Q: “I was struck by a sudden realization while looking at the photos of cosmos and chrysanthemums, which my husband took as a hobby. As it dawned on me that my husband has his own life apart from me while I have no life of my own, I was seized with envy and jealousy. It had never bothered me even when my husband took money or ran off somewhere, but ever since I saw his photos of flowers last fall, I have been wanting to let go of my love for my husband.”
P: Generally speaking, the honeymoon phase of a marriage ends in about a year, and the feelings of love tend to subside a little. However, there was a woman who confessed to me that her heart still races and she feels tense whenever she sees her husband even after 23 years of being married to him. She said that just looking at her husband makes her feel happy, but at the same time, she gets distressed and hates herself for being so obsessed with him all the time.
P: She asked me to teach her how to love her husband less and instead love herself more so that she can be free. However, did she want to become free just because she didn’t like loving her husband so much? If we wish to be loved by others rather than love others, our wish will never be fulfilled, so we will always be unhappy.
A wise person knows that he needs to love first in order to be loved and that he needs to give compliments to others first in order to receive compliments. Since he always initiates giving love and compliments to others, he receives love and praises from others in return. As a result, he will experience more happiness than unhappiness in life, but he still won’t be able to attain complete happiness. That’s because there is a possibility that others may not reciprocate the love he gives them. Then, what do we need to do to experience complete happiness? We should only give without expecting anything in return.
There is a big difference between the disappointment we feel when others don’t help us after we have extended our help to them and the disappointment we feel when others don’t help us because we didn’t help them in the first place. We feel much more disappointed when others refuse to help us after we have helped them. A person who expects to receive as much as he gives will be fine as long as he receives most of what he gives. However, when he doesn’t get anything in return, he will be much more unhappy than those who never give anything in the first place. That’s why love can be regarded as the seed of hatred. Those who don’t love each other never end up hating each other, but unfortunately those who love each other can sometimes become bitter enemies.
The expectations we have of others is what makes us resent our parents who gave birth to us and raised us, friends who were close to us, and those we were once deeply fond of. We say we love someone, but strictly speaking, we seek happiness in being loved. There is an implicit expectation that we want to receive as much love as we give. There is a higher probability that you will receive love if you give love. However, in case your love is not returned, you will end up suffering with the feeling of betrayal. Inevitably, when love is used as a means of obtaining something, it will turn into disappointment and hatred.
There is no difference between the fondness your husband has for cosmos and the affection you have for your husband. Then, why is it that the husband who likes cosmos is not unhappy while the wife who likes her husband is so unhappy? The husband does not demand the cosmos to love him back just because he loves it. However, the wife demands that her husband return her love since she loves him. This is the reason that she is miserable. The fact that she asserts, “The problem is that I love him too much. From now on, I won’t love him anymore.” shows that she doesn’t see the essence of her dilemma. Her husband’s fondness for cosmos and her affection for her husband are the same. However, the difference in the two situations is that the wife demands her husband to reciprocate her love, and when her demand is not met, she becomes disappointed. This is why she feels miserable and thinks, “Should I keep loving him when it’s so one-sided?”
She should just love him. Her way of thinking is as ludicrous as hiking Mountain Sorak five or six times and complaining that she won’t go there anymore because Mountain Sorak never tells her that it loves her. Does it make sense for her to be dependent on the response from Mountain Sorak? Her husband never thinks, “Should I discontinue to like cosmos?” Therefore, her problem will be resolved once she lets go of her expectation of her husband to return her love.
The husband will be happy that his wife loves him, but if her love borders on obsession, he could get annoyed. What would happen if a grandmother prepares a meal for her grandchild and keeps putting food into his mouth saying, “Please, try this. Now, try this”? Even though the child is aware of his grandmother’s love for him, he will eventually refuse to have meals with her if she does that every time he visits her.
There is nothing wrong with the woman’s loving her husband. But, she should realize that she loves him for her own sake, not for the sake of her husband. The reason she wants to cook delicious food for her husband is that she wants to do it, so she should not expect him to be grateful and enjoy the food as much as she would like him to. Thus, her new mindset should be, “Just as I’m glad that I am able to love flowers, I’m so happy that I’ve got a husband to love. I’m grateful to him.”
This wife is someone who can’t stand being without her husband. It’s not because of the husband but because she needs to have someone to love but doesn’t have anyone else to love. The reason she has a hard time when the husband is away is that she misses him so much. Therefore, instead resolving to stop loving him, she should pray, “I’m grateful that I have a husband to love.” Then, she will be able to moderate her emotions and become relaxed.
We feel instantly happy when we look at the ocean. When I look at the ocean, is it the ocean that’s happy or is it I? It’s I who feel happy. We feel happy not because the ocean likes us but because we like the ocean.
The mountain is just a mountain, the ocean is just an ocean, and the sky is just a sky. Because we like them just for what they are without wanting anything in return, we feel good and happy. When we love someone without wanting anything in return, even if that person doesn’t love us, we are happy enough just being able to look at him. Try liking someone or something without expecting anything in return. Just as we love the ocean and enjoy the mountains.