Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:48 pm

Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

Postby catlady2112 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:19 am

I'm curious to know how people negotiate relationships when your spouse is not Buddhist (and does not practice any faith). Do you feel creates obstacles, or is it no-big-deal?

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 3546
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:48 am

I'm in that situation but it's generally no big deal. I tend to be on the 'secular' side of Buddhist practice - no shrines, incense, chanting, etc - so my practice doesn't intrude significantly on the rest of the family and they tolerate my absences for meditation meetings and the occasional retreat in much the same way I tolerate theirs for (e.g.) ice-skating or medical conferences.


User avatar
Paul Davy
Posts: 15730
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

Postby Paul Davy » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:52 am

Greetings catlady,

More specifically, I find it's a problem if they're not into personal growth and development.

Because if they're not, you're going to become increasingly content and happy in life - meanwhile they're going around in circles, getting disillusioned, and will feel increasingly removed from where you're at in life and will be inclined to lash out at you because of it.

What you ideally want with a partner is two people who can grow and stand side-by-side, supporting each other through life's challenges with smiles - in contrast to a form of co-dependence that topples over once one person is strong enough not to be dependent upon the other.

Well that's how I see it, based on experience, reflection and discussions with others...

Retro. :)
“I hope, Anuruddha, that you are all living in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes.” (MN 31)

What is the final conviction that comes when radical attention is razor-edge sharp? That the object of the mind is mind-made (manomaya). (Ven. Ñāṇananda)

Dharma Paths Practice Community

User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 17327
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am

Re: Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

Postby Ben » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:05 am

My wife is not a Buddhist though she teaches secular mindfulness meditation as part of her psychology practice.
I am fortunate that while my wife is not a Buddhist, she is very supportive of my practice.
I've introduced two of my three children to the Dhamma but I leave it up to them if they wish to pursue it.

I think any relationship there are going to be difficulties whether both people are Buddhists or not. Having a Buddhist spouse won't be a magic bullet that will provide marital bliss. I've seen friends have romantic relationships with co-practitioners and split apart. But I think what Retro says is pretty close to the mark. I am also reminded of the great Burmese meditation teacher, Sayagi U Ba Khin who was married to a muslim.
Wishing you all the best,

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR


User avatar
Posts: 640
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

Re: Is your partner/spouse a non-buddhist?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:57 pm

Amen, Ben. My last wife was a Buddhist, but was at heart completely unhappy, and she drifted further and further away from me until we were living like roommates. Except my roommate yelled at me if any of my stuff was lying around. :D I hope without me she can live the life she wants to live and find contentment. None of that seemed possible with me.

My current companion is in her words a "recovering fundamentalist Baptist." She turned her back on all that stuff and today would describe herself as spiritual but non-religious. She enjoys that I'm a practitioner because I remain calm during times of stress and crisis. I also carefully examine what I say or do to make sure my words and actions are true, helpful and not hurtful. This means I must hold my tongue sometimes. But just because you have an impulse to say or do something doesn't mean you have to say or do it. I wish I knew this when I was nineteen.

All that said, my current companion and I are almost perfectly compatible, which I think is the bottom line in any relationship. If you're not compatible it won't work out anyway. I let her be herself and she lets me be myself. So far it's working out fine.

Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?

Return to “Open Dhamma”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests

Google Saffron, Theravada Search Engine