THE REALITY OF MARRIED LIFE ACCORDING TO BUDDHISM

John J. Robinson in his book Of Suchness gives the following advice on love, sex and married life. "Be careful and discreet; it is much easier to get married than unmarried. If you have the right mate, it's heavenly; but if not, you live in a twenty-four-hour daily hell that clings constantly to you, it can be one of the most bitter things in life. Life is indeed strange. Somehow, when you find the right one, you know it in your heart. It is not just an infatuation of the moment. But the powerful urges of sex drive a young person headlong into blind acts and one cannot trust his feelings too much. This is especially true if one drinks and get befuddled; the most lousy slut in a dark bar can look like a Venus then, and her charms become irresistible. Love is much more than sex though; it is the biological foundation between a man and a woman; love and sex get all inter-twined and mixed up."


Problems:


Almost everyday we hear people complaining about their marriages. Very seldom do we hear stories about a happy marriage. Young people reading romantic novels and seeing romantic films often conclude that marriage is a bed of roses. Unfortunately, marriage is not as sweet as one thinks. Marriage and problems are interrelated and people must remember that when they are getting married, they will have to face problems and responsibilities that they had never expected or experienced hitherto.

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People often think that it is a duty to get married and that marriage is a very important event in their lives. However, in order to ensure a successful marriage, a couple has to harmonize their lives by minimizing whatever differences they may have between them. Marital problems prompted a cynic to say that there can only be a peaceful married life if the marriage is between a blind wife and a deaf husband, for the blind wife cannot see the faults of the husband and a deaf husband cannot hear the nagging of his wife.


Sharing and Trust:


One of the major causes of marital problems is suspicion and mistrust. Marriage is a blessing but many people make it a curse due to lack of understanding.


Both husband and wife should show implicit trust for one another and try not to have secrets between them. Secrets create suspicion, suspicion leads to jealously, jealousy generates anger, anger causes enmity and enmity may result in separation, suicide or even murder.


If a couple can share pain and pleasure in their day-to-day life, they can console each other and minimize their grievances. Thus, the wife or husband should not expect to experience only pleasure. There will be a lot of painful, miserable experiences that they will have to face. They must have the strong will power to reduce their burdens and misunderstandings. Discussing mutual problems will give them confidence to live together with better understanding.


Man and woman need the comfort of each other when facing problems and difficulties. The feelings of insecurity and unrest will disappear and life will be more meaningful, happy and interesting if there is someone who is willing to share another's burden.


Blinded by Emotional Burden :


When two people are in love, they tend to show only the best aspects of their nature and character to each other in order to project a good impression of themselves. Love is said to be blind and hence people in love tend to become completely oblivious of the darker side of each other's natures.


In practice, each will try to highlight his or her sterling qualities to the other, and being so engrossed in love, they tend to accept each other at "face value" only. Each lover will not disclose the darker side of his or her nature for fear of losing the other. Any personal shortcomings are discreetly swept under the carpet, so to speak, so as not to jeopardize their chances of winning each other. People in love also tend to ignore their partner's faults thinking that they will be able to correct them after marriage, or that they can live with these faults, that "love will conquer all."


However, after marriage, as the initial romantic mood wears off, the true nature of each other's character will be revealed. Then, much to the disappointment of both parties, the proverbial veil that had so far been concealing the innermost feelings of each partner is removed to expose the true nature of both partners. It is then that disillusion sets in.


Material  Needs:


Love by itself does not subsist on fresh air and sunshine alone. The present world is a materialistic world and in order to meet your material needs, proper financing and budgeting is essential. Without it, no family can live comfortably. Such a situation aptly bears out the saying that "when poverty knocks at the door, love flies through the window." This does not mean that one must be rich to make a marriage work. However, if one has the basic necessities of life provided through a secure job and careful planning, many unnecessary anxieties can be removed from a marriage.


The discomfort of poverty can be averted if there is complete understanding between the couple. Both partners must understand the value of contentment. Both must treat all problems as "our problems" and share all the "ups" and "downs" in the true spirit of a long-standing life partnership.


Pre-Marriege Advice:


The Anguttara Nikaya contains some valuable advice which the Buddha gave to young girls prior to their marriage. Realizing that there could be difficulties with the new in-laws, the girls were enjoined to give every respect to their mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, serving them lovingly as their own parents. They were expected to honor and respect their husband's relatives and friends, thus creating a congenial and happy atmosphere in their new homes.


They were also advised to study and understand their husbands' natures, ascertain their activities, characters and temperaments, and to be useful and cooperative at all times in their new homes. They should be polite, kind and watchful of their husbands' earnings and see to it that all household expenditures were properly administered. The advice given by the Buddha more than twenty five centuries ago is still valid even today.


- By Ven K Sri Dhammananda ( A Happy Married Life ) 

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