Buddhism & Divorce

Every Western Buddhist source I’ve read says Buddhism doesn’t have a teaching against divorce. What is the teaching on divorce in traditionally Buddhist countries? Ty.

There’s no teaching about divorce I can think of in the canon. I don’t think the word is mentioned specifically. Marriage is an entirely secular affair basically in Theravada Buddhism, as is divorce, which is not discouraged. I heard until the 1970s, there was no “Buddhist” wedding ceremony in Sri Lanka, so they made one up.

By asking the question in the way you are asking, you will probably be receiving information about cultural values which may have nothing to do with Buddhism. Is that what you are looking for?


I took a quick break today and found this article, for context: Was Divorce Allowed for vedic women?

I think that the first divorce was initiated by Bhadda Kundalakesa. The process was quick and effective, ending the marriage. Thus, the first Buddhist divorce. :slight_smile:


Marriage is a secular thing for laypeople and was never regulated by the sangha, so it depends on the cultural norms of the region.


I’m sure men and women left their spouses to become ordained of which the result is a divorce.

With metta

Thank you for your interesting comments.

Why would it not be okay?

it seems often to be difficult for people to talk about sex, sex ethics (a greatly needed topic for many!) or what constitutes sexual misconduct for Buddhists or anyone.

I will, out of hope for sila and understanding leading to decreased suffering and increased happiness, say a few things; maybe others dare to, also.

Are you free of constraints of precepts at this time? Are you seeking to be harmless? (Protection from diseases, protection from heedless pregnancy, avoidance of psychological, social, physical, spiritual harm to yourself or anyone involved or affected by your sexual activity? Are you not lying, not coersing, not manipulating, checking for continuous, healthy consent?

just a few thoughts to get a conversation started. But the 8 fold path always is relevant, as are the 4 Noble Truths…

edited for a few confusing typos. and adding in some "not"s for clarity.


If I am out on a date and even having sex with a girlfriend I’m not married to, should I feel guilty that I have children being baby sat-at home so that I can see a woman other than my ex-wife?

The only reason I can think of where one might feel guilty in such an instance is if the girlfriend in question was just a fling, and if they also didn’t get much time with their children.

Since we have no reason to think that applies, though, it seems there isn’t a reason to feel guilt.


Buddhism seems less strict and condemning than other religions then.

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i think some Buddhists may see that guilt is an energy trap, rarely worth wallowing in. Are you being harmless to self, to children, to everyone? It is not a trick question. It may be a good question to get into the habit of working with.

:slight_smile: May peace, happiness, and liberation be yours. And your children’s. And any ex wife’s. And any girlfriend’s.


I didn’t want any of this. My wife woke up one day and decided she didn’t want a family anymore, but I am working on forgiving her for it and accepting my own faults as well.

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The concept of “guilt” implies that you have done something wrong. Whether or not your feelings are validated by your actions depends, in part, on your interpretation of the Third Precept regarding sexual misconduct. As with many aspects of Buddhist teachings, what constitutes “sexual misconduct” is debatable, particularly with regards to how this concept is translated from the original Buddhist texts into English (and other languages).

In this particular case, it would seem that there are at least three parties involved (not including yourself)—1. Your children; 2. The person with whom you are having sexual relations; 3. Other individuals with whom you are also having sexual relations who may not know that you have additional sexual partners.

In each case you can ask yourself, is this person being harmed? For example, with regards to the first party, are you harming your children by not being home? Concerning the second party, are the sexual relations exploitative in any way? Are you taking precautions to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (not to mention the common cold)? As for the third party, if you have multiple sexual partners, are they aware of this arrangement and would that hurt their feelings in any way if they did? These are the sorts of things to take into consideration.

This is the important part. Mindfulness is an essential feature of Buddhist practice, as are the other elements in the Noble Eightfold Path. Practice Right Concentration, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Mindfulness, Right Effort, Right Speech, Right Thought, and Right View and you will find your way.


:slight_smile: forgiving her, accepting your own fau lts,… forgiving yourself, making whatever intentions and efforts which might move one forward, including looking forward and or inward, and may peace be in and around you.

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While it’s common wisdom that it’s unhealthy to date after a divorce, studies suggest this to not be the case:

Dating “on the rebound,” under the right circumstances, might actually help a person recover faster from the hurts of a past relationship and regain one’s sense of confidence with the opposite sex.


Even though I am no longer a Christian, I still have a sense of shame about wanting to have sex outside of marriage. I don’t know why.

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Perhaps it has less to do with feelings about yourself than it does with what you feel towards your sexual partners. Do you see them simply as a vehicle for satisfying your own sexual desires? For many people who are uncomfortable after a sexual encounter, the reason for feeling that way is the feeling that they have used someone solely for the purposes of sexual gratification. To the extent that they have, that would run contrary to right action, right effort, right thought, and right view. It’s worth considering.

By the way, I offer this suggestion making no judgment about your intentions or actions. I am simply offering a friendly observation.


One woman is enough for me.

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Perfect opportunity for untangling some conditioning :smiley: Once those belief systems that we cling to, are loosened, suffering dissolves. Have you taken any specific steps in analysing or contemplating it yet? Have you looked to see what the barrier might be?

By the way - I acknowledge your current suffering, :anjal: but it is possible to eliminate shame from your life - and I can feel joy at the anticipation of that burden sliding off your shoulders and heart… such an incredible relief…

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