By a Reader who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
When I got married, I truly believed in “happily ever after”, and nothing prepared me for the fact that marriage is hard; and takes two people working together so that both wings of the bird are equally strong and can fly. Now I know that marriage is hard, and I have the utmost respect for those who are able to stay married!
One part of the problem is the perfect ideal set by the Faith
I think another factor of the problem is the perfect ideal. So many Baha’is fear the image of imperfection because the standards are so high. So when we do fail, stumble, make poor choices, or just face trials that suck the life right out of us, we really feel like we have nowhere to turn. We see marriages that have lasted decades and think they must have something special that we don’t, and we don’t want to disappoint anybody by admitting that anything is wrong. And in avoiding dealing with the issues, we don’t get the help we need. I think this is a major problem in the Baha’i community as a whole.
The “image” of the faith becomes more important than the people trying to get help. I’ve seen people leave or become inactive rather than deal with their problems. It almost happened to me, and I still haven’t even let on to anybody in the Baha’i community that I’ve been struggling.
It’s not just an individual problem, it’s a couple, and it’s a family problem
Marriage is hard because it’s not just an individual problem, it’s a couple, it’s a family.
Avoiding backbiting means there are no role models
It’s also a situation where the admonition against backbiting actually creates a problem (though definitely a lesser issue) in that people don’t generally know that Mr & Mrs X had such and such problems twelve years ago, and so on. I’m not saying at all that we should gossip, just that it is a bit ironic that it could create another challenge.
Fear of taking problems to an LSA
Smaller communities have even more of a problem; because many can’t necessarily fully apply the concept that they can take their problems to the LSA for guidance. This can be out of fear that the individuals will then know all your secrets, and will act as individuals rather than members of the LSA.
Another fear is that the LSA will just tell you to not do the thing that led you to where you are in the first place. Kind of a “well of course you’re having trouble, you strayed from the laws/guidance. And then you’re left feeling ridiculed and shamed. None if this has happened, I’ve not taken anything to my own LSA for just these fears.
While staying on “the path” prevents some of the obvious problems, there are always others that will still come up
Life happens. Challenges will present themselves. We are human beings with human desires and human faults and limitations and while staying on “the path” can definitely prevent some of the obvious problems, there are others that will still come up. And when you’re doing everything “right” and you still have colossal troubles, you then begin to question why you’re doing the other things “right” at all.
I got married young, (20) had lots of community support, was faithful to the laws of the faith in my marriage, and still suffered from post-partum and full blown depression.
I do see how life was when I was closer to the guidance, vs when I was ready to give up
I didn’t feel like I was allowed to deal with any of the things going on in my head for fear of being seen as some sort of failure, but no longer willing to idly accept the “because God told you” excuse. Looking back, I do see how life was when I was closer to the guidance, vs when I was ready to give up and “independently investigate” exactly what it all meant to me. I got healthy physically and emotionally and mentally, and began to find myself again. I’ve made much progress in that area but had trouble balancing it with spiritual growth and health.
Your spouse’s tests affect yours
You also have to consider whatever tests your spouse is going through, and how they will affect your tests.
When I didn’t feel I was a “perfect Baha’i” I couldn’t participate without feeling like a hypocrite and life suffered as a result
I’m only barely coming back to being able to be an active Baha’i, and by barely I really mean in the last month. So I don’t have a full perspective and I don’t know where I will end up. I also know that when I didn’t feel I was a “perfect Baha’i” even if only at heart and in my mind, I couldn’t in good conscience participate without feeling like a hypocrite. And my life definitely suffered as a result. I guess it really felt like a plant that wasn’t being regularly watered. Weak, not growing, alive but only barely, susceptible to the slightest winds that came along and blew me down. I don’t really know what all this means, I’m kind of writing a stream of consciousness here.
The DAY I decided that maybe a lack of spiritual “nutrition” was preventing me from facing challenges and that I would at least try to realign myself spiritually divine confirmations began pouring in. And fast!
But… Literally the DAY I decided that maybe a lack of spiritual “nutrition” was preventing me from standing up and facing challenges with confidence and the certitude I once felt, and that I would at least try to realign myself spiritually before giving up on my marriage and my faith altogether, divine confirmations began pouring in. And fast!
Love Me that I may love thee, if thou love at Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee
I’m still processing what it all means, but the quote that comes to mind and feels the most appropriate is “love Me that I may love thee, if thou love at Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.”