Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 33: MARRIAGE

Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is MARRIAGE. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.

All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD! 

Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world.  The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority. 

Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!

Opening Meditation
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:

O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.

The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.

Opening Thoughts
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.

Marriage is a spiritual union between a man and a woman in an absolute sense. It is your notice to the world that you share one life with your partner and that life has its roots in the Universe. Your previous individual life is over as soon as you get married. Your primary concern in marriage is how you could improve the one life for continued love and happiness. Marriage is not what you could get from it and it is no longer about you and your needs but about the needs of the marriage.

Presently marriage is no longer absolutely between a man and a woman. We now have marriages between same sex couples in some countries and I believe the "taboo" will be common in many countries in the near future. All the same, the requirements for marriage between a man and a woman ought to apply in the marriage between same sex couples for purposes of stability, commitment and understanding.

Considering the divorce rate in our modern society some people are advocating marriages with term limits. In other words a couple could make a contract to be with each other for a specific number of years, say 5 years if they do not plan to have children and 25 years if they plan to have children. Both time periods will be renewable if the couple chooses to continue to be with each other. 

Another often talked about marriage is the "open marriage" where the couples are free to date others while they are married. This kind of marriage goes against the traditional meaning of marriage in which a man and a woman are committed to each other as long as they are married.

The most important thing about marriage is sharing, commitment and love. Whatever type of marriage you wish to pursue let your foundation rest on Commitment and Love.

Famous Quotes
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote.  Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.

1 What have you done in life that is half hearted? Can you remember the times when you gave fully to something? Wise effort is an invitation to live fully, to be present, and not to be afraid of making mistakes. Jack Kornfield
2 “More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. Doug Larson
3 To keep the fire burning brightly there's one easy rule: Keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart — about a finger's breadth — for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule. Marnie Reed Crowell
4 Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. Barnett R. Brickner
5 In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage. Robert Anderson
6 Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without. James C. Dobson
7 Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side. Zig Ziglar
8 I don't like to discuss my marriage, but I will tell you something which may sound corny but which happens to be true. I have steak at home. Why should I go out for hamburger? Paul Newman
9 Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret
10 When you make the sacrifice in marriage, you're sacrificing not to each other but to unity in a relationship. - Joseph Campbell
11 The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again -- and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife. - Barbara De Angelis

Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found. 

 In the beginning there was only the Self, one only. He desired, "May I have a wife in order to have offspring; may I have wealth in order to perform a work!"—for desire reaches this far. Even if one wishes, one cannot obtain more than this. As long as one does not attain each of these [desires], he thinks himself to be incomplete. He found no joy; so even today, one who is all alone finds no joy. He yearned for a second. He became as large as a man and a woman locked in close embrace. This self he split into two; hence arose husband and wife. There- fore, as Yajnavalkya used to observe, "Oneself is like half of a split pea." That is why this void is filled by woman. He was united with her, and thence were born human beings. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.17 and 1.4.3
2 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. Judaism, Tanakh: Genesis 2:18-24
3 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LordJudaism, Tanakh: Proverbs 19:14
4 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Christianity, New Testament: Ephesians:5:22-24
5  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Christianity, New Testament: Ephesians:5:25-28
6 Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Christianity, New Testament: Matthew:19:4-6
7  Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Christianity, New Testament: Colossians:3:18-19
8 A family is a place where minds come in contact with one another. If these minds love one another the home will be as beautiful as a flower garden. But if these minds get out of harmony with one another it is like a storm that plays havoc with the garden. Buddha
9 Love is a gift of one’s inner most soul to another so both can be whole. Buddha
10 When a family declines, ancient traditions are destroyed. With them are lost the spiritual foundations for life, and the family loses its sense of unity. Where there is no sense of unity, the women of the family become corrupt; and with the corruption of its women, society is plunged into chaos. Social chaos is hell for the family and for those who have destroyed the family as well. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 1.40-42
The husband receives his wife from the gods; he does not wed her according to his own will; doing what is agreeable to the gods, he must always support her while she is faithful. "Let mutual fidelity continue until death;" this may be considered as a summary of the highest law for husband and wife. Hinduism. Laws of Manu 9.95, 101

Teaching Story
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?

