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Learner Reflections: Building a marriage that will last forever

Nov 24, 2021

Course: Empower Your Marriage & Family to Thrive (2021)
Faculty Mentor: Rezal Martinez-Gillies

By the end of this course, my goals were to have a more spiritually developed approach to creating and sustaining a Bahá’í family life filled with more joy and positivity, and as a result, to be able to serve the Faith better as a family. I feel that I did make a great deal of progress meeting my goals using the resources presented in this course.

I gained many insights from this class–from the readings, videos, zoom participation, and my journaling and reflection. In particular, I thought the Bahá’í Marriage Worksheet was an excellent way to reflect on Bahá’u’lláh’s gift of marriage, cultivating a Bahá’í marriage, and marital unity. The following quote from How to Build a Marriage That Will Last Forever, by Abdu’l-Missagh Ghadirian, BahaiTeachings.org, encapsulates the spirit of my learning.

True love “…is prompted by the ideal of unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul … This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.”

Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks pages 180-181 

I also valued the materials prepared on Bahá’í consultation, which facilitated my decision during this course to consciously apply the principles of consultation in my marriage and family to generate greater spiritual love and unity.

“Consultation has been ordained by Bahá’u’lláh as the means by which agreement is to be reached and a collective course of action defined. It is applicable to the marriage partners and within the family, and indeed in all areas where believers participate in mutual decision-making. It requires all participants to express their opinions with absolute freedom and without apprehension that they will be censured and/or their views belittled; these prerequisites for success are unattainable if the fear of violence or abuse are present.”

Universal House of Justice, January 24, 1993

Additionally, the materials that focused on the importance of finding laughter, joy, love, and unity in our family and community life were useful to me. Here are two examples: a quote (see below) from The Promulgation of Universal Peace, and a TED Talk by Sophie Scott who marvelously demonstrated the critical role laughter can and does play in our lives.

Neuroscientist and Stand-up Comic, shares
“Why We Should Take Laughter More Seriously.” 

“This is the day of Bahá’u’lláh…If you do not smile now, for what time  will you await and what greater happiness could you expect? This is the springtime of manifestation. The vernal shower has descended from the cloud of divine mercy; the life-giving breeze of the Holy Spirit is wafting the perfume of blossoms. From field and meadow rises a fragrant breath of thanksgiving like pure incense ascending to the throne of God. The world has become a new world; souls are quickened, spirits renewed, refreshed. Truly it is a time for happiness.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 210

I will apply what I have learned during this course in my family and Bahá’í community life. I will use the children’s education and training resources in our Children’s Class both with the children and parents. I will prepare beautiful cards from selected quotes used in this course for the parents

You asked “Have I experienced any new feelings or attitudes about this subject?” I will respond to this question using one of my discussion posts. It reads as follows:

“And when He [God] desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: ‘Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves.’” (Bahá’u’lláh; Bahá’í Prayers (US 2002), p. 118) 

This prayer graced our wedding invitation many years ago. Then, I saw it as the ideal of marriage. Meditating on it now from the perspective of having lived in my marriage, I see glimmers of new understandings. I feel God’s love for humanity in this prayer. Here Bahá’u’lláh sets forth the purpose and instruction for marriage. He tells us that through His favor, He created the binding law of marriage and made it a stronghold for our happiness and protection. And, within the sanctity of marriage, we are to bring into creation new life that will be trained and developed in the spirit of God, tell the world about the beauty of this Revelation, serve humankind, and unite the world of humanity.

My core values and beliefs have not changed. However, I did find the materials on forgiveness very compelling as it relates to marriage. It strengthened my beliefs about marriage.

If I take a Wilmette Institute course in the future, I will spend more time thoughtfully attending the zoom meetings. I found that I liked the focused discussion. I found the “questioning for understanding” technique extremely useful in understanding the practical application of the content presented in this course. 

Contributors

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Martha Washington

Martha Washington was raised by her mother and siblings in Southern California, and moved to New Mexico as a young mother. Returning to the United States after twenty-five years in Japan, Martha is retired and lives in McLean, VA, with her family.

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