Marry in Haste, Repent at Leisure

In 1693, William Congreve wrote in his comedy The Old Bachelor:

“Thus grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.”

An academic study has shown that this well-known piece of traditional wisdom is still relevant. Tracking the relationships of 168 couples over 14 years, the researchers found that those who had the shortest courtships were more likely to split up than those who had spent an extended period of time together before marriage. The seeds of divorce can often be detected from the beginning of a relationship.

The central task of courtship is for the two partners to make a sound choice, to be drawn into marriage for reasons that will prove beneficial over the long haul. The courtships and marriages that are successful are the “best friend” ones, the ones that are slow and steady and unfold over time. Relationships such as these are built on rock solid ground. Positive feelings like trust and respect gradually emerge.

But I am in Love with Him! Just Let Me Marry Him!

Being attracted to someone is not wrong in itself. If she might make a good companion on the path of your spiritual progress then consider taking appropriate steps to find out more about her and see if you are compatible in different major areas of life and life goals. Keep in mind Krishna’s words: contemplating on the objects of the senses should be avoided, because attachment and lust will definitely cause miseries. You may end up marrying him even if you do not have compatible natures; or you may end up not marrying him and the excessive attraction will make you feel utterly sad and disappointed.

“Alas, for a person who is seriously desiring to cross the material ocean and engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord without material motives, seeing a materialist engaged in sense gratification or seeing a woman who is similarly interested is more abominable than drinking poison willingly.” (Cc, Madhya 11.8)

Lord Brahma being attracted by his daughter, and Lord Shiva being captivated by the Mohini form of the Lord, are specific instances which instruct us that even great demigods – what to speak of ordinary conditioned souls – are captivated by the beauty of women.

Therefore you must get help from wise devotees that you trust and that know you. And make sure you listen to them earnestly. You should tell them openly about your attraction towards the opposite sex. Then you should proceed with caution and with proper knowledge and information about the other person. Do not let your blind feelings guide you. It is highly recommended to approach a counselor or a senior devotee right at the beginning in order to gain insight into whether this would be a good match or not. Attraction clouds intelligence: you may be unable to see what another devotee can clearly observe.

The higher purpose of marriage is spiritual elevation, a deeper spiritual understanding. Marrying someone who is good association for you is wiser than marrying somebody you just want to enjoy. If you are simply attracted to someone from a physical point of view, why would you want to marry her? This kind of relationship surely will prove detrimental for both of you, because the superficial attraction will certainly not endure, but will produce deep entanglement for the souls.

This is an excerpt from the Bhakti Marriages Course “Get Ready for Married Life for Women” from ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry, prepared by Sri Radha Govinda Dasi.