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Married Women And The ‘BUDDHA Expression’

Posted: November 6, 2013

As a child, I first noticed the pronounced ‘Buddha expression” on my own grandmother. Then I observed more closely other grandmotherly women (amongst friends and family) and I saw the ‘Buddha expression’ in all of them.

Then I observed my mother, aunts and mothers of friends – and I again saw many hues of the “Buddha expression”. In some instances, it was not as pronounced as it was for the grandmother generation. But it was visible.

So what is the ‘Buddha expression’, you may ask.

married womans expressionIt is this expression that I have observed in way too many married women over the years; It is characterized by this ‘calm, serene and peaceful facial expression’ which does not really change based on external triggers or stimulants – be it in words or deeds [good, bad or ugly] of people around you.

Let me give you a few examples that I’ve seen in women around me:
You speak rudely to her; and she is quiet, unruffled and has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You shout at her; and she is still quiet, unruffled and has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
In some cases, you even beat her; and she still has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You praise her; and she still does not say anything. She just has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You sing her glory; and still she does not say anything. She just has that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.
You thank her for all that she has done for you; and she responds with that ‘Buddha expression’ on her face.

I often wondered how married women could have the ‘Buddha expression’, no matter what situation lay in front of them?
I thought…
Did they not have any feelings? Were they stoned?
Did they think there’s no point in expressing their thoughts?
Did they not want to react and respond – shout / scream / slap / rejoice in what was being spoken / said of them?
Did they not want to share their innermost emotions with their loved ones (family / friends)?

What was it that universally brought out the ‘BUDDHA expression’ in many a married woman? 

As I think, observe and analyze – I think the reason is that the only ‘practical and realistic’ way for a married woman to BE was to mask her true thoughts and emotions with the ‘BUDDHA expression’.

You say what’s on your mind – and you’re labeled as ‘ambitious’, ‘bossy’, ‘dominating’, ‘not lady-like’, ‘being disrespectful’, ‘too smart’, and ‘aggressive’. So over a period of time, you learn to hold back and not really speak what’s on your mind. The only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and serious, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful’.

You say what’s in your heart – and again, you’re written off as a cry baby who is just too emotional and sentimental about everything under the sun. Too girlish or all that you do is cry for everything is what will be said about you. Again, the only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and show a tinge of emotion, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful.’

You feel happy about something good that’s happened and react in a happy and excited manner – and you are again type-cast as someone who gets too carried away with what others say. Again, the only possible response is SILENCE. And if you are silent and show happiness, then again that’s not acceptable behavior. So you don the ‘Buddha expression’ – ‘Calm, Serene and peaceful’.

Bottom-Line: Any sort of reaction or response to external triggers and stimulants (good, bad or ugly) – and you are labeled and branded…. for life.

So the ‘Buddha expression’ was a self-discovered, self-imposed and self-taught shield against the world for many a married woman.

Now with the times changing, I still see the ‘Buddha expression’ in many an experienced married woman. For most of them, it is again probably the only ‘practical and realistic’ way to maintain peace in the family on a daily basis. They do pick battles once in a way, but wisely! “No point in waging a war every single day. After all, we all want to have a good night’s sleep. So this Buddha expression keeps the family going through the ups and downs of what life has to offer” is how one woman summed it up!

I really don’t know how long women need to wear the ‘Buddha expression’ to keep the world going! But here’s what I do know – There are benefits in mastering the art of the ‘Buddha expression’. And while I practice this art, you leave a comment to let me know how long do you think married women need to keep the ‘Buddha expression’ going?

pic credit: patriziasoliani (Used under a Creative Commons license)

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  1. Wat an interesting piece Nischala! The headline itself was so catchy that one just has to read this write-up. I think married women will forever have to keep the buddha expression as no matter how much times change, people (family, friends and most importantly the husband) are all quick to label women and put them into categories. I don that expression myself but to read of it being called the ‘buddha expression’ was totally hilarious! 🙂

  2. Interesting post!

    As you mentioned, this expression is only to maintain peace in the family..

    I think in the current age, women may have that expression in front of elders in the family, but the dam may burst open in the bedroom when no one is around!!

    This is how I vent out before hubby when i can’t oppose something before MIL!!;)

    • Ts Sri for your kind words, and for stopping by. I know what you mean.. The dam must open in an occasional flood, else there’s bound to be a potential disaster / calamity. To each her own.. but what’s essential is the flood gates open once in while.. essential to keep the boats sailing, right?

  3. the buddah expression, i have to agree with SRI, as we are always going to have it until the end, we cannot change the world and the world is not going to change for us, so maintaining the buddah expression is all we can do, being a world of men one cannot change no matter how educated we might be we will always be looked down in the eye of this world.

