There are many directions and examples in scriptures for being successful in our relationships in this material world. Even then, we witness many doomed attempts at happy relationships. We have seen too many failures in relationships and marriages these days.
What makes people get into relationships? For a long term mutual goal or for sense gratification? We need to address this question. The key problem in today’s world is that unlike in Vedic age, most young boys are not trained to be perfect brahmacari – a life of understanding the goal of human beings and training to abstain from irresponsible life of sense enjoyment.
Similarly, today’s young girls have wrong conception of freedom and equality which is ruining their foundations of healthy and loving relationships as adults. Srila Prabhupada says, in this regard, “Because you do not train the boys to be qualified. You train them to become debauch. What can be done? You train them from brahmacari, then they’ll be responsible husbands.
Both the girls and the boys should be trained up. Then they’ll be responsible husband and wife and live peacefully. In their young days, if you give them freedom, they’ll spoil. What can be done? Young, youthful days, if you give them full freedom, they’ll be misguided and spoiled.”
(Room Conversation with French Commander, Aug 3 1976, New Mayapur)
Keeping the Supreme Lord Krishna as the center of our lives is an important criterion for success in relationships; there are several other factors which must also be looked into. Today’s young minds have already been conditioned by the modern day image of perfect life and very rarely do people give up these material pleasures even while they may be infused with the mercy of developing spiritual consciousness.
For success in relationships, it is essential that we choose our partners wisely. It is mostly foolishness to think we can work things out when we know grossly that our goals and ideals are totally different. To give a rough example, a person who is interested in Krishna Consciousness and enjoys activities in devotional life should never look at a partner who is attracted by and wants to live a life in a place like Las Vegas. There are many who commit such blunders in the meaningless hope to be able to change him/her later. Very rarely do such dramatic changes happen in the advancing Kali Yuga.
So is there is rough framework which can help us understand how to choose a partner when we are serious about our spiritual development.
1. The prospective partner should be a practicing devotee who has good association and practices.
2. He/she should be chanting fixed number of rounds and must have the aspiration to take shelter of a pure devotee like Srila Prabhupada as the spiritual master.
3. The man should be a gentleman, trained in principles of brahmacarya and must understand the duties of a good husband/father in married life.
4. The woman should be gentle, well-mannered and submissive person who understands the duties of a wife in a Krishna Conscious marriage
5. We should place importance on spiritual advancement and the commitment that the other person has, while choosing him/her; and not only on physical appearance, education etc.
Once this hurdle of selecting the correct partner is crossed, the rest can be worked upon by the guidance of the spiritual master and Krishna. It becomes easier to understand and execute, together, the decree within a sacred marriage, as given by Vedic scriptures. It is at this stage that two people come together to respect that relationship vows that they exchange – even if they have some differences and disagreements.
Srila Prabhupada says, “You have seen in our last wedding ceremony yesterday, the husband promised that “I take charge of you to make you comfortable throughout your whole life.” And the wife promised, “Yes, I accept you as my husband, and I shall devote my life just to make you happy.” These are the relationships.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bhagavad-gita, 7.4-5, Bombay 1971)
Apart from these pillars of the selection framework, a couple who wants their relationship to be successful, must follow the certain basic rules of bonding
1. It is important that partners do not nag or criticize each other in a relationship. Every human being – without exception – comes with faults and deficiencies. When we understand our own drawbacks, we will develop the compassion and patience with others.
2. We must never ever think that we can change the nature of our partner forcefully, after marriage. If we do need to see some change – for the other person’s good and not for our own ego – then we should demonstrate an exemplary behavior.
3. We must express our gratitude and appreciation for the other person’s contribution and service in a relationship. We should take note of small gestures of love and kindness and reciprocate the same.
4. When we keep Krishna as the center of our relationships and understand that we don’t own anything or anyone in this world, we will naturally be courteous and respectful of every person we meet, what to speak of those who we build deeper relationships with.
If we really endeavor to understand the meaning and objective of building relationships in this world, between men and women, we can collectively and successfully execute our duty as human beings. Srila Prabhupada says, “The human form of life is meant for reestablishing our relationship with God and acting according to that relationship. Even in ordinary dealings, one businessman who intends to do business with another must first establish some relationship with him, and then transactions can take place. Similarly, a husband and wife establish a relationship by marriage, and then they live together. In a similar way, human life is meant for reestablishing our relationship with God.
(Teachings of Queen Kunti: Chp 25: Unalloyed Devotion)