When I hope to retire in Mayapur one day, I may come here during the hot season and spend time preaching in the different devotee communities. No need for me to leave India to go to a cooler place...!
Besides, the devotees kept me busily engaged in both temples with various programs on a good selection of relevant topics. Thus I enjoyed the company of the Vaishnavas in sravanam kirtanam...
An ever intriguing topic is how to please a husband and how to satisfy a wife. Sometimes, our vision of family life is rather narrow - it's all about working for economic development, and service and attending temple programs; and we forget to also spend some recreational time together with our spouse and children in order to maintain a harmonious and balanced atmosphere in the home, which sets a strong foundation to our devotional practice.
Of the three forms of protection – material, spiritual, and emotional – emotional shelter is the most important. For many men, it is not easy to understand how to give emotional shelter and support to his wife. Since most men don’t require much emotional care, they often can’t relate to such a need. However, as we know, the psychophysical makeup of a woman is different. In order to be a good mother and caregiver, Krishna has given her a more emotional nature, which requires fulfilment.
Emotional care means caring for the mind in order to keep it cheerful, satisfied and controlled. A husband gives emotional attention by allowing his wife to share her worries and thoughts, and by offering comforting and reassuring words. Oftentimes, the husband likes to offer solutions to problems, not understanding that women don’t necessarily want to hear solutions but rather need to be heard and understood. This is an important detail for men to consider.
All he has to offer is some comforting words along these lines: ‘I understand how upset you are…’ or ‘I hear you. Your feelings are absolutely valid…’ or, ‘That must be so hard; I am here for you in any way I can help’. Offering solutions makes her feel that he does not want to empathise with her.
A man however, often feels that it is his fault when his wife is unhappy – intuitively, he knows that it is his duty to make sure she is content and satisfied. So, if she expresses her dissatisfactions, or worries and anxieties, a husband often gets irritated or even angry.
Instead, he should understand that she is not putting the blame on him – and hopefully she isn’t! – but that she simply needs to share her emotions with him, hoping that he will respond by offering some reassuring words, in addition to an affectionate hug. In this regard, the book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" by John Gray gives valuable and very practical insights into different aspects of the husband-wife relationship.
In order to offer emotional care to his wife, the husband also spends quality time with her, takes her out shopping or for walks in the countryside; or to social engagements with other devotee couples. If he is financially able, he may take her to other temples for a visit and stay by her side, so that she feels comfortable in foreign surroundings.
As a rule, what gives most satisfaction to a man are his activities and accomplishments – they are his first priority in life. Once again, Krishna has arranged it in this way, since he is meant to protect, provide and take charge.
A woman however, as a rule, derives her main fulfilment from satisfying relationships, which afford her the right disposition to be a good mother and caregiver. Her priority is her family and friendships with others.
These differences frequently lead to the undesirable situation where a husband may focus exclusively on his professional and spiritual activities and achievements, not giving enough time and attention to his wife and children. As a result, she may feel unsatisfied and neglected, since her main source of fulfilment is not given enough attention by him. This is an especially common occurrence when he has accepted an important position in the temple – serving as the Temple President, for example. Then may arise the danger of him continually neglecting his wife and children – they may hardly ever see him! He may be giving so much time to other devotees that
his schedule overflows with appointments, causing him to forget to set aside some time for his family.
I recommend that a husband sets aside at least one or even two hours per day to give quality time to his wife – regularly and at the same time every day, if at all possible. In this way, it will be an established ritual – a wife knows exactly when she will receive her husband’s undivided attention. Additionally, there could be at least one afternoon per week – if not a full day – that is set aside as a family day, when a husband engages in recreational activities with his wife and children; visits other devotees or Vaishnava gatherings, or spends time with the family outdoors, and so forth.
In order to balance work, spiritual and material duties, and recreational
activities with our family, we may need to accept the guidance of a more experienced, well-wishing friend who manages to find such a balance in his own family life, and who can help us to assess our personal situation.
Furthermore, from time to time, a husband may offer little gifts such as jewellery, accessories and clothes. Such attention and care will give her the emotional health and strength to perform her service to him and the children, besides engaging in her spiritual practices.
On the 11th of October I flew on to Mumbai to visit Chowpatty temple....
Your servant, Devaki dd
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