I- THE WIFE:
In advising women about their role in married life, the Buddha appreciated the fact that peace and harmony of a home rested largely on a woman. His advice was realistic and practical when he explained a 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 husbands’ 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;
– 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.
According to Buddhist teaching, in a marriage, the husband can expect the following qualities from his wife:
-love: A deep and abiding love is the most emotional and spontaneous expression of desire and self-fulfillment a husband expects of his wife. It is indeed the basis of an intimate life-long mutual relationship and the means of bringing into the world children whom they will love and cherish as long as they live. Here love is not limited to mere attachment (prema), but it is an all pervading quality of wishing for the genuine well-being of her husband.
– attentiveness: To be ever heedful, mindful and diligent, as well as to give her undivided attention to her husband’s needs;
– family obligations: Besides fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of the couple’s own family, the wife should also honor and respect her in-laws and deserving relatives and treat them as she would her own parents;
– faithfulness: Is associated with chastity, fidelity and steadfastness of the wife. It also implies being trust worthy and giving her constant devotion to her husband;
– Child-care: Motherly love is the foundation of all love in the world. As a devoted mother she would through her maternal instincts, even venture out at the risk of her life, for the protection of her only child;
– thrift: As the wife is entrusted with the task of home management it is incumbent on her to be that household expenditure is kept well within the family budget provided by the husband. To accomplish this task, the wife has to economize on her expenditure and exercise thrift, even to the extent of being frugal in doing so;
– the provision of meals: As the mistress of the house, it is the duty of the wife to prepare good nourishing food for the family. The family meal is an important event each day as it develops goodwill and togetherness;
– to calm him down when he is upset: When the husband returns home in an agitated state, the wife has to express herself in a soothing manner so as to pacify and comfort him. This will ease the situation;
– sweetness in everything: Besides expressing her endearing and tender feelings, the wife should also possess a charming disposition, be always cheerful, pleasant and comely.
II- THE HUSBAND
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 stand good till today.