Archive for the Tips for a Happy Marriage Category

The Five Languages of Love

Posted in Love, Marriage Coaching, The Prophet and his Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on February 19, 2010 by Shaz

By Maria Zain

Marriage and family life expert Dr. Gary Chapman explains that each one of us speaks one or more of five different languages of love. The “Love Languages”, he says, refer to how we perceive that we are loved by the people around us.

Chapman categorizes the five languages into: 1) quality time, 2) services, 3) gifts, 4) positive affirmations, and 5) touch. He explains that every person speaks one dominant language, but also speaks one or two other languages of love at the same time. Tuning into one’s spouse, child, or family in general, and understanding their needs would be more effective when one is able to identify each person’s love language.

For example, a mother may identify that one of her children is acting out mainly because she is neglecting his love language of “quality time”. By identifying his love language, she will be able to tune into his needs more effectively by allocating more quality time with that one child.

Similarly, a husband may find that a rift in his marriage is being caused by him not understanding his wife’s language of love. If he realizes that her love language is, for example, services, he can then show appreciation and affection towards her by helping out with the housework, groceries, and chores.

Islam speaks of love in the highest regard. Allah (God) is known as the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful, and through those traits, showers His Grace upon human beings. Thus, it is no wonder that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a person of compassion and empathy like no other. He was continuously surrounded by people whom he loved dearly and who shared that mutual affection.

By reading through his biography, especially concerning his relationships with his loved ones, we can see that he spoke each of Chapman’s five languages of love, depending on who he was dealing with. This article will be looking at each of the five languages of love by providing a few examples of how this was shown throughout Prophet Muhammad’s life.

Spending Quality Time Together

Prophet Muhammad used to spend time with his comrades, laughing and joking. He made light of difficult situations and reminded his friends that it was also important to indulge in leisurely activities, as long as they did not contradict Islamic practices.

He was known to have played games with his wife Aishah, including racing her around open compounds, and watching performances together, such as an Ethiopian traditional dance during Eid. Besides this, he was always surrounded by Muslims in the mosque, wishing to ask questions about Islam.

Unlike other religious men who have been perceived as hermits, Prophet Muhammad was incredibly sociable, and welcomed many strangers to ask questions and participate in the Muslim community’s activities. They, in turn, became very attached to Prophet Muhammad and were further honored to spend even more time with him in attempts to emulate his practices and behavior.

He also made it a point to spend time with the Muslim youth, including his own children, grandchildren and other relatives. His relationship with his daughters such as Fatimah and Zainab was punctuated with special moments together. He also spent a lot of his time, even during congregational prayers, with his grandchildren: Al-Hassan, Al-Hussein, and Umamah, amongst others.

Providing Sincere Acts of Services

Islam’s recognition of leadership does not only involve making good decisions for the followers, but also to provide services for them. Much like a politician is required to serve his people, the husband and the father, as leader of a household, is also required to take care of his wife and his children by meeting their needs and sharing their burden of duties.

Prophet Muhammad used to busy himself in helping out with the household chores and even mended his own sandals and garments to avoid inflicting burdens upon his wives and daughters. (Al-Bukhari)

Men need to be reminded that although many women generally take care of the home, there are many rewards for helping out around the house too.

Services towards children in Islam can be seen as raising them with good manners, character, and providing them with the best, most well-rounded education possible. This is, of course, in addition to providing for their daily multiple needs.

Giving Gifts to Loved Ones

Islam praises the giving of gifts to each other, as long as they are not lewd in nature, or considered wasteful. Even before marriage, prospective bridegrooms are reminded that it is obligatory to give a marriage gift to the bride as a sign of appreciation for her and the relationship she is committing to. Additionally, the couple is encouraged to buy presents for each other as part of the wedding ceremony, and to pursue joy in doing so well into the marriage.

Prophet Muhammad also encouraged parents to be fair when presenting gifts to their children. At one instance, he refused to witness a father giving a gift only to one son and not to his other children. He was also seen to have presented an onyx necklace to Umamah, his beloved granddaughter.

He would often accept gifts himself and share them amongst his friends, and he was also known to give gifts to non-Muslim friends and neighbors to instill the good values of tolerance and respect between religions.

Sharing Positive Affirmations

Lying is generally forbidden in Islam. However, because of Islam’s strong emphasis on practicality, lying is allowed in three very specific circumstances. One of those circumstances is when spouses are expressing love to one another. This means that a husband and wife can express undying love towards each other — even if they don’t necessarily mean it — as long as it is with the intention of strengthening the relationship.

