Friday, June 28, 2013

How's that MARRIAGE working out? (cartoon)

Dhr. Seven, Bela Larson, and CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly; Stewart and Olivia Griffin ("Family Guy"); Anna Bowen; Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda
It is the biggest commitment two individuals will ever make to one another. But is it really “for better or for worse?” 
In the book Me + You," Anna Bowen examines the trials and tribulations that go along with saying “I do” as well as the inspiring and heartfelt explanations of why two individuals decide to spend even part of their lives together.
Ranging in age from 30 to 87, different couples share their stories of love, hardship, and why they stay together through it all. More
A Happy Married Life: Buddhist Perspective
Ven. Sri K. Dhammananda, Ph.D.
The Reality of Married Life 
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 gets befuddled; the most lousy sl-t 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 [or any couple]; love and sex get all intertwined and mixed up."
Marriage vow: "...For better or, but not limited to, worse?" (baloo-baloosnon)
Almost every day 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 before. 
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....
Blinded by Emotions
"Never change, and I will always love you."
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
"You better start manning up, and stop blaming the economy!" - "But..." (thinkstock/shine)
Love by itself does not subsist on fresh air and sunshine. The present world is a materialistic world, and in order to meet our material needs, proper financing and budgeting is essential. Without it, no family can live comfortably. Such a situation aptly bears out the saying, "When poverty knocks at the door, love flies out 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-marriage Advice
The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha (Anguttara Nikaya) contains some valuable advice 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 new 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. ...

10. Premarital Sex
"Hey, baby, got any money on you?" - "Huh, what?" (
Premarital sex is a [pleasure and] problem much discussed in modern society. Many young people would like to know the [Buddhist] opinion regarding this sensitive issue....
In the past, young boys and girls were not allowed by their parents to move around freely until they were married. Their marriages were also arranged and organized by the parents. Of course, this caused unhappiness in some cases [and happiness in other cases] when parents chose partners on the basis of money, social status, family obligations, and related issues.
But generally, the majority of parents did try very hard to choose partners who would be acceptable to their children.
Today, young people are at the liberty to go out and [see how easy it is to] find their own partners. They have a lot of freedom and independence in their lives. This is not a bad thing in itself, but some of these people are just too young and too immature to see the difference between sexual attraction and true compatibility. That is why the problem of pre-marital sex arises.
"You sure do got a pretty mouth." - "Ugh, what was I thinking!?" (WQ)
Too much laxity in matters concerning sex has also given rise to social problems in modern society. The sad part is that some societies do not express liberal attitudes towards unmarried mothers, illegitimate children, and the divorcees yet they are quite liberal about free sex
As a result, young people are being punished by the same society which encourages free mixing of the sexes. They become social outcasts and suffer much shame and humiliation. Many young girls have become victims of their own freedom and have ruined their future by violating age-old traditions which were valued in the East as well as in the West.
...While Buddhism holds no strong views either for or against such action, it is thought that all Buddhists, particularly those in love and contemplating marriage, should adhere to the age-old traditional concept that they maintain chastity until the nuptial date. [Or experiment now and calm down later].
The human mind/heart is unstable and forever changing, with the result that any illicit action or indiscretion may cause undue harm to either party if the legal marriage does not take place as expected. 
It must be remembered that any form of sexual indulgence before a proper marriage is solemnized [may] be looked down upon by the elders who are the guardians of the young people.
Sexual Misconduct
Laypersons are advised in the Buddha's Teaching to avoid sexual misconduct. That means, if one wants to experience sex, one must do so without creating any violence or by using any kind of force, threat or causing fear
A decent sex life which respects the other partner is not against this religion; it accepts the fact that it is a necessity for those who are not yet ready to renounce the worldly life.
According to Buddhism, those who are involved in extramarital sex with someone who is already married, who has been betrothed to someone else, and with someone under the protection of their parents or guardians are said to be guilty of sexual misconduct.
This is [partly] because there is a rupture of social norms, where a third party is being made to suffer as a result of the selfishness of one or the other partner.
Irresponsible Sexual Behavior
The Buddha also mentioned the consequences that an elderly man would have to face if he married without considering the compatibility of age of the other party. According to the Buddha, irresponsible sexual behavior can become the cause of one's downfall in many aspects of life.
All the nations of the world have clearly defined laws concerning the abuse of sex. Here again, Buddhism advocates that a person must respect and obey the law of the country if the laws are made for the common good.
The East and the West
The following are extracts from a book by the celebrated Japanese author, Dr. Nikkyo Niwano. In his book The Richer Life, Dr. Niwano deals with matters relating to love and marriage, both from the Eastern and Western points of view.... More

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