  4. The sooner we learn the buddha expression the better!!! I’ve been married for 6 years and still haven’t even come close to it. And I get labelled the bad wife all the time 🙂

  5. Great article, and great observation. The Buddha expression will be around for as long as men will insist on being boys! I’ve been trying to achieve it for the past 5 years, my mom wears it and so did my grandmother before her. Needless to say I have not even come close to mastering it 😀

    • Thanks Arunima.. If men continue to be boys till eternity, may be women should continue to be girls sometimes at least.. Then there’s some balance? Worth a thought.. It takes years to practice & master.. I speak from experience here! Tx for leaving a comment

  6. Interesting piece! And totally agree with Arunima. When men refuse to grow up, women especially after having a child, double their matutity level to maintain piece in the house! But is that the best way around? A good topic for next article perhaps!

    • Prabha – I agree with you.. As a twosome, you wear it occasionally. Once you have kids, you almost go through a ‘crash course; and master it way too rapidly.. Life and situations are indeed the best teacher.! I don’t think it is the BEST way, but it definitely is the MOST PRACTICAL way.. Food for thought indeed

  7. Interesting…i personally would like to shake women out of the Buddha trance

  8. The trance sure has worked for older generations, where men and women had stereotype roles, and I have admired it myself! But in this day and age where women have become bold enough to explore the male side of their brains, it only seems fair to push our men too to explore the feminine side in themselves. It seems to me (and I talk from experience) that we may be robbing our men of a fair chance to grow up by becoming the do it all in our family.

  9. Hmm. I agree. Married women or no, we all wear masks to hide the truths that may give the wrong impression or damage, and I suppose that is what a married woman does! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I do not know how long the women can keep the Buddha expression on their faces. But what about the inner expression? Is it as calm as it is portrayed on the surface.? But yes maintaining a calm serene exterior acts as a shield to the wars. It does avoid one.

    • Dear Kalpana – Thanks for stopping by. I know of so many women who wore this for their entire lifetime – out of choice and lack of choice. Inner calm or a dormant volcano is usually inside.. behind that calm exterior… ! And when it does erupt, than no one can save / help!

  11. Well that is interesting. Not sure I have perfected my Buddha expression yet! LOL Going to have to work on that one now that I know what it is all about. I think it comes with age though, and since I am getting older every day I stand a sporting chance of one day getting it right.

  12. I know exactly what you are talking about! Its so important to assume this Buddha expression for ‘eternal peace’. Been practising it for a while but I also think that it is important that we learn to vent our feelings too. Who better that our other halves to vent to, though I must admit that he assumes the Buddha expression during those times. Its simply amazing what women do to control their true feelings. Sadly the Buddha expression is here to stay. As long as we continue to be mothers, wives, daughters, daughters in law, we wil continue to need this expression .

  13. Thanks for putting it all so well…”Buddha expression”! As an adolescent girl had seen the sudden transformation of my aunt from a chirpy,bubbly girl into that serious,wise looking,overtly mature married woman which I guess was the initial phase of the Buddha expression which she was to master with every passing day. Had wondered about that and had thought would never let marriage bring such change in my behaviour and my personality and overall in the way I express.But ghosh! What a disappointment it has been:-) 2 years down the path of marriage and the only solution I find for my peace of mind…is of course the “Buddha expression”. Are we being too weak by giving up and letting the men have their way of not wanting to hear our “raised voices” and actually “SILENCING” the Woman???

  14. Its wonderful…now only I realized that I am already practicing BE without knowing that I am already doing it. I think married women needs to do it through out their lives….for ever….the more number of years of marriage..the more Level of BE shall be done….but, I one point, we will surely express it out…I.e vent….definitely…else women will keep all the emotions inside which effects their health and mental conditions….

  15. One sided feminist story….do you think men exist who also maintain this so called expression of yours?

  16. Very well written!! Brought lot of memories back 🙂

  17. My mother’s piece of advice was — there can be only one husband (meaning authority ) in each family everyday— so it’s essential to keep the BE for both the spouses depending on who the husband is that day!!!
    Beautifully written piece…. I have lived abroad all my life and when I see my age women in India , I am surprised to see their calm and composed demeanor after going through all the Storms in their lives…..

  18. This holds true still now, surprisingly with so many educated women around. But i do see my Mom in her “Shiva mode” once in a while and it does set the tone of all in the family on track :-).

  19. Well thought out article. Sometimes I feel that by donning the Buddha Expression , women let the other half win. in reality, the self-realization is more deep in women… so they just ignore and stop expressing.

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