Archive for the Marriage Counselling Category

Wives Dealing With Tough Husbands: Any Options?

Posted in Advice for Wives, Marriage Counselling on February 19, 2010 by Shaz

In Islam, a man has options to choose from when his wife misbehaves or
does something displeasing. For example, negotiating, then leaving her
bedroom, and finally hitting lightly (with miswak-tooth stick). My
question is, what if a man misbehaves? Does the woman have any options?
What if he does something extremely horrible? What can she do? I know
there’s divorce, but for women it’s by khul`, which is a complicated
process. Why do men have all these options plus divorce, and women only
have divorce? And even when they choose divorce, it’s a longer and
tougher process than the men’s. I know Islam is fair, but when I asked
people I know this question, they never gave me a satisfying answer.
Please help me.

Answer By Yasmin Mogahed
Salam, Rahma.

Thank you for your sincere question and desire to seek the truth. May
Allah make the path to truth easy on all of us.

Although this is not a fatwa, I pray that it helps shed light on the
perfect justice of the religion of Allah.

First, it is imperative to stress, as you already mentioned, that Allah
is the Most-Just. If we ever perceive any injustice in His religion, it
is due to our own lack of understanding, rather than a flaw in the
religion.

As you know, men and women were created different in order to complement
one another and live in cooperation, and not competition. As with any
system, whether in the context of a corporation or a family, each
individual is assigned a role based on his or her individual nature and
talents.

The vital difference here is that the Lord of the universe is the one
assigning the roles based on His perfect knowledge of the nature,
strengths, and weaknesses of His own creation. In His infinite
knowledge, Allah has assigned men to be the managers, protectors,
maintainers, and providers of the family system. In the Quran, which
Muslims believe is the word of God, Allah says:

[Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has
given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support
them from their means] (An-Nisaa 4:34)

However, what many people fail to realize is that with this extra
authority comes a great deal of extra responsibility. Men will be held
accountable if their families are not protected and provided for.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

All of you are responsible and each of you is responsible for his
people. The Imam (i.e. ruler) is the guardian of his subjects and is
responsible for them. A man is responsible for the people of his house.
A woman is responsible for the house of her husband. A servant is the
guardian of his master’s belongings and is responsible for them. Each of
you is responsible for his people. (Al-Bukhari)

Part of a man’s protecting his family means protecting their physical
needs. Providing food, clothing, and shelter falls under this
responsibility. However, his protection is not limited simply to
physical protection.

The man must also protect his family’s religion. In the same way he
would protect his family if they were struggling to find food, he too
must protect them if they are struggling with their religion. If his
wife or child is committing unlawful act, protecting them means doing
what he can to bring them back into the right path.

You will notice that the reference to admonishing the wife is in the
same verse, and follows the statement of men being the protectors and
maintainers of women.

Allah also says in the Quran what means:

[O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from Fire…]
(Al-Anaam 66:6)

Of course, saving each other from the displeasure of Allah goes both
ways. But note that even in a business model, when a manager is not
doing his job, the procedure for correcting him is different than the
procedure he takes to correct those he manages. Those on the team do not
correct the manager directly, but rather take their complaints to his
supervisor.

This is done because a manager’s authority over them would make it
ineffective to try to address him directly. Instead, they would go to a
person who has authority over him. In the case of a family this would
mean the imam, an arbitrator (from the family or otherwise), or a judge,
for example.

Also, note that when the wife is “misbehaving”, she is to be corrected
privately (within the family). When a man is “misbehaving”, he is to be
corrected outside of the private sphere (going to an imam, for example).
But, this is part of the extra responsibility of taking on a position of
power.

In any power structure, those who take on a position of authority must
be willing to be censured — sometimes publicly. When the Companion
Umar ibn Al-Khattab was Caliph, a woman publicly corrected him by
reciting a verse that contradicted what he had said. Omar responded with
a smile and said: “The woman is correct and Omar is mistaken.”
(Al-Qurtubi, 99)

When a person becomes a manager, with that power, comes the ability to
be publicly corrected, if one is not doing one’s job. Consider a college
classroom. Who is in the position of authority in this case? The
professor is. What happens if a student is loudly talking on their cell
phone and disturbing the class? The professor will censure the student
directly.

But what happens if it’s the other way around, and the professor is
talking on his cell phone rather than teaching the class? Will the
students go to him directly? Well, perhaps they might, but that may not
accomplish much, if he chooses not to listen. But are the students
powerless? No. Most students would recognize that going to the
professor’s supervisor would be much more effective.

In the same way, when a husband is not doing his job of protecting his
family, whether that means through negligence or mistreatment, the wife
should try to advise him. But if he refuses, the wife is told to go to
those who can have authority to make him change his behavior. A wife is
not powerless. It is quite the contrary.

The system put in place by Allah in fact ensures the rights of the wife.
Imagine if a wife was just left to compete with a husband’s extra level
of physical strength and authority, and there was no system in place for
the wife to go to his “superiors”. Imagine if those students had no
other avenue to change their professor’s behavior besides addressing him
directly. Chances are, they would not learn much in the class.

