Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Love Makes the World Go Round …
By Krsnanandini Devi Dasi (CFLE, Marriage Educator, Minister)   |  Feb 15, 2008
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Especially

in America and other western countries, Valentine’s Day is a big hit. Americans are predicted to spend an estimated

$17 billion dollars on flowers, candy, jewelry, cards and other romantic

paraphernalia.


Ah!

What we won’t sacrifice for love. Husbands and wives, lovers and their beloveds are giving and accepting

gifts (some, very expensive) this year with an intensity that’s surprising

given the looming recession. Mostly,

these gifts are exchanged with the hope that they will let our loved ones know

we care or symbolize our enduring love.


But

what does it actually take to have an enduring relationship or a lasting

healthy marriage? What do folks who are

spiritually inclined need to know in this regard? Because it’s a fact that most of the people

on earth who claim to be religious and spiritually inclined are married.


The

Grhastha Vision Team (GVT) is a 501C3 non profit organization, headquartered in

North America, that is dedicated to strengthening families and enriching

marriages built on spiritual principles. They have developed a comprehensive, interactive, practical course

entitled, “Strengthening the Bonds That Free Us” and maintain a website full of

expert advice, tips and scriptural instructions about God conscious marriage

and family life. This 3-4 day course has

already been presented to Vaisnava communities in New York, Washington, D.C.,

Florida, Ireland and South Africa.


“First,

before the marriage knot is tied,” advises Cintamani Dasi (Dr. Courtney Parks,

one of the GVT founding board members, “couples should get premarital

skill-building counseling. This

generally involves a premarital inventory which gives an excellent assessment of

couple strengths and challenges and 4-5, two hour skill-building sessions in

communication, conflict resolution, goal-setting, parenting, financial

management, values clarification and how to implement spiritual duties in your

married life.”


Additionally,

couples who are already married are recommended to:

  • Attend a couple retreat periodically to “tune-up” your relationship

    –these retreats help couples to brush up on healthy relationship skills,

    revitalize their marriage commitment and have wonderful association with

    like-minded couples.

  • Take the “Strengthening the Bonds That Free Us” course (or a similar

    one) to sharpen your marriage skills, associate with other Vaisnavas, and go

    in-depth to explore the practical, Krsna conscious benefits of grhasta (spiritually

    committed married life). According to

    Uttama Dasi from Canada (another founding GVT member), “Feedback from the

    scores of devotees who have taken this course has been overwhelmingly

    positive.”

  • Discover the supportive tools (brochures, events, Vaisnava marriage and

    family educators, therapists and counselors) on the GVT website: www.vaisnavafamilyresources.org


The

GVT has identified 12 principles and values of healthy, strong, God-conscious

marriages including Alignment with Srila

Prabhupada, Spiritual Equality/Material Difference, Mutual Respect and

Appreciation, Commitment and Dedication, Family Love and Affection and more.


But

what about an individual who would like to get married but would like some help

finding a suitable spouse? (Matchmaking companies in the secular arena are

increasingly popping up everywhere). In the west, some matchmaking services do

exist for Vaisnavas although they are few. Contact the GVT at their website above for recommendations.


Many

of the festivals in Iskcon now host workshops by experienced devotees that can

shed insight into this situation. For

example, at the Festival of Inspiration this year, 2008, May 9, 10 and 11th in New Vrndavan, a workshop is being presented titled “Getting Ready for a Vaisnava

Marriage: What to do? and How to do it?”


Getting

married is a good idea for a Vaisnava. So says one of the foremost acaryas in our Vaisnava disciplic

succession. “Marriage with a view to

peaceful and virtuous life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is

a good institution for a Vaisnava.” (Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur).


Most

human beings have a naturally strong desire to share love with another and

spiritual marriage affords an excellent learning opportunity to do so because

it keeps God at the center. And, as many of us heard from childhood, “God

is Love.”


Parthas

Dasa, (certified marriage/family educator) explains where some of the difficulty

about healthy loving exchanges occurs, “Love

through modern media has been reduced to passionate romance. An effect

of the media’s presentation of so called love is that the general connotation

of the word conjugal tends to be one of a sexual nature”¦..but the dictionary

tells us Conjugal means “Relating to

marriage.”


The

good news is that courses and workshops about God-conscious marriage and family

life (such as offered by the Grhastha Vision Team) help us to put marriage and

family in proper perspective. Then the

love that we express to God and each other will indeed be conducive to healthy

growth and development and make our individual, family and community worlds go round.

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