From the Bahá’í Teachings and Administration:
"Bend your energies to whatever may foster the education of men." (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 9)
“Learning in action is becoming the outstanding feature of the emerging mode of operation.” (Universal House of Justice, 1-17-03)
“The more we do, the more we learn.” (International Teaching Centre, 9-30-07)
“This evolution in collective consciousness is discernable in the growing frequency with which the word ‘accompany’ appears in conversations among the friends, a word that is being endowed with new meaning as it is integrated into the common vocabulary of the Bahá’í community. It signals the significant strengthening of a culture in which learning is the mode of operation, a mode that fosters the informed participation of more and more people in a united effort to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to the construction of a divine civilization, which the Guardian states is the primary mission of the Faith. Such an approach offers a striking contrast to the spiritually bankrupt and moribund ways of an old social order that so often seeks to harness human energy through domination, through greed, through guilt or through manipulation.” (Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2010)
"...[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; while Bahá’ís who are professional counselors are free to share with the friends extracts from the Bahá’í Writings and to offer advice of a general nature, it is best that they refer the friends in the first instance to their Local Spiritual Assemblies when questions arise about the application of the laws and Teachings of the Faith." (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, September 24, 2014)
Please see below for education opportunities.
What Is Relationship and Marriage Education?
Perspectives from Marriage Transformation®
Note: The relationship and marriage education field has grown globally over the last forty years as a means of equiping people to be more successful at marriage. It is not the same as counseling, although it may be delivered at times by someone trained as a counselor. There are many different types of marriage education experiences and a diversity of materials available from a wide array of sources.
Systematic Relationship and Marriage Education Based on the Bahá’í Writings
It is important to note that there is no one system for Bahá’í relationship and marriage education that exists. The methods and focus for any marriage education effort will vary significantly across the planet depending on the needs of the population and available resources. Communities will make decisions about whether to use materials already developed by a variety of organizations and institutions or those that develop locally as needed. Those involved will utilize learning-in-action to discern what works.
“As you know, courtship practices differ greatly from one culture to another, and it is not yet known what pattern of courtship will emerge in the future when society has been more influenced by Bahá’í Teachings. However, there is no indication that it will resemble the practices extant in existing cultures…. In this interim period, the friends are encouraged to make great efforts to live in conformity with the Teachings and to gradually forge a new pattern of behavior, more in keeping with the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.” (Universal House of Justice: August 28, 1994, to an individual)
A Description of Relationship and Marriage Education
Relationship and marriage education’s focus is on taking action to strengthen knowledge and skills in individuals and couples, as well as prevent future problems. It is aimed at empowering people to create marriages that provide healthy and happy stability and unity for families and communities. Relationship and marriage education can include such activities as reading books, studying in groups, taking courses, participating in workshops, and mentoring. It provides important knowledge, skills, and attitudes about relationships, marriage, and re-marriage to foster a gradual and organic transformation process.
Relationship and marriage education helps with building capacity and strengths. Ideally, it equips people to be healthy individuals with many character strengths who can then be successful partners in a relationship and then as spouses. It includes preparation for relationships and marriage for individuals and couples of all ages and experience levels. It also provides marriage-strengthening tools for healthy married couples who want to continue learning, growing, and developing. Ideally, this type of education continues across the life span of couples.
Relationship and marriage education is an excellent choice for:
- unmarried people interested in learning about relationships
- couples considering and involved in dating, courtship, and marriage
- unmarried people and couples considering re-marriage
- parents of individuals considering dating, courtship, consent, engagement, and marriage
- newly married couples
- couples experiencing the usual ups and downs of married life
- couples experiencing external tests that can affect the marriage
- couples in life-stage transitions; such as, becoming parents or their children leaving home
- couples with strong marriages who enjoy enriching their marriage further
What Relationship and Marriage Education is Not
Relationship and marriage education is not counseling or therapy, but instead it focuses on building understanding and competence. It is not generally for couples in crisis. Although marriage education can provide skill building and assistance for deeply troubled couples considering separation or divorce, this education is usually best linked with help from a trained couples therapist and consultation with a Spiritual Assembly.