For example, a husband may tell his wife that he loves her more than anyone on earth, where in actual fact this is untrue for Muslims, as Allah and Prophet Muhammad always come first for Muslims. However, this positive affirmation towards a spouse is permissible and, in fact, encouraged in Islam.

Positive affirmations provide a support system and encouragement for spouses to pursue what is in their best interest according to Islamic principles. Unwavering support and encouragement was a strength of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Prophet Muhammad’s first wife.

A popular quote by Prophet Muhammad that lived on many years after her death was: “She believed in me when no one else did; she accepted Islam when people rejected me; and she helped and comforted me when there was no one else to lend me a helping hand.” (Al-Bukhari)

It was very much through Khadijah’s support that Islam spread so strongly within the first decade of its introduction and from there the strongest bond of love was formed.

Showing Love Through Touch

The importance of showing love through touch is relayed by a Quranic verse that says what means:

{They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.} (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

In this verse, spouses are likened to something as close to oneself as the clothes that one wears. This verse conveys many meanings, but one of them is the importance of touch in a relationship. Garments lie immediately on our skin, providing warmth and protection. This is very much like a spouse’s touch.

Prophet Muhammad often talked about the importance of intimacy and gestures of affection between husband and wife. He himself was known to rest his head on Lady Aishah’s lap when he felt tired, and in fact, he was in that position when he passed away.

Touch is also an important way to show affection towards children. Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah, relayed that her father would hold her hands and kiss her, and always welcome her into the room when she visited him. Fatimah would reciprocate the gesture for him too. Her sons were no less familiar to their grandfather’s embrace as they would snuggle on his lap while he supplicated to Allah to shower and bless them with His love.

Love God and Love Your Spouse

Loving one’s spouse is an important tenet in Islam, as the family unit represents an important cornerstone of the faith. Each family begins with a husband and wife, who then later become parents. In order for a marriage to flourish, it is important to remind each other about the importance of loving Allah. From then on, it becomes natural to love each other, to tune into each other’s unique needs and expectations.

Understanding the five languages of love is a great way to do this.

When spouses tune into each other, they are able to develop healthier relationships with each other, their children, their extended family, friends, neighbors, and the whole community. Learn of each other’s love languages, communicate using them, and let the love for Allah flourish even more.

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)

Break up to Make Up

Posted in Tips for a Happy Marriage on November 24, 2009 by Shaz

Have A Break to Revive Your Marriage!

Huda Gamal Al-Deen

What is the ‘break’, is the break to maintain a healthy marital relationship. A Break in a relationship could have a positive outcome for some of us, if one wants to avoid a ‘break up’.

 *-*-*-*-*
 

My first time to hear about the notion of a ‘break’ in a marital relationship was from a friend of mine who was newly married. My friend was joining us on a 3 day trip. I could not hide my astonishment when I found her joining us on her own. She had only been married for a year at this point and I thought it only logical to see them as a married couple. I did not discuss the issue with her, as I thought that there must have been a kind of personal problem between her and her husband. I was sure that my speculations were right when on the first day of the trip she did not receive any phone call from her husband.

By the second day, I noticed that my friend was on a pretty long phone call, and it was very obvious that she was enjoying that conversation, while walking on the beach at sunset.  I knew then that she was talking to her husband.  I decided to go ahead and ask her directly, why her husband did not join us on the trip? I was surprised when she told me that her husband was with his friend on a three day trip, and I was astonished when she told me that they were having a ‘break’.

For a while, the word ‘break’ sounded so strange to me, it was more like ‘break-up’ or something else with a very negative meaning. I asked my friend about the meaning of the ‘break’.

A Way to Breathe Life into the Marriage

She told me that the ‘break’ is a healthy way to revive, strengthen, and give life to the marriage. My friend, who was taking the advice of a marriage counselor, as her marriage was not working out well lately. She said she had started to get bored with marital life, and lots of problems were creeping into their marriage.

After trying lots of unworkable methods to control the constant arguing and quarreling, her counselor told her that this is the right time for both of them to have a ‘break’.  A ‘break’ whereby each of them can calm down, relax, think alone, and get their energy back to continue the marriage in a calmer manner. 

I contacted my friend later after the trip, and she said that al hamdu Lillah things were going better between her and her husband. She told me that the ‘break’ gave both of them the time and space they needed to get rid of their personal loads, think clearly, and honestly evaluate themselves as partners in this marriage. Each partner is responsible for the success of this valuable marital relationship. She also said that the ‘break’ made them both long for each other,  a feeling that they both have not enjoyed for such a long time, due to the wear and tear of everyday routine.

There are some concepts you may need to make a use of. A successful ‘break’, as I figured out applied in the wrong way could seriously lead to a tragic ‘break-up’.

