J. P. Vaswani
The word for
marriage in our ancient Sanskrit language is "Grahasta
Ashrama" Marriage is an ashrama- a place of
discipline not a pleasure hunting ground . Marriage is not
a licence. It is at once a discipline and a
responsibility. In marriage two persons ó a man and a
woman ó offer the whole of their self, mind, body, and
feelings to each other. They do not live for self alone:
they live for each other. Success in marriage is more than
finding the right person. Being the right person is
even more important.
yogi of ancient Greece, was asked: "Which is better,
to marry or not to marry?" In answer, he said:
"Whichever you do, you will ultimately repent."
He meant to say that marriage is like a Delhi ka laddu,
kheyega to bhi pachtayega, nahi khayega
to bhi pachtayega. Whether you marry or whether you
do not marry ó both ways you will repent.
occasion when he was asked the same question: "Which
is better, to marry or not to marry?" he answered:
"By all means, marry. If you get a good wife you will
become very happy. But if you get a bad one, you will
become a philosopheróand that is good for any man."
himself did not get a good wife. Xanthippe was her name.
She troubled her husband, again and again. One day, in
anger, she abused her husband and out of her lips flowed a
stream of coarse invectives. Socrates quietly left the
house. When Xanthippe found that her husband was gone, she
took up a bucket of dirty water and threw it on him as he
walked underneath the balcony of their house. The good man
that he was, he looked up and said: "Formerly, it
thundered, now it pours!"
The ideal is
that every husband should treat his wife as a queen.
Theodore Roosevelt, one of the distinguished Presidents of
the United States, when he was a student at Harvard, fell
in love with a 17- year old girl, Alice. It was what they
call love at first sight. In due course, they were
married. And an entry in Theodore Rooseveltís diary
reads: "Now that I have won the hand of Alice, the
aim of my whole life shall be to make her happy, to shield
her and guard her from every trial. And oh! how I will
cherish my sweet queen! How she, so pure and sweet and
beautiful, can think of marrying me, I can not understand,
but I praise and thank God it is so!íí
I recall the
words of a wise man, Joseph Fort Newton. He said:
"The happiest wife is not the one who marries the
best man but the one who makes the best of the man she
Men and women
were created by God so that they could form one complete
whole. So it is that he endowed men with certain qualities
and women with complementary qualities. By themselves
neither man nor woman are complete. Men have strength,
determination, energy vigour, guts. Women have great
sensitivity, spiritual aspirations, the spirit of
sympathy, service and sacrifice. Men rely on their
intellects. Women have intuitions. Rudyard Kipling said:
"A womanís guess is much more accurate than a
manís certainty." Man and woman together form one
complete person. By themselves both are incomplete. Each
needs the other. Each has to learn much from the other. A
holy man said: "Except a man become a woman he cannot
enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And except a woman become a
man she cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." Love may
begin with physical attraction but marriage, in due
course, fuses them together so that they form one complete
whole. This is the purpose of marriage. When we forget it,
we lose the proper perspective of marriage. I am afraid,
today there are so many couples who may be classified as
married strangers. They may share the same house, the same
table, the same car and yet may actually be drifting away
from each other.
How may we
avoid being married strangers? How may we, after married
be fused into one complete whole? So let me pass on to you
ten practical suggestions. I sometimes refer to them as
the ten commandments of marriage. What are they?
first commandment is: Avoid the next quarrel. If
one of you is in a mood to quarrel, the other one should
be patient. His or her turn will come at the right time.
But both should not be, at the same time, in a mood to
quarrel. And even, perchance, if you do quarrel, see
that you donít let the sun set on the quarrel. And if
it so happens that you get up in the middle of the night
and quarrel, then donít let the sun rise on your
quarrel. Make up before sunset or sunrise. You do not
become small if you realize your mistake and go and
two people. They celebrated their Golden Anniversary.
They said that in all the 50 years, they had quarreled
not even once with each other ó though both of them
were known to have irascible temperaments: they both had
the tendency to be angry at the least excuse. They were
asked the secret and they said: "The secret is a
simple one. When we married, we made a pact with each
other that both of us would never be angry at the same
time. We said that if one of us gets angry, the other
one will be quiet at that time. We have held on to that
agreement through these 50 years and that is why our
marriage has been such a happy marriage."
I recall the
words of the great scientist, Dr. Albert Einstein. When
he celebrated his Golden Anniversary, he also said:
"When we got married we made a pact with each
other. We said that my wife will make all the small
decisions and I will make all the major decisions."
And then he added: "The wonder is that in all these
50 years we have had to make only small decisions: there
has been no occasion to make even one major
commandment of marriage is: Be a good listener.
