Bhaktin Suzanne and Nitai dasa have decided to marry. Bhaktin Suzanne, a devotee for almost a year, is convinced that Nitai will make her blissfully happy while Nitai thinks that he has been a resident temple devotee for too long. Even though he sees marriage as proof that he is not a strong devotee and fully expects that his Krsna consciousness will suffer, he wants out of brahmachari life. His brahmachari friends keep reminding him that householder life is a deep, dark pit of material entanglement.
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 based on elevating principles such as truthfulness, cleanliness, austerity, charity, and compassion. On the opposite 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. Bhaktin Suzanne and Nitai dasa do not have this positive and realistic vision and are therefore setting themselves up for disappointment and unnecessary pain.
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
In order to have successful, spiritually satisfying marriages, we need to cultivate healthy attitudes and have realistic expectations. And we want to avoid unreasonable ideas or undue negative attitudes about what marriage will be and what it will do for us. We should be aware that although marriage in this world will have challenges, it is a great chance to develop loving relationships by serving each other in Krsna consciousness. Setting appropriate goals and having a long-term vision and commitment is important in every Grhastha family. As part of this vision, when possible, support from elders should be sought after and appreciated. Positive and realistic vision also means being optimistic and enthusiastic while understanding that there will be ups and downs in our family life. It means getting the communication, conflict resolution and parenting skills we need to cooperate with our spouses and raise our child(ren) with affection in Krsna consciousness.
Inside and out of Iskcon, there are too many divorces and too many single parents and too many children who suffer as a consequence of it. Because our world cries out for examples of healthy, affectionate, Krsna conscious marriages, we suggest that every devotee find a way to either support or be a part of strengthening and enlivening the Grhastha asrama. Thus, today Vaisnavas have a unique opportunity to become examples, to show others in the larger society how two people can cooperate in a loving, productive, God-conscious marriage and raise healthy, kind, honest children who make wonderful contributions to the communities in which they live.
How can you support this effort? The Grhastha Vision Team encourages and recommends:
- Premarital skill building for couples before marriage
- Already married couples enrich their unions by taking the GVT’s comprehensive “Strengthening the Bonds that Free Us Marriage and Family Course”.
- More experienced couples to be trained as Mentor Couple Marriage Educators for others.
- Temple leaders to sign a pledge to perform marriages only after couples receive premarital counselling
- Temple leaders to appoint couples to be trained as Mentor Couples and to do other activities to support healthy KC marriages.
Positive and Realistic vision is a crucial element for stimulating strong, healthy and expanding Krsna conscious families. It is one of the 12 Principles and Values identified by the Grhastha Vision Team as the foundation for the healthy family life envisioned by our beloved Srila Prabhupada.
Reproduced with permission from vaisnavafamilyresources.com.