But there is one point, although often overlooked, which is extremely
important. Remember that Allah Almighty is always on the side of the
oppressed. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Be afraid, from the curse of the oppressed as there is no screen between
his invocation and Allah. (Al-Bukhari)

So if a wife is being mistreated or oppressed in any way, Allah will be
her supporter. Consider the story of the woman at the time of the
Prophet who turned to Allah to complain of her husband’s injustice to
her. Allah not only heard her calls, He even revealed verses in the
Quran to respond to her. Allah says:

[Allah has indeed heard (and accepted) the statement of the woman who
pleads with thee concerning her husband and carries her complaint (in
prayer) to Allah. And Allah (always) hears the arguments between both
sides among you: for Allah hears and sees (all things).] (Al-Mujadilah
58:1)

Allah hears and sees all things. Could there be any greater comfort than
that?

I hope this answers your question. Please, keep in touch.

Salam.

The Language of Men: Understanding Your Husband’s Needs

Posted in Advice for Wives, Communication, Marriage Counselling on January 26, 2010 by Shaz

Question

As salamu ‘alaykum

What do you think should be as a wife if a husband always criticize the wife from the way she eat, dress, talk, most of the time putting her down and the husband feels superior though she already did what he wants, but it is still not enough for him and still got criticize.

Answer by Dr Karima K Burns(Naturopathic Doctor, Herbalist – Waldorf School of Thought )

This situation can happen with husbands and with wives and can sometimes indicate an abusive relationship, however, usually it indicates a mutually dissatisfying situation for both spouses. You have not indicated you are being abused in this enquiry, provided details about yourself or examples of specific situations so I will approach the situation using the second scenario. Additionally, since you have written to me (and not your husband) I am going to approach the question with a solution that you can try yourself.

If you were seeing a counselor together or your husband had asked this question I would have a slightly different answer. However, there is one rule in relationships that has stood true across all time – you can only guarantee change if you work on your own problems. There is never any guarantee with others, as their actions and feelings are beyond your control.

Because of this it would be useless for me to provide you with information about what your husband could do. I am providing information about what you can do, and how you can understand the situation more clearly. Not because you are at fault or the only person at fault, but because, since you have asked for help, I want to give YOU the tools to regain control of your happiness in this marriage.

In the second scenario I mentioned above, the marriage has become unbearable for both spouses and the focus has turned to criticism instead of love and understanding. You may perceive that only your husband is being critical. However, your e-mail indicates that you are also critical of him. In your e-mail you are stating that your husband “puts down his wife” ,that he “feels superior”, that he is “not satisfied with what he has” and that he “criticizes his wife.”

These are four very negative statements about your husband. He most likely can sense that you feel these negative feelings towards him (and perhaps more?). Even if you don’t express these feelings he can feel this in two ways. If you do express negative feelings he will feel this in three ways:

1. If you express sadness, negative feelings, dissatisfaction, anger, etc…he will feel you are not happy with him. He wants to be able to make you happy. Knowing you are unhappy will make him very unhappy.

2. If you feel these feelings about him and do not verbalize them they will come out in non-verbal ways and he will sense them.

3. A man’s sense of worth in a marriage is often tied to his feeling of self-worth as a husband and father. A man, to be happy in a marriage, needs to feel he is a good husband and father and that he is taking good care of his family. If you are not letting him know or feel he is successful then he will be unhappy and be more likely to reflect this back to you.

This is different from what makes a woman happy in a marriage. Women are often happiest when their husband and children show that they love her. Women also want to feel they are able to make their families happy. However, most prominently, they thrive on feelings of love in the relationship. Although men also need love, men thrive more on accomplishment in the relationship.

When your husband feels successful and able to make you happy he will be more and more encouraged to continue this behavior. This may seem impossible. You may be thinking, “How can I let him know he makes me happy when he isn’t making me happy?”

To accomplish this you need to turn your focus from the negative and be able to reflect back to him, for some time, only the positive aspects of what he is doing for you as a husband. Forget, for a time, the things he is doing “wrong” and focus on and communicate to him the things he is doing “right”.

Does he support you financially? Is he handsome? Does he thank you for the meals you cook? Is he kind to his family? What good qualities does he have that you are thankful for? Why did you first love him? Why did you first marry him? Does he still have some of these qualities? Let him know about these things daily.

It may take some time for you to see some change. It depends on how long you have been married, how long this negative situation has been going on, and how dedicated and sincere you are in trying to change it.

If you can give this some effort and be patient, and give him some time to trust you again and really hear you, he will start to feel safe again in the relationship and will feel free to stop criticizing you and start complimenting you and enjoying your company.

Initially he may not trust what you are saying, or he may be so used to hearing critical things he may not understand what you are saying or really hear you at first. So please be patient and continue. Only the most severe of situations can withstand the force of so much positive energy. If you are able to infuse this relationship with as much positive energy as possible – in as many ways as you can think of – he will be unable to resist the “new mood” of the house and will naturally fall into the new patterns you have created. It may take a little time (1-3 months) but it will happen Insha-Allah.

