Architecture of Family: About

About the Architecture of Family

Family is something you're born into.  Or is it?

Well, of course it is.  But it's also something you build.  The Architecture of Family was created to help people build loving families. This happens when each family member feels empowered, celebrated, and free to be themselves.

Why "Architecture of Family?" You can think about building family the same way you build a house.  Is the foundation strong? Is it open and light-filled? Is there enough room for everyone?  Whether it's biological, adoptive, or chosen family, the principles are the same.

Unlike building a dream house, building family doesn't require lots of money, but it does require time, dedication, and hard work. A family can be peaceful and healing if everyone is open, courageous, and joyfully loved for all that they are. The key piece is not just tolerating or accepting everyone's differences and quirks, but actually celebrating them. The result is a family structure where everyone can experience the freedom of being loved unconditionally. 

Families. Celebrating. Freedom. This is our mantra.  Above all, we believe that loving families are built by celebrating individual freedom. 

Background of Architecture of Family

Stephen Marshall-Ward, founder and creator of the Architecture of Family, was born into a fundamentalist home, the son of a Baptist preacher.  Though he gave the appearance of being the perfect preacher’s son, he knew early on that he was gay.  He stayed closeted out of fear and shame, eventually attending and graduating from militantly fundamentalist Bob Jones University with his high school sweetheart Brenda.  The two married shortly after graduation and started a family. Eventually Stephen confessed his orientation, and after years of incredibly destructive ‘conversion therapy’ trying to ‘fix’ Stephen and save their marriage, they divorced.

For some families, this is where the story ends: everyone walks away bitterly, feeling hurt and betrayed. In the Marshall family, though, this is where the story truly starts.

Soon after the divorce, Stephen met his now-husband James, and they have been happily partnered and then married for over 15 years.  Through those years, Stephen, James, and Brenda created a strong, new relationship based on honesty, love, and support while raising Stephen and Brenda’s two sons.

Culture in the United States has been growing increasingly divisive, but Stephen’s family proves that reconciliation and mutually supportive relationships can be created and nurtured over tremendous rifts if people are willing to listen, love, and forgive.

We want this story to be an example to broken families – even deeply shattered ones – that it is possible to heal and love each other.