Vedic Training: How To Become A Krishna Conscious Wife For ISKCON Brahmacarinis
"Expect Some Trouble" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual. >Contents
Due To Lack Of Vedic Society, Expect Some Trouble
& How To Deal With It:
One of the
biggest problems even a marriage of a good and chaste wife and a sincere
husband runs into in most ISKCON marriages is the fact that we are lacking
the extended families.
This can affect us in so many ways. Even before
there are children so many hardships that come due to a lack of extended family.
Especially with devotees in America, at least here I know.
There often is no where to turn for help,
advice, physical and moral support that normally family members offer. Even a simple thing
like getting sick. In a larger family, when a family member gets sick other extended
family pitch-in and help. Or if the husband starts a business, he can get help from
extended family members to help him out. Yes, there are devotee friends, but I came from a
fairly close family by American standards, and devotee friendships have not proven quite
the same. And, one main reason, no one seems to have any extra time to help anyone else.
That is more a result of the industrialized world where it has become even a harder
struggle to maintain a family.
When the children come to a marriage, than the
extended family is really needed. My wife grew up in such a family. So many
cousins, uncles, aunts, grandmothers, etc. When our first baby came and
we got busy a few weeks
later, when the baby would cry and my wife would be cooking and I would be
busy working (I worked at home), the big question was, "Who is going to pick up and carry the
baby?" We talked and she recalled when she was young with the large extended family
that when a baby came the question was always, "When can I carry the
She said they had no or very few toys. But,
small children were always busy. There was always someone there to play with them. A
cousin or some relative would be there to keep the kids busy and happy. And all of that
kept the parents, both mother and father, sane and happy.
In Vedic culture children are seen as boons and
assets. In todays world children are seen as liabilities, burdens.
In Vedic culture the son does not (immediately)
leave his fathers house. When he marries the girl comes and stays with the boy and
they live in his familys home. This has a lot of benefits. First, to start out in
married life the young husband isnt required to have to have his own place, his own
car, his own everything. Prabhupad informed us that he was a student in school when he got
married. The mans wife is welcomed into the husbands family.
In Bengal, Prabhupad said, there is a custom that when the boy is leaving
to get married the mother
asks him where he is going. He answers he is going out and will return with
one maid-servant for his mother. The daughter-in-law becomes like the maid-servant
Because they all live in the boys
fathers house, the new bride doesnt have to do a full load of housework right
away. She only has to assist her mother-in-law (and her sister-in-laws and other wives of
her husbands brothers) in cooking and cleaning. Actually, to live with the
husbands parents makes getting used to married life very easy. What
a difference from today where the wife has to do all the cooking, all the
cleaning, all the laundry,
and spend full time with the babies without any help.
And the young man who stays in his fathers
house when he marries, he doesnt have to worry about housing expenses right away. In
fact, the only immediate burden on the entire family is there is one more mouth to feed.
And even that is not the immediate concern of the husband alone. He and his new bride live
in his fathers home, usually he simply has his own one room, his bedroom, where his
new wife will stay. He can continue with school then slowly enter the work force and get
situated, all while starting his family, all under his fathers roof. After some
time, after the man has gotten settled in his work and is making sufficient income, if he
is not the oldest son, he may leave and get his own home. Normally the eldest son remains
and inherits his fathers home. It also becomes his duty to take care
of his father and mother (especially mother) in their old age.
When there are problems in adjusting to married
life the couple are not on their own. Day and night there is the rest of the family to
help and give support.
What a difference to todayss world. Today
the man is totally on his own as far as maintaining the wife and family. He needs to earn
enough for his own separate house, a car, insurance, appliances, TVs,
computers, etc., etc. What an added burden. Today, both husband and wife
have to work outside just to
barely get by. Because woman have had to enter the work force, they are demanding
equal everything. But, who will now cook, clean and care for the children?
Therefore, devotees should live more simple and
the family agree to get by on just the income of the man working. The wife should not have
to work outside.
But, when the children come, that is when the
extended family and living in fathers house really makes a difference. First of all,
the wife is pregnant for 10 months*, without any extended family the husband, who maybe
overburdened with his worries of how to maintain the growing family and added medical
costs may be short on time and patients to also deal with a wife who is going to be
requiring more and more help and attention. Thus there is potential for misunderstanding
and problems. The wife may feel the husband is insensitive to her needs, that he has no
real affection for her and is not willing to help her. The man may also feel over-burdened
and doesnt welcome the additional work and the additional emotional
demands the wife is making.
Once the child comes it doesnt change any.
The wife really needs to be cared for. She shouldnt have to do laundry,
cleaning or cooking for months before and after the baby comes.
If they lived with an extended family all of
these things would be taken care of. The girl will be taken care of nicely when she is
pregnant and breast feeding. It is not the burden of the husband alone. Plus, the wife
will have direct support and help from all the family members who live in the house, day
That is nice to compare Vedic life with
todays world, but what are the solutions for us today in America? There isnt
any easy solution. I am explaining here so that we can be aware of potential
trouble spots in marriage, and why and how they may differ from a Vedic marriage.
Any arrangements that
can be made to help would be welcome. A good understanding of these things
between the wife and husband is needed.
When husband and wife are not aware of these
shortcomings and the hardships come neither person really knows why or what is going on.
Each will feel they are doing all they can, so the hardships must be caused by the other
spouse not carrying their side of the load, which is not necessarily true. This can lead
to unnecessary fighting and hurt feelings. While a good understanding may not relieve the
hardship itself, it can still save a marriage that could be torn apart by the
misunderstandings that could arise from falsely accusing the other partner for not doing
their share in the marriage.
One last point in this section is the time it
takes to smooth out the rough edges. For a girl and boy marry who have lived as
brahmacarini and brahmacari for a number of years there can be some rough edges in their
personalities. Brahmacaris, in order to control their senses, often have a staunch, almost
cold, response to women in general. The girl will be expecting warm and compassionate
affection from her husband immediately. Give it time. His compassion and affection will
come naturally as the result of a wife who is always sweet and submissive and serves him
with affection. The best way to guarantee that he will not become affectionate is to argue
But, for a while the relationship, especially
from his side, may seem too cold. The worse thing would be for the wife to feel that she
must urgently change her husband and get mad at him or argue with him over this. This is
not how to invoke compassion and affection from a man. When the wife is always pleasant,
sweet and submissively serves him will the husband develop compassion and affection.