Marriage in the Bahá’í Faith
A Relationship & Marriage Service
of Marriage Transformation®

This website is to assist Bahá’ís and those in relationships or marriages with Bahá’ís to turn to Bahá’í administrative bodies for guidance and help and to apply Bahá’í teachings on relationships and marriage in their lives. The site also has Marriage Transformation® content which may be helpful.

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Local Spiritual Assemblies and Marriage

"...[T]he provision of guidance on administrative matters such as the laws of engagement, marriage, and divorce falls under the purview of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies...."
(On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, September 24, 2014)

Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation:

There is an extensive amount of guidance available to Spiritual Assemblies on the topic of weddings, marriage, separation, and divorce and all related subjects. What is presented here is a brief introduction only.

Due to the level of spiritual and intellectual maturity of mankind, there is no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith. In civil jurisdictions where there are nine or more adult Bahá’ís, there is a Spiritual Assembly, a council elected in spiritual circumstances which is responsible, among many other duties, for assuring that the Bahá’í marriage and divorce laws are followed. In many countries, they are also able to act as the civil authority for solemnizing marriages.

Guidance related to relationships, parental consent, marriage, and divorce comes regularly from the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies. The National centers then provide guidance as needed to the local Assemblies. When Assemblies have a difficult or unusual situation to handle, they can request guidance from their National Assembly, which can obtain input from the Universal House of Justice as needed. Some guidance is also located on the Resources page.

Encouraging Strong Marriages

Guidance from the Bahá’í Writings:

"If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual…." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 144-145)

"...[T]he family, being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered…. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168)

"When you love a member of your family..., let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person...." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, p. 38)

"Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquility, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its lasting honor, as day succeedeth day." (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 279)

"The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Bahá’í concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, no. 1304)

“…[I]f the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the pre-eminent character of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace?” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice: Lights of Guidance, p. 222)

Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation:

One of many Spiritual Assembly responsibilities is arranging for their community to meet for 19-Day Feasts, a gathering that occurs every 19 days. Feasts include a spiritual, administrative, and a social portion and are designed to promote community unity. As part of the spiritual portion, there are prayers and readings from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith. There is also often music. An Assembly or the host of a Feast could choose to have the theme of the readings be about marriage as one way of encouraging couples to form and sustain strong marital unions. Below is a link to a pdf download of a selection of readings and prayers for the spiritual portion of a 19-Day Feast.

From the Bahá’í Writings: Feast Readings and Prayers on the Topic of Marriage

Other suggestions for integrating marriage education into community life can be found in the following pdf file:

Marriage and Relationship Vision and Action for Bahá’í Communities (pdf) (Note: This includes clarification of what marriage education is and is not.)


Building Relationships Between Individuals, Couples, and the Assembly

Guidance from the Bahá’í Writings:

“[Assemblies] must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause. … They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Bahá’í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development.” (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, “The Local Spiritual Assembly”, p. 48)

Bahá’í Wedding/Marriage Ceremonies

Guidance from the Bahá’í Writings:

"The obligation of the Spiritual Assembly is to ascertain that all the requirements of civil and Bahá’í law have been complied with, and, having done so, the Assembly may neither refuse to perform the marriage ceremony nor delay it." (Universal House of Justice, March 30, 1967, to a National Spiritual Assembly, Lights of Guidance, no. 1231)

Individual Transformation and Relationship to the Laws (downloable pdf); provided on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual 9-24-14

Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: The requirements generally include obtaining parental consent, having two approved witnesses, and holding a ceremony with the Bahá’í marriage vow (see Relationships and Weddings for more details). The wedding is spiritual blessed and starts on a strong foundation of unity when it is in alignment with the guidance in the Bahá’í Writings. There are consequences for not following this important law, which an Assembly could share with an individual or a couple considering such an action.

Help for Individuals and Couples

Guidance from the Bahá’í Writings:

"The House of Justice advises you to continue the strenuous efforts you are making to overcome the
difficulties in your marriage. It is pleased to note that you and your husband have turned to the Local Spiritual Assembly for guidance and have sought help from a Bahá'í who is a marriage counsellor. Such endeavors, when combined with a strong and determined effort, improve greatly the prospects that your marriage can be maintained. However, it must also be borne in mind that the fact that Bahá'u'lláh has permitted divorce is, no doubt, an indication that in certain circumstances it is unavoidable. If your earnest efforts to maintain your marriage do not yield the desired result, you should not be distraught." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 28, 1989, to an individual believer, The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, no. 2345)

“Consultation is…available for the individual in solving his own problems; he may consult with his Assembly, with his family and with his friends.” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice quoted in the “Understanding Tests” letter from the Research Department to the Universal House of Justice, July 17, 1989)

“Neither you nor your husband should hesitate to continue consulting professional marriage counselors, individually and together if possible, and also to take advantage of the supportive counseling which can come from wise and mature friends. Non-Bahá’í counseling can be useful but it is usually necessary to temper it with Bahá’í insight.” (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice: The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, “Preserving Bahá’í Marriages”, p. 455)

See Resources for additional helpful materials.

