Every woman ideally would have her husband by her side during pregnancy and childbirth, the most sacred times of life. Though I have a husband, I navigated those moments alone and have continued to live as if I was a single mother over the last eight years of my nine years of marriage.
In my journey traversing a whole range of complicated emotions, from hate and resentment to pride and excitement, from blame and rebuke to calm and contentment, fate led me to a path to inner peace two years after my daughter was born.
It was my mother’s cancer diagnosis at the time that prompted me to embark on an internet search. I didn’t expect that what I found would turn out to change my life and worldview forever.
Although my daughter and I continue to live apart from my husband, we still enjoy the warmth of family and he and I greatly care for and respect one another.
As I reflect on my situation, I don’t know what the future will hold, but I hope my story can benefit others searching for meaning in their lives amid life’s challenges and adversities, in whatever form they might take.
A Love Story
It’s said that those born in the Year of the Pig will be happy. This was true for me from the time I was born, in 1983, until young adulthood. I don’t mean that I lived in the lap of luxury, but I was blessed with comfortable living conditions and never had to go without whatever I wanted. Things started to change after I married, however.
I met my husband when he joined my grade 9 class. The first time I saw him, I already had a sense of familiarity and long-term attachment. He sat near me and our relationship began to form. We both have fond memories of that time.
But 9th grade ended just a few months later, which meant we would have go to study in two different high schools. They were located a long distance from each other. Our families also lived far away from one another.
It would be hard to keep in touch without each other’s phone numbers. But at our awkward age, pride and complacency made it hard for us to ask each other for our numbers as it would be seen as a kind of flirting or pursuit.
In the end, I was the one who took the initiative to ask. It was a bold act that seemed compelled by a force beyond myself. He responded quickly, seemingly mustering up all the courage he had. However, I heard only the first four digits of his number accurately, because all I could hear was my heart beating.
A few months passed and I thought about him all the time. I blamed myself for not having properly gotten his phone number. I didn’t know how to contact him. Little did I know, as he later told me, that he often came to an online games store near my house to play computer games just so he could see me.
I believe that fate played a role, because somehow heaven arranged for us to be together again. One day I picked up the phone while thinking of him and unconsciously dialed the number to the best of my memory. I heard his voice on the other end of the line.
It was as if time had frozen. I don’t remember how I made conversation, but it would’ve only been possible without thinking about my pride at all. That was how our love story began, eventually leading to marriage.
A Husband I Could Depend On
We had a big crush on each other, and the more we were together, the more good points we saw in one another. I was certain he would be the one and only love of my life.
I saw that he was a kind, gentle, and courteous soul. He was always ready to stop and help an elderly person across the street. He once chose a thin, blind cat from among many healthy cats that were being sold and took it home to take care of it, using up all the money he had. I noticed his great love and affection toward his mother.
He always walked on the road to make room for me to walk on the sidewalk. He held my hand tightly every time we crossed the street, pulling me close to him amid the heavy traffic during rush hour.
Such a loving and caring man would certainly be a husband I could depend on to care for and protect me, I thought. We married in 2009.
Pushing My Husband Away
However, I soon pushed this man I loved so much away from me. I was a decisive and independent person, always wanting to be the leader and in control—even in love. But I wanted my husband to be strong and powerful, although gentle and kind at the same time. I couldn’t restrain myself from ordering him around, even speaking to him sarcastically and harshly comparing him with others.
I was able to quickly sense what other people wanted to say without having to listen to them, or so I thought, and I demanded that my husband also be “quick” and “sensitive” like me. I could analyze situations easily and work fast and accurately, and I demanded the same from him. I also wanted him to have a sense of humor but also be deep and profound. He had to be knowledgeable but humble, generous and sociable, while caring about the smallest details.
I felt I was a role model and expected my husband to be exactly what I wanted him to be. Then I resented him when he didn’t meet my expectations.
On the one hand I was a capable woman, while on the other I had an inferiority complex. I was often jealous and I would say hurtful things without considering my husband’s feelings. Yet he never got upset but merely kept silent and stayed away from me.
Drifting Apart, Separate Lives
After I became pregnant about a year into our marriage, I decided to move back home to live with my parents. Since then, my husband and I have lived apart. Where he lived was five minutes away from his workplace, and my parents’ home was similarly five minutes from my workplace. It was convenient for both of us, but our relationship changed such that it was as if we were friends, not husband and wife.
Our conflicts got worse, however, because I continued to express anger and disappointment with my husband even though we were no longer living together. As a result, he never visited me during my pregnancy. It seemed as if there was an invisible force keeping him away.
Meanwhile, I blamed him for not caring about me and proudly took care of myself, giving birth and looking after our baby daughter without him. My husband didn’t visit until after our daughter was born.
I again blamed him for being heartless and cold, not even caring about his own child. He himself had no explanation for why he couldn’t be with his wife and child. It seemed he was focused on working and making money and believed that this was his way of fulfilling his responsibility to the family, and that it was enough.
Yearning for Love
By then, I no longer wanted to live with my husband and was willing to raise our daughter alone. I developed hatred for him but never talked badly about him in front of our child or my family. Deep in my heart, I knew he wasn’t completely to blame for our poor relationship.
