November 4, 2020 at 9:59 am #368640
I’m new to this forum and it’s taken me a bit of courage to decide to write this post. I was raised Christian, although not devoutly so. My husband is Buddhist, not raised a cultural Buddhist but a chosen Buddhist, his dharma practice is incredibly important to him. We have been having a lot of problems for the past year as he never feels heard or understood by me related to his spiritual practices. For background, the first few years of our marriage he was a non-practicing Buddhist so this is a very heightened display of focus and ritual. He has told me repeatedly over the last year that our conversations are shallow and surface level, that he has much more to share about how he feels. Well this gets my interest as I love to know how he feels and he rarely expresses subtle emotions. When he talks about “emotions” though he talks about his dharma practice which feels to me like nothing to do with emotions. I’m becoming very worried about this. It feels as though this heightened religiosity is coinciding with him no longer expressing any emotions like “gratitude, fear, pain, shame”. I’m getting a lot of intellectual abstractions instead of actual emotions. Recently he has said that he is falling out of love with me as a result of our inability to communicate and that he feels no connection with me on a deep level. I feel that in order to “fix” our broken marriage I may have to convert to Buddhism. My question is, does Buddhism promote deep commitment to marriage, deep backbone through hard times, showing up in all the ways emotionally and being warm, kind and caring? What is the Buddhist stance on long term when everything is mutable, changeable and cannot be depended upon? I’ve only known a few Buddhists in my lifetime and they did not show up emotionally for people when they needed it and had lots of problems with interpersonal relationships or taking responsibility for how they make other people feel. I’m deeply scared and saddened but open to seeing my role to play in the dissolution of his feelings. I believe in staying married for life and sticking it out. I’ve devoted my life to being kind, helping others, cultivating meaning and weathering storms but I have my problems too. I don’t want my negative view of the heightened practice of dharma existing with disintegrating integrity because that is an extremely toxic and prejudicial view point. Any help or criticism is welcome.November 4, 2020 at 12:10 pm #368667
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You shared that it has taken you “a bit of courage to decide to write this post”- congratulations for doing what you were scared of doing= acting with courage.
You were raised Christian, not devoutly so. Your husband was a non-practicing Buddhist in the first few years of the marriage. In the last year, his dharma practice became “incredibly important to him”, and in the same year, he told you that (a) your conversations and communication are “shallow and surface level”, lacking a “deep level”, (b) that “he has much more to share about how he feels”, that he “never feels heard or understood” by you regarding his spiritual practices, his dharma (which to you doesn’t seem to have anything to do with emotions, but with “a lot of intellectual abstractions instead of actual emotions”), and that (c)”he is falling out of love” with you.
You wrote: “It feels as though his heightened religiosity is coinciding with him not longer expressing any emotions like ‘gratitude, fear, pain, shame'”. You addressed your original post to “Kind Buddhists” and asked if Buddhism promotes deep commitment to marriage etc., “Any help or criticism is welcome”-
My input: although I read a lot on Buddhism as it was introduced to the West, and although the psychotherapy I attended years ago included a heavy dose of Buddhist principles as introduced to the West, such as Mindfulness, I am not a Buddhist, and I am not a competent resource on Buddhism. (But there are lots of books and online resources on Buddhism that are available to you).
What your case is about, seems to me, from first impression, is a misguided husband who is substituting his real need for personal emotional healing with “a lot of intellectual abstractions”. If you accommodate this substitution by converting into Buddhism, as you suggested, and communicating with him effectively using his favored intellectual abstractions- I don’t think that you will be healing him or the marriage.
Seems to me that his dharma practice serves as a distraction for him, a distraction from those subtle emotions that he doesn’t want to become aware of, those subtle emotions that “he rarely expresses”.
Am I making sense, to you?
anitaNovember 5, 2020 at 8:53 am #368684PeterParticipant
We fall in love, we fall out of love… it seams we are always falling and so if we are falling let us hope that we fall with grace to grace. What is this love that can be falling into and out off?
I can’t give advice about your experience but would like to take a shot at the question you asked
Does Buddhism promote deep commitment to marriage, deep backbone through hard times, showing up in all the ways emotionally and being warm, kind and caring?
I think and feel that in its intended form it does. The practice leading to being fully present to oneself and others.
My observations however is that the practice often leads to indifference rather then the intended ‘detachment’ and engagement with life. The middle way is a difficult balance.
Sitting quietly by a lake its a great experience, engaging in life from a place of stillness not so easy. Life is messy and when starting the practice one might not be aware of the desire to remain at the lake and mistake that for engagement with life and being present to what shows up. Such detachment were nothing is allowed to touch us often becomes indifference
TS Eliot put it this way
“At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.” ― T.S. Eliot
Being still, we discover becomes the source of movement, fully present to life, we dance.
May I ask why you chose the handle Relic?
Relic: an object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical or sentimental interest but now outmoded.
November 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm #369286
- This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by Peter.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply Peter. T.S. Eliot is also one of my favorite poets.
I am trying to keep a clear head and an open heart. These are dark and tough times.November 13, 2020 at 8:33 pm #369288
Thank you for your insight. I am making a conscious effort to connect with my emotions at the deepest level. Intellectual abstractions are one of my favorite shields against the vagaries of life too. Perhaps it the habit makes me so crazy because it holds up a mirror.November 13, 2020 at 9:32 pm #369293
I will be back to your thread in about nice hours from now.
anitaNovember 14, 2020 at 8:19 am #369307
You are welcome. I am trying to understand your original post in light of your recent second and third posts. In your original post you wrote that your husband “rarely expresses subtle emotions”, and that you are “getting a lot of intellectual abstractions instead of actual emotions” from your husband. Recently he told you that he was falling out of love with you as a result of the “inability to communicate” problem in the marriage.
You wrote about your feelings and motivation: “I’m deeply scared and saddened but open to seeing my role to play in the dissolution of his feelings. I believe in staying married for life and sticking it out”.
In your second and third posts you wrote: “I am trying to keep a clear head and an open heart. These are dark and tough times… I am making conscious effort to connect with my emotions at the deepest level. Intellectual abstractions are one of my favorite shields against the vagaries of life too. Perhaps it the habit makes me so crazy because it holds up a mirror”.
I am not sure I understand the last sentence. What I think that I do understand is that you are in the habit of distracting yourself from your own emotions via intellectual abstractions, and that you think your habit may have led to your husband to do the same. And that as a result of the two of you not connecting to and communicating your deep emotions, your husband said that “he feels no connection with (you) on a deep level”, and that he fell out of love with you. Did I understand correctly?
I have a suggestion as to how you can better connect to your emotions and better communicate your emotions to your husband: simplify your language, use simpler words.
Here is a sentence you wrote about how you feel: “It feels as though this heightened religiosity is coinciding with him no longer expressing any emotions like ‘gratitude, fear, pain, shame'”-
-if you want to, you can do the following exercise: re-write this sentence in a language/ vocabulary and syntax that a child is likely to use. Do not use words like religiosity, heightened and coinciding, remove the quotes before gratitude and after shame, and make it a direct sentence from the heart. Notice you started this sentence with “It feels”- then focus on feeling instead of being distracted and carried away by thinking.