Shiva the Ideal Husband
What is it that makes Shiva the ideal husband? Is it his passionate nature or his ascetic disposition?
The answer to the question may be drawn from both of these aspects of Lord Shiva. While the very nature of Shiva the god is that of a destroyer, one who is fierce and filled with the potential to create chaos, he is also the god who is in absolute control of his emotions. He has to be after all, he has two such willful and headstrong wives! Lord Shiva does not let the determination of his wives annoy or frustrate him. He readily listens to what they have to say agreeing or disagreeing with their opinions in a gentle manner. He treats both Sati and Parvati as equals and not as subservient beings. He sees them as his companions, individuals with whom he can discuss anything and everything- whether it may be intellectual conversations, gathering or giving of advice or even just a light-hearted banter to make him smile. To him their opinion has high value and he enjoys banter and conversations with them. It is these amazing traits of the God alongside his legendary virility that there are many young women in India who wish that they would have an ideal husband like Shiva.
One must bear in mind that the times in which the legends of Shiva were written by sages was characterized by a kind of patriarchal hegemony that relegated the women in society to a secondary position when compared to their husbands or other male members in family life. This trend operated even in mainstream mythology since it was derived from mainstream culture. The legends of Shiva alone shows the kind of harmony and equality of status between husband and wife we strive for even in contemporary times in societies around the globe.
Whether it was with his first wife Sati or his second wife Parvati, Shiva always had immense love and respect for them. It was only after the death of his first wife that Shiva agreed to re-marry, that too after considerable coaxing by various Gods and Goddesses. Unlike other Gods, Shiva is not promiscuous except when it came to the charms of Mohini- the damsel avatar of Lord Vishnu. One may pardon him this indiscretion, considering the fact that Lord Vishnu was as powerful as him and could as such, manage to lead him astray.
The Ardhnareshwar avatar of Shiva and his acknowledgement of the different but equal status of the male and female energy, represented by the Shiv-Shakti dichotomy continues to show all and sundry the extent to which Shiva loved and treasured his female half. The process of generating and sustaining life is incomplete without the active participation of both forces. It is a reality Shiva encompasses even though he is all powerful and invincible.
Therefore when unmarried women pray to Shiva and Parvati to be blessed with husbands like Shiva, one may read in it, a conscientious and well reasoned choice. It symbolizes the appropriate choice for a man who is not materialistic in a narrow sense but has a passionate temperament, capable of introspection, sensitive thought and compassionate action.