The Buddha’s Advice to a Couple
In advising women about their role in married life, the Buddha appreciated that the peace and harmony of a home rested largely on a woman. His advice was realistic and practical when he explained a good number of day-to-day characteristics, which a woman should or should not cultivate.
- On diverse occasions, the Buddha counseled that a wife should:
- not harbor evil thoughts against her husband;
- not be cruel, harsh or domineering;
- not be spendthrift but should be economical and live within her means;
- guard and save her husband’s hard-earned earnings and property;
- always be attentive and chaste in mind and action;
- be faithful and harbor no thought of any adulterous acts;
- be refined in speech and polite in action;
- be kind, industrious and hardworking;
- be thoughtful and compassionate towards her husband, and her attitude should equate that of a mother’s love and concern for the protection of her only son;
- be modest and respectful;
- be cool, calm, and understanding–serving not only as a wife but also as a friend and adviser when the need arises.
The Buddha, in reply to a householder as to how a husband should minister to his wife declared that the husband should always honor and respect his wife, by being faithful to her, by giving her the requisite authority to manage domestic affairs and by giving her befitting ornaments.
This advice, given over twenty-five centuries ago, still stands good for today.
Knowing the psychology of the man who tends to consider himself superior, the Buddha made a remarkable change and uplifted the status of a woman by a simple suggestion that a husband should honor and respect his wife.
A husband should be faithful to his wife, which means that a husband should fulfill and maintain his marital obligations to his wife thus sustaining the confidence in the marital relationship in every sense of the word.
The husband, being a breadwinner, would invariably stay away from home, hence he should entrust the domestic or household duties to the wife who should be considered as the keeper and the distributor of the property and the home economic-administrator.
The provision of befitting ornaments to the wife should be symbolic of the husband’s love, care and attention showered on the wife.
This symbolic practice has been carried out from time immemorial in Buddhist communities. Unfortunately it is in danger of dying out because of the influence of modern civilization.