Understanding Men And Women

Posted in Communication, Marriage Coaching, Marriage Counselling, Tips for a Happy Marriage on January 21, 2010 by Shaz

By Karima K Burns

This is a commonly misunderstood topic between men and women. Men usually state that women complain too much and women usually state that men don’t care about their feelings. However, neither is completely true. Many men do care about their wife’s feelings. However, perhaps not in the same way their wife cares about theirs.

In the world of the female, a woman cares for many people in her household on an emotional level. She is often the one to tuck the children into bed, offer hugs, food for nourishment and general caring and emotional support. Because of this, women often feel it is important to listen to the emotional needs of their family so they can continue this support.

In the male realm, men are also concerned about the needs and feelings of the woman, however, usually in a different way. Men are most likely to judge their wife’s happiness on her physical comfort level rather than her emotional comfort level. This does not mean that he does not care. This simply means that he may not understand how important the emotional level is for her.

If the wife needs emotional support she will often need to ask for it directly. If a wife waits for a husband to understand her emotional need to be close to him when she is upset, she may wait “forever”. However, if she is able to say, “I had a very hard day today could you give me a hug and hold me for a little bit?” then this helps translate her need back into the physical and tangible world that the man is better able to understand. He can easily understand what she wants, can offer than to her and feel he is a success in offering that.

This is also very important for men.

Women usually console people in the family or offer emotional support because they feel this is their duty and it comes naturally to them. In some ways a woman cannot avoid doing this as she is naturally inclined to. She does not feel the need to be successful. However, she does sometimes feel the need to be appreciated.

Men, on the other hand, are not seeking appreciation, as much as they want to feel successful. When a man provides emotional support to a woman he often does not feel successful. Most women will not find the male version of emotional support adequate and will tell the man he is “doing it wrong” or “doesn’t understand her needs” or “said the wrong thing”. This creates insecurity in the men. They want to be successful and to feel they have helped their wife and made her happy. If the man is constantly told he is doing it “wrong” in the emotional realm, he will quite often retreat back into the physical realm where things are easier for him to understand, measure, and deal with.

To help any man be more able to meet the emotional needs of his wife one needs to:

1. Be direct about those needs. He does not have to approach you or “read your mind” or “know your needs” to prove he cares or that he loves you. It is an act of love to perceive someone is in need and to assist them, yes. However, it is also an act of love when someone requests help and you say “yes, I will help you”. So if you have to ask your husband for help, don’t feel badly. When he says, “yes” this is a sign of his love. It is not a sign of anything negative if he does not perceive your needs.

2. Accept what he offers. A man will rarely be able to offer the level of emotional support a woman can. Realize this and accept what he has to offer for what it is. It may not “sound right” or be exactly what you need but if you take it for its intention rather than artistic quality then you may find a real “gem in the rough”. You also need to take the man’s personality into account. Is he usually silent? Then being silent during your time of need is not a lack of caring, it is a normal state for him. He may only be able to say one or two sentences.

3. Encourage him and show him he has succeeded. This will encourage him to continue supporting your emotional needs either in that moment or in the future. Make sure he knows you appreciate what he did. Did he listen? Did he give you a hug? Did he help cook dinner? Did he offer a phrase (however clumsy) in an effort to help you feel better? Be sure to acknowledge what he has offered.

4. Remember that men like to “solve problems”. If you share an emotional need he may try to help you by suggesting solutions. Often, what you want is just to be listened to. Men have a hard time understanding this. They want to solve the problem and make you happy. You can try asking him “just to listen” (although the temptation to solve is too big for most men) or you can simply decide not to share all the details and just skip directly to what you need to help you feel better. Would help around the house be good? Would a hug help? Would chatting in general help? Would going for a walk together help?

If men and women can better understand how the other one sees the world, less resentment will exist and more efforts towards understanding and love can happen.

What Did You Say, Honey?

Posted in Marriage Counselling, Tips for a Happy Marriage on December 31, 2009 by Shaz

Negative Communication Patterns Can Destroy Your Relationship
by Amal Killawi

Communicating effectively is essential for building a happy family.  Effective communication is a skill that should be acquired and practiced regularly because it reduces misconceptions and misunderstandings between family members and helps them avoid conflict.

Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu `alayhi wa sallam – peace be upon him) advised us to be gentle, kind, compassionate, and lenient in our dealings with one another.  On the authority of Aisha (radi Allahu `anha – may Allah be pleased with her), the Messenger of Allah (saw) is reported to have said: “Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all affairs.”  (Bukhari)

Successful communication strengthens the family bond and makes it less likely that issues will spill over into physical abuse.  Communicating effectively begins with the couple.  Regular, poorly handled conflict between parents is difficult on children.

Couples often fall into negative communication patterns if they don’t handle conflict well.  Negative communication patterns can tear marriages and families apart, leading to unhappiness and divorce.  Research has shown that negative patterns and behaviors have a much stronger effect on marriages than the positive ones.  It is estimated that in order to maintain a happy marriage, a couple must engage in five to twenty positives for every negative (Gottman, 1993; Notarius and Markman, 1993).

The four main negative communication patterns are called the Communication Danger Signs.  Couples should prevent or change these patterns if they want to build and maintain a successful marriage.

