Marital Love in Buddhism

Last night, my wife and I watched Nicolas Cage in the Family Man on Netflix. This is my favorite scene from the movie:

The premise of the movie is a rich Wall Street executive is given the chance to see how his life would have turned out had he chosen starting a family over his career. The story is basically It’s a Wonderful Life in reverse.

Watching the movie helped me to see that I need to love my wife and children more, and to show them more appreciation as a husband and father. I too often focus on the burdens in my life rather than on my blessings.

I want to love my wife just like Nakulapitā loved his:

A man and his wife, householders of Sumsumāragiri in the Bhagga-country. When the Buddha visited the village and stayed at Bhesakalāvana, they went to see him. They immediately fell at his feet, calling him “son” and asking why he had been so long away. It is said that they had been the Bodhisatta’s parents for five hundred births and his near relations for many more. The Buddha preached to them and they became sotāpannas. The Buddha visited their village once more when they were old. They entertained him, telling of their devotion to each other in this life and asking for a teaching which should keep them likewise together in after-life. The Buddha referred to this in the assembly of the Sangha, declaring them to be the most intimate companions (vissāsikā) among his disciples. (A.I.26, A.II.61f, AA.i.216f, 246; ii.514; SA.ii.182)
Nakulapitā and Nakulamātā

The practice of metta begins with oneself and one’s immediate family:

The practice gradually increases in difficulty with respect to the targets that receive the practitioners compassion or loving-kindness. At first the practitioner is targeting “oneself, then loved ones, neutral ones, difficult ones and finally all beings, with variations across traditions.”[9]
Mettā - Wikipedia

If we can’t extend loving-kindness and compassion on our own kin, how can we extend it to the world?


I am thinking, is this another way to understand samsara itself, or the Human Condition, or some aspects of the 4 Noble Truths? Sometimes it seems some believe monastic renunciation is the solution to dukkha; as i understand it at this time, it is not, it is a raft, a temporary vehicle, a good one but not the only one and not The Goal…

May all beings have peace, and liberation.

I have not ever spoken here about the beneficial aspects i have experienced in intimacy. Examining this, i see both desire for harmlessness (politeness?) and a fear that too many might fail to respond harmlessly in return.

These days, seeing a fear, i attempt to take it apart, see what nourishes it, and extinguish the fuels.

:slight_smile: I like coffee. I rarely drink it, because it often causes me troubles. Conversation about coffee rarely causes me troubles, and not (so far) anything worth significant attention; coffee is just a tasty beverage not suitable for my well being or practice.

I like intimacy. It has been illuminating to experience, it offers many opportunities for practice, it can be a disciplined lifestyle. It is not a failure or a defeat imo. Knee-jerk revulsion to it is not healthy, or wise, or promulgation or preservation of Dhamma, it seems not skillful but unskillful.

But ascetics and ascetic defenders are scary. =D Do they need, or benefit from this restraint? Is it harmless to non monastics?

Just some questions. May all beings liberate.

IMO, for most of us seeking pleasure in sensual gratification is one of the greatest obstacles to developing the path. Not many of us really desire to suffer as the genuine ascetics do, starving themselves and standing on one leg for hours, not sleeping for days, etc - the sort of thing the Buddha did before giving up the practice of ascetism prior to his awakening.

The Buddha realised there was a another path - the middle way that lies between the twinned paths of self mortification (or ascetism) and the more usually followed path of sensual gratification. Today’s Bhikkhus lead a minimalist existence much like the Bhikkhu’s of old, because doing so is the middle path that aids in the practice of the Buddha’s teachings but they are not ascetics in the same sense that the Buddha speaks of.

The Buddha said that ascetics practicing self mortification, as some ascetics still do in India to this day, and who by doing so are trying to create sufficient personal suffering in order to ‘burn off’ their bad kamma are only creating more suffering for themselves. The Buddha said that it is not the correct path, he taught his disciples to practice the middle way that lies between the two extremes of sensual gratification and sensual mortification. Doing that requires that the monks minimise the influences on their lives that effect their ability to practice the dhamma and let go of their attachments to self.

Intimate relationships give one much in the way of happiness and sensual pleasure leading to strong attachment to the other person. So as I understand it the monks seek seclusion, give away their possessions, wealth etc and give up having physical relationships and practice celibacy because being heavily invested in a relationship involving physical intimacy make’s it harder to end the desire for sensual gratification.

Furthermore, in the same way as we incorporate into our self view the various facts about ourselves, that we are from a particular race, socio-economic class, state or country, educated or non educated, a labourer, lawyer, doctor or teacher and so on, that we have these possessions, do these hobbies or activities and so on, we do much the same with the important people in our lives. In our subconscious mind, they become part of our self identity view, becoming part of ‘us’, our family, clan, tribe etc to be protected and defended, provided for, cherished and looked after.

All of which builds on our already strong sense of view of self, as inhabiting this mind and body, having these feelings, thoughts and memories, this conscious awareness of existence, these possessions, this life etc. These are all concepts that make it more difficult to let get go of ones views of what constitutes self, as all of those factors support the view of self and prevent one from letting go of it, a requirement to reach the Sotopanna stage of practice.

That’s my somewhat limited understanding anyway, I hope it helps and make no claim as to it being correct. It is just my ‘view’.



Today i read that Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency over sectarian violence. Apparently there are rumours being circulated that contraceptions are being secretly {edit: and massively, and consistently} administrated to Buddhists via food or clothing. Because why else would Buddhist population be decreasing?

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As far as I know, Buddhism has no teaching against contraception. Furthermore, the future age of Dharma decline has been a teaching or concept from the beginning of Buddhism.

Since Sunday is Mother’s Day, I will definitely need to make my wife feel appreciated.


I also know of no teaching against contraception, and am aware of the D.O. way it is for the Buddha Gautama’s dispensation. However… how can Buddhists be killing humans over populatuon decline? What makes this even possible? is there ignorance which could be addressed, for the benefit of many beings?

For example, could education on biology be improved? is the laity supported in lay Buddhist life? are potential procreators leaving Buddhism, or not joining Buddhism for some reason? i ask these questions seriously, and with respect, because perhaps such is worth attention, even if only as a distraction from what is harmful to ultimate wellbeing.

I honestly don’t know about whatever is going on in Sri Lanka, but sectarian violence has persisted intermittently there for a long time.

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Yes. So has rebirth. =D Still, the Buddha decided to turn the Wheel.

But let’s get back to the OP?

Rather than just thinking about how a second cat would inconvenience me, I got my wife a kitten for Mother’s Day and she loves it.

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May the adoption be beneficial to all involved. :slight_smile:


Thank you.

This is simply racist remarks in Sri Lanka that is using Buddhism for leverage.

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I think a lot of this relates to contentment with one’s current circumstances.

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You might want to clarify, @Mat

I tend to agree, those who argue such are racists. That is not in the Dhama I follow in this life.

The intentions fueling the open-ended questions i asked come from compassion.

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Done, see my post above!

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Please close this thread. My wife abandoned me and the children in August and hasn’t made contact with us since. Everything is impermanent, including marital love.

Closed as per the request of the topic originator.