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Love, Marriage and Monastics – past lives

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 1 day ago.

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  • #324349

    Jennifer
    Participant

    Ok… I’m in a marriage for almost 20 years. We have 5 children the oldest is a senior in high school and the youngest is in 4th grade. I became a member of a sangha two years ago. I follow the Middle way and take refuge in the three treasures as much as possible. My husband is not a follower. He tends to be a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of person and often complains about everything in life and isolates himself. He’s a stand up person and provides what he can monetarily to keeping the home functioning (while complaining about expenses LOL) and is there to help manage kids schedules. He doesn’t know how to talk about feelings or needs… He isn’t available emotionally for me or for the kids. I recently suggested marriage counseling… and he’s been more ‘attentive’ the last two weeks. But this is a cycle we’ve been in for over 10 years.

    I met a monastic two years ago and I am positive he is from a past life. We finish each others sentences and I have genuine love for him. He has said I “feel like an old roommate from college” to him.  He was just ordained a novice monk (from postulant) and he will spend the next year determining if he will take vows to become a senior student and commit to a life as a monastic or not.

    My brain is often pairing myself up with other people… always people who are also practicing the buddha way. My stories in my head are never about now… always about… some day in the future… when my kids no longer need me at home every day… and I find myself imagining a life as a lay person who lives closer to the monastery so I can practice there daily or possibly even as a monastic… at least for a period of time.

    Weirdly my attraction and deep longing for more with this monastic is not about sex… more about questioning if I have found a life mate. I don’t know if he has any ‘romantic’ feelings toward me or anyone. I do occasionally imagine what it would be like to have a physical relationship with him… but more often I imagine holding hands and just cuddling / sharing space… and that feels right in and of itself.

    I have no idea why I’m bringing this here. I guess I’m curious if any of you have had similar experiences? I do not plan to take actions of any sort and am aware that this is, in a way, mara messing in my head… creating duhkha in my present life experience.

    Although my husband has been seeking to connect with me this last week… I’ve been reticent … I know I’m holding on to resentment that the only thing that seems to spur him to be more present (even if it is just physically and not emotionally) is my suggesting that we need help…. again… a cycle. Once he feels like he’s ‘done enough’ for now, he’ll eventually begin to isolate and withdraw again. So I guess I’m just tired of it… and obviously longing for more… I’ve been only  mildly interested in sex with him… in part because I’ve just sat through two ceremonies (Jukai) and the Novice ordination in which they rededicated themselves to the life of the precepts – including “Honor the body, do not misuse sexuality” …  and I find myself wondering if having sex with him will send the wrong message to him? will it be misusing sexuality just in terms of gaining pleasure for myself and be purely selfish in nature? Ugh.

    Anyway… any thoughts or shared experiences would be most welcome.

    #324469

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jennifer:

    I read your original post on this thread and would like to reply to you when I am back to the computer in about 14 hours from now.

    anita

    #324591

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jennifer:

    First a summary of what you shared here: you’ve been married for almost two decades, have five children, the youngest is in 4th grade and the oldest is a senior in high school. Your husband is “a stand up person and provides what he can monetarily to keeping the home functioning.. and is there to help manage kids schedules”, and he”tends to be a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of person and often complains about everything in life and isolates himself”, complains about household expenses, doesn’t “talk about feelings or needs.. isn’t available emotionally” for you or for the kids. For the last ten years, you periodically complained to him about his ways, suggesting you need marital help, following that “he’s been more ‘attentive'” but then he returns to his usual ways, “isolate and withdraw again”.

    Last week, your husband tried to connect with you, but it angers you “that the only thing that seems to spur him to be more present (even if it is just physically and not emotionally) is my suggesting that we need help.. again… a cycle”. You are tired of this cycle, and “obviously longing for more”.

    Two years ago you became a member of a sangha (a Buddhist monastic community of bhikkhus- monks, and bhikkhunis- nuns) and you met there a man, a monastic, recently a novice monk. “We finish each other’s sentences and I have genuine love for him… I do occasionally imagine what it would be like to have a physical relationship with him.. but more often I imagine holding hands and just cuddling/ sharing space.. and that feels right in and of itself”. You long for a time, “when my kids no longer need me at home every day”, living closer to the monastery, practice there daily, “possibly even as a monastic”.

    My input today: one of the five Buddhist precepts is “to refrain from lying”, and, I read in a Zen Buddhism site: “The Sangha of the Blessed One’s disciples (savakas) is: 1. practicing the good way. 2. practicing the upright way. 3. practicing the knowledgeable or logical way. 4. practicing the proper way”.

    Seems to me that to refrain from lying and to practice the good, upright and proper way of life means, in your personal life, in the context of your marriage and family of seven, means to…  you tell me, will you?

    anita

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    #324917

    Jennifer
    Participant

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to me Anita.

    My husband and I found time to connect and talk on Monday. I told him from my heart that I have no regret for our life together and I have no resentment against him. What I hope for, for both of us, is to be at peace and harmony in our marriage together or in our lives as individuals if we determine to separate. I shared with him that when things between us are in disharmony I feel ‘longing’ and ‘attachment’ to the IDEA of relationships with others and/or for leading a different life then we currently have. I explained that makes me feel ashamed that I am not fulfilling my intention to not cause harm and that I am failing at enjoying life with non-attachment. He was able to express that he has been feeling frustrated, worried, and insecure. We were able to create a plan together going forward to do daily feelings and needs check ins. I’m hopeful again and a little worried that this will end up being another upswing of the same cycle… but I do plan to diligently check in with him daily even if I always have to initiate that check in. I also did express my understanding of sex within lay practice through the Dharma… that it is to be the embodiment of connection and caring and love and not simply a physical act that results in physical pleasure. I explained that when we are not communicating well and thus not connecting well that I feel like I’m ‘being used’ and ‘using him’ for physical release, which I would like to refrain from going forward. He expressed understanding and agreed. Again, I’m hopeful. Thank you so much for being here – jen

    #324979

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Jennifer:

    You are welcome. I felt admiration to you as I read about your recent,  honest efforts with your husband. Remember the middle way/ moderation in your expectations regarding how your marriage moves forward. Progress is not all-or-nothing, and there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to human behavior, not even inside monasteries.

    Unattachment, for example, is something to aim at but for as long as we are the social animals that we are, we cannot undo our emotional nature and become as unattached as a non living thing is.

    And the sex part, at times and in part, it is not such a bad thing to use or be used, as long as there is no dishonesty and disrespect involved. I don’t think it is possible to avoid that sexual element: to-use-and-be-used.

    I suggest that you decide one or two realistic/ doable expectations from your husband that are most important to you.  Communicate those to him specifically and clearly, so that they are crystal clear to him. If this one or two expectations are specific (not vague), doable (not too difficult) and he agrees to them, then he should meet that expectation. I hope he will.

    anita

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