"I Do": Manoeuvring Relationship between Husband and Wifeby Helmy Sa'at
Boy meets girl.
They fall in love and get married.
And, they live happily ever after.
In a nutshell, that is what we have come to learn about marriage. However, this is a reductive view of any relationship. A relationship between two individuals does not hit the brickwall upon marriage as it is constantly evolving. Any loving and committed relationship needs to be nurtured over one’s lifetime by actively involving one’s spouse and not just rely on that fleeting initial glance that quickened your heartbeat.
So, what happens after the wedding followed by the honeymoon and living together in the same household? Just like any other relationship, it is about your collective effort as a husband and wife. You need to continuously pay attention not only to your own needs, but also your partner’s emotional needs. This contributes to the strong foundation of building a healthy family unit anchored by two individuals who have chosen each other to walk the path of life till Jannah together, inshaAllah.
Partnership, Not Ownership
It is fundamental to understand that marriage is first and foremost not about serving a skewed arrangement that largely benefits the husband. Both parties need to comprehend that it is about complementing and supporting one another. A wife deserves an equal amount of love, respect and attention from her husband and vice versa.
As evident in the following verse in the Quran, Allah SWT states that:
وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ
“Women have rights similar to those of men equitably, although men have a degree of responsibility above them.”
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:228]
Communication: Listen, Not Just Hear
Communication is the cornerstone of a strong, healthy and loving relationship. It is not just about you all the time albeit your spouse is your most trusted sounding board in life. You have the responsibility to ensure that it is equitable whereby the opportunity to share and voice concerns, problems and feelings is a two-way street without the fear of reprisal.
Good communication is not just about automated reciprocal responses such as ‘I hear you’, but to be sincere in the act of listening itself. Then, working as a unit towards resolving an issue or addressing a concern that might have been overlooked by you, as a partner in your marriage.
Moreover, openness in your marriage is achieved with constant encouragement to be vulnerable and honest about each other’s feelings and even troubles. Always start by acknowledging each other’s feelings and practise empathy.
There will be times where disagreements arise. It is inevitable. It is vital to stay calm and keep the channel of communication open. It is not a weakness to accept one’s mistake and seek forgiveness besides working to rectify the situation to avoid it being repeated. Always be mindful of words uttered during a heated exchange.
Never compare your partner with others. It is not only hurtful, but a display of gross ignorance when it comes to accepting and understanding each individual’s unique personality, characteristics and preferences.
Do You Still Love Me?
As part of the global ummah, we are so busy with work that we tend to forget to prioritise our emotional needs on top of our spouse’s feelings. Being pulled in many different directions is no excuse to neglect our spouses emotionally, on the daily. Do not be embarrassed to express yourself. Articulate your love and appreciation with simple words: I love you. It is reassuring to hear those words. It does not cost a cent to utter such loving words which stem from love for each other already flowing in your veins.
Pair it with the following: Kiss your wife either before leaving home from work or upon arriving home from work, or both! It is sunnah. Who else to better emulate other than the Prophet ﷺ himself?
Hold My Hands
It is not possible or realistic to spend every waking minute together. However, one of the best opportunities is to perform prayers together, in particular the Fajr or Subuh prayer. It is the perfect chance to spend some quality time in addition to performing part of our daily religious duty before heading off to work, or executing other familial tasks of the day.
Moreover, take the time to go on dates according to your availability. At least once a week, if not once a month, as a start. This is beyond sharing a table for meals, but to truly allocate a few hours to spend quality time together, away from work and home responsibilities. A chance to reconnect.
However, do not be pressured. It does not have to be a grand gesture for every date, or indulging in luxury such as eating dinner at a five star restaurant which could burn a hole in your pocket. More importantly, engage in activities that both of you would enjoy. It could be anything and everything, from attending an art or cooking class to engaging in sports to destress. Vary the activity on a weekly or monthly basis to avoid monotony.
A Marriage Is Not An Island
Your marriage has been blessed by families and friends. They also form a support system in times of need.
As narrated by Aishah:
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو هِشَامٍ الرِّفَاعِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا حَفْصُ بْنُ غِيَاثٍ، عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ مَا غِرْتُ عَلَى أَحَدٍ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَا غِرْتُ عَلَى خَدِيجَةَ وَمَا بِي أَنْ أَكُونَ أَدْرَكْتُهَا وَمَا ذَاكَ إِلاَّ لِكَثْرَةِ ذِكْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَهَا وَإِنْ كَانَ لَيَذْبَحُ الشَّاةَ فَيَتَتَبَّعُ بِهَا صَدَائِقَ خَدِيجَةَ فَيُهْدِيهَا لَهُنَّ . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ صَحِيحٌ .
“I was not jealous of any wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, and it was not because I saw her. It was only because the Messenger of Allah mentioned her so much, and because whenever he would slaughter a sheep, he would look for Khadijah’s friends to gift them some of it.”
[Jami’ at-Tirmidhi, no. 2017]
Thus, it is a sunnah to treat your wife’s family and friends well, and vice versa.
Marital relationship is a blessing. In marriage, we are fortunate to have found a partner, therefore we have to be appreciative and strive to protect and nurture it over a lifetime.
وَمِنْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦٓ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَٰجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.
[Surah Ar-Rum 30:21]
Marriage is a conversation that lasts a lifetime. Always remember that you and your spouse are the determiners of your marital happiness.