Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 05/22/2021

Limited and Tied Up

The Lord Buddha has said that the household life is limited and tied up with suffering and, the longer I live, the more I believe this to be true. One is necessarily engaged in a struggle of desires and wills at all times and rarely does it work out well. For a long time I tried the approach of sublimating my own preferences but I began to feel that exchanging my desires for those of my wife’s want entirely correct either. Perhaps I’m simply not patient and loving enough but I have decided that I will give equal time to our equally arbitrary preferences so that I will only go along with her desires half the time.

Today was one of those days and, predictably, it has gone poorly. She has basically started a fight with each of us separately and has now left the house. To make matters worse, she is preoccupied with a health condition that she thinks may actually be quite serious (we have no reason to believe that at present but you never know). This means she’s acting out of even deeper suffering and she’s not responding to my entreaties to come back home.

In situations like this I have to take stock of my actions and words to get my bearings because she is obviously inclined to blame me for the entire situation. I didn’t lie, speak harshly or abusively. I didn’t try to make her suffer, I simply expressed my desire not to go to the beach today. I didn’t tell her I didn’t want to spend time with her or the kids. As far as I can tell I didn’t do much that one would normally consider abusive but I have to admit that I have begun to question myself after hearing it repeated day in and day out.

Having put it all to paper, I find I’m in no better position and have no greater understanding. What I do know is that I would like her not to suffer but I don’t believe I have that in my power. Were I too do everything she wanted at all times then it might be possible to placate her but what kind of life is that? Sadly, I believe in the possibility of fixing relationships as much as I do in the possibility of a perfect society or political system: these things aren’t possible in samsāra. So, I will do my best to cultivate kindness and sympathy where’s appropriate and, when all else is lost, equanimity.


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Teachings of Lord Buddha in the Pali Canon