In this way, our expectations and demands on each other increase, as if the sole source of happiness in our life were our spouse. From such life dynamics, we expect to extract satisfaction, instead of offering service and joy to our partner. We become needy and take from the relationship, instead of contributing to it. This may sooner or later lead to frustrations, quarrels and disappointments, with the strain on the relationship increasing.
A relationship will be under less strain if both partners have other sources of satisfaction outside of their marital relationship – friends, hobbies, sports and artistic activities or services in Krishna consciousness, etc. This will enable them to be satisfied in themselves, thereby becoming capable of giving something to their partner, instead of simply being the needy recipient. In other words, it is highly recommended that the couple give each other enough space for engaging in personal interests and activities – without losing track of each other and becoming emotionally disconnected. One has to endeavour to find the right balance.
An intimate relationship is governed by the dynamics of distance and closeness. We cannot always be close with someone. A phase of distance is required in order for both to come closer again. As the saying goes: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This proverb conveys the notion that when we are separated from our beloved for some time – even if only for some hours – we can appreciate their association even more, and thus we deeply long for a reunion.
Separation intensifies and enhances our loving feelings. We have the same phenomenon in its perfect and absolute manifestation in the spiritual world in the context of the gopis’ intense love for Krishna in separation, called vipralambha. We can experience a similar occurrence as a perverted reflection between husband and wife in this material world.
Unless we understand these important aspects of a marital relationship, both husband and wife can easily strangle each other and get on each other’s nerves; as a result, they may hamper and hinder each other’s personal growth and development, and likewise their conjugal relationship. It may even lead to a point of too much pressure and strain that could bring about a divorce.
Both of my parents married again, and it was interesting for me to observe that they managed their second marriage very differently from how they handled the first one, giving each other plenty of space – not only externally, but also internally, by not overloading each other with expectations and demands. Even though their second partner did not match their tastes, interests and personalities as well, they nevertheless understood the important dynamics of distance and closeness within a marital bond which keeps a relationship dynamic and lively.
My father maintained his house in the village, and his second wife stayed in her spacious apartment in a city 35 kms away. They did not move into one of these residences together, but spent four days per week with each other, either in his house in the village or her apartment in the city. And the other three days they spent apart from one another, in their own homes – ringing each other twice a day. For the last twenty years of his life, my father travelled every year around India for six weeks, visiting different holy places alone, while his wife preferred to visit her lady friends in Berlin; giving each other space – India was not her thing! Six months before he left his body, he persuaded her to come along with him to India, and we met in Vrindavan and spent a wonderful time together, visiting different temples.
My mother and her second husband lived in a big two-family house in the village – he lived upstairs and she downstairs. He was a musician who played the violin, and he regularly met with his friends to practise classical music in a string quartet. She was an artist and spent her time in her atelier, absorbed in creating fine artwork to be displayed in exhibitions. At the same time, she did the house work and cooked the meals which they would take together. They knew the art of giving each other space and at the same time engaging in common activities while performing their duties towards each other.
Sharing with our readers the information about the above lifestyles does not mean that we recommend that husband and wife live separately. It rather serves as an example to illustrate the importance of giving each other some freedom to develop in a way that suits our needs and interests, instead of sending us down the dark path of mutual strangulation on which we remain focused solely on each other by desiring to do everything together.
On the 1st of August I flew to Warsaw/Poland.....
Your servant, Devaki dd