The Baha’i teachings describe true marriage as “a holy institution” and “a fortress for well-being.” Does yours feel that way? If you’re about to marry, do you think it will feel that way?
It can, if you make this your common goal from the outset. First, of course, you’ll need the basic ingredients of love and faithfulness:
Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 117.
The Baha’i writings abolish arranged marriages, for so long the norm in many cultures, and leave the choice of a partner up to you:
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…. – Ibid., p. 118.
The choice of a partner still requires due consideration from everyone involved, because the couple aren’t the only ones involved in a marriage. Their families play an important role, too. Today, many societies have seen a resurgence of the idea of parental consent before marriage. This consent, vital for Baha’i marriages, maintains unity and demonstrates respect and fidelity to one’s parents. Baha’is always seek parental consent before marriage, to build and strengthen the bonds and ties that marriage creates between the two families.
Parental consent works, because parents can often foresee problems one or both of the individuals who wish to marry cannot or will not recognize—and even when they do, will not admit to it. Typically, they think, “love conquers all,” and see their love as strong enough to withstand their problems, or even overcome them. This may be true in a small percentage of cases, but looking at the increasing number of divorces and the prevalence of domestic violence makes obvious the wisdom of parental approval. Ideally, couples who respect their parents’ views, consider their arguments and then work on the issues raised have much better marriages:
The true marriage… is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 117.
Abdu’l-Baha tell us that:
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. – Ibid., p. 117.
But with the participation of both families, and the realization that marriage can be a spiritual sanctuary for the couple forever, marriage can become:
… threading lights of Thine abounding grace – Abdu’l-Baha, Ibid., p. 119.
… a fortress for well-being and salvation – Baha’i Prayers, p. 103
…the means of attracting perpetual grace; that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life. – Ibid., p. 104.
…the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time – Ibid., p. 105.