A husband and a wife usually have questions about what to do in their particular situation. They want to get hard-and-fast answers to their personal problems. But in the majority of cases these issues are too complicated to give some general advice. Dealing with family issues is never easy since they BASE upon a unique combination of several people’s characters. Even a single individual with a complex personality it’s hard to help. What to speak about the whole group of people who have long been engaged in very enmeshed, entangled relationships?
Only one thing is safe to say to everyone. Don’t be surprised if you face various challenges in your family life. It’s a perfectly normal event. Also, there’s no need to wonder if a husband and wife are not so much compatible. This is also hardly surprising. Spouses must try to get attuned to each other. They should continue to live in peace and never mind the fact that they are both imperfect. Any union between the imperfect ones is imperfect by definition. Hence, the fundamental rule of family life is: don’t get upset over trifles. If the spouses argued a hundred times, they should one hundred times make up with each other. That’s it. That’s the technology of happy family life.
However, it’s common for a family of yogis to face specific problems. A rather unusual situation occurs when one spouse engages in spiritual development, and the other does not. It often develops into a problem after a while, as their lifestyles become way too different. And again, there are no hard-and fast answers to the questions that arise. Each case must be considered individually. But to give the key to understanding, let me relate the story of Srila Prabhupada’s sister Pishima. She also took initiation from Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. She EVEN looked very much like Srila Prabhupada.
What events took place in her life? She married a man who was not at all interested in spiritual growth. He wasn’t a yogi; neither did he study the scriptures. He was an average man, a Bengali, and like all Bengalis, he liked to eat fish. Pishima was committed to strict vegetarian principles and never ate fish in her life. But after she got married, she daily cooked for her husband the food he asked. She cooked for herself in a separate dish and sanctified her food. But the main thing was that she never complained, dramatized herself or thought about divorce. She submissively served her husband and never disturbed anyone.
Her husband could hardly be called a gift. They say he wasn’t too smart; he would easily lose his temper and pick up a fight. But Pishima continued to serve him humbly. She had CHILDREN by this man. All that time she continued her spiritual practice, her prayer practice. She calmly continued her spiritual path and didn’t try to change anything. Finally, after many-many years, towards the end of his life, the husband suddenly realized how much he underestimated his wife. Realization came upon him that his wife was actually a saintly woman. And he changed radically. After he had spent his entire life with a saintly woman by his side, he finally stepped on the spiritual path. Pishima achieved this through her patience — and it was indeed heroic of her.
Therefore, sages give a simple advice for all. Don’t rush into severing your relationships, if you feel disappointed. Do not think that leaving a husband or wife means that you are very much advanced in spiritual life, that you are a yogi who needs nothing from this world. This kind of renunciation is not recommended in the Bhagavat-Gita. If one gives up prescribed duties perceiving them as weighty or troublesome, this is renunciation in the mode of passion. The one who shirks/ABANDONS his duties in that spirit never gets the result obtained by those who are truly renounced.