Make sure that it’s the right way: The first thing you should know about the ‘break’, is that it’s not always the right way to solve the problems between married couples. That is why taking the decision to ‘break’ should be based on a marriage counselor’s direct advice, and with both the partners approving. When taking a ‘break’, both partners should be involved and should enjoy the break. This means that each must have a time off in the way he/she would prefer.

Willingly not forcibly: If a partner decided ,after consulting with the counselor, that the ‘break’ is needed to heal their relationship, he/she should firstly take their partner’s permission.   A ‘break’, is not a decision that you can take on your own, and then force your partner to accept. It is a decision that needs both of the partners to sit together and discuss whether it is the right solution to the problem or not. If one partner sharply refuses the ‘break’ concept, the partner in favour, if not able to persuade, should review the idea and be patient. Then they should try to search for more workable solutions that would suit both of them.

A pause not a separation: When taking the ‘break’, both should keep in mind that it is only a temporary stop to think quietly and clearly. The ‘break’ is only a method that can lead to solving the joint unsolved problems between couples, thus it is important for both partners to remain in touch with each other. It’s not a ‘break up’ or separation period, but a pause. Marital life should resume in a healthy manner.

To think not to run away: Some couples do treat the break period as if it is a period to run away from marital problems.  Nobody can deny that the break can give both partners time to unload the daily stresses of life, but marriage is a responsibility.   

Use the time to think about solutions and methods to make marital life more balanced. If both consider the ‘break’ as only a vacation from their marriage, their unresolved problems will remain the same when they both come back together. The ‘break’ is not only to relax it is an opportunity to think. 

Short not long: As some old words of wisdom say “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, the long term ‘break’ is the shortest way to ‘break-up’. The affective ‘breaks’ are those short periods ‘break’, which only make a couple longing for each other.

There’s no specific duration of a successful ‘break’, as it mainly depends on a couple’s personal needs and nature.  For those who experienced a successful ‘break’, the acceptable period never passes a week.

The most important thing to realize at the end is that, the ‘break’ is only a suggested method to heal your marital problems, and it is not always the right solution.  A warm discussion, an outing together, or straightforwardness could be more effective than the ‘break’ in some cases. You as a couple are the best to decide the right way to solve your problems, and how to sail your marital ship safely on the rough sea of life.

Forgotten considerations before embarking on a marriage

Posted in Marriage Coaching, Tips for a Happy Marriage on November 3, 2009 by Shaz

