P: “Even when you are hit by the first arrow, don’t get hit by the second arrow.”
This is what the Buddha said. It means that when you are hit by the first arrow, don’t keep on brooding over the suffering because this is analogous to shooting yourself with the second and third arrows.
There are cases in which the wife continues to agonize over the husband’s extramarital affair long after it has happened. In such cases, if we consider the husband’s affair to be the first arrow, the wife inflicting mental suffering on herself can be regarded as getting hit by the second, the third, and even the fourth arrows every day. Extramarital affair of a spouse is the biggest crisis couples experience in a marriage. When people get married, they vow to love only each other, don’t they? However, in reality, many couples experience marital conflicts because they end up falling in love with people other than their spouses. And then, people get furious at their unfaithful spouses for not keeping the marital vow.
“How can he do this to me?” A woman who came to talk to me could not contain her anger because her husband was cheating on her.
“In a course of a marriage, it is possible for a person to feel attracted to someone other than his or her spouse.”
“But, my husband promised that he would love only me when we got married.”
“Of course he did. Did you expect him to say something else at the wedding? If he had said, “I am going to have an affair after we get married,” do you think you would have married him?”
“Then he lied to me, didn’t he?”
“No, he did not lie to you. At the time, he must have really felt that he would love only you, but his feelings just have changed over the years.”
A person’s feelings change constantly even from morning to night, so it is virtually impossible to know how your feelings will change a day from now much less several years from now. You should have entered your marriage knowing that feelings change over time. Being unaware of this fact is what caused the problems in your marriage.
As we can see in this instance, when people hold onto the belief that their spouse’s initial promise of love for them will last forever, they will inevitably have problems in their marriage. The wife is deeply hurt at the fact that, by having an affair, her husband broke his vow, so she cannot get over the feeling of betrayal.
In another instance, there was a woman in a long-distance marriage who was deeply hurt when she found out that her husband had an extramarital affair. She was pregnant at the time and suffered from depression after finding out about it. Luckily, she got much better after attending the Enlightenment Retreat. Nevertheless, she confessed to me that she is still afraid of her husband and that he feels like a stranger to her. Since then, the husband has also attended Enlightenment Retreat and has been trying hard to be a be a good family man. In response to her husband’s efforts, the wife also tried her best to save the marriage, but she said she is torn between her feelings of “I want to have a good marriage with my husband” and “How can I live with him after what he has done to me?”
In a case like this, instead of contemplating for too long, it is best to make a decision quickly. If she doesn’t want to live with her husband, she should go her separate ways right away. The longer she takes to make a decision, the more tiring her life will be and the more emotionally damaging it will be to her children. She can take responsibility for making her own life complicated, but making her children suffer because of her actions is morally wrong. Children are born with a right to be loved and protected by their parents. However, this couple has ruthlessly trampled on the right of their children. It is unacceptable that parents end up taking away their children’s rights because they are so blinded by their own bias and opinions. If they do, they will greatly suffer the consequences in the future because of their children.
If she decides to stay with her husband, what kind of attitude should she have? Who gets hurt if she keeps on hating her husband? She should know that she is the one who suffers when she hates her husband. If she considers her husband a lowly being and thinks “He is such a beast,” it means she is sharing a bed with a beast. On top of that, that makes her child’s father a beast as well. How can a child of a beast turn out well? If she maintains a sexual relationship with her husband despite feeling repulsed by his touch because of his extramarital affair, she is likely to suffer from extreme stress. Ultimately, the more she hates her husband the more damage she is inflicting on herself.
She said she found out about her husband’s affair when she was pregnant. It would have been better for her if she hadn’t known about it at all, but unfortunately, she found out and, as a result, suffered from depression. The best way to handle a situation such as this one is for the wife to understand the psychology of her husband. Once she tries to understand him, she will find peace within herself. If she feels aversion toward her husband, her health will be at risk. On the other hand, if she regards her husband in a positive light, her child becomes a good person because her husband is one.