Communication Danger Sign #1: Escalation
Definition: responding back and forth negatively so that the conflict increases

We often begin talking about an issue calmly.  Then someone says something to upset the other person, who then responds back negatively.  The calm conversation soon escalates into an angry argument full of hurtful comments, loud voices, and intense emotions.

For example, let’s say Sarah returns from a meeting and finds the kitchen to be a mess.  The following conversation might ensue:

Sarah: Ahmad, why don’t you ever clean up after yourself?
Ahmad: (exhausted after making dinner) I was busy making dinner for the kids.  You never clean up after yourself either.
Sarah: (getting upset) What do you mean I never clean up after myself?  I make dinner all the time, and the kitchen doesn’t look like this!  All you did was make a little bit of pasta!
Ahmad: (getting upset too, and becoming sarcastic) Of course!  You’re right; all I did was make some pasta.  I didn’t do anything else.
Sarah: (increasing in intensity) That’s right.  You never do anything else.  I have to do everything around here.  I don’t know what I got from marrying you; just more work and more headaches.
Ahmad: (hurt) Ok, then maybe you shouldn’t have married me!

When we allow arguments to escalate, we say horrible things to each other even if we don’t really mean them.  Unfortunately, some things we say can’t be taken back.  What’s dangerous in the scenario above is that Ahmad and Sarah began talking about the dirty kitchen and ended up questioning their decision to marry each other.    Because they were tired and stressed out, they let their conversation get out of control instead of hearing each other out and resolving a simple issue.

Solution: De-Escalate.

To change the negative pattern of escalation, do the opposite: de-escalate!

  • Soften your tone. Change the way you’re speaking from harsh to calm and kind.
  • Hear and acknowledge the other person’s point of view. Put yourself in your wife’s shoes or your husband’s shoes.  Try to understand where they’re coming from.
  • Give up the need to win. Winning is not going to bring any benefit.
  • Call for a time-out. Agree to talk about it at a later time when everyone is calmer.

So, what could Sarah and Ahmad have done differently?

Sarah: Ahmad, why don’t you ever clean up after yourself?
Ahmad: (exhausted after making dinner) I was busy making dinner for the kids.  You never clean up after yourself either.
Sarah: (softening her tone) Actually, I do clean up.  But I guess you’re pretty tired after work and dinner.
Ahmad: (calming down and acknowledging Sarah’s point of view) I am tired, but I know you hate a dirty kitchen.  Sorry for the mess.  Can you help me clean up later?
Sarah: Sure.  Thanks for making dinner tonight.

The goal is to stop the negative process before it erupts into a full blown, nasty fight.

Communication Danger Sign #2: Invalidation
Definition: putting down the thoughts, opinions, or character of the other

When we talk with our loved ones, sometimes we subtly or directly put down their thoughts, feelings, or character.  We disrespect them by calling them names, questioning their character, and de-valuing their opinions and feelings.

Invalidation can be subtle or extreme.  Examples of subtle invalidation include: “Why can’t you ever do anything right?” or “Someone’s feeling a little insulted.”  Examples of extreme invalidation include: “You’re such a loser” or “We should have you checked into a mental institution.”

Solution: Be Respectful.

The Quran tells us in Surah Al-Hujurat:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (49:11)

  • Treat each other with respect. Give respect. Expect respect.   Remember the famous hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (saw): “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim]
  • Listen and acknowledge the other person’s words and point of view. Even if you don’t agree with everything your wife or husband says, you must still validate their feelings.
  • Do over. When you realize you’ve blown it and said something that hurt the other person, just say: OK, let’s do that over.  Immediately backtrack and talk about it in a different way.

 

Communication Danger Sign #3: Negative Interpretations
Definition: making negative and unfair assumptions about what the other person was thinking

Too often, we engage in mind-reading by making unfair assumptions about the other person’s intentions.  Instead of looking for the positives, we make negative judgments about the other person’s thoughts and behaviors, believing that they purposely meant to hurt us.  Because of negative interpretations we believe the worst instead of the best in each other.

We can do this in two ways:

  1. Verbally: “You did not want my mother to come over, anyway” or “You couldn’t have cared less about what was important to me.”
  2. Unexpressed thoughts which fuel our own anger: “She knows how much that bothers me, but she just keeps on doing it.” “He made me wait on purpose because he’s still angry about yesterday.  How immature!”

Sami engaged in negative interpretations when his wife Amena told him that she wasn’t sure they could visit his parents during Eid.  Amena was concerned about not having the financial means to cover the expenses of the trip, but Sami became extremely angry and assumed that Amena hated his parents and was trying to avoid spending time with them.

Interestingly, children learn to do this as well from their parents.  For example, when Omar hit his brother Musa, Musa said, “I know Omar did it on purpose!  It wasn’t an accident.”  Everything is seen as intentional and personal.

Solution: Fight Back (against Negative Interpretations).

The Quran also tells us in Surat Al-Hujurat:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful. (49:12)

  • Assume the best, not the worst.
  • Give the other person excuses. Give them the benefit of the doubt.  We all know the following saying: “Try to find up to seventy reasons for your brother/sister, and if you can’t, then say, “Maybe he has an excuse that I am not aware of!”
  • Look for evidence to the contrary. Think of all the times the source of unhappiness didn’t happen or wasn’t true.
  • Stay positive!

Communication Danger Sign #4: Avoidance and Withdrawal
Definition: unwillingness to engage in or stay with important discussions

Sometimes, we think it’s easier if we ignore the problem or end difficult conversations as soon as possible.  During a discussion, we might withdraw by getting up and leaving the room, becoming quieter and then not talking, or agreeing quickly to some suggestion without any intention of following through.  Sometimes, we might avoid the issue by preventing the conversation from happening in the first place.  We can do that by changing the subject, not being available to talk, or just saying the subject isn’t important to talk about.  Usually, one person pushes the issue while the other tries to avoid it or pull out if it.

There are some gender differences.  Not always, but most commonly, men tend to withdraw and women tend to pursue.  Many men will abstain from discussing issues because they don’t want to get into a fight.  They will withdraw and try to get away, while women will “turn up the volume” and try harder to get a response.

For example, Halima walks up to her husband Yusuf and says, “I really want to talk to you about helping around the house.”  Yusuf tries to avoid the discussion and says, “I can’t talk about anything right now.  I have to leave to the masjid.”  Meanwhile, he’s looking for his keys.  His wife becomes annoyed and says, “You never can talk about it,  but I have to have some help.”  Yusuf insists that he can’t talk, so his wife becomes angry and begins to yell.  Yusuf becomes quiet and walks out the door.

Solution: Change the Cycle.

  • Start a discussion gently and calmly.
  • Don’t push the issue.  If the other person starts to withdraw, then….
  • Set aside a new time for the discussion.
  • Talk with each other about the fact that avoiding a problem won’t make it go away

In the example above, Halima might have approached her husband during a better time and could have said instead, “We have to talk about this sometime.  If you can’t talk about it now, what time would be better?”  Similarly, Yusuf would have been better off making time to discuss the issue instead of ignoring it, as the problem would most likely never disappear and instead cause resentment in his wife’s heart.

Conflict is inevitable, but we can change our communication patterns.

Conflict is an inevitable part of the human experience.  How we choose to handle conflict will impact whether our relationships with our spouses and families are positive or negative.  During any type of conflict, it is helpful to do the following:

1. Recognize the four Communication Danger Signs:

  • Escalation
  • Invalidation
  • Negative Interpretations
  • Avoidance and Withdrawal

2. Stop.  Call for a time out.

3. Do something healthy to calm yourself down.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) provided us with the following strategies when feeling angry:

  • Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan.
  • Change your position. As recommended in a hadith, if you’re angry while standing, sit down.  If you’re still angry, lay down.
  • Perform wudu. As counseled in a hadith, “Anger is from Shaytan, and Shaytan is created from fire, and fire is extinguished by water; so if one of you become angry, let him perform wudu.” [Abu Dawood]
  • Remain silent.

4. Call for “Time In” to finish the discussion safely.

When we are upset, we often don’t share what we are really thinking and instead say something to win or hurt the other person.  To prevent this during a conversation, let us ask ourselves: “What is it that I want to accomplish?”  If our goal isn’t to resolve the issue, then engaging in the four negative patterns will work well in destroying our relationships.

However, if our goal is to strengthen our relationships and move forward positively, then we need to counteract the four danger signs with effective communication that will allow us to express our concerns to one another in a gentle and respectful manner

May Allah (swt) help us in communicating effectively, and may He strengthen our families

This material was adapted from the leading divorce-prevention/marriage enhancement program called PREP© (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program), and the corresponding book 12 Hours to a Great Marriage by Markman and Stanley.

When It Comes to Marriage, Know Your Real Enemy

Posted in Marriage Coaching, Marriage Counselling, Tips for a Happy Marriage on December 17, 2009 by Shaz

(instead of turning on each other, turn together to face your eternal foe) Sadia Yunus

