Marriages That Thrive

Pictured left to right: Reverend Father Krikor and Yn. LuAnn Sabounjian (Armenian Church of the Holy Translators), Fr. Vasken & Yn. Arpi Kouzouian (Holy Trinity Armenian Church), Drs. Virginia & Paul Friesen (Home Improvement Ministries) & Dr. Yn. Arpi Boynerian & Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian (Armenian Memorial Church) (Photo: Leeza Arakelian)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Local Armenians got a lesson in love over the weekend during the second annual “Couples Night Out.”

About sixty couples opened their hearts on Saturday night at Holy Trinity Armenian Church to understand from Drs. Paul and Virginia Friesen what it takes to continue fostering a thriving marriage.

“We are not here because our marriages are in crisis,” said Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian of Armenian Memorial Church. “We are here because our marriages are strong.”

Drs. Paul & Virginia Friesen (Photo: Joelle Rose Angel)

Married since 1976, the Friesens have dedicated their lives to supporting healthy, loving and faithful relationships through Home Improvement Ministries. Their connection is palpable, as they bounce off each other during their engaging, relevant and even humorous presentations. “I’m a better man today because I have a wife who challenges me,” began Paul Friesen, who grew up in a home where his mother rarely disagreed with his father. “But sometimes when she’s challenging me, in the back of my mind I’m going…maybe you can be a little bit more like my mom.”    

On Saturday night, the Friesens focused on a variety of themes on the covenant of marriage including unrealistic expectations, sacrificial love, acceptance, disengagement and strengthening a marriage from the inside out.

The Friesens also unpacked a rather well-known passage of the Old Testament—the fall of Adam and Eve from the book of Genesis. “A huge power struggle was birthed when sin entered the world,” said Virginia Friesen, who went on to offer hope with an insightful interpretation of Ephesians, which resonated with Nayiri Baljian Bell. “Respect and sacrificial love can be missing from our marriages today unless we put in some intentional efforts,” said Baljian Bell, who will soon be celebrating 14 years of marriage with her husband James this summer.

Nayiri Baljian Bell laughing during the relationship quiz game (Photo: Joelle Rose Angel)

After dessert, four couples including Baljian Bell and her husband were invited on-stage to participate in an old-fashioned relationship quiz game.

The event was organized by the collective efforts of 10 churches in the New England area: St. James Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown, Mass.), St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church (Watertown, Mass.), Armenian Memorial Church (Watertown, Mass.), Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Cambridge, Mass.), Armenian Church of the Holy Translators (Framingham, Mass.), Spring of Life Church (Belmont, Mass.), First Armenian Church (Belmont, Mass.), Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church (North Andover, Mass.), Ararat Armenian Congregational Church (Salem, NH) and Armenian Euphrates Evangelical Church (Providence, RI). Guests were served traditional Armenian food and dessert prepared by Kevork and Mania Boyajian.

Leeza Arakelian

Leeza Arakelian

Assistant Editor
Leeza Arakelian is the assistant editor for the Armenian Weekly. She is a formally trained broadcast news writer and a graduate of UCLA and Emerson College. Leeza has written and produced for local and network television news including Boston 25 and Al Jazeera America.
Leeza Arakelian


Assistant Editor @armenianweekly, Former @boston25 writer, Assoc. Producer @AmericaTonight (Al Jazeera America), @ecjrn 2012, @ucla 2010
@craigmelvin Great costume, Craig! Speaking of @HamiltonMusical, check out this piece by @naregmkrtschjan in the… - 13 hours ago

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