The Importance of Etiquette
(Clearwisdom.net) Xiao Yixin, the wife of Liao State (916--1125 A.D.) official Ye Lunu, was known for displaying the traditional virtues of a Chinese lady. Her father was the emperor's son-in-law and her mother was Princess Hutu. Xiao Yixin, who was beautiful both inside and outside, got married at age 20 and never failed to respect her parents and love her family.
Once, Xiao Yixin was chatting with her sisters-in-law who were talking about how to win their husbands' love by dispelling wicked spirits. Xiao Yixin suggested, "Etiquette is better than any such practice." The others asked why. Xiao Yixin replied, "If we pay attention to self-cultivation and proper behavior, if we take good care of our elders and show respect to them, if we are gentle to our husbands and tolerant of our juniors, we will be living by etiquette. When we accomplish all of this, we'll naturally win love and respect from our husbands. If, on the other hand, we resort to some evil practice to win favor, aren't we going to feel guilty?" Hearing that, the other sisters were ashamed.
Later her husband, Ye Lunu, was exiled on a false accusation. Since Xiao Yixin was the daughter of a princess, the emperor wanted her to divorce her husband. But she pleaded to the emperor, "It is really gracious of you, Your Majesty, to be considerate of my relationship to you and try to save me from suffering in exile with my husband. However, a husband and wife should follow moral principles--they should be together in both good and bad times, and they are not to part until death. I was married to Ye Lunu when I was young, and if I leave my husband when he is facing difficulties in his life, that will run counter to basic behavioral principles and I would be no different than an animal. I hope Your Majesty will show pity to us by allowing me to go with Ye Lunu. I won't have any regret even if I die there." Moved by her pleading remarks, the emperor gave his consent.
At the place of exile, Xiao Yixin and her husband toiled every day, but she showed no trace of complaint. Instead, she was even kinder and more respectful to her husband.
Why have marriages become increasingly more fragile nowadays? What ancients used to have--lasting marriages, mutual respect and mutual support in time of need--are now merely what people long for. Traditional morality and etiquette, the bonds that have maintained and governed human relations for thousands of years, have gone by the wayside. Respect, morality, and gratitude--the key elements for the harmony between a husband and wife that the ancients cherished--are now often overlooked and lacking in modern families.