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Fall isn’t only known for its foliage, food, and festivals. It’s also the most popular season to get married with 40% of all weddings occurring in autumn last year.
My parents got married during this time of year 42 years ago. I’ve been blessed to witness their best practices for a long and successful marriage over the years. Their example, and the example of my Baha’i family friends who have also been married for over 40 years, are incredibly inspiring. They all, coincidentally, got married during this beautiful autumn season.
So, as brides and grooms recite their vows and start new chapters in their lives, I thought I’d share the wisdom of couples who came before them. Here are their successful marriage tips for all the new husbands and wives out there.
13 Marriage Tips for a New Husband and Wife
1. Vow to God That You Will Treat Each Other Right
In a Baha’i marriage, the union must be “a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God.”
The Baha’i writings say:
This eternal bond should be made secure by a firm covenant, and the intention should be to foster harmony, fellowship and unity and to attain everlasting life.
This “firm covenant,” or vow, is spoken by both the bride and groom at a Baha’i wedding:
We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.
My mother, Barbara Talley, explained how powerful this vow was in sustaining her long marriage to my father, Gile Talley. She wrote, “I made my promise to do right by Gile to God, and not to Gile. You see, as a couple grows individually, they grow at different paces, and that means there will be times when the puzzle pieces don’t fit so well, or challenges with work, family life, and bills can put a strain on the relationship. It is during those times that the vow reminds us to abide by the will of God, which asks us to be patient, forgiving, kind, nurturing, and encouraging with each other. If the vow is made to a person who fails to live up to one’s expectations, many in today’s society call it quits.
But, in the Baha’i Faith, marriage is more than just a legal contract, it is a divine institution that must be protected at all costs. It is a ‘fortress for well-being and salvation,’ as the Baha’i writings say, where two people further the progress of each other. It is an eternal union, a promise of epic proportions, a commitment above all other commitments to another human, a joint decision to travel all the worlds of God together.”
2. Find Someone Who Complements You
“Go into marriage as an equal — a complete equal,” my mother wrote. Despite what romance movies say, you don’t need to find someone to complete you because you are already complete. Needing someone to heal you and make you whole places an unnecessary burden on your partner. Instead, “find someone who complements you.”
She wrote, “My husband and I couldn’t be more different. I want to learn everything, go everywhere, and change everything bad in the world. He is content, habitual, and at peace with what is. But, somehow we work. I give him flight and he grounds me.”
3. Stay Strong During Tough Times
Unless there is emotional or physical abuse, hang in there when times get tough. “There are bound to be rough patches,” my mom wrote. “Remember your promise is to God and not the other person.”
4. If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All
Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk. God hath forgiven what is past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men.
“Never say anything that hurts the other person. Silence is golden. Don’t swear, call names, belittle the person, or be jealous if their success exceeds yours. You are a team,” my mom wrote. “If you are really angry with them, ask yourself, ‘if this was the last conversation I had with this person, would I do or say what I am thinking about doing or saying, and can I live with that?’
Accidents happen all the time. We are not promised even tomorrow. You can’t take back unkind words, so swallow your pride and silence yourself. As the elders use to tell us, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.’”
5. Have Separate Bank Accounts
According to a 2017 study conducted by Ramsey Solutions, a financial education company, “money fights are the second leading cause of divorce.” Tensions often arise when married couples have different views of how they should spend their money.
So, my mom believes that spouses should keep their separate bank accounts. “Have your own money and credit cards in your own name, so you can buy what you want without permission,” she wrote.
6. See a Marriage Counselor If Problems Arise
If you and your spouse are having problems, it’s okay to seek professional help. My mom explained that marriage counselors can help a couple better understand each other when they’re having difficulty seeing each other’s perspectives.
She added, “Aside from a therapist, don’t gossip and bring other people into your marriage. Your relationship is with that person and their mistakes should be confidential.”
7. Remember That No One Is Perfect
“Know that marriage is two imperfect people coming together, not two perfect people. Just two best friends who love each other enough to choose each other to be their partner to walk the spiritual path toward God together,” my mom wrote.
Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves.
But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness.
My mom wrote, “Mistakes will be made and that you can count on. But, the Baha’i writings say ‘if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent.’”
8. Consult Often
The Baha’i writings say:
Now, ye must consult with each other, confer with the utmost love, agree upon a sound decision, and be fully united, for husband and wife must be even as one person, that they may succeed in every matter.
A Baha’i consultation is an action-oriented, collaborative discussion to achieve clarity and consensus. As a Baha’i, my dad believes it is important to “consult constantly” with your spouse. He explained that an important part of this conversation is “listening before you speak.”
9. Pray and Read the Verses of God Together
Our dear family friends, Rick and Susan Troxel, are a true testament to the saying that “couples that pray together stay together.” They have been married for almost 44 years and have always prayed together when things got difficult.
Susan wrote, “We’ve been blessed to have a very harmonious marriage so the challenges would generally come from outside of the marriage. I’ve found that the ‘Remover of Difficulties’ prayer and the ‘Tablet of Ahmad’ have gotten us through our most difficult situations.”
They became adoptive parents, so this quote from Baha’u’llah has always meant a lot to them:
He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My glory, My loving-kindness, My mercy, that have compassed the world.
“Praying together regularly is a wonderful foundation for putting God first and creating a deep sense of unity in the marriage,” she wrote.
10. Decide How Much Time You Would Like to Spend Together
Susan shared that “there are so many different kinds of marriages” so “each couple needs to figure out what kind of pattern works for them — for both of them, not just one party. For example, some couples spend an enormous amount of their time together and some do a lot of things separately. It has to be a harmonious arrangement that’s OK with both.”
Rick suggested that newlyweds ask themselves: “What are our individual capacities, interests, schedules, tolerances, etc? And to what extent are we willing to work counter to societal expectations, if necessary, to achieve our own optimal marriage balance while honoring the principle of [gender] equality?”
11. Kindly Express Your Feelings and Needs
Susan’s specific marriage tip for new husbands is to not be afraid to verbally express their feelings. Susan shared that men often think that being vulnerable and verbally expressing their feelings is “a sign of weakness, when it is actually a sign of strength.”
Her marriage tip for new wives is to not feel that everyone’s happiness is their responsibility. “Don’t overlook expressing your own needs,” she wrote. “Often women tend to feel somehow not entitled to express their own concerns and needs, and this can be very detrimental to the marriage.”
12. Spiritually Grow Together
Last, but certainly not least, our longtime family friends, Karen and Dr. Lameh Fananapazir, have been married for 47 years.
Lameh advised newlyweds to be patient, compassionate, gentle, loving, and respectful with each other. He shared that it’s important to devote your time to helping each other serve humanity together. Since a Baha’i marriage is the “mutual attachment of mind and heart,” Lameh advised newlyweds to not neglect the spiritual and intellectual aspects of their relationship.
13. Never Take Each Other For Granted
Karen said that it’s important that couples never take each other for granted. Lameh also asked women to be supportive of their husbands and men to cherish their wives. He wrote, “Do not try to dominate, but try to bring out the best in your spouse and help her to achieve her full potential.”
As my mother wrote, both husband and wife should treat each other like kings and queens and be trustworthy so they both can feel safe and loved.
The marriage tips for new husbands and wives that these married couples shared draw from a total of 133 years of experience. May we all follow in their footsteps and fulfill the following Baha’i vision of marriage:
In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven—a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. …They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others.