“One who can control his senses by practicing the regulated principles of freedom can obtain the complete mercy of the Lord and thus become free from all attachment and aversion.“ (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.64)
Marriage really changes people, sometimes for the worst, but mostly for the better. The idea of independence and freedom vanishes, for one has to constantly meet the needs of their spouse. One’s whole way of life changes, and though many marriages end in divorce, the institution itself has a positive impact on one’s character.
For men, marriage is often dreaded. The modern concept of having a bachelor party prior to a wedding is a way for the groom-to-be to have one more night of fun prior to tying the knot. Many husbands often jokingly refer to their wife as the “ball and chain”. Women generally have a different view of marriage. To them, it provides an added sense of security to their lives. Marriage allows women to have a stronger attachment to their men. Every girl dreams of the perfect wedding when they are little. They spend time thinking of the perfect arrangements, where to have the wedding, and what kind of dress they will wear. It is a very exciting event for them.
Either way, a successful marriage requires great effort from both parties. Sometimes the wife isn’t happy with things that the husbands says or forgets to say. Other times, the husband isn’t happy due to what he perceives as nagging and pestering from the wife. These are all issues that people learn to deal with through practice. Instead of doing whatever we want, we now must take into account the feelings of our spouse. The spouse is someone who lives with us, meaning we see them all the time. That makes it all the more important to make sure we have a friendly relationship with them, taking great care not to cause any enmity. Normally if we have a disagreement with one of our friends or colleagues, we can take a timeout period from them and then resume the friendship later on. We are not afforded that luxury in a marriage. Marriage means having to serve someone besides ourselves. Later on when children come into the picture, the responsibilities increase even more. Children require constant attention, leaving us no time for selfishness. In the long run, this is good for us. It teaches us to be detached from our own personal desires. This service makes us act even nicer to our other friends and family.
Similar to the demands of a marriage, the process of devotional service requires one to always attend to the needs of God. God actually doesn’t have any needs, but through His mercy, He allows us to voluntarily take up His service for our benefit. Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure. In this material world we are dedicated to serving our senses or the senses of others. This may give us temporary so called “happiness”, but real happiness comes from service to Krishna. This is our original constitutional position, so it is not unnatural at all. When we are dedicated to offering food to Krishna, hearing stories about Him, or talking about Him with others, we forget our own desires. As a result, we feel the highest form of bliss.
Detachment brings about peace and happiness. If we are overly attached to material objects, we lose our composure and steadiness of mind. We see in professional sports that the most successful athletes are the ones that can stay focused even in the most pressure packed situations. People often joke that tennis great Roger Federer plays like a yogi, for he rarely loses his temper on court. While others throw rackets or verbally abuse umpires, Federer remains focused on the task at hand. For these athletes, the key to success lies in their detachment from the result of their activity. Winning and losing is important, but they don’t feel overly dejected from losing nor do they overly rejoice over victories. Not everyone can become a high class athlete or great mystic, but we can still practice detachment. The easiest way to break free from material attachments is to take up the process of devotional service.
“…it is undoubtedly very difficult to curb the restless mind, but it is possible by constant practice and by detachment.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.35)
In a marriage, when we serve our spouse, we are always checking to see if they are happy or whether they still love us. If we start to doubt their love, we get angry and disagreements arise. When we serve Krishna, His love for us is guaranteed and never needs to be doubted. We have trouble maintaining one wife or one husband, but Krishna can maintain millions of devotees at the same time. Knowing this, we can go on serving Him and always be assured that He’ll love us even more than we love Him. If we vow to always serve Lord Krishna with all our thoughts, words, and deeds, then we will become first class people.