Relationships : Payback Time?

Q: Some believe couples are married because ‘they owe each other in their previous lives’, while ‘children are born to either collect or pay parental debts’. Is this true?

A: If the first idea above is absolutely true, it is to pessimistically say that there can never ever be any form of happiness in marriage because marriage is just a debt-repayment process for life that couples were inevitably forced into. But obviously, spouses chose marriage voluntarily (in most cases) – as there was no gun forcing them to be married. Usually, it is those with unhappy marriages who believe that marriage itself is a bad debt, while probably being passively fatalistic about the suffering they endure in their marriages. It’s an excuse to not do anything to ‘revamp’ the relationship for the better, or to not leave it if it’s terrible ‘beyond’ repair. While karma is dynamic, when one becomes unproactive in reshaping it, karmic patterns naturally tend to relatively stagnate.

However, this is not to say the above ‘debt’ idea is totally untrue. There definitely is interplay of karma involved in marriages. But present fresh karma created in the moment plays a big part too; not just past karma from previous lives. It is unwise to blame all marital woes on past lives’ misdeeds, as if it is entirely ‘someone else’s’ fault that you have no real responsibility for, and because some problems are freshly created in this very life – by lack of communication for fostering mutual-understanding for instance. Negative karma is not some force that sentences people to the life imprisonment of hopelessly lousy marriages as individuals usually do consciously choose who to marry and how to live their marriages. Karma’s effects can be changed when they change their thoughts, words and actions.

As a more balanced outlook, marriages are not wholly for the expression of negative karma; just as positive karma can be expressed as marital bliss too, as blessings for both parties. The same would apply for the idea of children being born to collect or pay karmic debts from/to parents. If couples choose not to have children, how can these there be payback or debt-collection? Well, karma can be expressed via various other means eventually, if the karmic connection remains unchanged. Once again, karma is not some force that makes people bound for pregnancy – as couples can mindfully choose not to have any children. Past karma does play a role in deciding what kind of children one has, if one wishes to have children. But more importantly, present karma created can nurture one’s children for the better via good parenting.

One’s marriage partner and children are not always expressions of negative karma; just as they are not always an expression of positive karma. Realistically, for most people, they are expressions of mixed karma (with both the positive and negative) – because most created (and is creating) mixed karma anyway, which makes most not karmically deserving of perfect spouses or offsprings. This is why one’s family members can seem like a ‘curse’ on some days, while a boon on other days. The feelings many have about their families often alternate due to the alternation of the expression of the positive and the negative qualities in them, while how we choose to perceive this decides whether we suffer because of them or not.

It is much more important and practical to focus on how we can create positive karma within our present families to transform them for the better, than to keep harping on any negativity being an inevitable personal karmic debt on the rebound. Doing so is to live a foolish self-fulfilling prophesy, as one would tend to let familial relationships crash and burn, sighing all the way… when one could simply seize the controls to ‘fly’ off to a better destination. Broadly speaking, most forms of relationships we have with most beings have the same open-ended possibilities as the above, offering chances for interactive karmic exchanges – for better or for worse. We always have the power to choose how to relate.