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.