A successful Baha’i marriage is seen as more than an entire lifetime’s work towards the health and happiness of husband and wife. Unlike the notion of “till death do us part”, Baha’is believe that marriage outlives the physical lives of the couple and survives into the afterlives. Not surprisingly, choosing a partner is not something Baha’is take lightly.
Baha’u'llah encouraged everyone to marry and Baha’is believe marriage to be a healthy state, like a sanctuary where all feelings can be safely expressed in an atmosphere of love. Premarital chastity and total fidelity and loyalty within marriage are pre-requisites. Couples are free to make their own choices when it comes to a partner and parental arrangement or interference in a marriage is strongly discouraged.
A Decision for Several Lifetimes
Baha’i couples are advised to choose their marriage partner carefully and take the time to get to know each other so that their bond is strong enough to last forever. The Baha’i teachings impress that:
“Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…”
When the couple have made their choice they also have to obtain their parents’ approval before they can marry. This rule is designed to ensure that they will have the support of both of their families, especially in difficult times. It echoes and reflects the unity and harmony of the family, both of which are keynotes that resonate through Baha’i life and Baha’i teachings.
When Baha’i parents give their wholehearted support to a marriage, it has a much greater chance of success.
The involvement (but not insistence) of any Baha’i couple’s families is intended to help make sure that their choice is a healthy one. Baha’i parents are encouraged to do all they can to acquaint themselves with their son or daughter’s intended marriage partner. The closeness of families within the faith means that while parents oversee the courtship and advise on how to make it successful, they don’t refuse permission on the grounds of racial, religious or economic differences.
Baha’is believe that unity in diversity gives beauty to a marriage and enriches the couple.The consent of all parents involved is necessary even if one of the partners is not a Baha’i.
This aspect of Baha’i marriage combines marriages practices from the East and West; the tradition of arranged marriage from the East and the tendency towards little parental involvement from the West. The Baha’i marriage intends to grant full freedom of the individuals to select their partner, whilst honouring gratitude and respect to the parents.
A Moment of Contemplation for an Eternity of Happiness
From the time that the consent of all parents is obtained to the time of the marriage ceremony should not exceed 95 days.
The faith teaches of the equality of men and women and urges that this should be practised within the marital home. Both partners are expected to be absolutely faithful and loyal to each other, both spiritually and physically. This extends to moments of difficulty, when they should pray together. Consultation is one of the most important laws of the Baha’i faith, and is based on the belief that solutions can be found much more easily when practised in a spirit of prayer.
“Baha’i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart.” – The Baha’i teachings.