A Summary of the Srimad Bhagavatham : Ch-5. Part-5.
5: Narada Instructs Yudhisthira on Ashrama Dharma :
In the next stage, which is generally called Grihastha, a kind of life is prescribed which is markedly different from the purely ascetic life of Brahmacharya through conservation of energy. Grihastha is the system provided for the utilisation of this energy. During the early years of Brahmacharya, the energy should not be utilised.
It has been kept intact, totally conserved so that it keeps one brilliant not only in the brain, but also in the face, and that itself is a satisfaction. In the stage of Grihastha, permission is given for certain types of enjoyment and experience, coupled with duty. There is no duty for a Brahmacharin. The only duty is to study, conserve energy, and offer prayers. But the Grihastha has a double responsibility of the performance of duty, and also the acquisition of values that are permissible under those circumstances.
Now, a Grihastha does not necessarily mean a person with a wife. Even a person without a wife can be a Grihastha, because the peculiar connotation of Grihastha is the expression of an inner need through an external symbol. A wife is only a symbol of a pressure of internal need felt by oneself. As long as the need continues, the presence or absence of a wife does not matter. It is up to each one to understand what this means.
The need for a kind of externalised living felt under given conditions of life leads to what we call the life of marriage, having a husband or wife, though that is not a contract that we have to undertake for the purpose of purely selfish individual expectations, but a joint action taken for the purpose of a parallel movement towards the ultimate freedom of life.
To be continued .....