10 tips for a happy married life by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Valentine’s Day brings love and relationships to the fore. A happy and successful marriage is the backbone of various other relationships in life. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has shared deep, yet simple, secrets that can help you lead a peaceful and contented married life. These necessary reminders will open the gate to marital bliss, and fill your relationships with love, commitment, and fulfillment! Perfect timing with February 14 just around the corner!

1. Remember that marriage is a commitment to walk together

“Marriage is an institution of patience, sacrifice, caring for each other, and sharing. Our ancient people spoke about saptapadi– the seven vows of marriage one takes in life. The hallmarks of a happy marriage are – a sense of commitment, co-operation, compassion, caring, and less ego. The relationship can bring us strength or weakness depending on the mind. If the mind is strong then relationships are a gift to us, but if the mind is weak and not in control, then relationships can feel like bondage. If you hold each other’s necks, it will feel like bondage. If you walk together, shoulder-to-shoulder with each other, it will serve as a support. So be a support to each other, be a companion, and move forward.”

2. Be available for each other instead of demanding

“In a marriage, you should consider the other person as your own part – like your arm or leg. It’s two bodies, one mind, one soul. So, whatever your spouse desires, you make it your own desire. Your spouse’s taste, consider it as your own taste. The conflict arises when your tastes start moving apart. You should start saying your taste is my taste; your pleasure is my pleasure. ‘I am here for you’, rather than, ‘What can you do for me?’ When we approach the relationship with ‘What can you do for me?’ then both partners become unhappy. In a happy marriage, each couple resolves “I’m here for you, come what may, happy times or unhappy times! In life sometimes there are disappointments, sometimes there is success. In either case, I’m with you."

3. Don’t be possessive

“Whether it is before or after marriage, if you are too possessive, the other person will run away. Trying to control or possess somebody may not be a very intelligent idea. When you are possessive, the whole chain of negative thoughts is triggered.”

4. Appease yourself on your own

“Often, you like to be pleased, appeased, and cajoled. So you put up a tough, upset face and act difficult to please. Lovers often do this. They expend a lot of energy in cajoling and this brings down the joy and celebration of the moment. People who keep a long face and expect others to cajole and appease them make others run away. It is okay for you to show your upset mood or tendency once in a while, but doing it over and over again is taxing for you and the people you love. If you feel down, appease and please yourself. Your need to be appeased by someone else is a sign of grossness. If you want attention, all you get is tension.”

5. Think before you speak

“There is a proverb which says, ‘It is only through words that conflicts begin. It is only through words that people have fun. It is only through words that people gain wealth. So, words should be used sparingly.’ Usually, when people have some misunderstanding, they say, ‘Let us talk it out.’ This does not work at all. Just move on. Don’t sit and discuss or ask any explanation about the past. When a mistake happens, it happened, that’s it. Move on. Just imagine yourself in a position where you make a mistake and someone keeps asking for an explanation for it. It is such a burden to explain or to justify oneself. Never make the other person feel guilty. The bond of friendship gets loosened. There is a skill in making a person aware of his mistake without making him feel guilty. If one is upset, the other partner should keep quiet and wait for his/her turn to get upset. If both get upset at the same time, then there is a problem! And in front of kids, one should be civilized. Know that ‘Oh, my spouse is upset! Okay.’ Give him or her the time to be upset. Don’t question ‘Why are you so upset?’ If someone is upset, the other gets angry and expects them not to be upset. This is a big mistake! Someone is upset, give them that space.”

6. Be your authentic self

“Be natural and simple. Relationships develop naturally. If you try to build a relationship, that is when you become a little artificial. Then, your behavior becomes artificial, which is not natural. Just imagine, someone is trying to impress you, don’t you notice that? If someone is trying to impress you, what do you do? You move away. See what you like, that is what others like as well. You like someone to be very honest, open, natural, and unassuming with you, correct? That is exactly what others also want from you. Don’t try hard to impress. Then, everything goes bad. Best is to be yourself, to be natural, to be forgiving, and to be in the present moment. It makes a big difference.

As time passes in a relationship, a couple witnesses that expectations and attitudes change. The relationship can become better with more yoga and meditation practice. We can learn how to communicate better in the relationship, to be more patient and forgiving. Again and again, the cycle rotates from rosy and glorious bliss to momentary shakiness. Commitment is what holds it together when you decide not to fall apart. Spirituality is what gives the strength to see it through.”

7. As a couple, have a higher goal for the welfare of the community 

“When the husband and wife are simply focused on each other all the time, they quickly enter into fights. After the initial phase of marriage, where everything is magical, faults start surfacing all too soon. Lines moving towards each other only move apart after the point of intersection.

Again, when the husband and wife are not focused on each other and their goals in life are different, they stop seeing eye-to-eye with each other, and communication and trust break down. Further, when the goals are only to satisfy personal desires, there is not much fulfillment or merit that is gained.

It is only when both are moving together, with their focus on a higher goal for the society, for the world, that values are upheld in the relationship and beauty, love, and faith are nourished. Parallel lines move together until infinity. We need to have both personal goals and goals for the community. Only then would we have a sense of fulfillment and higher purpose. This paradigm shift in our thinking, from “What about me?” to “What can I do for others?” happens naturally when we meditate. The skill, courage, and commitment to move together, come what may, is nourished and strengthened by meditation. The deeper the foundation, the taller the building will be. Meditation brings this depth to our relationship so that our life and aspirations can reach the sky!”

Watch this short video to listen to Gurudev’s three secrets for a successful marriage or relationship. One for women, one for men, and the last for both.

Secret 1: This secret is for women - be a pillar of support for your husband

The most important thing to a man is that he feels loved, respected, and appreciated at home. This means working to remember all the goodness in him, and amplifying it. Positive reinforcement will not only make him feel secure and supported, but will encourage him to continue to improve. Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “The whole world may say to him that he has no brains, but you, his wife, should never say that. You should always say, ‘You are the most intelligent person on the planet. Just the fact that you don’t use your brain does not mean you don’t have it!’ You should always pump his ego. Just praise and shower him with compliments sometimes. Even when he has made some mistake, tell him that he has the ability to do better. Just that little praise will make him feel better.”

Secret 2: This secret is for men - respect your wife’s emotions

The most important thing for a woman is that she feels heard, understood, and respected. This means listening to her with empathy, patience, and support. Emotions are very powerful and you can easily get caught up in them. As a man, it is important to deal with the woman’s emotions skillfully. Gurudev says, “Never step on the emotions of women. She may complain to you about her brother or mother or family. But you should not join the bandwagon. The moment you start nodding along, she will turn 180 degrees. And instead of dwelling on her complaints, she will complain about you!” 

Sometimes, you may have to nurture her emotions as well. Meditation brings in you that skill to be sensitive and sensible at the same time while dealing with your wife’s emotions. It gives you the ability to bring that pleasantness in the atmosphere which is important for a healthy relationship.

Secret 3: This is for both men and women - Don’t demand proof of love

Do you see this? Just like the existence of the sun during the day, certain things are very obvious and do not need any proof. Love is one of those things that doesn’t need any proof. But we look for proof of love from our partner all the time and that is what spoils the relationship.

Gurudev advises, “Never ask for proof of your partner’s love for you! Do not ask each other, ’Do you really love me?’ Even if you find something lacking, just say, ’Why do you love me so much?’ Take it for granted that they love you. Even if the spring has died out, it will start again.”

Compiled by Sejal Shah

Based on wisdom talks by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar