A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

What makes a marriage?

To describe marriage is a challenge. There is the legal definition which varies from country to country. Religious and cultural issues further expand the definition; however the following quote from Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda does a very good job without adding more than required. ”Marriage is a partnership in which two individuals of opposite sexes but equal worth as human beings choose to live together. A happy and lasting marriage requires a lot of hard work and commitment where love is fed with shared experiences, joy and sorrows.” So marriage in Buddhist eyes is between a male and female. They are of equal worth as human beings. This does not mean they both bring the same amount of money into the relationship. Nor does it mean they bring the same level of emotional development, or life experiences into it. However they are of equal value as both are sentient beings, both are undertaking the same obligations of mutual support, or as Christians say “For better or worse, and in sickness and health”. It is a choice both make when they say their vows. It takes a lot of effort to build a strong marriage, even though the first six months or so everything seems so nice. Eventually those minor annoyances such as his leaving the toilet seat up and her hanging her nylons in the shower will start to annoy. These are part of the shared experiences, and we can choose to dwell on the negatives or accentuate the positive experiences. These days most families have both husband and wife working. Some out of economic necessity, some out of a desire by the wife to contribute economically to allow her husband to spend more time with the family. When both are working outside the home, then both must equitably share in the household chores. This can be done in various ways, such as two days the husband cooks, two days the wife cooks, two days are for leftovers and one day eating out. Eating out does not mean a restaurant all the time; it could be alternating weeks visiting the in-laws. Laundry is another chore easily split now, as today almost all clothes come with instructions for proper cleaning. A wise husband whose wife is a full time domestic engineer (formerly referred to as a wife) will still pitches in and helps with household chores. He does not do this in a way that criticizes her methods, but rather following her guidance accomplished the tasks. This means she has more energy and knows through her husband’s actions that she is more important to him than what she does for the household. She will be reminded by her friends how lucky she is to have a husband who truly loves her, as some will have husbands who come home, put their feet up and expect to be waited on, which luckily is becoming less more common of an attitude among men. Forget telling her you will climb the highest mountain or swim the ocean to be with her. Cooking dinner while she starts on the week’s laundry will touch her heart, resulting in her feeling a deeper bond with you. Equality at home is the greatest gift we can give our mothers, wives and daughters. Marriage is not just appearance, lust and sex. I can imagine a few women saying yes, while a few guys are going no to that statement. Cultural compatibility, a shared belief system both will go a long ways to ensuring a happy marriage. Think of marriage as a cake, Bake a cake with ingredients, such as mutual respect, compassion, romance, honesty, stubbornness, and acceptance. Add the physical intimacy as the icing and you have satisfying relationship. Make the recipe with physical intimacy as the only ingredient and the marriage will probably resemble a flat cake.

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