Recently someone asked me, “ What causes a husband and wife who once seemed so happy together to become one another’s worst enemy”. While I could have given a very elaborate answer, I replied, “Our material conditioning.” The questioner then asked, “Is there anything one can do to change their material conditioning?”
Conditioning is indeed difficult to change. Education and awareness are certainly helpful, but ultimately the most efficacious way to change our conditioned responses to life’s unpredictable provocations is our spiritual practices.
In the japa retreats I’ve helped to facilitate, we would pose two questions. “ How do you feel after a morning of focused attentive japa?” And “How do you feel after a morning of unfocused, inattentive japa or no japa?” The responses were all similar. Responses to the first question included adjectives such as peaceful, happy, fulfilled, resilient, kind, compassionate, understanding. Adjectives to describe their feelings after a bad japa day included, scattered, depressed, unproductive, guilty, angry, anxious, over-reactive and moody.
From my experience working with couples, I have found that couples who have strong spiritual practices get along together better than couples who have little or no sadhana. Good sadhana helps us to transcend our conditioning and develop good qualities such as compassion and humility. We develop an attitude of service as opposed to exploitation.
Good sadhana also enhances our ability to listen with the objective to understand our spouse as opposed to listening to defeat our spouse in an argument. We will also have more willingness to take good instruction from others as to how to have a healthy and happy Krsna-centered marriage and to take those instructions to heart.