Duties and Responsibilities as a husband, wife

Venue: Residence of Ng Kian Chong

Special occasion: Ng Kian Chong’s brother’s wedding-eve dana

This talk is about the duties and responsibilities of a husband to his wife and vice versa.

In any relationship, if one carries out one’s duties and responsibilities well, this will support and bring happiness to one in this life and hereafter. This applies whether one is a monk or a householder.

For householders, their duty can be summarised as dana, sila and bhavana. Dana is giving. The highest merits come from giving to the Sangha. Next comes our parents, spouse and children, relatives and friends. To observe sila, we should keep the five precepts everyday and if possible, keep 8 precepts on the first and 15th of each month. Bhavana is strengthening of the mind through meditation. Metta meditation helps us in our personal relationships while vipassana helps us to deal with the ups and downs of life. The strong mind is stable and not easily shaken.

The Buddhist scriptures also deal with the responsibilities of husband and wife specifically, as outlined below.

A husband has five responsibilities towards his wife:

He should be courteous towards her. This is easy in the early days of marriage, but ten years down the road special effort may have to be made. Sometimes a man comes home after a day’s work and may take out the stress on his wife. He should realise his wife has spent a whole day doing housework which is not so easy either. He should use sweet words, like “darling” Then, the wife may feel better.

He should not despise her, see her as inferior to him, as a person at his beck and call. He should not treat her like a slave.

He should be faithful. Keeping a proper distance from other women is important, as lust is a tricky thing and one thing may lead to another.

He should hand over authority to her, such as in financial and other household matters. She spends the greater part of the day at home and thus should be given the authority to make decisions with regards to it. As women are generally better at managing money, it would be right for him to let her be the treasurer and financial controller.

As women by nature wish to look good, he should support her in her efforts to beautify herself. He should, within his means, provide her adornments, such as beautiful clothes and jewellery.

Similarly, a wife has five responsibilities towards her husband:

She should perform her duties well as a wife.

She should also be hospitable to “the people around” (relations, friends and workers), maintaining a cordial relationship with them.

Just as it is so for the husband, she should be faithful.

Being given the authority in managing household possessions, which includes money that her husband brings home, she should protect them well.

She should be skilful in discharging her duties and be industrious at it.

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