The purpose of household life is to attain pure devotional service.
Within this world, the divine service of Radha and Krishna is the sole purpose of the relationship and they are practically living those principles , then the two become one in spirit.That doesn't mean they merge into each others existence but becoming one means they are living for the same purpose and they share the same concerns and goals. One is I will do anything to protect you and you will do anything to protect me; that is oneness that we are there for each other. It means to give up the false ego. This faithfulness and devotion to each other is the common principle of marriage and when there are children, we will tolerate any amount of differences for the welfare of the children.
When children are there, they see our anger and they become insecure and they suffer internally and it will mould their consciousness for the rest of their lives. Even when they become the age of parents, they will have insecurities and miserable elements running within themselves because of reckless behavior of parents.
We have to give up our ego and preferences - principle of marriage. It's a divine relationship because we are responsible to Krishna on behalf of one another. Oneness of interest. Krishna says if you surrender, I carry what you lack. In marriage, Krishna works through your partner to carry what you lack. If both partners understand this principle, then they go back home, back to godhead
Srila Prabhupada writes a husband and wife who live together congenially (to be congenial means tapasya) when they have Krishna in the center, then Lakshmi and Narayana are living in that house even if you don't have deities; They want to live there because of your devotion to each other. If you don't have the congenial relationship for the higher purpose, then They are not in your house; They will be only statues.
Q. A devotee quitting his body Krishna sees how much false ego we have? In Grihasta life the biggest issue is the false ego. Even after devotional life, if our anarthas are not going, what should we do?
A. It is that burning desire to be rescued from the shackles of false ego which impedes our progress on the path of pure love. Execution of devotional service with that desire, will attract Krishna's special mercy. Ahankara is the most powerful element in material creation. False ego is the foundation for the rest of material creation; it is very strong and what keeps us here. As long as ego is there, we have to keep taking birth. So we should eagerly serve the mission of Krishna, chant, hear SB and be the servant, that includes the wife. It doesn't mean you become foolishly attached to the wife like a menial servant, a menial servant in the sense of whats best for service, to do the needful and actually help each other. We have to be humble servant; the wife to husband and husband to wife. We conquer our ego through humble service and respecting others. What drives the men crazy, is when the wife doesn't respect them even though she does and also the wife goes crazy too when husband doesn't respect them. So we have to be humble in our dealings with devotees, with family. That is our austerity and that will show our sincerity to Krishna; the way we act. When we show that sincerity with enthusiasm and patience, we should have faith that Krishna will rescue will us.
Q. What about our responsibility towards parents? We as husband and wife may be wanting to do much more, but due to expectations of family that must be interrupted. Sohow to tackle that?
A. We should honestly try our best. The oneness in commitment if service to each other as husband and wife. Anyone connected to a devotee has the opportunity to make great spiritual progress. Because Prahalad surrendered to the Lord, 10 generations past and 10 generations future got liberated. If child is krishna conscious, parents and relatives get special mercy. If they are favorable then even more. They will make tremendous progress; every time you surrender, everytime you chant the holy mane sincerely, Krishna is going to give more mercy to his/her parents. After death of parents, they will share the results because of your devotion. It's Krishna's promise. The greatest act of love you can perform to your parents is not just to satisfy their material expectations but to become a pure devotee, so that they get liberated. For a Grihasta, because you are in that realm, you have to harmonize your social obligations in such a way that it does not impede your spiritual progress; that happens with proper intelligence,good guidance and sincere motivation.
Q. Parents have certain expectations, and fulfilling them creates friction between husband and wife because it is performed as impeding spiritual progress. So how to tackle that?
A. If someone marries in Krishna consciousness, it is his duty to protect the wife and that often means from your parents. If you allow parents to disturb their spiritual life, you are implicated in the offense before God. You should be as respectful to parents but you cannot allow the wife to be denied the right to be God conscious.
Q. Can we subsidize devotional service for friends?
A. If he's really a close friend, you may want to do but in husband and wife it's a vow before God and it's very serious; it's an offense if you dont. You can choose your friends, but once you are married, you are trapped. But it is Krishna's trap to take you out material nature.
India helps you to become Krishna conscious, because at every step you need to surrender and take shelter.
Once Srila Prabhupada was overseeing a construction, and devotees was saying we cannot concentrate on sadhana because of the construction. SP said you go on with construction, I will chant for you. Krishna is bhavagrahi. We need to pray for each other and offer our Bhakti to each other. Both husband and wife have taken a life long vow to do that - it is very serious. Grihastas should take their vows very seriously.
(Adapted from a lecture by HH Radhanath Swami)