Vedic Training:
How To Become  A Krishna Conscious Wife
For ISKCON Brahmacarinis

"Expect Some Trouble" chapter of the Brahmacarini Training Manual.  >Contents Page

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 baby?"

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 today’s world children are seen as liabilities, burdens.

In Vedic culture the son does not (immediately) leave his father’s house. When he marries the girl comes and stays with the boy and they live in his family’s home. This has a lot of benefits. First, to start out in married life the young husband isn’t 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 man’s wife is welcomed into the husband’s 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 to her mother-in-law.

Because they all live in the boy’s father’s house, the new bride doesn’t 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 husband’s brothers) in cooking and cleaning. Actually, to live with the husband’s 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 father’s house when he marries, he doesn’t 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 father’s 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 father’s 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 father’s 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 todays’s 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, TV’s, 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 father’s 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 doesn’t welcome the additional work and the additional emotional demands the wife is making.

Once the child comes it doesn’t change any. The wife really needs to be cared for. She shouldn’t 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 and night.

That is nice to compare Vedic life with today’s world, but what are the solutions for us today in America? There isn’t 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 and fight.

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.