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Question: I have a friend whose husband had an affair. He is trying to make amends but trust is already broken. How should I advise as a Buddhist? (They don’t have kids.)

Answer: In the Buddhist point of view, marriage is not some sacrament mandated in heaven that has to be stuck to blindly forever; it is a social contract entirely up to humans to manage well. Of course, mutual diligent Dharma practice can foster the integrity of the relationship.

Advice from professional marriage counselling should be sought for objectivity – especially if there are clashing points of view and conflicting emotions that are difficult to reconcile. If this does not work in healing the relationship even after trying hard, the suffering spouse should probably prepare to leave.

Any relationship is not fated to remain the way it is. Departure from a toxic relationship is how one’s corresponding karma can change too. There is no point putting a hand on a hot stove to be burnt foolishly, thinking it is fated, when one can simply remove it. If the relationship is confirmed not worth saving or does not seem to be salvageable, why not just leave? One should not stay just for money and such – especially since it cannot buy happiness. Divorcing the unworthy is not a bad thing. Many who have divorced are now much happier, some with better partners too.

It might be good to live separately for a while to gradually ‘re-know’ one another, to see how both parties value the relationship. It might be easier then to decide whether to reconcile or divorce. The guilty one can be asked to do something reasonable to prove sincerity. If that thing cannot be done or cannot be accepted even after being done, the relationship in terms of marriage is probably really beyond repair. It is better to become normal friends than remain unhappy spouses void even of friendship.

Buddhist couples should especially observe the third precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct – to prevent affairs in the first place. Those who feel that they cannot commit to this precept, among others, are clearly not ready for marriage. Whether one had committed to the third precept or not, one should still abide by marital loyalty for personal, family and societal harmony. Those who had broken this precept should make amends by resolving to better abide by it, by discontinuing their ill ways. It is usually the lack of sincere repentance that perpetuates suffering at home.

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9 Responses to “Are Buddhists Okay With Divorce?”

  1. To err is human. To forgive is divine.

  2. good advice.

  3. ConscienceSpeaking November 14, 2013

    ‘Whether one had committed to the third precept or not, one should still abide by marital loyalty for personal, family and societal harmony. Those who had broken this precept should make amends by resolving to better abide by it, by discontinuing their ill ways. It is usually the lack of sincere repentance that perpetuates suffering at home.’

  4. Some married fools, especially guys, are already enmeshed in affairs, but insist on continuing, while refusing to divorce. They give trouble to all parties involved – themselves, their wives, their mistresses, their kids.

    As if not realising the severity of breaking the third precept is not serious enough, they want everyone to let them continue breaking the precept, and they want others to break it with them. Utter foolishness this is.

    🙁

    May they wake up NOW!

  5. the frequency occurrence of having affairs is comparable for men and women. All had a part to play in the occurrence of affairs.

    I know a someone who is involved in affairs and became the 3rd party twice.

  6. ConscienceSpeaking November 15, 2013

    Takes 2 hands to clap. The one who stops breaking the 3rd precept will protect oneself and prevents the other from breaking the precept too.

  7. The path to hell begins
    with shameless refusal
    to observe the five precepts.

    The path to deeper hell begins
    with shameless refusal
    to let others observe the five precepts.

    The path to deepest hell begins
    with shameless refusal
    to observe the five precepts together.

  8. Well repeated quote.

  9. No quote is good enough if YOU do not use it to reflect upon your mistakes.

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