Marriage education may warn some couples who are experiencing difficulties of the need to address their problems. However, the timing of marriage education sometimes may not be appropriate when a marriage is in active crisis or decline. This could include:
- signs of estrangement or aversion
- daily conflict
- any type of abusive or addictive behavior
- significant diminishing in feelings of hope, joy, or commitment
- not experiencing the marriage as a haven and “fortress for well-being” (Bahá’u’lláh)
Seriously troubled couples may find marriage education in groups or workshops to be discouraging or difficult where other couples are having a much healthier experience in their relationships. They may also disrupt the experience for or discourage other couples who are not in crisis.
More Information is available through this document:
Marriage and Relationship Vision and Action for Bahá’í Communities (pdf)
Individual Transformation and Relationship to the Laws (downloable pdf); provided on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual 9-24-14
Community-Based Pre-Marriage Preparation
and Marriage Education
Transforming the planet starts with individual transformation and transformation in our families. Consider the value of incorporating premarital and marriage education into your individual, family, and community life.
Online Education: The Wilmette Institute, an agency of the U.S. Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly, is offering regular online knowledge and skill-building courses on relationships and marriage. Participants are global. Scholarships are available. The faculty and mentoring team is: Susanne Alexander, Alex Blakeson, Hoda Kemp, Wendi Momen, Raymond Switzer, and Fariba Vahdat. Individuals, couples, and online and local study groups all participate.
Wilmette Institute Relationship & Marriage courses are planned for singles, courting individuals and couples, married individuals and couples, and parents.
Details and registration available at: http://wilmetteinstitute.org/ourcourses/upcoming/marriage/
Study and Workshop Modules: The United States Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly has also 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: www.core-curriculum.org/index.php/assembly-development
Books and Educational Materials:
This document contains a reference list that may be useful to you as you study about relationships and marriage:
Book List - Relationships and Marriage
There are many videos available that educate people on relationships and marriages. Here is a link to a document with many listed that will prompt learning, reflection, and the opportunity for participants to thoughtfully assess how closely the content matches spiritual teachings.
Video List - Relationships and Marriage (pdf)
Video List - Relationships and Marriage (Excel)
Marriage Transformation Education Materials
Assemblies: Marriage Transformation has created a vision document to assist individuals, Assemblies, and communities with ideas for how to include relationship and marriage education as part of the rhythm of community life. Marriage and Relationship Vision and Action for Bahá’í Communities (pdf) (Note: This includes the above clarification of what marriage education is and is not.)
Individuals and Couples: Marriage Transformation provides workshops to local communities when requested by a Spiritual Assembly. At all stages of relationships and marriage, people can benefit from knowledge and skill building. Relationship and Married Couple Workshops (customized with Bahá’í content)
Parents: Marriage Transformation has created a discussion guide based on Bahá’í guidance to assist parents of teens and young adults: Discussion Guide for Parents About Dating, Courting, Character, Chastity, and Consent (downloadable pdf file)
The Canadian National Spiritual Assembly guides its communities to study Bahá’í marriage and its related laws each February.
At the request of a community in British Columbia, a handout was prepared as a service in 2011, and it can be edited and available to other communities as needed. Download a pdf of the draft version of the Bahá’í Marriage Workshop Handout1 (mixed audience) or Bahá’í Marriage Workshop Handout2 (primarily unmarried individuals and couples). Request copies of the document in Microsoft Word format for editing purposes and to consult about use.
English-Chinese Marriage Discussion Handouts (Approx. 2 hours; Created by Marriage Transformation originally for groups of Chinese learning English in the greater Vancouver, Canada area, known as "English Corners") English pdf and Chinese pdf
Handouts and Resources for Workshops/Discussion Groups with
Youth and Unmarried Individuals of All Ages - Active Divorce Prevention!