Roles of husband and wife

     Authors: Partha dasa & Utama dasi

Can we transpose practices from India 5,000 years ago to 21st-century Western society? And are there maybe within contemporary Western society some adverse influences that we may want to filter out? In a marriage, spouses (can) have different roles that need to be examined in the light of different influences we may be under.

The roles of husband and wife vary according to cultural influences. We notice many changes in modern society regarding gender roles. For example, fewer women know how to cook, another is that men do more of the child-rearing. We also have influences from modern society regarding gender roles. Like the fairy tale expectation that when you get married you will live happily ever after. A better paradigm would be – when you get married you begin the hard work of TRYING to live happily ever after. Another modern paradigm is that it is good to have a ‘starter’ marriage – this one is practice for the next. We are also influenced by paradigms regarding the roles of men and women in ISKCON. One of them may be that marriage is a fall down for a man; another one is that women should be protected.

When you get married you begin the hard work of TRYING to live happily ever after.

What can we practically do?

We can reflect on these various influences and in that way understand which ones we want to accept in our own lives and those which we may want to avoid. Then we can also see if they are in alignment with the principles of Krishna conscious family life. Another healthy exercise is to see which roles we expect to take in our household life together with our spouse. Or, if already married, what were our expectations before the marriage. It’s good to understand our influences from various sources, including from our family upbringing, and to communicate our expectations in a positive and realistic way. Then we can consciously choose to mould our behaviour according to healthy paradigms and positive and realistic vision.

12 principles of Krishna conscious family life:

  1. Alignment with Srila Prabhupada
  2. Spiritual Growth and Progress
  3. Spiritual Equality and Material Difference
  4. Positive and Realistic Vision
  5. Mutual Respect and Appreciation
  6. Commitment and Dedication
  7. Open and Honest Communication
  8. Personal and Social Responsibility
  9. Economic Development and Prosperity
  10. Focus on Children’s Welfare
  11. Family Love and Affection
  12. Regulated, Balanced and Exemplary Lifestyle

(Extract from Grihastha Course)

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