Divorce looms before a new marriage has begun on a number of accounts. The world wide number of divorce is ever increasing. Compatibility is the main fault found in this issue and from it comes concerns of communication, understanding and often misguidance. Choosing, maintaining, and creating a sensible, realistic marriage is difficult when for most of us we have in-built expectations, requirements and needs from a marriage that create a sense of new wants. In short, why should there be any changes from the way you live and fend for yourself now in comparison to when you’re married, in terms of your morality, way of living and your needs? On searching the world with lowered gaze and modesty, finding that perfect someone can seem a daunting affair in many aspects. The truth is that searching for a special someone on your own is considered in many cultures and traditions as something to be frowned upon and it hits the hearts of ‘forbidden’ love marriages. But who really adheres happily to the concept of arranged marriages with complete contentment and passion of its acceptance in today’s society? In trying to raise some discussion on this topic, it may seem a little blunt to sate that arranged marriages are mutating into ‘forced’ marriages or marriages that are consented to on a basis of ‘terms’, based solely on the families needs. Meaning needs due to illness of parents, aging of grand parents, political or for cultural respect at home and in the community etc…. Marrying someone should be to achieve unity and progression in life along with growth and development of Imaan. Not just for the current situational basis of a marriage, or for those involved in the union at time of its engagement. Hence why it is in some respect important to find the conflicting qualities, finding the wants and needs of the two people before anything is consented to, so their is a surety that it will work, taking into account some compromises that may be needed. However, is it possible in an Islamic way to achieve this without compromising Sharia and involving any haram? While under the careful watch of peers or in the presence of guardians? Most appreciated way would be ‘free speech’ between the two potentials, this way their is no need to doctor your answers and have freedom to express with true expressions to better check for real compatibility.. yet this too delves into the realms of forbidden pre-marital relationships and the awakening of potential sins looms between the two involved… In all honesty its the mentality of today’s society that are causing so many cases of divorce. Young girls and guys are taking advantage of the western society’s morals and abusing their rights to ‘move on’, get a divorce and re-marry due to their mistaken expectations and unexpected reality checks after marriage, due their lack of acknowledgment of the realities before any talks take place. Those who find pre-marital love can be questioned into asking if they are sure that love and compatibility is what has given them a reason to get married? After all it’s not only the happy times of the outings, the surprises and the laughter that keeps a marriage strong but how the couples manage the lows, how the arguments are diffused and how the problems are solved efficiently. Is marriage taken seriously enough to think about these issues that cause the real cracks before it is embarked on? Are couples avoiding this discussion in the hope that they never arise and thus opening up the action plan to counteract the issues if they are faced with as only seen as pessimistic and somewhat a bad omen at the start of embarking on a new beginning of a new marriage? Many fall into the danger of pre marital relationships, whereby they develop outside marriage, and build on those circumstances, and they are deceived in thinking that the ‘happy’ relationship which they are maintaining is the true reflection of what their marriage will entail. Yet, they fail to consider the fundamental aspects of a marriage – family, culture, roles and responsibilities, expectations, compromises – which all awaken once entered into the marriage, and comes as a shock to the couple as they became settled in their circumstances of their relationship. Then which when couples’ expectations aren’t been met, and communication breaks down, it leads to repression, and resentment, which is big danger within a marriage, as arguments arise over small – what may seem petty – issues, which is only due to the bigger problems which have been repressed, mistakes and hurt feelings are sweeped under the carpet and it gets to the stage where the couple can no longer find the cause to disputes, and issues are blown out of proportion. Islam only reiterates the truest forms of maintaining a marriage and making it a success, after all Prophet (peace be upon him), advised men to view their prospective wives and advise that meeting or talking with her is good practice to ensure that you do have the compatibility. To keep this Halal in aspects doesn’t mean avoiding contact but discussing ways to avoid Zina. It creates awareness between them and thus means of avoidance can be increased as long as you observe the boundaries of gender etiquette. In today’s society and across the world online chat and instant messaging texting and emails are seen as best mean for communication but it is uncontrolled or monitored and more likely to cause the couple to drift. Talking on the phone in front of guardians would be best suited. A woman’s voice is not awrah (difference of opinion amongst scholars), and there is nothing wrong with calling your fiancée, provided that you have her family’s permission, and that she talks to you in the presence of her mahrams. After all if you’re planning to spend the rest of your lives together, then communication and discussion is needed. However saying this why create a relationship before marriage in first place? Why experience this in an environment where you have no boundaries, in a world where no one else but the two potentials exists? It creates too much complacency and is sometimes, difficult to adapt to the involvement of family life after marriage. Generating new ideas are fine at the start of a new marriage and conversing about a future is becoming ever popular in a new couples itinery but most forget to include variables that are most likely to slow their progress or cause the ideas to fade away. These include family involvement, view points and opinions of elders and friends and those with perspectives on life that have worked for them. No matter what information is intertwined with the new plans of the newly weds one forgets that no two couple are the same and what worked before may or may not work again due to a new age, different families and differences and change in culture and traditions. Islam helps overcome the potential disasters, the Prophet (saw) advised to seek the pious when searching for a spouse. Its importance cannot be emphasized enough. The great advice in which he (saw) left us, already gives us the guidelines of what we should seek in a potential spouse. To marry for the sake of the deen, outlines for both potentials, the roles and responsibilities, it gives a sense of security, and lays out the boundaries. It enables them to help compromise if any differences arise, and any routes in which shaytaan can mislead them by, if one fears Allah, then one will think twice about their action. If they love each other for the sake of Allah, then inevitably any hiccups which may arise, they will forgive and overlook differences for the sake of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are garments for you and you are garments for them.” [Qur’an, 2.187] Commentary note 195, page 75, The Meaning of the Holy Quran ‘Abdullah Yusuf Ali: ’Men and women are each other’s garments i.e. they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection, fitting into each other as a garment fits the body. A garment also is both for show and concealment. The way it should be perceived is, as individuals we have to strive to reach the ultimate goals of reaching Jannah and to seek the pleasure of Allah. This should not cease after a marriage but rather continue coexisting with the goals of a marriage. Life is a journey to reach these goals where by individually it can be perceived that the vehicle for the journey is your own soul spending time in the Dunya searching for the pleasure of Allah and for entrance to Jannah and is fuelled by self improvement and development. However as with any journey you can pick up dirt along the way in the form of sins and bad deeds which need washing from your soul, which is done by purification of the heart. Similarly in the journey of a couple it should be perceived that the ‘vehicle’ is the marriage and unity that Allah has placed on the two. The fuel is once again the improvement and development that helps the couple to move forward in life by constant learning. Then again picking up dirt only requires that the marriage is washed and refreshed via rectifying and improving. Its best comprehended that the couple maybe traveling to similar goals of eventual pleasure of Allah by appreciating and seeing each other as Allah’s creations, bestowed upon each other, and loving each other for the sake of Allah. Thus the individual goal of pleasure of God, Jannah will remain – ultimately going to be with that person in Jannah, on earth you seek Allah pleasure till you die and you do this by completing your deen by getting married, to please God and aid you in improving in religion. May Allah give us all the ability to act upon the advice of our religion, and help us maintain and strive for successful marriages, for our children, our own selves and the hereafter, and be amongst the successful. Ameen.

