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I was recently contacted by a couple who had a chance to go on a 3-day visit to the Bahá’í World Centre.  Neither had been on pilgrimage before, and considered this the next best thing.  The husband wanted to go, and the wife did not.  They were at a stalemate and wondered if I could help.  What follows are some ideas that we explored together.

When you go on pilgrimage, or for a three-day visit, you’re going to the most sacred spot on earth to have the most sacred experience of your life.  Your goal is for your soul to connect with your Beloved.  It’s an intensely personal experience, so in some ways it might be better not go as a couple, so that you can totally, totally be focused on your own experience without having to worry about your spouse.  You may be giving him a real gift to let him go by himself.

Although family members are allowed to go on pilgrimage and many do go as a family, I’ve never seen anything in the Writings to suggest you should go with them.  I think if Baha’u’llah meant for couples to do it together He would’ve said so.  Instead He said it is required for men but not for women, so to my mind, pilgrimages are not meant to be taken together for the purpose of strengthening the marriage.

The Lord hath ordained that those of you who are able shall make pilgrimage to the sacred House, and from this He hath exempted women as a mercy on His part. He, of a truth, is the All-Bountiful, the Most Generous.  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 29)

If you don’t go, there’s another way of looking at it:  instead of worrying that you are giving something up by letting him go alone, there’s a quote that says the greatest of all pilgrimages is to relieve the sorrow laden heart.  In that context your sacrifice itself is the greatest of all pilgrimages.

Remember the saying: ‘Of all pilgrimages the greatest is to relieve the sorrow-laden heart.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 92)

Whether or not to go with a family member is a decision that everyone has to make themselves.

What has been your experience?  Post your comments here: