To my dear children,
“It’s So Easy to Fall in Love,” Linda Ronstadt sang back in the late 1970’s—and that may well be true, but finding the lasting love of your life is an entirely different story.
Perhaps finding love should not even be the goal, my dears, but rather perfecting yourselves to be ready for love to find you:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. – Rumi
If you would be loved, love and be loveable. – Benjamin Franklin
Abiding love does not come easily. It may take long years of waiting, but it will come in time. Don’t be downhearted, your patience will be rewarded:
Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time. – Abdu’l-Baha, Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 42.
Love is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins, but delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
With all of this advice in mind, I urge you to think conscientiously about the qualities you wish your partner to embody. What virtues should your partner reflect: patience, honesty, compassion? How does your partner treat you, and even more importantly, how does your partner treat his or her own family and everyone else? Is your partner mature and trustworthy? Think about the degree to which your partner exemplifies God’s heavenly virtues and behaves in all situations and circumstances. With open eyes and a discerning mind, try a year of investigation as you consider marriage. Be patient for answers to reveal themselves. To fall in love is easy—but it’s usually not enough to pass the test of time. To do that, you need a truly Baha’i-like marriage, based on true love for your partner’s inner character:
Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 86.
Sex is a beautiful expression of love once you marry, but beforehand it will often cloud your perceptions, and make it harder to truly see another person’s character. The numerous complications of pre-marital sex make it hard for the heart to separate what is real from infatuation and physical attachment. You should feel safe and respected in regard to all your emotional, physical and spiritual needs, and remember that the spiritual bond you forge with your partner will last much longer than any physical bond ever can:
Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close. Among the people of Baha, however, marriage must be a union of the body and of the spirit as well, for here both husband and wife are aglow with the same wine, both are enamoured of the same matchless Face, both live and move through the same spirit, both are illumined by the same glory. This connection between them is a spiritual one, hence it is a bond that will abide forever. Likewise do they enjoy strong and lasting ties in the physical world as well, for if the marriage is based both on the spirit and the body, that union is a true one, hence it will endure. If, however, the bond is physical and nothing more, it is sure to be only temporary, and must inexorably end in separation. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 117.
In pursuit of that deep spiritual bond, be sure to communicate all your dreams, goals and hopes. Now is the time to see everything with open eyes. No one is perfect, but are they perfect for you? Do they fit the image of what you want as a parent to your children? Will your relationship be equal and shared? Do you have the same spiritual goals? Is there mutual respect and fidelity? Since Baha’is believe that the relationship of marriage can endure forever, this is going to be a momentous decision on your part, as well as one that can bring you everlasting joy. “Love is not for the faint of heart,” as the saying goes. Have courage and with a confident heart, stay open:
It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death. – Eleanor Roosevelt
And lastly, my darlings, though you are seeking the love of your life, realize that you are the love of your life. God resides in you and you are enough in this moment. Your mate will complement you, but not complete you. Don’t rush, because you have plenty of time and purpose to fulfill right now. Listen to your intuition, pray for God’s will and release all your good intentions to the universe. There is no longer any need to seek. Love will find you and embrace you:
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.