Listen to what- the other person has to say. We like to
talk but are not prepared to listen. Let us be good
listeners. Of a couple it was said: "There was a
time when he talked and she listened. On their
honeymoon, she talked and he listened. Now that they are
settled down in their own home both talk and the
Benjamin Disraeli who said: "Nature endowed man
with two ears and one mouth. Man is meant to talk less
and listen more." If man was meant to talk more and
listen less he would have two mouths on the two sides of
the face and one ear in front. How funny we would have
looked! And the ears are made like funnels: they have no
doors with which they can be closed. Whereas, if a word
has to leave the mouth, it has to cross two fences the
fence of the two rows of teeth and the fence of the two
lips. Therefore before a word is spoken we must at least
spoken word we are slaves: of the unspoken word we are
masters. Once a word leaves the lips, it cannot be taken
back. Therefore, we must be careful of every word we
speak. We should speak less, listen more. And we should
listen not merely with the ears but with the heart.
Better than talking is listening. Better than both is to
enter the silence within. A saint of South India,
Avvayar prayed: "O Lord, I keep on talking and
talking as though I have mouths all over the body. When
shall I cease from doing so? When shall I enter into the
commandment of marriage is: Appreciate your spouse.
Everyone loves to be appreciated. Do not find fault with
your spouse when you are in the midst of other people.
Leonardo da Vinci said: "Reprove your friend in
secret, praise him before others." When we
appreciate others, we help them to draw out the best
that is in them. Appreciate others.
your children. Do not scold them. When you scold your
children, you stifle the life force thatís within
them. I asked a child what his name was. And he
answered: "In school, they call me Ramesh: at home
I am called Ramesh donít." I could not
understand. And he explained: "At school they call
me Ramesh. But at home they call me, Ramesh donít do
this. Ramesh donít behave like this. Ramesh donít
talk like this. Ramesh donít sit like this. At home I
am Ramesh donít." Today, as you return to your
homes, go and appreciate your spouses. May I pass on to
you a magic formula? It is built up of seven simple
create a new atmosphere in the home. The seven words
are: "Honey, where would I be without you?"
These words must be spoken at least once everyday, not
mechanically but with deep feeling and emotion of the
heart. "Honey, where would I be without you?"
commandment is: Keep your love fresh! After
marriage, spouses take each other for granted. Women
have complained to me: "There was a time when our
husbands gave us many promises, made many vows, took
great interest in what we did. All this is become a part
of history. Now they take us for granted."
Therefore, keep your love fresh.
commandment is: Do not expect perfection of each
other. No man or woman is ever perfect. It was Jesus
who said: "Call me not perfect. Alone the Father in
Heaven is Perfect!" Marriage involves two imperfect
human beings joining together. Accept your spouse for
what he or she is, not for what he or she would be,
could be, or should be.
us to the sixth commandment: Be a good forgiver.
To make marriage a success, to make it a source of
happiness and harmony, you have to forgive much. It is
the prerogative of marriage to give and give and give
ó and forgive ó and never be tired of giving and
forgiving. "How many times shall I forgive?"
asked a husband. "Shall I forgive 7 times?"
"No," came the answer, "you must forgive
70 times 7!" 70 times 7 is 490 times which means
you must forgive without counting. And a wife
complained: "I have been forgiving until I can
forgive no longer. I have forgiven and received nothing
in return." And she was told: "Continue to
forgive without expecting anything in return."
commandment of marriage is: You must be patient,
loving, understanding, kind and true to each other.
commandment is: Develop a healthy sense of humor.
If two people have to live with each other, they must
develop a healthy sense of humor. They must learn to
laugh and make each other laugh. We must laugh with
others, never laugh at others. If we have to laugh at
somebody, we must laugh at ourselves. Each one of us has
some oddities, some unpleasant quirks or weaknesses. We
can always laugh at ourselves. Laughter is at once a
physical, mental and spiritual tonic.
in the presence of his wife, complained to a friend:
"There was a time when my wife used to bring my
shoes and my dog used to bark. Now things have reversed.
My shoe is brought by my dog, and my wife barks."
The wife had a good sense of humor and she immediately
said to the husband: "Of what are you complaining?
You get both the things right. You get the shoe and also
another husband. He was tall and hefty. The wife was
short and slim. One day they entered into an argument.
In the course of the argument the husband lost his
temper and said to the wife: "If I liked, I could
swallow you up." The wife had a sense of humor. She
laughed as she said, "If you swallowed me up, you
would have better brains in your belly than in your
said: "My wife has made me a millionaire."
"What were you before you married her?" he was
asked. And he answered: "A multi-millionaire!"
commandment is: If ever there is a misunderstanding,
do not hide your feelings. Do not hesitate in
discussing whatever is in your heart freely and without
tenth and the most important commandment is: Everyday
you must find time to sit together and praise the Lord
and thank Him for having brought the two of you together.
You must spend some time together in the presence of
God. It has been said, that the family that prays
together, stays together. I have never come across a
couple in serious difficulty who were praying together.
If ever you have a disagreement or a problem take it to
God and, somehow, the solution will come. In Godís
presence we cannot argue with bitterness: in Godís
presence we cannot shout at each other. Let your life be
rooted in the love of God and in the loving service of
Godís suffering children and you will be richly
blessed and be a source of blessing to many on the rough
road of life!