Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Marriages and Families for Thought

A revolution is going on in marriages and families. Psychologists and sociologists tell us that one of the overriding problems in our contemporary societies is the family--tensions within the family, leading to divorces and separations and uncertainties within the family. Magazines and newspapers are filled with articles titled "How to Hold Your Marriage Together," "Spice Up Your Sex Life to Prevent Divorce" and "How to Be Happy Though Married." We are beginning to assume that there are no good homes.

But I can assure you that in spite of all the statistics and all facts, there are today tens of thousands of happy marriages and homes in the world. And those homes are happy because spirituality is in the home; you cannot leave morals and spirituality out of your marriage and expect to be happy.I deeply believe almost all of the problems that our nations face begin in the home. Dishonesty is learned in the home, and honesty is learned in the home. Children hear their parents curse, and they learn to curse. Children hear, "I love you forever!" and they say, "I love you forever!" In my judgment a nation cannot rise higher than its home life. Bitterness, crime, alienation, even perversion, starts in the home.

I would like to express my opinion about three types of people in regard to marriage:

Married couples who are disillusioned
Firstly, some people have already experienced marriage -- the joys, the hardships. the sorrows, the boredoms and the frustrations of marriage. And they have become disillusioned; they haven't yet decided on divorce, but the marriage is shaky. They ask, "What ingredient is missing in my marriage? What's wrong? Marriage is not what I thought it was going to be. It's not the ideal that I thought it would be." How many people marry with stars in their eyes in June, and are disillusioned by Christmastime? He didn't know she looks like that without her hair combed; she didn't know he can't always get his "stuff" up at night, and he has bad breath when he gets up in the morning. People learn all types of things when they marry and start living together.

Married Couples Who Are Disconnected
Secondly, some people have been married for years -- two people just living under the same roof. They may have too much pride or too many external pressures to be divorced, or even admit that anything is wrong. The household becomes merely an accumulation of individuals who come together for room and board. They have become accustomed to that arrangement, and they have ceased asking questions about how to improve the condition. They are to be commended for keeping the home together rather than seeking escape through divorce, but they still have that fragile feeling about marriage. The marriage is not the perfect ideal that they thought it would be, but they are sticking together for other reasons.

Married Couples Who Are Happy
Thirdly, some people have happy marriages. What makes up a happy marriage, a happy home? We could set up guidelines that say a happy home is one where they husband and wife help each other, or they have a great "sex life", or the children attend good schools, or they are engaged in charitable causes, or they fit into the accepted social life of the community... But I personally believe a great marriage is a spiritual commitment, not a contract. It means that you are committed to each other for your lifetime. You truly love, respect and support each other forever.

Some people today sign a prenuptial contract. Before they marry, they sign a contract that says something like, "We must have sex at least 3 times a week; if we divorce, you get this and I get that..." But commitment means that we give in faith. We entrust everything to the other person. And if we are blessed with children, the family relationship is a three-way commitment. Each member of the family cherishes important universal values such as love, compassion, respect for life and spirituality.

I deeply believe marriage is a spiritual commitment to each other; it's for life. Marriage is a complement: it is the spiritual blending of two personalities. Because of selfishness, alienation, pride and perversion, sometimes, they don't mix.

How can we quarrel with each other or victimize one another?

I believe the nature of an animal is very simple and easy to grasp. In comparision, a human being's nature is like a bamboo forest that is extremely hard to penetrate.

Human relations are not easy to handle. Misunderstandings between husbands and wives, conflicts between couples and their in-laws, arguments between parents and children and so on are as old as human history, but they still remain very difficult to resolve. However, if even one person embraces the firm view of life that "Because of that, this exists" or in other words, "Because of that person, I can develop," then he or she need never experience pointless conflicts in human relations. The other party's good or bad points do not determine one's happiness or unhappiness.

In a case of a "sexually unsatisfied" wife, for example, her present existence is in relation to her husband, whatever sort of person he may be. One who realizes this point can turn everything, both good and bad, into an impetus for personal growth.

Of course I am well aware that this is easier said than done. I think, therefore, it is all the more vital that we foster a sense of community and coexistence based on the awareness that we are all inter-related.

We are all imperfect human beings who, through some mystic bond, were born to share the same limited life span on this Earth, a small green oasis in the vast universe. Then, how can we quarrel with each other or victimize one another?

I firmly believe that profound mutual compassion is what will change discord into harmony. People who are accusing me of preaching puritanism should try to read my essays in depth. My views do not focus on difference of faith, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. My views focus on important universal values ("true" love, equanimity, peace, nonviolence, anti-racism, morality, ethical behavior, character, wisdom, compassion, respect for life...) that are missing in our societies.

We have many countries in the world, but only one Earth. At night we have many stars above us, but only one sky. Faiths may differ, but I believe the pathway is one. Human beings may differ, but I believe the divinity in a person is one. Let's all get together and make the world a better place for all the future generations.