Most couples marry early in life, often caught up in lust and passion, letting it carry them through the first blush of romance, without stopping to assess the person’s character, and later, when the lust has worn off, they find themselves saddled to a partner with a weak character and divorce is quick to follow.
Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close. . . . If, however, the bond is physical and nothing more, it is sure to be only temporary, and must inexorably end in separation. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 117)
In that “dewy-eyed” state of lust, at a time in life when young people feel invincible, they think the next 60 years of marriage will be exactly as they feel now, failing to understand that life is full of tests, which have to be endured for our spiritual development.
Prior to this Dispensation, traditional Christian wedding vows included the phrase: “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health“:
I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.
When you’re young and in good health, it’s hard to understand that sickness is inevitable; it’s one of the ways God uses to polish our characters.
Poverty, disease, bereavement, -they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes! (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603-604)
Money is another cause of problems in marriage, because it’s a truism that riches will be followed by poverty and poverty will be followed by riches. The latter is easy to understand as newly married couples are often saddled with student loan debt which keeps them poor, while the education it’s bought typically leads to higher and higher paying jobs. When your finances are on the way up, it’s hard to plan for days when poverty will be followed by riches.
Be not troubled in poverty nor confident in riches, for poverty is followed by riches, and riches are followed by poverty. (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 51)
But there are more than health and money tests which plague a marriage, which is perhaps why Baha’u’llah changed the marriage vow in this dispensation to give us something to come back to in times of trouble.
Baha’is are required to say the verse:
The specifically revealed verse is “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.” (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 58)
So what are the other common tests in marriage and how will the new marriage vow “We will all, verily, abide by the will of God” help us solve them?
In the next series of articles I will explore the ten most common ones, and show the Will of God for each.
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