THE ARGUING BACK and forth ceased, him starting at the floor, tears rolling down her cheeks. “Why is this happening? She asked herself, too scared to say a word. It seemed like a nightmare, but she knew it was too much of a reality. She and her husband had just had the worst fight in all of their six years of marriage. Images of good times kept flooding her mind in those bitter, silent moments. “But, wait!” she thought. Something inside her gave her strength to speak: “Satan is probably really happy right now. He gets the happiest when a husband and wife fight like this.” She waited a few moments. He remained silent, so she went on. “Why are we fighting in each other? We should both be working together to fight Satan, because he’s our eternal enemy, not each other.” For a miraculous moment, truth came to light, and they both instantly understood their goal-to strive together with all their might to fight their common enemy. About this very fact, the Quran says: “Indeed, Satan is a clear enemy to man” (12:5). Our Lord and Sustainer, who knows us better than we know ourselves, has made it plain to us exactly who our foe is. Should we not then make Satan our adversary? Knowing who our enemy is makes it easier to oppose him. But who said fighting Satan is easy? The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Indeed, Satan runs (unnoticed) through the veins of the son of Adam as does his blood” (Bukhari). Fighting so stealthy and determined an enemy may seem impossible, but if we take Allah as our ally, our struggle to defeat Satan’s whispers is not only doable but divinely guaranteed. But it takes knowing-knowing Satan and knowing what God has provided for us to prevail in this lifelong fight. Married couples must understand that Satan’s ultimate goal and highest priority is to dissolve marriages and break up families. This best serves his aim of leading individuals and all social institutions into harm’s way. If you doubt it, just look around you no matter where you are. Satan’s plain is simple and evil. The idea is to go after one of the strongest and most safeguarding of human bonds and make it useless. For marriage is the “binding contact” which God describes in the Quran, as meethaqan ghaleedha, ” a most solemn covenant” (4:21), something so essentially firm that breaking it is extraordinarily bad. To do this, Satan uses his top soldiers and rewards the successful with the best he can. The Prophet (PBUH), said: “Iblees (Satan) has his throne above the water ( at sea) and sends forth his detachments. The closest of them to him (at day’s end) are those who cause the greatest trial. One of them comes back to him and says: ‘I did such and such. Satan replies: “You’ve done nothing.’ Then another comes to him and says: ‘I did not leave him along until I caused division between him and his wife…… So Satan draws him close and says: “Well done!”(Muslim). My mother tells me this hadeeth should raise hope in all married couples because it confirms to them where the real issues are. It allows them to show more love, ease, and mercy to one another and to save all their fighting capacity for what is truly harmful and a common threat to their sacred love, beautiful home, and earnestly established family. The good news is that Allah is with you. You will have to do the work, but if you strive to get through the hard times with patience and a strong will to defeat Satan together, as a couple, you will do so, by the permission of Allah. As for Satan, it seems the odds are against him. Not only is it two against one, but Allah is your ally-and most assuredly the alliance of God-it is they who are the truly successful (58:22). (Courtesy: Al Jumuah Magazine)

The Household Chores And The Husband!

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Marriage Counselling on December 3, 2009 by Shaz

Question:

As salamu aalikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!
Our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was a great leader, a great teacher, a great preacher, a Prophet, and he still had time and the mood to be a great husband. Why is it so difficult for men to be cooperative with their wives in house chores?

I’m a housewife, but I work as well at a company (temporarily at home as a freelancer). I love my husband very much, al hamdu Lillah, and generally I’m happy with our married life; however, I think it could be improved, insha-Allah.

Sometimes I can’t stop feeling that my two only functions is to clean the house (clothes, cooking, etc.) and satisfy him. Although I feel I’m right, sometimes, I also feel guilty because of that. I want to believe that a woman can be more than that! True! Because of the lack of cooperation and these feelings, I have started to become lazy with my house chores. I think it could be a lot easier for both of us if there was more cooperation, and I mean cooperation! I don’t want my husband to do all the chores, just to help sometimes. Whenever I request him, timidly, he gives “the annoyed look” and does some other chore that I didn’t ask him to do.

Answer:

Hwaa Irfan

As salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh dear sister…

Yes, Prophet Muhammed was a great leader, teacher, preacher, and husbands who helped with the household chores too, but guess what? There is only one Prophet Muhammed (SAW). We can always compare what we have with role models and make ourselves pretty miserable. If everyone had the same experiences, and learnt in the same manner, and applied themselves in the same way to all aspects of life, it would be very dull life do you not think? Al hamdu Lillah, Allah (SWT), got it right on our behalf, and provided us with variety. As much as 20th century man has tried to make everything the same between the sexes, somehow in real terms, it just does not quite translate! The reason why it does not translate is because we as humans like to re-write the rules without considering the consequences.

What was the above all about you might be thinking sister. Well, it would seem that because you go out to work, and you work at home as well you expect your husband to do the same. However, Allah (SWT) did not design the whole creation thing in that way, and made husbands and fathers the providers as stated in the Qur’an. This does not mean that only men can go out to provide, it means that it is their responsibility to provide. For wives it is a choice Islamically speaking, albeit that there might be a decision by both husband and wife that the wife should/could go out to work.

What your husband earns is for the benefit of the family, and what you as the wife earns is at your discretion. If your income is for the benefit of the family, it is because it is a decision made by the both of you. Having no knowledge of what your husband’s occupation is, in general men do like to return to the sanctuary of home which should balance out the demands of the outside world.

Before you blow steam, yes, you too have a demanding job both at home and at work. However, do you carry over the work mind set into the home? For example, if you have people working with you and under you, do you talk to your husband in the same manner in which you talk to them. Your day may be full of a set of instructions and orders in order to keep on top of the work, but by the time you return home, that social psychology should be left at the company you work for. When you arrive home you should be the wife, the friend, the sister who your husband looks forward to being with at the end of his working day. To enable this you too have to slow down. Yes, there are many things to be done when one gets home, but if you go at it the same way you do at work, there will be no difference for you or for your husband.

Take a look at the things you do when you get home and make a list of them all, then prioritize them. The colour code them into most important, less important, and can wait. The chores that need to be done every evening (most important), look at them again, and see how you can schedule you in! Schedule you in? Yes, by doing this you will provide yourself with the opportunity to unwind, to slow down, and to relax enough to be there for yourself, and for your husband. Less important tasks can be set for 2/3 time weekly, and least important once-a-week. 

