Buddhist Views on Marriage and Divorce

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The Buddhist view on marriage is very liberal. In Buddhism, there are no religious laws compelling a person to be married, to remain single or to lead a life of celibacy. Neither are there any laws stating that Buddhists must produce children or regulate the number of children that they have.

Buddhism considers marriage an entirely personal and individual concern, not a religious duty. Buddhism allows each individual the freedom to decide for him or herself all the issues surrounding marriage.

Buddhism considers marriage to be merely a social convention, an institution created by human beings for their well being and happiness to differentiate human society from animal life. However, that does not mean that marriage doesn’t play an important role in our lives and communities.

What are the benefits of a healthy marriage?

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Marriage serves to maintain order and harmony in the process of procreation. Marriage also plays a very important role of support and protection between spouses.

The institution of marriage provides a basis for the development of culture,  nurturement, and companionship.

What are the attributes of a healthy marriage?

In an ideal marriage, each partner develops a complementary role, giving strength and moral courage to one another, and each giving appreciation and recognition of the other’s skills. If a marriage is to be successful, there must be no thought that either spouse is superior.

The marriage should be viewed as a partnership of equality, exuding gentleness, self-control, respect, generosity, calmness and dedication. A good marriage should grow and develop gradually from understanding and true loyalty.

What is the Buddhist view on multiple spouses?

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Although the teachings of Buddha are silent on the subject of monogamy or polygamy, it is generally agree that lay Buddhist should limit himself or herself to one spouse.

If one does should to marry, Buddha taught that we should be faithful to that one spouse and refrain from committing adultery or sexual misconduct. Further, Buddha taught that one of the main downfalls or causes of suffering is man’s involvement with other women or a woman’s involvement with other men. 

What is the Buddhist view on Divorce?

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Although separation or divorce is not prohibited in Buddhism, it’s necessity would rarely arise if both spouses strictly followed Buddha’s teachings. However, if two spouses truly cannot reconcile and agree with each other, then they should have the freedom to separate.

Separation is preferable to living a miserable family life for a long period of time for both partners and innocent children. Buddha also cautioned older men not to have young wives as the old and young are unlikely to be compatible.

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