Have you ever felt that you are treading on egg shells in your married life? That is, when you feel that you never know when your husband or wife can yell or express disappointment at your behavior, or when you can never understand what reaction to expect. It can be very, very difficult. I know of one couple who always have a misunderstanding or an argument at the end of every sentence. It might seem like an exaggeration but it’s true. In fact, this is quite common and can happen to the best of couples.
What is the solution for this problem? It all boils down to good communication skills. Communication skills are most important for maintaining good relations with your spouse. For ex., how do you respond to your partner when you disagree with what he/she has told you? What if your spouse does something that you don’t like? Do you yell? Give them the silent treatment? Or find ways to punish your spouse?
The response we offer when we disagree or when we are frustrated can have a big impact on the relationship. Recognizing our typical patterns is the first step in deciding how we are impacting the relationship. Think of the last few disagreements and look at how you responded. Examine what you were hoping would happen as result of your behaviors. For example, did you give the silent treatment for a day in hopes that your spouse “would learn their lesson?” If so, did it work?
Keeping the communication channels open always is most important in a marriage. Mostly, out of frustration people tend to complain, criticize or compare with others which lead to further problems. So instead of complaining or criticizing one should express one’s need in a positive and direct way. For example, a wife who wants more help around the house says, “I always have to do everything around here and no one else lifts a finger.” This is not likely to motivate her husband to spring into action and help her clean. However, she could make a direct request such as, “could you please do the dishes tonight?”
Communication that involves attacking your partner will not yield positive results. Instead, it is likely to create more problems for the relationship. Attacking your partner verbally may include obvious forms such as name calling, or it may include more subtle forms in an attempt to manipulate your partner.
Name calling is never productive. Avoid the “you” messages that blame the other person. Statements such as “you never do what I want to do,” are not likely to be helpful. Instead, “I” statements such as “I feel hurt that we don’t ever get to visit my mother together” are more likely to lead to an open and honest discussion. “I” statements do not place blame but instead describe a feeling and can lead to a discussion that helps solve a problem.
So in this way, we see that marriage need not be a battle of words, but a comfortable relationship in which two individuals can express themselves with respect for each others views and desires.
Radhanath Swami says, “a couple may have a beautiful house, nice car, so many servants, so much jewelry and furniture and fame and power within society but if the person’s affectionate relationship with his or her spouse is not proper then that person will be miserable no matter what. Everyone does have arguments and misunderstanding; even children do. But these big children are more foolish than little children. Little children fight and make up when offered some sweet, but when elders fight, they may never be able to trust each other for the rest of their lives!!!”
Scene 1: (morning)
Wife to husband: I am going to throw the rubbish, why are you still reading the newspaper? Arent you getting late for office? [I asked him to throw the rubbish, he simply doesnt care to help me!]
Husband: Is the breakfast ready? [Everyday I have to remind her that I have to leave office by 8.00am. I’m always reaching office late!]
Wife: Breakfast is there on the table. Please help yourself as I have to throw the rubbish now. [when I ask him to do some work, he immediately picks a reason to bash me up]
Husband: Cant you do that later and serve me breakfast instead? What is this, Upma again? [Aman always tells how nicely his wife serves him everyday]
Wife: Do you have anything else except complaints for me? [I am fed up. What happened to all the love he was proclaiming he had for me after our marriage?]
Husband: Look, don’t start off another duel of words early in the morning. My whole day gets spoilt. Its an important day for me at work. [I better leave now, before another war of words starts. I have to call Raman and ask him to check on the meeting preparations].
Wife: If work is the most important thing for you in your life, why did you marry me? [feels hurt & breaks down]
Husband: I dont have time for this now, I’m leaving! [angrily slams
the door as he’s
Scene 2: (morning)
Wife to husband: Oh dear, will you please throw the rubbish. If I dont start making the dosas now, you’ll get late.
Husband: Sure dear..anything for you and your simply wonderful dosas!
