."

Myers thinks these types of seminars also would be helpful to people just thinking of getting married.

"I don't think you could ever get enough preparation," she said. "It's invaluable to have lots of information. I could have definitely appreciated it in my first marriage. It's valuable any time before marriage and for any age group."

A second marriage for both, Myers and her husband, Jerry, have been married for 17 years; and each has children from their first unions. "We were very fortunate to find each other. It's been a wonderful marriage."

Myers said it's important for couples to review their communication skills. Even if a person thinks he or she has a wonderful relationship, it could be better.

The former Nattoon, Ill., resident said she is amazed at how many people have signed up for the seminar. "It's kind of hard to get older people to attend because they don't think they need it, but a lot of our older friends have decided to go. And sometimes they are the ones who need it the most.

Although Waterhouse offers presentations to diverse groups including the Chi Chi Rodriques Foundation, the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas, the Department of Health & Rehabilitative Services and CH.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders), he enjoys working with churches because "I find at churches people who are ready to be sad and people ready for a change more than at other places."

Describing himself as "a late-in-life Christian," Waterhouse began a spiritual search when he became aware that after counseling people, they would later come back to him (with the same problems). "I realized something was missing.

"I think I've always been spiritual although not always a Christian _ there's a big difference." He said he always had a faith but it wasn't focused until his middle years.

"When people think of a seminar they think of coming and soaking up information. But this (seminar)," said Waterhouse, "is designed to be an experience that will change their life."

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