Relationships and Marriage

Courses for Relationships, Marriage Preparation, and Marriage Strengthening

“Loving Couple” Photo: © Jasmin Kemp

Overview
The Bahá’í teachings refer to marriage as a “fortress for well-being and salvation” and as the foundation for a unified global society. Healthy relationships and marriages are the foundation for creating families. The process of creating and maintaining relationships requires knowledge and skills. Individuals and couples thrive when they are engaged in personal and couple growth and development founded on spiritual teachings. The Relationship and Marriage courses build capacity in the participants to make wise choices and create happy, unified marriages that are of service to those involved and outward to others.

Audience:
The Wilmette Institute offers spiritually-based, practical, and participatory courses for:

    • Individuals wanting to understand friendship, character, dating, and courtship
    • Individuals and couples preparing for the possibility of marriage
    • Married individuals and couples who want to engage in marriage building and strengthening
    • Members of families and institutions wanting to support the relationships and marriages of others
    • Groups of individuals or couples wanting to study and discuss materials together, either in the same geographical location or over the Internet; groups may be organized with the assistance of a Local Spiritual Assembly

Feedback from a couple who attended "Making Time and Service Choices as a Couple"Course Content:
Courses include the Bahá’í Writings, relationship and marriage education materials, discussion questions and Forum, learning activities, skill-building opportunities, videos, articles, the arts, active faculty-mentoring (available by email, videoconference, or phone as needed), and more.

New: Anonymous registration is available for selected courses (identified with an asterisk and red course ID#). To register anonymously, carefully follow the instructions on the registration pages. If you have questions about the process, email the Registrar: learn@wilmetteinstitute.org.

If you are joining us and are in a challenged marriage, please know that we will not ask you to post anything personal or difficult on a public discussion forum. All participants have a faculty-mentor who is available by private email to discuss the application of the course materials to your life. We do not do counseling with participants; however, we are often able to suggest helpful resources and accompany you as needed toward creating a better situation. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Susanne M. Alexander, Department Chair, smalexander@wilmetteinstitute.org.

Language:
Course materials are in English, with Google Translate available for approximate translations. Each participant or couple in a course has a faculty mentor for interactive discussions and support. As needed, a mentor can be assigned based on a wish to interact about the content in a common language. Please specify Persian, Spanish, or Portuguese when registering to wi@usbnc.org.

Technical Requirements:
Internet access; devices capable of downloading and reading PDF documents, and email. Most of the readings, activities, and discussions are available on the course’s website, the Internet, or transmitted through email.

Registration:
The Wilmette Institute provides tuition support as needed to groups, couples, youth, senior citizens, and pioneers. Please do not register for a course more than three months in advance, because course dates sometimes must change.

Parenting Section:
For information and courses on Parenting, please visit our Parenting Section.

Wilmette Institute Relationship and Marriage Booklist (a valuable free resource)

CURRENT & UPCOMING COURSES

“New Courses for Challenged Marriages” —Susanne M. Alexander

 


This schedule is subject to change. Courses may shift in dates, some titles will change, new courses will appear, and some courses may be repeated. Registration will open at least 3 months in advance of a course.

MF010 Creating Unity with Friendship, Fun, Laughter, and Social Vitality

Faculty: Susanne M. Alexander, Fariba Vahdat
Dates: May 25 to July 12, 2020

Do you sometimes feel your life and the life of the community are a bit too intense and serious? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encourages laughter, story-telling, friendships, and social connection, even in the middle of challenging circumstances. Come enjoy learning how to deepen friendships, have fun together, extend hospitality, share humorous stories, take a lighter approach to difficulties, and more. Open to individuals, groups, couples, friends, families, and communities. We encourage groups to form to study this course, which could be a couple, some friends, or a family, even those scattered geographically. All ages over 11 are welcome, provided those under 18 have an email address and are accompanied by an adult. Please invite your friends!

Note: We encourage groups to form to study this course, which could be a couple, some friends, or a family, even those scattered geographically. If you want to set up or expand your study group, or someone needs a scholarship, please email the Wilmette Institute, at learn@wilmetteinstitute.org, for help. This course is led by the Relationships, Marriage, Parenting, and Family faculty team but it has general content open to all.

MFY01: Foundations for Relationships-Ages 18 to 30

Faculty: Susanne M. Alexander, Leslie Asplund, Alex Blakeson, Dave Grammer, and Fiona McDonald
Dates:
June 1 to July 19, 2020

Youth 18-30 years old are invited to gather in videoconference study groups to explore the Bahá’í teachings and their practical application for healthy relationships and marriage! Personal study and group meetings will aid you in learning about your own and a partner’s character, building a friendship, understanding your expectations and what’s important to you in a partner, being a couple, interacting with parents, and forming a healthy marriage. Participants register as individuals and are grouped during the first few days of the course and matched with a faculty-mentor; groups may form through their own connections or be formed by faculty. [Individuals 31 and older are welcome to study similar content in the self-study course “Thinking of Relationships and Marriage”.]

New: *MF040 Utilizing Consultation in Marriage and Family

Faculty: Susanne M. Alexander, Fariba Vahdat, Riaz Mostaghim
Dates: September 14 to October 25, 2020

Couples who pray, communicate effectively, and consult skillfully together can understand one another, make unified decisions, and maintain unity. Family consultation teaches children how to cooperate with others and make decisions, a skill that will benefit them (and their parents!) throughout life. As skillful consultation increases in a marriage and family, conflict and disunity are less likely to arise, and unified outcomes increase.

New: *MF038 Spiritualizing Your Money in Marriage

Faculty: Wendi Momen, Fariba Vahdat, Riaz Mostaghim
Dates: November 16 to December 27, 2020

Humanity has a complex relationship with money, and couples bring their own personal complexity into marriage. We will prompt you to better understand your history with money and current perceptions about it that affect your marriage and family. You will increase your ability to apply spiritual principles and your priorities as a couple to financial decisions. As you increase your understanding and skills with money matters, new opportunities open up to build couple and family unity.


365  COURSES (REGISTER ANYTIME)

Courses are self-guided study with mentoring support from faculty as needed. They do not have group participation unless participants set up a study group. Members of institutions or their agencies that support the health of relationships and marriages in the community are welcome at any time.

Video: Relationships and Marriage 24/7/365

Thinking of Relationships and Marriage? 24/7/365

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Single individuals over 30 years old who are not yet in a relationship, or individuals or couples in the early stage of a relationship; can be useful for others doing a relationship well-being check. March/April 2020: If you are 18 to 30 years old, please join ‘Foundations for Relationships‘ instead.

You may be uncertain about being in a relationship and also be thinking, “Why get married?” Come explore and learn new perspectives and ways of preparing for positive experiences. Building a relationship can be a natural part of your life journey to establish a close connection with someone. Thinking of Relationships and Marriage? will help you navigate through a coherent process of building a friendship, assessing character, understanding male-female relationships, and being of service. Your learning will position you to make significant decisions about courtship and the broader horizon of marriage.

Are We Ready for Marriage? 24/7/365

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Couples in a serious relationship considering marrying; anyone wanting to better understand marriage preparation.

You are in a serious relationship and wondering whether you can be successful together in marriage. Come explore your shared vision of a possible unified future life together. Engage in a rich learning experience about: friendship, communication, spiritual unity, being of service, equality, family life with children, money and work, marriage as a divine institution and foundation for world unity, uniting a couples’ families, and parental consent to marriage. Thorough preparation for marriage helps couples establish a strong foundation.

Engaging in Parental Consent for Marriage – 24/7/365

FACULTY: See Marriage Team
Audience: Couples who are considering asking parents for consent to marry; parents wanting to understand the teachings about parental consent; anyone wanting to know more about the subject.

Engaging in Parental Consent for Marriage is a course centered in the Bahá’í belief that marriage is intended to be a unifying experience for a family. It explores the knowledge and skills needed during courtship as well as those that help build family unity throughout the process leading up to a marriage. The course covers the purpose and process of parental consent, a requirement for Bahá’í marriages; the couple’s responsibilities during courtship and before asking parents for consent to marry; parental responsibilities during courtship, consent, and engagement; and building a united family.

Building Intercultural Understanding as a Couple 24/7/365

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Couples at any relationship or marriage stage who want to increase their unity and harmony through better understanding of each other’s culture; those who wish to provide encouragement and support to intercultural couples.

It is easy to say that the oneness of humanity is a vital part of peace on the planet. It is another matter to figure out how to unify two people with different cultural backgrounds, races, or languages into a happy relationship or marriage. In Building Intercultural Understanding as a Couple, we will enhance understanding of the spiritual principles involved as well as delve into the practical, daily application of them. Practical application includes the impact of your union on your families and current or future children. Come deepen your unity along with us!

Making Time and Service Choices As a Couple 24/7/365

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Couples (before and after marriage)

Is it possible to meet the challenge of making time and service choices as individuals and as a couple and family? Before and after marriage (and in all of life!) you face time choices. You want to stay connected with each other and your families, and you also want to be of service to your neighbors and community. We will help you understand the principles that relate to these choices and how to apply them in practical ways. We have made this course deliberately VERY SHORT for those who are time challenged!

Enhancing Love, Friendship, and Service in Your Marriage

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Engaged and married couples

In happy marriages, couples are intimate and loving companions who know each other well and who provide thoughtful service to each other. However, the press of busy lives can unconsciously lessen your connection. Engaged and married couples will deepen their understanding of each other with practical tools related to friendship, love, and service. You will choose couple practices to have as the culture of your marriage that enhance your unity and help you serve each other, your families, and outward to others.

Creating Marriage Well-Being from the Beginning 

Faculty: See Marriage Team
Audience: Couples in the first five years of marriage; other couples, including engaged couples

It’s fun and challenging to start and establish a marriage on a firm foundation. We invite couples in the first five years of marriage (others are welcome too, including engaged couples) to strengthen their experience of the divine institution of marriage. Baha’u’llah refers to marriage as a “fortress for well-being and salvation”. Couples will have opportunities to deepen their friendship, expand communication and consultation skills, enhance spiritual and physical well-being, and establish roles and responsibilities as marriage partners.