"The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God."
It is also a physical relationship and a friendship. A successful marriage should go a long way towards ensuring the health and happiness of husband and wife.
In order to achieve a happy and permanent union, first of all great care needs to be taken in approaching marriage in the right way.
According to Bahá'í belief, the couple must be free to choose one another, and the parents have no right to interfere or to "arrange" a marriage.
The couple: "must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity..."
When the couple have made their choice they must then obtain their parents' approval before they can marry. This ensures that they will have the support of both of their families, particularly helpful in time of trouble. It preserves the unity of the family, for unity and harmony are the keynotes of Bahá'í life and Bahá'í teachings. It also helps to ensure that their choice is the right one. The parents must do all they can to get to know the proposed partner well enough to see if the couple are suited and the marriage is likely to be a success. They should realise that they must never refuse permission simply because of differences of, for instance, race, religion or background. When the parents give their wholehearted support to a marriage, it has a much greater chance of success.
The couple must learn to live together in harmony, and to work together as a team. They should share their concerns and the events of their lives and always show affection to one another:
Neither has the right to impose their wishes on the other:
"There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other."
The Bahá'í teachings on the equality of men and women must be put into practice in the home.
They must be absolutely faithful and loyal to each other, spiritually as well as physically.
Most importantly, husband and wife should pray together, especially when they face problems or difficulties.
"The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul!"
Differences of race, religion and culture should not be allowed to become a problem. Bahá'ís revere the Founders of each of the world's religions and cherish the different cultures of the world. Unity in diversity is a keynote theme in the Bahá'í Faith and gives beauty to a marriage and enriches the couple.
When problems arise or decisions need to be made, the couple should pray and then consult together as to the solutions. Consultation is one of the most important laws of the Bahá'í Faith. When practised in a spirit of prayer, solutions will be found much more easily.
"The foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."
If the couple have differences which they cannot solve between themselves, their parents and families will try to help. They should also turn to their Local Bahá'í Assembly for advice and guidance. They may also wish to seek professional advice. However, if the couple reach the point where they feel that they can no longer live together, they must announce their intention to divorce and then live apart for one year. During this year all efforts will be made to help the couple to be reconciled. But, if all attempts fail, at the end of the year the marriage will be ended.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27 Rutland Gate, LONDON SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.