Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Year of Waiting

Warning! This is a bit of a rant (although I will try to add some useful stuff in here).

Why am I warning you? Well, it just seemed appropriate. I mean, this whole topic is just ridiculous, and I wanted to vent a bit.

And just what is it that gets me going? The Year of Waiting, that precious time in which a husband and wife, or wife and husband depending on your point of view, can strive, under the guidance of an institution of the Faith, to repair any damage that may have occurred to their marriage. This is a very important time in the healing of the souls involved, and yet so many of us just seem to want to neglect it.

Ok. Let me go back a moment. To start, I have heard of many of my personal friends who have gotten divorced in the last little while, and over the years I've also spoken with many members of Assemblies who have, without violating confidentiality, confided in me about their general concerns regarding other divorces.

As you may know, divorce, while permitted, is highly discouraged within the Baha'i Faith. In fact, the Teachings "consider it a reprehensible act," says the Guardian, "which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such...considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony." "...(T)he foundation of the Kingdom of God", says 'Abdu'l-Baha, "is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife. If one of these two become the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse." Wow. Can't get a much sterner warning than that.

Now that the whole idea of divorce is put into that perspective, it needs to be mentioned that a Baha'i divorce requires a "Year of Waiting". This is, in a sense, a "cool off" period, where you have already recognized that things are not working out, and need some time away from each other to try and make things better. During this period you are not allowed to live under the same roof, sleep together, or date anyone else. It is a time for trying to reconcile. The year begins when you notify an Assembly of your intentions, and then proceed to work with their assistance in achieving reconciliation. In the event that reconciliation does not occur, this year is also a form of spiritual healing.

And yet in virtually every case I have heard about, and I mean like 95% (and no, that's not an exaggeration), the couple has asked that the "Year of Waiting" be backdated. It has even gotten to the point where I ask my friends when they tell me that they've begun a YoW (hey, good acronym) if they have asked for a backdate to the start of their year. In every single case where I've asked, the answer has been "yes".

Friends, this is ridiculous. It's absurd. It totally seems to me (and yeah, it's still only my own personal opinion) to miss the point of the YoW (I really like that acronym). Worse! I think it's disobedient to a law of Baha'u'llah (as far as I can tell).

I mean, sure, the Assembly has the right to grant a backdate, but look at the quote: "...the date of the beginning of the year of patience normally commences when one of the parties notifies the Assembly that they have separated with the intention of divorce. However, the Assembly may establish the beginning of the year of patience on a prior date provided it is satisfied such prior date reflects the actual date of separation and there is good reason for so doing." Look at that last bit again: "provided... there is good reason for so doing".

No one, not a single friend, has ever had what, to my own limited rant-filled mind, is a "good reason for so doing". And yes, I ask. I mean, they are friends, after all. And none of them have ever told me that they were offended at my asking. It was just a part of the conversation when they told me they were getting divorced.

"My partner and I have filed for a YoW." (Even the acronym sounds like it hurts. That should tell you something.)

"Did you, by any chance ask for it to be backdated?"

"Uhm , well, yes."

"I'm just curious, why?"

And there they are. I've heard all sorts of reasons from people, and not a single one of them admitted that it was a "good reason for so doing".

Oh, there were two. One asked for it to be backdated 50 weeks because her husband was due to get married again in 15 days, and she didn't want him to be a bigamist. And no, the husband was not a Baha'i.

The second was that her husband had already married again, and no he wasn't a Baha'i either. (What is it with these husbands?)

But separating "with the intention of divorce" sounds like it's already foredoomed to failure, for your intention is divorce, not reconciliation. True, but it actually works. When a couple has discovered that there are problems, and they've tried to work them out, and failed, there is probably a lot of anger and resentment involved. They separate. And their intention, at that time, is divorce. Then, after a month or two, tempers cool off (given the chance), and they can begin to work towards reconciliation.

This is when I've seen it work.

When they have given each other the gift of time apart, allowed things to cool down, and then worked with all sincerity towards getting back together: this is a recipe for success.

A family is a living entity. And when you divorce, it is as if you are killing that being.

The YoW is a chance to examine that being to see if the illness is actually terminal or not.

We need to respect that time, honour it, and really use it to its intended purpose. Not all marriages will work out. There is a reason that divorce is permitted. But it really seems a gross injustice, to me, to treat this time as if it were nothing more than an administrative nightmare.

Ok. Rant done.

And now back to your regularly scheduled blog.


  1. Thanks Mead for this post. I think one important thing to keep in mind is that the year of waiting is NOT a year of a waiting. It is a year of PATIENCE. The Arabic of the Kitabi-i-Aqdas is very clear on this. The words used are always from the root s.abr which does not mean waiting; it means patience, i.e. patience with one's spouse and patience with oneself as every effort is made to re-conciliate and re-establish harmony. Thanks again for raising this important issue.

  2. Thank you for the clarification about the Arabic. I always appreciate that. Oh, and just to be clear, is the root word " s'abr "? Or "sabr"? I'm just curious.

    In English, I suspect that it has been translated to "waiting" due to the implications of the two words. There is a letter from the Universal House of Justice, back on 9 February 1982, that talks about this. They say, "In reply to your letter of . . . requesting clarification about the use of the phrases "year of waiting" and "year of patience," the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that while it is preferable to use "year of waiting," either phrase can be used."

