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Mine was a typical Arranged marriage... My parents found a well educated and well settled match for me, and for them the reason that I want to marry a devotee was not "practical enough" to say no to this marriage. After marriage I discovered that my husband loves eating non-veg food, drinks alcohol quite frequently, smokes occasionally and is agnostic spiritually. These were certainly not the qualities I had ever imagined my life partner would have. I felt quite helpless and didn't know what to do.
Initially I thought that I can sort things out by reasoning with him. But this turned out to be my biggest mistake. I quoted scriptures and he quoted the so-called scientific studies. Our logical talks would turn into arguments and then end into major fights where we would not be on talking terms with each other for days. His " Male Ego" didn't allow him to accept his arguments to be wrong, and his previous conditioning would not let him accept the word of scriptures to be true. The more I tried reasoning with him, the more he was getting convinced that his thoughts are scientific and my belief in scriptures is dogmatic.
One day a devotee friend of mine told me about a website called iskcondesiretree.com . I saw discussion forum here and thought of asking devotees for help. I posted my situation in this forum and soon a senior devotee game me a wonderful suggestion which later changed my husband completely. This happened around 4 yrs back, and this website had an entirely different look then. I don't know how to access the discussion forum of the old website, otherwise i would have simply posted that link here.
He suggested that there is no use arguing with your husband as it will only make the things worse. Being the wife, I have control over the kitchen and this will be a major tool for changing my husband. He suggested that when I offer food to Lord Krishna, I should specifically pray that may this food change the habits of my husband and may he become advanced spiritually. Apart from this he advised that I should not force any thing on my husband and serve him duty-fully. Of course I had to maintain my own spiritual practice and not to get deviated by other things. This advice, though simple, had a major impact on my life.
Here's a little secret I would like to admit which so many devotees might not like. My husband was a non-veg lover ( though he would never bring it inside our house), so he liked the food cooked with lots of onions in it. He would not eat the curries made without onion and say that the food without onion has no taste. So I was offering the food with onion to Lord Krishna and asked forgiveness from HIM for this offence!!!! Now that might sound really bad to many devotees here...
Apart from praying to Lord Krishna for changing my husband, here are few other things I simultaneously did, which I feel helped in developing the Krishna Consciousness in my husband...
1) I made it a point never to argue with my husband over any spiritual topic, no matter how much he provokes me to do so.
2) I took a vow to Chant 4 rounds daily for him. I had a belief that if I'll chant for him, he'll get some sukruti, which will help him to come closer to Lord Krishna. I don't know if he really got some sukruti like this, but this vow of mine made him chant few rounds of Hare Krishna Mantra occasionally. On the days when I used to fall sick, I used to tell my husband that today I am not able too finish the 4 rounds which I do for you, so will you please help me by doing those rounds yourself? And since I'll say this in a very submissive tone, he'll agree to help me by doing his rounds himself!!!
3) I mostly listen to some lectures online while I am cooking. If I found certain part of lectures specifically to be about drinking or meat eating etc, I used to play those parts in the evening while cooking dinner, while my husband is also there in the house. I'll play the lectures on my laptop in the room and work in the kitchen,pretending that I am listening this lecture for the first time. I believe that words coming from the mouth of a pure devotee have a great potency of transforming those who hear them. Though my husband would be busy doing other things, trying his best to ignore the lecture, but still he would hear some part of it which will surely leave some impact on him.
4) I made it a point to manage my home nicely and take good care of my family so that his conception that taking jap mala in hands means leaving the worldly duties is proved wrong.
5) Whenever my husband appreciates me for being a good wife, I always say that it's only because of Srila Prabhupada that I am convinced that the only duty of a girl is to serve her husband and her family nicely. I give credit of all my good qualities to Srila Prabhupad and this gives me a chance to explain what a wonderful person Srila Prabhupad was, and how his teachings are the way to live a harmonious life.
6) I started visiting our local ISKCON temple at least once a month. My husband met many ghristha devotees there who were working on very high posts in their offices but were serving humbly in the Temple. This created a positive image of ISKCON in front of my husband, which helped a lot in his transformation.
Since my blog is getting too long I would just say that I started seeing my husband change gradually. He gave up eating non-veg, then he gave up smoking and drinking. By our second marriage anniversary my husband knew the four regulative principles by heart, and was convinced to follow them for all his life. But still there were two issues. He still wanted food to be cooked with onions and he still liked to drink tea frequently. I had firm faith that Lord Krishna will arrange something so that he'll leave onions and tea also.
On our second marriage anniversary one of our aunt gave us Laddoo Gopalji deity as a gift and said that she knows we can take good care of HIM. Since I am busy preparing breakfast in the morning, my husband agreed to bathe the deity and dress HIM up. Sweet innocent smile of our Ladoo Gopal ji did some magic on my husband and just a week after taking care of HIM, he said that it's not good to offer food with onion to Ladoo Gopalji...So from now onward we will not bring onion into our kitchen. I was really amazed to hear these words!!!! I thanked Lord Krishna a million times in heart for this transformation and prayed to HIM that may both of us serve HIM till the last breath of our life.
Though my post has already become too long, but still I am tempted to tell one more incident about how my husband gave up drinking tea. One day my husband saw that I am giving him tea without first offering it to our Ladoo Gopal ji. He asked me that why am I not offering tea to HIM. I said that Ladoo Gopalji doesn't drink tea. He asked me that how am I so sure that He doesn't drink tea? So instead of giving any Shastric reference or saying that I have heard this in ISKCON, I simply said that Laddoo Gopalji has HIMSELF told me this, and if you don't believe me you can ask HIM yourself. I suggested him to write YES on one chit of paper and NO on the other chit of paper, fold those chits, and keep them in front of Gopalji. Then he asked Gopalji that whether HE drinks tea or not, and picked up one chit with with closed eyes. The chit said NO!!!! My husband again kept the folded chits and again asked the same question and again he got the same answer. He did this three times and every time he got the answer that Ladoo Gopalji doesn't drink tea. From that day onward my husband also gave up drinking tea completely!!!
By the mercy of Lord Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and senior Vaishnavas, my husband has " changed " so much that his old friends get shocked when they meet him after a long time. My husband is now my strength in following the path of Krishna Consciousness and he not only supports me, but is now walking on this path me.
I wanted to share my story as it gives faith that sincere prayers and firm faith can really change a person. Change is a gradual process, but if we'll stick to our Sadhna and keep praying to Lord Krishna, then change will surely happen one day....