When Individuals and Couples Need Assembly Help

Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation:

Local Spiritual Assemblies feel and express frustration when individuals and couples delay seeking help for months or years. Seeing an Assembly, and seeking counseling help, when an issue is in its early stages can provide the opportunity for the Assembly to be of service. Problems can then be addressed before they become destructively entrenched.

In addition, when an individual or a couple approaches an Assembly, they sometimes present final decisions rather than requesting guidance before decisions are made. This could include telling an Assembly that you are going to get married in a week rather than involving them early so you are fully informed of any Bahá’í principles that apply to wedding planning. Alternatively, it could be telling the Assembly that you are divorcing instead of asking for help with issues or reconciliation. Consultation achieves its best outcomes when all parties are open to addressing issues promptly and searching for new perspectives, information, and conclusions.

Times when it may be wise to approach an Assembly for information and guidance are:

  1. When you wish to date or court someone and are unfamiliar with the Bahá’í teachings on the subject

  2. When you have decided to marry but not yet asked for parental consent or begun wedding planning and are unfamiliar with the Bahá’í teachings on the subject

  3. When you have parental consent and have potential wedding witnesses

  4. When you need to understand how to consult as a married couple

  5. When your marriage begins experiencing noticeable challenges or more serious ones are occurring, such as domestic violence

  6. When you want information about being an excellent parent

  7. When you are discussing the possibility of separating

  8. When you need help with reconciliation

  9. When you are seriously considering divorce

  10. Whenever you are unclear about Bahá’í principles or laws that apply to your life

Depending on the circumstances, a whole Assembly may meet with someone or a couple, a committee or representative may meet with them instead, or the secretary may simply provide helpful resources and referrals.

Conducting Initial Meetings with Individuals and Couples with Marriage Problems
A Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly Training Resource Provided by Marriage Transformation® - Version: August 9, 2016
An Effort to Apply the Bahá’í Teachings to the Strengthening of Marriage; Not an Official Source of Guidance
from an institution

 


Relationship and Marriage Knowledge and Skills

Some Perspectives from Marriage Transformation: You may be in a situation where an Assembly assists you with finding a source for marriage help, or you may have to rely on individual initiative. Either way, increasing your relationship and marriage knowledge and skills is particularly helpful when there are stressful or significant changes underway; such as at the following key transition points:

  • Pre-Marriage (Self-Preparation; Friendship; Dating; Courting; Getting to Know Character; Consent; Engagement
  • Newly married
  • Becoming parents/stepparents
  • Parenting young children
  • Parenting adolescents
  • Empty-nesting/Returning children
  • Retiring/Elderly
  • Job loss/change
  • Moving homes
  • Caring for one’s parents
  • Serious illness, disability, or death
  • Any time there is a major test or difficulty

Each major change that couples experience brings a different set of stresses that can disrupt the balance between them and cause them to question their relationship. Couples can get help from relationship and marriage education programs at any stage, regardless of how long the relationship has existed or its circumstances. Please reach out for help, as there are many resources available.

Helpful Resources

National Spiritual Assemblies will generally be the primary source of materials on the topics of relationships, weddings, marriage, separation, and divorce for the local Spiritual Assemblies under their jurisdiction. Below are supplemental materials only.

Bahá’u'lláh's Marriage Law - Excerpt provided with permission of Bahá’í Canada (Feb. 2011); includes current guidance on consent, engagements, weddings...

The Bahá’í Marriage Law (English, Spanish, and Persian) -  From the November/December 2012 issue of The American Bahá'í. Originally published in the November/December 2010 issue of The American Bahá'í, ©2010 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, republished by permission.

Study and Workshop Modules: The United States Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly has developed study and workshop modules for individuals and Assemblies that may also be useful for couples. Topics include: Consultation, Conflict Resolution, Equality of Women and Men, Love and Unity, Stress Management, Domestic Violence, and more.You can download all materials from this website:

http://www.core-curriculum.org/index.php/assembly-development

See Resources for additional helpful materials.

Santa Cruz, California Rock

 

This webpage was updated on February 25, 2017

Note: All photos on this website are from Marriage Transformation workshops
or are the personal photos of Susanne M. Alexander.


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Marriage Transformation is a registered trademark, and its primary website is www.marriagetransformation.com.
This site includes www.bahaimarriage.net, www.bahaimarriages.net, and www.bahairelationships.com.
This website is an individual service initiative reflecting the current understanding of Susanne M. Alexander;
it is not affiliated with any Bahá’í institution. The official Bahá’í website is www.bahai.org, and you are encouraged to turn to the
Bahá’í institutions for specific guidance.

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