Unhappily ever after was my definition of marriage. Saffron-clad monks seemed happier (an illusion that Swami helped me overcome), and that’s what I had planned – to renounce. Despite my design, sympathy for my whining parents and my insecurities led me into the institution I dreaded.
A coworker appeared interested in me. Divided from within, I confided in my mother. I had coveted her guidance, but my parents hurried into action. The next morning, a truckload of emails with suitors from a matrimonial website greeted me at work. My modern-day Svayamvara had commenced.
Dodging of their emails got me seated before the late respected Swami Dayananda Saraswati, at Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. May this sage restore my parents to their senses, I hoped. The pontiff said, “She may find a suitable match in my Purva-Ashrama relative.”
Perplexed, I scanned the latest curated suitor list. My eyes stopped at a teetotaler sans ostentatiousness, who posed shyly. The kind of simplicity I adore! Perfect, I thought. Our horoscopes matched, and after six months of long-distance courtship, I was a married woman. My husband and I hit it off well, and our marriage had a rock-solid start. Sadly, that’s where the fairy-tales end and the real story starts.
I’m stuck; God save me!
The stork delivered our bundle of joy! The pleasure of being a mother is incomparable to anything in this world. Yet, the pressure it puts on a woman juggling home and career is intolerable. Add some manipulative relatives to the equation; life becomes unlivable! Long story short, I was overworked, got emotionally abused, and became severely depressed.
Gradually, my husband and I started drifting apart. Along with the distance grew our egos and negative baggage. I resolved to end my marriage, and tried everything in my might. My husband refused to let me go. I was at my wit’s end, and he was determined to make it work. And then arrived the one who made a difference – Om Swami.
Copious miracles arrived with Swami. Out of a book full of them, one remains close to my heart. It occurred when Swami visited us. I was driving my car. Swami was in the passenger seat of my husband’s car, which followed mine. We stopped at a signal, and I glanced at the rear-view mirror. I could see my husband, but Swami was missing! How on earth did that happen? My husband didn’t stop anywhere. Where did Swami go?
Taken aback, I enquired if my co-passenger could see Swami. With a quizzical look, he reinforced that Swami was visible to him. Bewildered, I looked again. It was evident that my husband was talking to him, but there was no Swami. The signal turned green, and I rechecked the rear-view mirror. All of a sudden, there he was! Sitting in all his Divine glory and chatting away. He had revealed his Formless Self to me.
A Different Avatar
Swami’s sweet countenance and his wisdom lured me to him. When I’d gotten friendly with him, I gathered some courage and declared, “I’m tired of my life, Swamiji. I’m getting a divorce.”
Suddenly, his face changed. I saw a different avatar of him. Not an iota of anger, but a stern look that could scare anyone out of their humor. Without batting an eyelid, Swami said, “I’m not in favor of divorce (for you).”
His demeanor shook me. Never had I seen him like that! I was infuriated but reluctantly obeyed his words. And, that was the best thing I ever did.
Today, I can declare confidently that fairy-tale marriages exist! It’s not easy, but with spiritual evolution and some management skills, it’s achievable. Below are two sets of pointers that worked for my husband and me.
- Listening: If we want one mantra for a good marriage, this singular point is sufficient! Resisting the urge to offer quick resolutions and listening patiently with genuine interest works like magic.
- Objectivity: A renunciate or householder, happiness is impossible without non-attachment. My husband and I can live alone happily, but we would miss out on a great friend.
- Friendship: Most of us are tolerant of our friends. We don’t expect much from them and are willing to pardon. Yet, we get defensive with that one committed friend who stays with us for life! Lasting bonds evolve out of companionship.
- Freedom: A relationship thrives where partners have some breathing space. As a rule, my husband and I don’t interfere with the other’s career choices, hobbies, dressing sense, or other habits. We provide support only when requested.
- Graceful Conflicts: Unless we’re living alone in a jungle, bouts are inevitable. It helps to master the art of graceful fighting! The basis of graceful battling is to make our partner the priority, as against our ego. Refraining from name-calling, yelling, or bringing up the past are other vital ingredients.
- Open Communication: For eons, both my husband and I felt judged for our spending habits. Finally, when we opened up, we realized that it was a non-issue, and wholly our silliness! Since then, we discuss every small issue openly.
- Task Allocation: We have assigned tasks for everyone, including my son. If a person doesn’t attend to their chores, it remains undone until they are forced by guilt to do it.
- Time Management: I’m cooking up my next blog, and he is out somewhere playing his chosen sport. Meanwhile, our son is drooling over his tennis idol. In a short while, we’ll gather for our routine family meeting. We’ve also scheduled daily one-on-one catchups with each family member! You get the drift – balancing alone time and family time is essential.
- Peer-Reviews and Appreciations: We check periodically to ensure that we aren’t hurting each other unwittingly. We express gratitude and appreciation verbally, both privately and publicly. It may seem pompous to others. Yet, it’s vital for the person who matters most.
- Healthy Competition and Team Work: We’ve redirected our competitive spirit towards self-improvement! If I meditate, he gets motivated to do it. If he works on his hobbies, I’m inspired to do it too. Although, when it comes to raising our son or household chores, we remind ourselves that we’re a team.
I spent more than a month with the renunciate. Throughout that time, I worked on myself, cared for those around me, and performed Ashram-related tasks to my ability. When I was down sick, a couple of beautiful residents served me food and meds.
Back home, I work on myself, care for those around me, and perform household tasks to my ability. When I get sick here, my beautiful family serves me food and meds. Presently, I see no difference between the two. Indeed, it was my ignorance that valued one lifestyle higher than the other.