A wife shares the spiritual advancement of her husband, simply by serving him. Even if she is not a devotee, she gets all the benefits that the husband gets, simply by serving him. Chastity and service to the husband have such power that the wife automatically shares in the spiritual advancement and piety of her husband. In this regard, the example of Devahuti is very instructive. Devahuti was the most beautiful and virtuous daughter of the great King, Svayambhuva Manu. After the marriage to Kardama Muni, she stayed in the forest with him, as a mendicant, undergoing so many hardships. She lost her beauty and her body luster, became frail and thin, but seeing her chastity and her service attitude, Kardama Muni’s heart softened and he blessed her. Not only did Devahuti regain her beauty but she also received Lord Krishna’s grace through her husband. She became spiritually advanced imperceptibly, gradually but surely.
However, in spite of the husband being in proper spiritual knowledge, in spite of the husband having trained his wife very carefully according to religious principles, if she commits sin and is disobedient, then the husband is not responsible.
It is described that a chaste wife and her husband go to the same destination. She gets the same husband in the next birth. The examples are Sutapa and Prishni, Aditi and Kashyap, Devaki and Vasudev. If the husband is devout, very spiritual, he will attain higher and higher destinations and simply on the strength of her chastity, the wife will follow. A wife can save her husband who indulges in sinful activities by the power of her chastity.
It must be noted that the above discussion is on the platform of dharma, artha, kama, moksha based on material considerations and religiosity. The chaste wife will have even more power if she is a devotee of Lord Krishna.
A man gets power by celibacy (brahmacharya) and woman gets power by chastity from being faithful to her husband.
When a man sees chastity, shyness and innocence, he becomes inspired to drop his own barriers and respect her in return. This encourages the natural tendency on the part of the male to be protective and chivalrous. Shyness is a gift of nature to the fair sex. [Srimad Bhagvatam 1.10.16]
Reproduced from the Grahastha Manual by Radhanath Swami Maharaj.