If any of you should ever experience something like this in your marriage, I advise you to repent toward your husband. Intuitively, you may think, “Why should I be the one to repent when I am not sure I want to stay with him even if he repents toward me first.” However, it’s foolish to think that way. I am not saying that you should do it for your husband’s sake. You should think about how you can make yourself happy in your current situation. Forgiveness is actually not the answer. You should just let it go. You should completely let go of the whole idea that your husband did something wrong.
As long as you hold onto her husband’s past wrongdoing as his flaw, you will want to use it to get back at him at some point. Then, your husband will only resist in order to defend himself. What do you think will happen when you drop the issue completely? Being conscious of his flaw, he will try that much harder to become a good husband. When you see your husband trying so hard, you should be sympathetic toward him and say to him, “A man shouldn’t be so hard on himself over something like that. It’s all right, people make mistakes and go on. I want you to relax and be comfortable.”
Rather than resenting him, it’s wiser to comfort and encourage him. This is solely for your own happiness. This is a way to become an independent person of unshakable happiness. If you believe, “My husband is a good person,” it means you have dated a good person, been married to a good person, and had the child of a good person. On the contrary, if you perceive your husband as a beast, it means that you have mistaken a beast for a person, have been married to a beast and had the child of a beast. Thinking this way is self-abusive.
Many married people show such self-abusive behavior. Being cold to your husband is what is making you and your family miserable. If you choose to stay in the marriage, it’s best for you to wholeheartedly embrace him with love.
“I was not wise. I have been so wrapped up in my own world that I didn’t know I was making you feel misunderstood and lonely” Only when you pray this way, will the negative feelings toward your husband disappear. This is the process of dissolving karma. When you practice this way, you can let go of your hatred toward your husband and earn dignity. Only then, will you be able to obtain happiness.
Think of Madam Yoohwa whose son founded the Goguryo Dynasty. When she was a maiden, she and her younger sister went flower picking on a meadow and met an old man with a white beard. He was riding on a fancy carriage used by people of high status, an equivalent of a modern-day luxury car, and enticed her, saying, “I am Haemosoo, son of Heavenly God.” Madam Yoohwa trusted his words and spent the day with him. However, to her dismay, Haemosoo disappeared the next day without a trace. She patiently waited in vain to hear from him. When her parents found out what had happened, they became furious. They kicked her out for the house for having been with a man without their consent and still missing him and waiting for his return. King Gumwa, who happened to be out hunting at the time, spotted Yuhwas and was so smitten by her that he took her with him to his palace and made her his second wife.
Yoohwa gave birth to a son and named him Joomong. Even though he was born as a prince, he was mistreated in the palace because he was the son of a concubine and there were rumors that he was not the King’s biological son. However, Madam told her son, “Your father is Haemosoo” and always spoke of him with reverence. Whenever Joomong was being mistreated in the palace, she would encourage him with the words, “You are greater than the other princes because you are the son of Haemosoo. You possess the qualifications and capabilities to be the head of a kingdom.” The mother’s words came true, and Joomong later became the founding father of the Goguryo Dynasty.
Thus, it’s not important whether or not you have a husband. Being poor is not a problem either. It’s only when the mom has an inferiority complex about poverty that her child will inherit the same inferiority complex. A single mom doesn’t produce a problem child. Only when the single mom feels lonely and is emotionally unstable will the child have problems.
In a manner of speaking, Madam Yoohwa had a one-night stand with an old man, and she was deceived by his sweet talk. However, since she believed him so implicitly, it was as if he never deceived her in the first place. Throughout her life, Madam Yoohwa kept her faith in the man with whom she spent only one day together. Such an unshakable faith enabled her to raise her son to become a brave and confident young man.
If a woman becomes emotionally unstable and acts unpredictably because of her husband’s one-time affair, she will make herself and her family miserable. She has other roles to play besides being a wife. As a mother, she should consider the well-being of her children. In short, she should make a decision as to what to do about the marriage as soon as possible, which will bring peace to herself and her children.