According to me, there are five levels of marriages:
The lowest level is the one in which a person marries purely for fulfilling his or her sensual and material needs.
In this type of marriage, one uses the other out of sensual or material lust. Lust is fatal.
The next level is that when the partner is not just an object for sensual or material gratification but is also looked upon as someone who provides for the family or takes care of the home, which is meant to serve the purpose of a fort for the whole family.
In this type of marriage, lust is mixed with an element of mild respect and tolerance.
Then comes the level of marriage when the partners firmly believe that the other person will live with him or her in a reasonable manner and provide for him or her and nurture their kids well. In this type of marriage, everything is kind of contractual, and each partner trusts that the other will honour the tacit contract.
Here, everything is based on the system of give and take: You love me, so I love you; if you don’t love me, then I won’t love you. These are your rights and these are mine. I respect your rights if you will respect mine. These are your duties and obligations, and these are mine. I will stick to my duties and obligations if you will stick to yours. These are your limits and these are mine. I won’t cross my limits if you don’t cross yours.
Such a couple live together somewhat peacefully but not joyously, for sure.
In this type of marriage, there is lust plus some respect plus some peace plus some trust, although it is all contractual.
A higher level, the fourth level of marriage is when two souls really love each other, operate from the heart and give each other complete freedom to be, do and have what each one wants. Here, one has gone beyond the desperation of sex, and each loves the other for the sake of love itself. There’s a tremendous understanding between each other and reverence for each other.
In this type of marriage, love between two bodies has given way to love between two hearts, contractual trust has given way to unconditional trust, peace has given way to joy, and respect has given way to reverence for each other.
Then there’s the highest type of marriage. It goes beyond reverence for each other, to seeing Godliness in each other. This relationship is that of complete devotion and surrender. Here the couple have a shared purpose in life: relentless service or seva to the world. This is the kind of marriage that our rishis and rishikas have had.
In this type of marriage, love changes into devotion, trust changes into surrender, joy becomes ecstasy and reverence towards each other transcends into service for the whole world.
I chose to speak on the subject of marriage not without a reason. Only a beautiful marriage can produce a beautiful child. A beautiful marriage acts as a bedrock for successful parenting which, in turn, gives rise to an immensely beautiful child.
May you, the reader, take your relationship with your spouse to raise it to this level of marriage, and, mind you, this wouldn’t happen without constant sadhana, or, what may be called, devotion, to personal growth. I sincerely pray to God that each of us experiences such great marital bliss.