How to manage your love for becoming soul-mates forever (Part Two)
Together in Love
A behavioural Guide for The bride-to-be
A marriage or partnership does not simply mean a couple starting a household and living together. In reality, a family includes people other than the married couple. In old Thai tradition, the groom often moved to live in the family house of the bride but now things have changed. It is becoming more common for married couples to move away from their families to start a new family of their own, living as a couple by themselves. However, this doesn't mean that they have severed their familiarities altogether.
There are many people who will come on the scene after marriage. The closest are the relatives on both sides. Given this how should the bride-to-be attend to her behaviour? Guidelines have been set, according to Buddhist scriptures, as to the 10 commandments, the do's and don'ts for the bride.
- Do not take inside fire outside. This means, she should not talk negatively of her in-laws and her husband to other people outside the household.
- Do not bring outside fire inside. (From the old adage, meaning trouble at home should stay at home and you should not bring trouble home from outside) this means that, having heard people's harsh words about her in-laws and husband, she should not bother them with such trivialities.
- Give only to the giver. This means things should be lent only to those who will return them.
- Do not give to the non-giver. This means things should not be lent to those who will not return them.
- Give to the giver and non-giver. This means that, when poor relatives or friends come asking for help or assistance, one should give it without expecting anything in return.
- Sit in reverence. This means not to sit in the way of her in-laws and husband.
- Sleep in reverence. This means not to go to bed prior to her-in laws and husband.
- Eat in reverence. This means to eat only after having prepared and served the meal to her in-laws and husband.
- Tend to the fire. This means always to be aware that her in-laws and husband are like a fire and lord and have to be taken care of.
- Revere the household spirit. This means always to be aware that in-laws and husbands are like angles and to be respected.
These ten commandments were originally the teachings of the Buddha's most devout patroness Visakha's father given to her before she was sent to live with his son-in-law in another city. It is said that Visakha was tremendously successful in her married life. She was the most ravishing of beauties even when she had a score of daughters and when walking in the street with her daughters, most people were unable to tell her age from that of her daughters.
In Thai society, we also have teachings as guidelines for the bride-to-be. A lady from a good family who is going to marry is taught to uphold " The three Dwelling Places" and " The Four Good's ".
The so-called "Three Dwelling Places" are as follows:
Physicality: To take good care of one's looks and appearance and not slip into shabbiness and unattractiveness.
Mentality: To harbour good morals, the least of which are to be generous, kind, giving, unselfish, conscientious and pious.
Household: To keep the dwelling clean and tidy, lively and pleasant, as the loving home of the couple.
The Four Good's
Good heart:meaning being generous to the husband and in-laws and not being heartless or behaving cruelly to others. One should behave lovingly, caringly and devotedly and always be ready to assist and help out in the enterprises of the husband and his family as well as the neighbours.
Good Speech: meaning being conversational, loquacious, knowing what to say and what not to say, when and how to say it, when to keep quite, when to give support and when to console.
Good morals:meaning displaying integrity to the household, involving the 4 lay lenets as a minimum requirement, namely:
- Truthfulness:Loving and honouring one's spouse; fideliy
- Flexibility: A readiness to learn and adjust oneself
- Patience: Stamina in the face of difficulties, putting up with harsh words and illness.
- Sacrifice: Unselfishness, being happy to give up one's own contentment for the sake of one's husband's and family's
Good Service: meaning providing facilities and comfort to cool down heat and to warm up cold.
The bride-to-be who practises these so-called 10 commandments and follows the Three Abodes and Four Good's is deemed to be the ideal bride in the Buddhist view. Any man who has her as the mistress of this house has undoubtedly been blessed with the good auspices of wedlock.
Love me, Love My Family
Since a couple's life is family life in a household, how can one join both sides of the family to live in peaceful co-existence? As the familiar adage goes: love me, love my dog. First, we should go back to reflect on the concept of "love me, love my dog", as stipulated in the Buddhist tenets to see what Buddha had to say on this subject. In his teaching of " Human Relations" or the Six Directions, He commented on the reciprocal duties of spouses to each other (this also being taken to extend to the duties of the family and friends of the spouses).
The husband's duty towards his wife:
- To give her due respect
- Not to hold her in contempt
- Not to cheat
- To give her full rein at home (give her the position commander-in-chief of the household)
- To give her material decorations as appropriate
The wife's duty towards her husband:
- To take care of household chores
- To give support to relatives on both sides
- Not to cheat
- To look after acquired property
- To be hard-working, inventive and not lazy
Regarding the principles of human relationship in family life, The Buddha deemed the task of looking after the spouse's family and friends as a "duty" falling within both parties' co-responsibilities. Ergo, the concept of "love me, love my dog" is not new but had already been taught in Eastern cultures via Buddhist teachings. This universal tenet in matrimony needs to be recognised and realised by householders.
If you are looking for a pleasant and meaningful married life, you must never overlook the expansive network of relations as part of your love. For if you are oblivious to it or negligent of it, this will be the beginning of shutting yourselves off from others or building a wall around yourselves. And those who are good at building walls are bound to live in isolation and, though probably in comfort, not in joy of life.
The Balance of a Relationship
Every human being, whatever nationality, race, language, religion or culture, shares a common natural trait-they have a "private territory" that they jealously guard and that resists trespass or too much bothering. Lovers should therefore be aware of what ground their partner establishes as a restricted zone and take care not to violate or overstep the boundary. If you overstep so far as to asphyxiate him/her, love can turn sour and sourness in love can change into bitterness, without the sweetness of the past, and this will eventually lead to dissolution.
The Beauty of Space
For two people to stay too close together until there is no space in their relationship can be painfully stifling. For people to love too much until love has become infatuation and possessive attachment gives the other party a sense of loss of freedom or the feeling of being an object of possession. On the other hand, lovers who stay apart too much and find it hard to connect and reconnect. They may become estranged, distant, alienated and fall out of love. Their relationship can become mundane and the rift may be too wide to bridge until they finally decide to wend their separate ways.
An interactive relationship between lovers needs balance or "space in relationship". The ultimate form of space is called Nothingness. It can be of tremendous benefit if rightly applied to a marriage. For two people to learn how to open up some space between each other will lead to mutual trust and confidence. Conversely, without space, there may be only tyranny over the heart, emotions, life and material property. It is natural for human beings to need individuality, freedom, spiritual lightness and the assurance that their own existence is entirely independent. Whenever one feels uneasy, cramped or asphyxiated in a relationship, as if unable to breathe under water, a crack will reveal itself. And if we are not prepared, the crack will open up into a rift that can crumble to pieces.
Don't ever gorget htat a form of love comes in the earnest and sincere respect for the other party's whole being. Giving space or "private territory" within a relationship is a subtle form of respect for his/her identity. With respect and appreciation comes a positive impression that will grow into a love and a joy and a delight that says "I made the right choice." Love that comes with the joy of the knowledge that one still has a certain freedom, has the promise of the security and comfort of true love, rather than possessive love which only dwindles to resistance and the struggle to get out of the stifling relationship. Space therefore should not be underestimated and is as important as Co-existence. Existence without Space will only lead to distancing at the end of the road. But Existence blended with Space is sure to build up a stronger base. Lovers who know how to manage space and possession to the right degree are blessed with the chance of becoming soul-mates forever.
W.Vajiramedhi, Love Management, Amarin Publishing, Bangkok, first published 2007, 2rd editon 2010.