A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

A balanced relationship

As long as man has walked on this earth, he has searched for happiness. This is what separates us from the animals we share our existence with. They experience pleasure but not happiness. Happiness is more complex then pleasure. During sex we feel physical pleasure and also emotional pleasures. However if there is no deeper connection, afterwards we will probably feel guilt or remorse instead of happiness. Having a bond that extends beyond the physical is what brings happiness to humans beyond the pleasure from the physical act. Where sex is the like the icing on the cake it is most satisfying. If the cake is made with love, compassion mutual respect and equality, then the icing has a strong base and enhances the appearance and flavour of the cake. A cake made entirely of just icing may look appealing, but will not satisfy our hunger, nor will it hold its shape for long. When a husband surprises his wife by remembering not only his wedding anniversary, but perhaps the date they first met, or where they went on their first date, will bring a feeling of closeness and make her feel valued, for herself rather then what she does for him. In the Sigalovada Sutta Buddha gives us guidelines for a happy and long lasting marriage. Firstly marriage is a union of two equals, where both accept the other as they are. This does not mean they are identical; rather that each has a role to perform. Critics say this formula is outdated in today’s modern society where both work outside the home. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Buddha described marriage as a union between a man and woman as equals. It consists of a mutually supportive environment, where each uses their skills in an appreciated manner with appropriate support and recognition. Applying calmness, generosity, in a nurturing manner with dedication, and generosity will allow a nurturing environment where the family will be sheltered from loneliness, fear of abandonment, and other deprivations.

The concept that the husband should yield household authority to his wife is even more important today. Note, when he yields to her authority it does not mean he leaves all the household work for her, nor does it mean he becomes her slave. Rather it allows the wife to use her natural maternal instincts, to promote a harmonious home life. A wise husband will gladly help with the daily chores of the family home. Sharing in the cooking, cleaning, laundry will show his wife she is valued as an equal. Also it means they will have more free time to express their love for each other, in conversation, more time spent with children, enjoying a family vacation or day trip. Modern psychologists have recently discovered that women who have husbands, who share in house work, are more likely to have a happy sex life in the bedroom. She isn’t too tired and she feels a closer connection to her partner. Look at the list of things that make a happy marriage today, and you will see what Buddha gave us as guidelines over 2500 years ago.

Buddha told us there are four types of humans in this world. Those who give no thought to their actions and he consequences of their actions, on themselves or towards others. The self centred whose every action is to secure an advantage for him. Those who work to help others, but ignore their own needs. Finally there are those who work to benefit those around them, as well as themselves. In marriage we need to strive to be like the latter. When both husband and wife put the interests of the marriage above those of the individuals, you will see a couple that experiences happiness more than sadness or disappointment. Misunderstanding of what each other says; combined with impatience, are among the main causes of problems. We must remember that we are all mirrors that reflect according to how we polish the mirror. The faults we see in our partner in marriage are a reflection of our own thoughts and insecurities.


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