  • Take that long shower or a hot bath, put some nice smelling oils in, then put on something comfortable.

 

  • Do your prayers on time, and give thanks for what you have.

 

  • Make du’aa’ that you will always understand and appreciate each other

 

  • Prepare the kind of meal that is good for the both of you, but does not require you to be in the kitchen all throughout.

 

  • Prepare the meal based on what you have. This helps to avoid unnecessary panic for an ingredient which results in a tiresome stint to the shops.

 

  • If your husband is present and has had some time to unwind, invite him to share in the preparation of the meal with you. The time could be used to talk about light subjects, and even share laughter.

 

  • While the meal is cooking, relax and do some reading. If your husband is home, sit and talk with him – share your day, or talk about something more interesting to the both of you.

 

  • The washing does not have to be done every day.

 

  • The cleaning can be kept to a minimum, especially if the home is not cluttered with furniture and furnishings.

 

  • Anything you need you husbands help in invite him e.g. “Could you help me to…” which goes much farther than an order.

 

  • Invite your husband into the kitchen to help set the table, dish out the meal, etc., with you.

 

  • Allow for each the time for a little privacy or quiet moment.

 

  • Shop for a week instead every time you run out of something. This can be done together, take turns, or he is responsible for certain types of shopping, and you other types of shopping.

 

  • With time on your hands, you might even be able to visit a friend, a relative, or attend an event together.

 

  • Most importantly, do not do the same thing every evening, otherwise routine will get the better of your marriage.

 

  • Always ensure that there is something that you can both do together.

 

Dear sister, have a happy life!

Jazakum Allahu khayrun…

Surviving Infidelity

Posted in Marriage Counselling, Sexual Issues on November 17, 2009 by Shaz

Question:

Hi, I’m a Muslim woman who has been married for 14 years. I have three children. I have been searching for a long time for an answer to an aching problem that has prevented me from being happy in my marriage. All throughout our marriage my husband has cheated on me. The last time was when I was pregnant with my last child 3 years ago. This has made me severely depressed. I have tried to understand him and forgive him yet I cannot.
I am now at the point whereby no matter what he does I cannot get over his cheating, so I want to leave. He does not want to separate. My mind tells me to leave him as he has caused me so much pain, but my heart feels sorry for him. I am confused. How can I ever find happiness in my life if I decide to stay with him? I have turned to God, and I try to pray and pass my days using Islam as a way of survival, but the pain is too great. I just can’t forgive him.

Answer by:

Hwaa Irfan

As salamu ‘alaykum sister…

 

It could not have been easy for you to cope without knowing where it will a

all end. Infidelity is a form if betrayal, which undermines the level of trust one has in another. Trust is the basis on which we as human beings can have enough confidence in one another which leads to a feeling of security. Without that level of security in a marital relationship, we are less able to develope the level of mutual respect, compassion, and commitment that is required to nurture and build a marriage on. These factors are important foundations to a marriage which provides the basis on which to raise children, who will then be more likely to develope positive attributes on which to form their level of trust, self respect, self worth, and the ability to form healthy relations in their lives.

 

In addition to the above qualities, one of most important skills a human being can have is the ability to cope, and rise above the challenges that we as human beings will face in life. In fact, it is not so much what has happened that make us go onto to having the necessary inner resilience, it is how we react that can undermine, or strengthen us as human beings, and our ability to make the most of our lives, and our relationship with our faith is one of those essential tools. When we react negatively to what is presented to us, and that reaction becomes all consuming, we rob our selves of our coping mechanisms, our creativity, our agility, and our own intuition, all of which if not undermined, can lead us consciously towards redeeming and learning from a situation that presents itself.

 

For 14 years, you have been exposed to a situation, which seemed to have put the final ‘nail in the coffin’ when you was pregnant. How betrayed you must have felt at a time you were going through the process of cementing the relationship further by carrying for 9 months something special from the both of you. It may have felt as if your husband did not even respect the gift that you had created together of which your body was the vehicle. By holding onto that hurt, your ability to heal has been arrested, and as much as you have tried throughout the years to forgive, your attachment to those feelings prevents that from being a possibility. Your unconditional self may feeling sorry for him, but your unconditional self cannot. This may have been the ongoing conflict you have struggled with for so long, of which the conditional self has won! It has won over you, over your children, and over your marriage, leaving you unable to learn from the lessons of life, and the skills one developes in the process.

 

We do not go into marriage as perfect people, we go into marriage as people who have the opportunity to enrich our lives from the jihad an nafs (struggle with the self) of marriage. This why marriage is so important in Islam, because it is the only social mechanism that can teach  us how to rise to our better selves via the mechanisms of compassion, taking responsibility, self sacrifice, and how to access the higher self through commitment. The mundane way in which we approach marriage today has become a series of conditional agreements based on manipulation, control, exploitation – all of which limits our potential as human beings, and therefore the society in which we live. In so doing, we never really learn how to give to each other, to share, and to want the best for one another. When we grow up in such an atmosphere, we also learn to repeat the pattern. We may learn to ‘mask’ this disappointment by separating emotionally, and live under the same roof cordially. Even in doing so, we have failed to do what we as human beings are supposed to do, as determined by the higher laws of nature – i.e. to transmute!