Wife: [Smiles] Stop flattering me! oh! I forgot completely that its an important day for you at work today. You get ready dear and I will throw the rubbish later.
Husband: Thanks Uma. You are so understanding, it takes the pressure off me! I’ll come early this evening and let’s go for our long forgotten walk in the park, what say?
Wife: [All happy] Okey-dokey! Breakfast is ready!
Husband: I’m more ready!
[both share a good laugh]
The secret to happiness and love in marriage, Radhanath Swami says is when there is culture of service and appreciation. Srimad Bhagavatam identifies the major enemies that attack us from within and pit us against one another as lust, pride, envy, greed, sinful activities and vanity. By learning to subdue these enemies within ourselves, we become happy and peaceful in our marriage relationships, and indeed in all of our relationships. These enemies can gradually be subdued by spiritual practices, such as chanting the holy names of the Lord.
“In everyday life, our relationships with one another are practice for the divine relationships we will eventually experience. The quality of our interactions indicates how well we are preparing ourselves for association with the Supreme Lord.”(HH Bhaktitirtha Swami)
On 1 January 2011, the BBC reported, “…as it grows wealthier, so India’s
old taboos are being challenged, and the chances of this year’s newly-weds
staying together for the rest of their lives are slimmer than ever.” The
article quoted Dr. Geetanjali Sharma, a marriage counselor working in India,
“There’s been a 100% increase in divorce rates in the past five years alone.”
While the report is worrisome for those who value healthy marital relationships, ironically the solution lies eclipsed behind the sort-of-derogatory phrase ‘old taboos’ in the report itself. A masterly Vedic sage would point that the Vedic marriages of ancient India—far from being lifetime imprisonments guarded by social norms—
were sacred bondings that gifted friends for life. And a sublime truth weaves through to hold the relationships at a higher level than the mundane.
Vedic marriages of ancient India—far from being lifetime imprisonments guarded by social norms—were sacred bondings that gifted friends for life.
“From a spiritual perspective there is something more than ‘my husband’
and ‘my wife.’ The husband should know that his wife is God’s deeply beloved
daughter entrusted in his care. How he treats her is how God will receive
him. And the wife should know her husband is God’s beloved child entrusted
in her care. If the two see each other in this light, marriage really is
Yoga. Feelings of affection may come and go but the foundation should be
mutual respect and care for each other. Through that that affection can
grow into actual deep love connected to the soul,”says Radhanath Swami,
the author of the famous The Journey Home.
Radhanath Swami’s community in Mumbai
For the benefit of those skeptical minds that complain of such a Vedic approach to marriages as too idealistic and impractical, we bring to spotlight a closely knit and successful community of Krishna devotees in Mumbai, India. This community was envisioned by Radhanath Swami back in 1986 when he began the Radha Gopinath Temple project in the heart of this metropolis. He gave impetus to this idea (of a community) by way of family or marriage counseling. To enable this, over a period of many years, Radhanath Swami personally trained his senior disciples who later took the role of grihasta (family) counselors. Today, twenty-five years later, a strong and vibrant community of grihastas (families) of Radha Gopinath Temple speak volumes of Radhanath Swami’s vision and his guiding principles of successful married life. Amongst Radhanath Swami’
s numerous contributions to society, this spiritual community is one of the best.
The community consists of people from varied states, languages, social
background and cultures yet everyone is united around the principle of
service to God and service to one another.
Hundreds of families who are part of this community, inspired deeply by Radhanath Swami’s teachings, individually and collectively practice Vedic principles in their daily lives and display to the society at large how Vedic principles of spirituality, beyond being merely an add-on to one’s life, can be a way to a family life of lasting satisfaction. We request you to pause, and consider: the know-how’s of happy married life that new-age marriage counselors market may only be an eye-blink in an unexplored expanse of Vedic mastery over the subject. This website aims to reveal and plunder these hidden treasures of the Vedas.