No matter how strong I seemed on the outside, I was still a woman yearning for love. This likely led the men around me to be attracted to me. Men kept flirting with me and inviting me to go out with them, and I enjoyed the attention. I went to bars, drank, danced, and sometimes went on trips, justifying it all by telling myself that I was entitled to have fun and excitement as long as I didn’t cross the line in my relationships with other men, since I was still married.
However, I never considered leaving my husband, and he also said he didn’t want a divorce. We still wanted to be a family, but one with a strange arrangement not understood by others.
From Mother’s Cancer Diagnosis to Double Good News
I often felt my life was empty, despite all the opportunities I had to go out and enjoy myself. I believed that human life was ultimately for a purpose and not just for the pursuit of happiness and prosperity, so I sought out and learned about all kinds of spiritual and religious disciplines as well as humanistic philosophies. But I never found anything that thoroughly answered all of my questions about life. At a temple one day, I had one simple thought in my mind: “Please show me the right way to go.”
Then in 2012, when my daughter was about 2 years old, “fate,” or some great invisible power brought me the answer.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t know what to do except search online to try and learn as much as I could about the disease. But what caught my attention was numerous results about people who practiced a traditional Chinese discipline called Falun Dafa who had completely recovered from various types of cancer and other serious diseases.
I looked for more information on the internet and found that people wanting to learn more about Falun Dafa were recommended to read Zhuan Falun, the practice’s main book of teachings. I carefully read the free online book, paying close attention to every word. I had the feeling that this was what I had long been looking for.
Then, we received the good news: My mother’s cancer diagnosis turned out to be false. For my part, it was double good news as all the questions I had about life and the universe had been answered in Zhuan Falun.
Letting Go of Pursuit and Resentment
Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, is a spiritual practice that helps people improve their mind and body by elevating their moral character. Central to the practice are the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Falun Dafa also includes five gentle exercises that consist of four standing exercises and a sitting meditation.
I began to earnestly follow the teachings and apply them in my own life. That’s when I realized that it was not right for me to have a heart of pursuit concerning my husband, trying to force him to change and become the kind of person I wanted him to be. I understood that I could only sincerely do my best to be a good person in my own life, letting go of perfectionism and resentment.
I found that when I was calm, pleasant, and kind, my family responded in the same way instead of constantly feeling pressure from me and discouraged around me. After I changed my own thoughts and behaviors, strained relationships gradually improved and the environment around me became peaceful and harmonious.
Once I deeply understood this principle, my hatred toward my husband dissolved. It happened so quickly that it surprised me, as I had long had a tendency to hold onto grudges and hurt feelings, which caused me and those around me endless pain. But I wasn’t even remotely skeptical of the principles taught in Zhuan Falun. It was as if I was enveloped within a very strong, positive energy field that erased all the tangled, complicated, and controlling thoughts in my mind.
A Higher Realm of Love
I now understand that everything in life is like a boomerang that comes back after it’s thrown. Everything happens for a reason, and there is no use in blaming anyone else. The only solution is to improve my own character.
For example, if I’m like a tile, hard and brittle, I would immediately shatter upon a collision, with my sharp pieces hurting others as well. But if I’m like a ball of soft wool, I wouldn’t break at all upon impact, and there wouldn’t be any harm caused to anyone.
I consider my husband’s feelings much more now, recognizing the hardships and difficulties he has to face in his life. I no longer criticize him or try to change him or pursue some kind of perfection. Instead, I realize that love has a higher realm, which is compassionate, unconditional, and undemanding, and happiness can only be found within oneself.
It has been a long time since we’ve argued or fought. Even if my husband does get angry, I just remain silent. We are now respectful and warm toward each other. I know that he is not unhappy by my side, and he is more caring toward me and our daughter. I feel this deeply and cherish it very much.
Fulfilling My Purpose According to Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance
I strive to follow Falun Dafa’s principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance in order to fulfill the purpose I am meant to serve in whatever role I play in a relationship or situation. As a wife, I need to fulfill that role well. I am also a mother. My daughter, now 8 years old, practices Falun Dafa with me, and I take my responsibility very seriously to be a good role model for her.
To always be honest and sincere, doing what I should without defending or protecting myself and imposing on others—that’s being truthful to myself and others. To always think of others’ feelings and not do things that would hurt anyone—that’s compassion. To have no attachment to my own concerns and to be able to endure any situation without anger, resentment, or grievance—that’s tolerance and forbearance.
These are three simple but powerful words, and they are the premise that now guide me in the face of all problems in my life. Not only have these virtues helped me to rectify the conflicts in my relationship with my husband, they have also helped me resolve many other challenges in my life.
I am happy to be free and no longer bound to my previous dark emotions, after having found inner peace and meaning in my life. That is what studying the book Zhuan Falun taught me, and I am happy to be able to share the beauty and goodness of Falun Dafa with everyone who comes across my story.
Dao Thanh Hang lives in Vietnam.
Falun Dafa is a cultivation practice of mind and body that teaches truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as a way to improve health and moral character and attain spiritual wisdom. For more information about the practice, visit www.falundafa.org. All books, exercise music, resources, and instructions are available free of charge.