Dear Grihastha Coach ,
I am engaged to be married in six months. My mother and father approve and his parents approve. We have known each other for about three years. We met in college but did not become interested in one another until about 9 months go. I am an initiated devotee and he wants to get initiated. He started studying Krsna consciousness because of me. We are from two different countries but live in the United States. For some reason, I am beginning to have reservations. Nothing he has done or anything, just questions about his being my soul mate. I’ve seen so many divorces that I m just really cautious. For me, I am very serious about serving Krsna and I really want to have a family that does the same. What can I do to make sure that I am marrying the right person?
Yours is an intriguing letter and I am glad you wrote us. You say that realistically, you have seen many divorces and I would assume this is a phenomenon you have observed both in and out of the Hare Krsna community. Thoughtfully, you want to do what you can to make sure you have a loving, warm Krsna conscious marriage. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur recommends, “In this age of Kali it is better to cultivate Krsna consciousness as a householder.”
Our first suggestion is that you make sure you get premarital education or counseling. Seek out qualified and caring Marriage educators/Counselors.
Many people spend lots and lots of money on their weddings.
They spend lots of time planning and usually, there are many people involved, family, friends, association, employer, neighbors, etc. According to Modern Bride magazine, the average American wedding is about $20,000. About 2.3 million couples marry each year in this country and they spend approximately 72 billion dollars. Yet, not often enough do we find couples that spend a mere fraction of their time and a small amount of their money to get premarital counseling or education. Listen to what our beloved founder/acharya, Srila Prabhupada says about this matter; “The two marriages recommended by you may be performed at that time as well, but only after having sufficiently counseled the respective devotees. This marriage business should not be taken as a farce, but is a very serious matter.” Letter to Bhagavan, July, 1971.
Professionals who provide premarital education will be sure to include skill-building sessions on communication, conflict resolution, win-win problem solving, financial management and planning, goal-setting and clarifying the spiritual principles on which you agree to base your marriage. They will likely ask you and your fiancé to complete a Premarital or Marital inventory which is an excellent tool to identify the strengths and growth areas of your relationship and pinpoint the skills you should work on.
The approval of both sets of parents is a good sign. Wise people will consider the opinions of their parents, guru and other mature people who care about them. Their advice and suggestions should weigh heavily in your decision.
One of the underlying principles of the auspicious Grhastha asrama is that people must have a positive and realistic vision. The Grhastha asrama is marriage life based on God-conscious service and on elevating principles such as truthfulness, cleanliness, austerity, charity, and compassion. On the flip side is grhamedhi life, which means family life that is not based on these principles and is minus God as the center.
Positive and Realistic vision is one of the 12 fundamental principles that will ensure healthy growth and development in Grhastha family life. Devotees who do not have this positive and realistic vision set themselves up for unnecessary pain and disappointment.
Most devotees will get married and when they do, they should choose to marry and select mates for healthy and appropriate reasons.
Here are some unhealthy reasons to enter the Grhastha asrama:
- To satisfy sex desire
- Because you think it’ll be better for you: Someone to cook for you, watch your children, take care of you financially, etc. (While a caring and cooperative spouse will cook and assist with your children or take care of you financially, this should not be the only reason to marry. You should consider how each could benefit and serve the mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu together.)
- To exit the brahmacharini or brahmachari asrama
Some healthy and appropriate reasons to get married are as follows:
- It is the next step up progressively for me in my spiritual life
- It’s the asrama I should “honor” at this time
- I want to serve the Lord by accepting greater responsibility
- I want to work with a loving companion who’ll help me and whom I’ll help
- I want to raise children who are Krsna conscious
- It is my dharma, my service to Krsna
Finally, please reflect on this: the best way to be sure you have married the right person is to be the right person yourself. With Positive (knowledge that Lord Sri Krsna want us to have healthy, happy, Krsna conscious marriages) and Realistic (understanding that there will be challenges, commitment for life and willingness to work to get healthy relationship skills) Vision, your marriage can be fulfilling and serve as an example for others…
Your Grihastha Coach
Reproduced with permission from vaisnavafamilyresources.org.