Love, Marriage and relationships

People spend a fortune on research, books and other sources of information trying to discover the ‘secret’ to a successful and lasting marriage. Yet, every year, statistics show a grim reality that divorces are on the increase. Studies also show that children who grow up in broken homes tend to have more problems at school and in their emotional development compared to other kids.

Thus, it is fair to say that problems in a marriage can lead to problems in society. Many authors, doctors and self-help gurus offer their advice and remedy on the topic, but their proposed solutions come from the same people who are themselves imperfect because they are still subject to defilements such as greed, anger and delusion.

The Lord Buddha has given us invaluable Dhamma teachings on how to maintain a healthy marriage and how to be effective parents. These teachings have been preserved for over 2,500 years and it would be beneficial to us if we learn about them.Buddhist traditions serve as wonderful guidelines for a couple’s married life. If we are to study Buddhist traditions, we will learn to distinguish which actions are appropriate and inappropriate, as well as how to restrain from carrying out inappropriate actions. This knowledge covers every aspect of a person’s life, including how to build relationships that are ethical and conform to The Five Precepts.

Our Buddhist ancestors’ view of love was nobler than what we find in modern times. In examining their ways, we learn how they valued their families for joining them in the pursuit of Perfections and for their roles in being the mother or father to their children. They did not condone promiscuity and sexual intimacy before marriage.

If we can reaffirm this sound Buddhist tradition and have the strength to prevail over our desires, we will become proud of ourselves, and be praised and honoured by all. Our behaviour will act as moral standards for our family as well as future generations. Children born into our family will be proud of this legacy.

Short-Term Pleasure
It is normal for a married couple to engage in sexual intimacy as long as they adhere to morality, decency and the law. Nevertheless, we should not become obsessed with it. Over-indulgence in intimacy could result in having unhealthy emotions such as jealousy, possessiveness, suspicion and fear of betrayal. We should not engage in intimacy with a lack of awareness or self-worth. Shortterm pleasure sometimes results in long-term consequences.

Intimacy should only be shared between a married couple, not before they are married. Extra-marital affairs are inappropriate, and will lead to negative karmic consequences in Samsara, the cycle of existence. Buddhism considers sexual relations between partners as something that is to be dignified, not indulged.
Adultery is a violation of the fundamental Buddhist code of moral conduct.

Love is noble. Love is also the force that allows a man and a woman to pick out each other, from the crowd of seven billion people, to become one another’s life partner. True companions should encourage each other to perform good deeds and to accumulate merits so they can both reach the goal of Nibbana. This sacred union also serves as the path for the birth of virtuous people into this world to pursue Perfections.

Since we exist in a world dominated by sensual pleasures, it is essential for us to realise that entering relationships simply as a diversion is not a good idea. If we are to bring another worthy human being into this world, it should be accomplished with pride and dignity

You may have heard that love and desire go together. But love must come before desire. Love brings husband and wife together so that they may procreate and usher a human life into this world. Thus, they transform their roles as husband and wife to that of a father and mother.

Fathers and mothers are regarded as the noble ones of the household. The titles ‘father’ and ‘mother’ are honourable titles. However, many people today tend to overlook the importance of marriage. They allow only desire to dictate their decisions and actions. Unfortunately, this lack of discipline creates many ill consequences.

Love depreciates in value when it is tarnished by sexual obsession and promiscuity. Promiscuity begins with roaming around, drinking, womanising, using drugs and gambling. Some students living far away from
their parents for the first time suddenly find themselves becoming more independent and free. They start spending late nights with their friends and experimenting with sex, thinking that it is trendy, cool, stylish and acceptable. But what they fail to realise is that their behaviour accumulate negative karmic consequences and retribution which they have to pay later.

To avert this type of behaviour, parents must teach their children self-discipline, not only of the body but also of the mind. Teach them to respect the Dhamma and The Law of Kamma, so that they know the truth about
life and existence. Then, they will understand the ill consequences that can take effect in this lifetime and the next, as well as the deterioration of the body and mind that can take place through careless acts.

Things that are precious to us must be preserved until the time is right. This is something that we have to remind ourselves at all times, otherwise it may reduce our sense of self-worth. Human life can only occur with a man and a woman, but should only be when it is appropriate. Promiscuity, illicit affairs and sexual violations lead to broken marriages, deceit and abortions, which in turn have their own karmic consequences.

Young people tend to focus on sex without realising the full consequences of their actions. In addition to loss of reputation or the dangers of sexually-transmitted diseases,

there is always the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy. Many young couples who find themselves in this situation turn to abortion to solve their problem. They do not want the burden of raising a child when they are ill prepared

This solution may benefit them initially but if one looks at it from the spiritual perspective, the action is not justified at all. In fact, they have doomed themselves to many lifetimes of misfortune. After they die, they will have to suffer the consequences in the unhappy realms for many lifetimes. When they can be reborn as human beings again, they will be born into the womb of a mother who will also seek abortion as her solution. They will be prematurely terminated in many rebirths

The Law of Kamma states that each individual is entitled to his own death when his time comes. It is no one’s right to choose it for him. Whatever reasons one may find to seek abortion, whether it is the lack of
financial security, poor health of a child or that the parents are too young and immature, we can never justify ending the life of another person.

Preserve and protect your most valued possession – yourself – and offer it only to the person whom you choose to spend your life and pursue Perfections with. We should never forget that if we choose to engage in sexual intimacy, it should always be done with love and regard for our partner. Although modern
attitudes and the media promote an obsessive focus on sex and sensuality, the Lord Buddha taught us to always retain our wisdom and self-respect with matters of the heart. That is a timeless lesson we can all benefit.


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