A Happy Married Life

A Buddhist Perspective

by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda | 1986 | 12,516 words

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Part 9 - 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.

"In the West, marriage on the basis of romantic love has often been considered natural and sometimes ideal. In Asia, in recent years, the number of young people who abandon the traditional arranged marriage and select partners out of romantic consideration has been growing. But in some cases, romantic marriages lead to separation and unhappiness within a short time, whereas the arranged marriage often produces a couple who live and work together in contentment and happiness.

In spite of its emotional appeal, all romantic marriages cannot be called unqualified successes. Romantic love is like the bright flame of a wood fire that leaps up and burns clear, but lasts only a short time. Love between man and wife burns quietly and slowly like the warming fire of burning coal. Of course, bright flaming Love can — and ideally ought to — eventually become the calm, enduring fire of mature affection. But too often the flame of romantic love is quickly extinguished, leaving nothing but ashes, which are a poor foundation for a successful married life!"

"Young people in love think of nothing but their emotions. They see themselves only in the light of the feeling of the moment. Everything they think and do is romantic and has little bearing on the practical affairs of the life they must lead after marriage. If the lovers are fortunate enough to have compatible personalities, to have sound and similar ideas about life, to share interests, to enjoy harmonious family relations on both sides and to be financially secure even after the first passion has calmed down, they will still have a basis for a good life together. If they are not so blessed, they may face marital failure."

"When the time of dates, emotional pictures, dances, and parties has passed, the young married couples will have to live together, share meals, and reveal to each other their defects as well as their merits. They will have to spend more than half of their life each day together; this kind of living makes demands that are different from the less exacting needs of dating and first love."

"Family relations become very important in married life. It is necessary to think about the personalities of the mother and father of the prospective marriage partner. Young people sometimes think that the strength of their love will enable them to get along well with the most quarrelsome, difficult in laws; but this is not always true. In short, romance is a matter of a limited time and does not become rooted in actualities and must be regulated to conform to the needs of work and environment in order to bind the couple together in lasting devotion. The two kinds of love are different. To mistake one for the other invites grave trouble."

"Giving serious, dispassionate thought to the nature of the person one contemplates marrying, lessens the likelihood of failure. To prevent romance from vanishing after marriage, mutual understanding between the couple is indispensable. But the percentage of successful marriages is higher among young people whose choice of a partner agrees with the opinions of their parents. To live peacefully, it is necessary to realize the difference between romance and married love."

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