As I approach an upcoming milestone-wedding anniversary, I marvel at the wonders of marriage.

Growing up I often heard that marriage is wonderful and that all should aspire to achieve it. The common conflicting phrases that I heard about it were that the protagonists were together “until death do they part” — spiritually everlasting.

As I approached the age of marriage, I learned a concept that marriage was like a fortress for well-being. At the time I took the phrase for granted and didn’t understand what that could mean. I guess I needed to experience marriage to begin to understand this deep metaphor.

When I think about a fortress, the images that come to mind are of a physical structure, a set of buildings, or a big castle that is secure, strong and impenetrable to attacks. A fortress is designed to protect the inhabitants inside the building. Another perspective from differing definitions is that a fortress provides safety and is a haven of refuge and safety.

Let’s take a look at the actual words of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Baha’i Faith, and the context of this metaphor of a fortress for well-being:

“He is the Bestower, the Bounteous!

“Praise be to God, the Ancient, the Ever-Abiding, the Changeless, the Eternal! …

“And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: ‘Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves.’”

So often I think that marriage is not commonly viewed in this fashion. Even by myself. The current societal messages of quick easy fixes, estrangement, no need for marriage, and a focus on divorce, are those very forces we are all susceptible to experience.

All fortresses, like marriage, require continual improvements and work to keep them strong and secure. Otherwise they are subject to falling into ruin. What to do if the protagonists inside the marital fortress cause their own disturbances, pain, and the like to themselves? That, my friend, is better left to the experts but is something to consider that a fortress for well-being cannot withstand destruction from the inside.

A mark of spiritual maturity for us is how to deepen our understanding of this beautiful metaphor of marriage and how to live up to it for our well-being and salvation. So we need to be vigilant to strengthen each other with love and compassion to ensure our marital fortresses stay strong and secure for our future generations to thrive.

There is a prayer from the Baha’i teachings that illustrate specifically how we can aspire to that standard:

“Glory be unto Thee, O my God! Verily, this thy servant and this Thy maidservant have gathered under the shadow of Thy mercy and they are united through Thy favor and generosity. O Lord! Assist them in this Thy world and Thy kingdom and destine for them every good through Thy bounty and grace. O Lord! Confirm them in Thy servitude and assist them in Thy service. Suffer them to become the signs of Thy Name in Thy world and protect them through Thy bestowals which are inexhaustible in this world and the world to come. O Lord! They are supplicating the kingdom of Thy mercifulness and invoking the realm of Thy singleness. Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time. Verily, Thou art the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent and the Almighty!”

To all the amazing people who will be experiencing a wedding anniversary this year, may your marital fortress become ever deeper and stronger!

Educator and writer Nanette Missaghi shares this space with Dr. Bernard E. Johnson, Beryl Schewe and the Revs. Rod Anderson and Timothy A. Johnson. “Spiritually Speaking” appears weekly.