    What you point out, though, does imply that the waiting is not passive. And that patience is a huge part of it.

    Thanks again.

  3. Excellent post Mead. Obedience to the Laws is so important. It is there for our well being and health. Baha'u'llah always knows best. I think you were due for a rant. lol

  4. Great thoughts, Mead. And you can slide your percentage down a notch, since we just completed a year of patience, and did not backdate it. In fact, if anything, we waited through a year of "semi-separation" before even applying for the year of patience. And I (the husband) am a non-Bah'a'i.

  5. Yay! I mean, "yay" for the "not backdating", not the divorce. Thanks for lowering the stat.

  6. Great rant, Mead! I think people start the year of patience way too late - often when the marriage is beyond saving. I also think that non-Baha'i marriage counselors aren't very helpful. They don't very often have people come to them committed to finding a way to save a marriage and so often council divorce too early in the process. I know in my case, I went from counselor to counselor telling my story and they all said the same thing, even when I said I was there to save the marriage - they all encouraged me to divorce. Finally I found one who took us on, and a few sessions in we were given an ultimatum: divorce or get back together again or I won't work with you anymore. She was totally disinterested in working with a "year of waiting". After so many people telling me to divorce, I caved in.

    You might want to read my posting at:

  7. Hi Mead, I'd love to hear of stories of 'successful' reconciliations as a result of the Year of Patience. In other words: do you know of stories where 'it worked' and can you share them? My husband is requesting the year of patience and I will do all I can to stay true to its spirit and to reconcile...Of course it does not only depend on me, and he seems determined to separate - but my hope had not completely died yet. Thanks.


  8. Divorce is a Rampant Epidemic especially when the government & military (NATO) is behind it!

    I went to a father’s group in Texas (just north of Fort Hood) where some ex-military west pointer gave some real eye-opening comments. He basically said that the current Divorce process, legislation, court system and military is all one scheme that was put into play around the early 1960‘s. It was put in place for the Vietnam War, that’s when the divorces started to sky-rocket across the country (Google statistics). That in addition, it was also designed to be one huge cash-cow to lure greedy lawyers to facilitate and destroy more families on the civilian side to get enough statistics to make it comparable to the military statistics. However the military numbers are still much higher. That is why they then modified the scheme to use on police nationwide to raise the civilian stats as most are ex-military and won’t suspect anything wrong.

    It is designed to send “single” male soldiers without family responsibilities to war and deny ex-wives any long-term financial support that was initially and may still be coming from the military/ pentagon’s money pockets. This is why laws traditionally have been favoring women. Women are lured to divorce partners with both positive and negatives reinforcements. The positive is they get the kids, the house, money in many forms-child support etc thus they benefit in the short term. To the military, the soldiers wives are expendable as are the soldiers and even their children! Simply the less money the military spends on wives, kids, ex-soldiers, the medical bills etc, the more they have for their drones, guns, or bullets. The scheme is very very complicated but based on very slow very subtle psy-ops brainwashing tactics followed by Machiavellian divide and conquer restraining orders. He said that any Freedom of Information request will gradually reveal key pieces of data that when analyzed together with confirm all this. Talking about this among other soldiers would also reveal stuff, so they came up with “leave your family problems at home” and the “zero tolerance” to divorce and get the spouses or soldiers out of the service quickly before they talk and expose the scheme. Many times this leads to actual suicides or apparent “suicides” to silence those that know too much. This is also the reason why the Pentagon does not want to release documents related to divorce. Part of the even bigger Military-Industrial complex. Similar schemes used throughout the world pushed through United Nations facades.

    Basically makes wives and soldier fight and hate each other. The scheme basically exploits women’s emotional traits to spread itself to other victims. The media contributes to the fear mongering and makes things worst. Fear (PTSD etc) makes women fear for their safety or some play the helpless damsel in distress thus they then go pleading to the oh-so-willing authorities who provide them with military issued cookie cutter divorce packets to take to a civilian lawyer. They do this to hide where the process initially starts.

  9. Hi Mead, thank you for your support in this post - my husband and I (both Baha'i) are embarking on a YoW/YoP. I agree with Susan that we have probably waited too long to begin this process of reconciliation. And I too wonder if you know of any sucess stories of marriages continued due to the YoW/YoP ?
    Also, since we are both LSA members, we were very reluctant to bring this matter to our home LSA, and we have aksed an LSA other than our own to assist us. I wonder if this kind of, well, embarassment, keeps others away from approaching their assembly.

  10. The statement by Abdu'l-Baha that " If one of these two become the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse." is not to be taken lightly. My former husband was the cause of our divorce (will not go into details of very serious causes that no other person should have to endure), and since the divorce ten years ago, his life has fallen apart and he lives with deep regret and remorse. Had I not witnessed this with my own eyes, I would not think it possible.

  11. I found the above very interesting. Thanks. I have read or heard somewhere that Baha'is should not use lawyers against each other... and should not start any legal divorce proceedings until after the YoW/YoP... Can anyone lead me to those quotations or is it just hearsay? Thanks.