Our teaching story is from the Marriage of Yasmin and Arjuna. Yasmin is 32 years old and a nursing teacher by profession. She has a Master’s degree in nursing and plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree later. Meanwhile she wants to get married. She has never had a boy friend in her life because she does not believe in having a boy fried before marriage. She dreams to get married to the person that is meant for her within a short period of meeting the person. Arjuna on the other hand is 40 years old and a writer. He mostly writes about religion but has not published a best seller at the moment. Arjuna also wants to get married and be faithful to the same woman all the days of his life but he has not been successful. He put his dream to get married in prayer and even meditated about the person daily.

Meanwhile Arjuna placed an ad on the Internet looking for a marriage-minded woman in her thirties. He received many replies but one caught his eye and he started communicating with Yasmin. They exchanged pictures and shared many experiences. One day after some soul searching Arjuna proposed to Yasmin without even meeting her. But Yasmin was cautious. She told Arjuna that his proposal will depend on whether she is comfortable or not when she meets him in person but assured Arjuna that if he has faith in his proposal it would come to pass. They lived in different cities but Yasmin decided to meet Arjuna in his city and that if everything went well they would get married after three days. Meanwhile Arjuna made arrangements for their marriage and got everything ready including the rings and the wedding gown and suite. Arjuna also made a reservation for Yasmin in one of the local hotels and for his friend to welcome Yasmin when she arrives.

Yasmin arrived as scheduled and was waiting for Arjuna in the Hotel. So Arjuna got the engagement ring and a bouquet of flowers and left to propose in person to Yasmin. As soon as Yasmin opened the door Arjuna knelt on one knee and asked Yasmin if she would marry him. Yasmin accepted but quickly told Arjuna that he didn’t have to kneel in order to do that because she is already happy with him. Arjuna then slipped the engagement ring into Yasmin’s finger and the love birds went to have dinner where they also discussed their marriage in three days. They got married on the third day in a Christian Church and returned to Arjuna’s home after the reception. Before they did anything they decided to commit to each other without a third party as witness which they considered more important than the marriage ceremony as stated by Barbara De Angelis: The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It's a choice you make - not just on your wedding day, but over and over again -- and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband or wife.

Closing Meditation
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study.  The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.

Our closing meditation will look into happiness in marriage and the ingredients of a successful marriage.

  1. Happiness in Marriage
    According research information most people are happier attached than unattached. Survey after survey of many tens of thousands of Europeans and Americans has produced a consistent result: Compared with those single or widowed, and especially compared with those divorced or separated, married people report being happier and more satisfied with life (Gove & others, 1990; Inglehart, 1990) Social Psychology by David G. Myers, 2005, P. 600
  1. Ingredients of Successful Marriage
    Among the non-surprising ingredients of successful marriages that have been identified by interviews and observations of happily married couples are the following:
    (a) The partners like each other and think of the other not just as husband or wife but as best friend (Lauer & Lauer, 1985).
    (b) They have a shared view of the responsibilities of husband and wife (Bahr & others, 1983; Bowen & Orthner, 1983).
    (c) They are strongly committed to the marriage and are each willing to go more than half way to carry the relationship through hard times (Lauer & Lauer, 1985).
    (d) They argue in constructive ways rather than unconstructive ways (Gottman & Krokoff, 1989).
    (e) They are able to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings, even when not explicitly expressed (Gottman, 1979). Gray Psychology by Peter Gray, 1991, P. 479

You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.

Closing Prayer
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer.

You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.

Talent Contribution
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group. 

It is not enough to be married and return home expecting things to work out without an effort. Before doing anything you must each take the time to make a promise of faithfulness to each other. Now you are truly married! Next discuss the commitments you made to each other during the marriage ceremony and promise to abide by the commitments. This must be done before any other activity after your marriage ceremony.

The Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.

There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.

1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?

Personal Development
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?

1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?

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