(Elements of a successful marriage / What makes a strong marriage)
‘And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.’ (Surah Rum, Verse 21)
Age and experience are two factors that highly influence a spousal relationship. With the passage of time, there are changes in the dynamics of a marriage and no matter how much a person plans, marriage is known to throw surprises one might not be prepared for. Afterall the coming together of two different personalities to raise the next generation is a huge responsibility and the journey will undoubtedly sway between being frustrating and amusing.
My journey started about eight years back and has developed from being hectic, disappointing, troubled, difficult, lonely to being comforting, adventurous, peaceful, fruitful, blessed, calm, and soothing.
‘You seem to love desserts’, he asked. ‘Yes! I love cakes, chocolates and all creamy things.’ I replied abruptly. He smiled reluctantly. He never liked sweets. ‘What about the main course ?,’ he asked. ‘What about it?,’ I asked. ‘You don’t seem to like rice and ‘chappati’ much,’ he noticed. ‘I don’t,’ I answered. ‘But I will learn to prepare them, for you, for us,’ I replied. The first few years of my marriage was about figuring out what he liked and how I could manage preparing cuisines we both liked. This was difficult. I was new to cooking and my taste never matched his. And this was just the beginning of how poles apart we were. I lived in a city all my life and was used to the busy, fast culture. Everything had to be done quickly. Quantity was more important than quality for someone like me. He came from a quiet town life, where household chores were given utmost importance. So, my sense of a clean apartment didn’t really match his expectation. And so he volunteered to help with all household chores.
Aswa Bin Yazid (RA) inquired from Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) as to what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did when he was inside the house: “She replied, ‘He used to remain busy serving and helping the inmates of his house, and when the time for salah (prayer) would come, he would go out for the same’.” (Bukhari)
He was hardworking and followed a strict routine. He would sleep at nine and wake up by six in the morning, even on a holiday. ‘Who wakes up at 6 a.m. on a Friday?,’ I exclaimed. I was barely able to open my eyes. I was a city girl and used to waking up late on a holiday. I was completely oblivious to a weekend morning routine. He never spoke much, except when we were in company of friends. We communicated very less and tried to patiently deal with all our problems rather than making each other a part of it. It took some time to understand that effective communication is essential in marriage. I never expected to have to teach my husband how to communicate. But I also didn’t expect that he would have to teach me how to disagree without fighting.
When we had our first baby, he was excited. He wanted to make all the decisions for her. He didn’t understand that a mother always knows what’s best for her children. I had a very hard time adjusting to my new motherhood routine and didn’t have anyone to help or guide me. Only with Allah’s help did I get through it. He was equally blank, but always available. We stayed up all night, if required, for our baby. He didn’t really understand Allah’s plan for our marriage and I knew exactly why I was where I was. I had to be patient till he would understand. We always made things easier for each other.
Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘Any woman who dies when her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1854)
He loved clothes and wanted everything to be perfect. He didn’t mind spending a fortune to get things which we might need or not. He wanted everything to look good, feel good and believed life should feel luxurious. I always accepted imperfection as a part of life and living in minimal is what I thrive on. I loved my home to be spacious and believe that not every home related work requires visiting the consumer store. He loved to travel and I always got tired of it. Even traveling requires leaving your comfort zone. With children, it became complicated. There were people who were important to us before we got married and we expected each other to like the others list of desirable people.
He has become adventurous with food and often brings me my favourite chocolate to show his love and care. ‘You do know the way to my heart,’ I express every time he does that. He laughs, indicating I will put on weight if I don’t control my love for it. He has realised that these small gestures bring a family together and creates a healthy marriage.
Jabir ( May Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet (May Allah be pleased with him) once asked his household members for seasoning. They told him that there was nothing but vinegar. He called for it and started eating his food with it exclaiming: ‘The best seasoning is vinegar; the best seasoning is vinegar’.” (Muslim)
One doesn’t need to necessarily spend money to show that they love each other. ‘What are we having for dinner?,’ he asks. ‘Your favourite meal with chappati,’ I declare. I am his favourite chef now. I am now skilled to manage all household chores effectively and expeditiously (which all women learn after marriage).
We never discuss work issues past work time (unless it is absolutely necessary) and this helps us to enjoy our family life. He still helps with household chores and managing kids. Over years, he has realised that a mother knows what’s best for her children and no decision is put into effect without mutual cooperation and consultation.
Breakfast has become my favourite meal of the day and a strict morning routine has added meaning to my life. Now we both enjoy waking up to the chirping of birds and starting our day together. Eventually, our children too have become early risers.
It was narrated from Abu Umamah (May Allah be pleased with him) that: the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to say: “Nothing is of more benefit to the believer after ‘taqwa’ of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased, if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him with regard to herself and his wealth. (Sunan Ibn Majah 1857)
We constantly help, forgive, consult and guide each other without encroaching the other’s boundary. There is always a middle ground for everything and we as a couple don’t try to mould the other into becoming like them. For us, marriage is about learning from each other. Learning and acquiring good qualities from the other, while getting rid of the negative ones. This makes life easy for us and our children.
Now, I love replacing used, worn out things, thanks to his influence. I have discovered that traveling helps to realise how beautiful Allah (swt) has made this world and it adds to a pleasant family memory. He has realised that one needs to understand the difference between their ‘needs and wants’ and spend accordingly.
It was narrated from Hakim bin Muawiyah, (RA) from his father, that:
a man asked the Prophet (May Allah be pleased with him),”What are the rights of a woman over her husband?” He said: “That he should feed her as he feeds himself and clothe her as he clothes himself; he should not strike her on the face nor disfigure her, and he should not abandon her except in the house (as a form of discipline).” (Sunan Ibn Majah 1850)
We have grown to like each other’s list of desirable people, which has opened a new world of experiences for both of us. And through these experiences we have understood how marriage completes half of our ‘deen’ (religion).
He has understood Allah’s plan for our marriage and knows we are in this together, for a long time. My patience has started showing success now. Acting patiently and showing mercy towards each other, to please Allah (swt) has opened doors of tranquillity and ‘barakah’ for us. Through these efforts couples become a source of peace for each other.
O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it, He created its mate, and through both, He spread countless men and women. And be mindful of Allah—in Whose Name you appeal to one another—and honour family ties. Surely Allah is ever Watchful over you. (Surah Nisa, verse 1)
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