 

Your husband, despite his inability to take control of his weaknesses, knows one thing that he does not want to separate from you. He has allowed his lower self to control him, just as you have allowed your reaction to his weaknesses to control you leading to a ‘lose-lose’ situation. If in that process, the strength he needed from you to stop was caught up with the hurt, the wisdom needed for him to mature as your husband. This is of course not helped by the hypocritical social values, which allows a young man to do as he pleases, yet regardless, your husband pays the price, but it is a price that is accepted or has become accepted in societal terms. Obviously you do not accept that ‘price’ because you and the children have become a part of that ‘price’, and if you stay together continually hurting each other that price will have been paid, and if you divorce that price will also have been paid. Equally, you cannot ‘hold him to ransom’ because by doing that, the price will still be paid.

 

If you had made a decision about your marriage, I doubt that you would have written to us. Yes, you want to leave, but is it because you just want to stop the pain? Is that not enough of a reason you might be thinking, and yes it is if you really want to end the marriage, and if you are unable to rise above the pain.

 

Let us take it that deep down inside, you want to continue with the marriage. Consider:

 

  1. It was three years ago that your husband had an affair. It was while you were pregnant. As painful as it may seem, can you look back and notice when your husband had an affair? Is there a particular situation that gives rise to him doing this?

 

  1. Sometimes, we make the kind of sacrifices in marriage that do more harm than good. By this I mean through how we have been raised, especially as women, some of us are made to feel that we have to be submissive, unquestioning, and selfless. In the process we become weaker and vulnerable, and unable to challenge the situation. Some men are caught between a desire for this type of women, and a woman who has the kind of character that helps free them, not entrap them in their bad habits.

 

  1. Some husbands feel neglected in the presence of children, or when a wife is pregnant because for whatever reason they have not matured beyond that boyish self indulgence.

 

  1. Your husband’s self perception as a man before marriage was confronted with a role after marriage, which he felt he was not up to, or feared that he might fail in.

 

  1. Your husband was not ready for the realities of fatherhood, or never learnt from his natal family what it means to be a father

 

  1. That despite your sacrifices, your husband is actually realizing what is important to him, and that now he needs your help to become a living reality.

 

  1. That you need to appreciate yourself more, so that your husband can in turn appreciate you more

 

  1. Have you ever criticized him to the extent that he feels overwhelmed? This is called “flooding” and results in distorted listening to what is said, an inability to organize their thoughts, and falling back on primitive instincts, particularly in men.

 

One or some of the above may be applicable to your marriage. Not all of the above will you have to comprehend by yourself, and one or two of the above can be discussed with your husband in an open, warm-hearted discussion which can help to form the kind of mutual agreement, which can lay a new foundation on which to build your marriage. However, in order to do that, the hurt within you needs to be healed.

 

  • Try to find a friend you can talk to, or a counselor. If this proves difficult for you for whatever reason, a notebook where you can write everything you feel down can be just as useful.

 

  • There are always valuable lessons from anything that happens, so look at what you written, or reflect with a friend/counselor on what you have shared, and hunt out the valuable lessons you have learned.

 

  • Do the same with the bad things you have learned

 

  • With the valuable lessons, write them down in a separate diary as a source for you to refer to whenever you forget.

 

  • With the negative things you have learned write them down too, each on a separate sheet.

 

  • With the negative things you have written down, takes the pieces of paper, set a small fire in the outdoors somewhere, and as a part of the process of letting go, take each hurt, and say goodbye to them as you drop each piece of paper (hurt) in the fire.

 

  • Forgive yourself

 

  • Forgive Him

 

  • Seek forgiveness from Allah (SWT), for not being up to the challenge – not because you have done anything wrong.

 

  • From the good lessons, begin to appreciate this is a valuable spiritual lesson, which can help retrain the mind, and the brain as well.

 

  • Invite change into your life

 

 

To forgive and forget is easier said than done, because when we are hurt deeply by the one we love over a period of time. Women go into marriage as emotional managers, and men have to learn this skill. Women are attuned to the problems, whereas men are not. Where your marriage is at now, your husband is slowly becoming more in tuned. This means that new lines of communication need to be opened through which you can learn about each other’s needs, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, so that you can understand one another better.

 

  1. Learn to listen and talk with one another about everyday experiences, and how one feels about those experiences as opposed to specific issues

 

  1. Learn to listen and talk to one another without being defensive. You can help each other to do this, by giving each other the permission to say “Oh that’s a bit defensive”, and the other would say “Oh! I didn’t mean to be”. In this way you give each other cues, which help to make each other more aware of the undertones of the conversation. If however one finds that the other is exploiting this situation, call for time out, and then explain: “When you did ‘A’, it made me feel ‘B’, and I would prefer if you did ‘C’. This would then give the other spouse the option to do say “Well ‘C’ is difficult for me because…” 

 

These two steps take time to establish, but once done, all the good is waiting to happen insha-Allah.

 

Remember:

 

{ And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from among yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect} (Ar-Rum 30: 21)