A successful marriage: the missing link

Posted in Advice for Husbands, Advice for Wives, Tips for a Happy Marriage on September 1, 2009 by Shaz
A successful marriage: the missing link

By: Yasmin Mogahed

“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; verily, in that are signs for people who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)

We’ve all read this verse on countless marriage announcements. But how many have actualized it? How many of our marriages really embody that love and mercy described by Allah? What is going wrong when so many of our marriages are ending in divorce?

According to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, author of Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, the answer is simple. In his book, Eggerichs explains that extensive research has found that a man’s primary need is for respect, while a woman’s primary need is for love. He describes what he calls the “crazy cycle”—the pattern of argumentation that results when the wife does not show respect and the husband does not show love. He explains how the two reinforce and cause one another. In other words, when a wife feels that her husband is acting unloving, she often reacts with disrespect, which in turn makes the husband act even more unloving.

Eggerichs argues that the solution to the “crazy cycle” is for the wife to show unconditional respect to her husband and for the husband to show unconditional love to his wife. This means that a wife should not say that first her husband must be loving before she will show him respect. By doing so, she will only bring about more unloving behavior. And a husband should not say that first his wife must be respectful before he will show her love. By doing so, he will only bring about more disrespectful behavior. The two must be unconditional.

When I reflected on this concept, I realized that looking at the Quran and prophetic wisdom, there are no two concepts more stressed with regards to the marital relationship.

To men, the Prophet said, “Take good care of women, for they were created from a bent rib, and the most curved part of it is its top; if you try to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain arched, so take good care of women.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

He has further stressed: “The most perfect believer in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

Allah says: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” [Qur’an: 4:19]

The prophet has also said, “A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” (Muslim)

In these jewels of wisdom, men are urged to be kind and loving towards their wives. Moreover, they are urged to even overlook their wife’s faults when showing that kindness and love.

On the other hand, when addressing the wife, the focus is different. Why are women not told again and again to be kind and loving towards their husbands? Perhaps it is because unconditional love already comes naturally to women. Few men complain that their wives do not love them. But many complain that their wives do not respect them. And it is this sentiment which is most stressed in the Quran and sunnah, with regards to wives.

Respect can be manifest in a number of ways. One of the most important ways to show respect is the respect of one’s wishes. When someone says, “I respect your advice”, they mean “I will follow your advice”. Respecting a leader, means doing what they say. Respecting our parents means not going against their wishes. And respecting one’s husband means respecting his wishes. The Prophet has said: “When any woman prays her five, fasts her month, guards her body and obeys her husband, it is said to her: Enter paradise from whichever of its doors you wish.” [At-Tirmidhi]

Why are we as women told to respect and follow the wishes of our husbands? It is because men are given an extra degree of responsibility. Allah says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means . . .” (Qur’an 4:34)

But won’t this unconditional respect towards one’s husband put us, as women, in a weak, submissive position? Won’t we set ourselves up to be taken advantage of and abused? Quite the contrary. The Quran, the prophetic example, and even contemporary research have proven the exact opposite. The more respect a woman shows her husband, the more love and kindness he will show her. And in fact, the more disrespect she shows, the more harsh and unloving he becomes.

Similarly, a man may question why he should show kindness and love towards even a disrespectful wife. To answer this question, one only needs to look at the example of Omar Ibn ul-Khattab. When a man came to Omar (who was Khalifah at the time) to complain of his wife, he heard Omar’s own wife yelling at him. While the man turned to leave, Omar called him back. The man told Omar that he had come to complain of the same problem that Omar himself had. To this Omar replied that his wife tolerated him, washed his clothes, cleaned his home, made him comfortable, and took care of his children. If she did all of this for him, how could he not tolerate her when she raised her voice?

This story provides a beautiful example for all of us—not only for the men. This story is a priceless illustration of tolerance and patience, which is essential for any successful marriage. Moreover, consider the reward in the hereafter for those who show patience: Allah says, “Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full without reckoning (or measure).” (Qur’an 39:10)