Marriage advice
By: Miqdaad Versi and Zahra Khimji

Increased divorce rates in recent years demonstrate that many couples have failed to consider the key principles that keep a marriage alive and fruitful.Islam however, acknowledges the enormity of the institution of marriage by equating it to half of one’s faith. Marriage is a challenge and there definitely aren’t any shortcuts to take. Nonetheless, there are a few key principles outlined by the Qur`an and ahadith that are useful in navigating the high waves that crash on your door post-honeymoon period. In fact, they lay the basic solutions and foundations of every marriage.

Your spouse is equivalent to a partner and an accomplice on your journey in life and towards God. The Qur`an states in Surah Baqarah, verse 187: ‘They (wives) are as a dress for you (husbands) and you are as a dress for you.’ Metaphorically speaking, clothing keeps you warm when the winter chill is unmanageable and cool when the summer heat starts to stick. Similarly, a spouse alleviates distress, encourages positive growth and God willing, brings you closer to Him. Regardless of the situation at hand, a spouse is supposed to be that layer of comfort a cardigan gives you on a chilly winter night. A couple should be tied together tightly such that they are able to openly express their love and commitment as well as protect each other’s secrets. Your partner should be your best friend for life.

Many couples fall into the rut of blaming their partner for all the issues that may come up. If it’s an overcooked dinner or a large bill that was not attended to, it is quite easy to pick a fight and prepare for battle. This is not the best solution to dealing with differences, which are part and parcel of a marriage. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has said: 'There is nothing worse for human beings than to seek the faults of others, while ignoring their own flaws' (Bihar al-Anwar, vol 73, p 385). Before you fall into the trap of pointing the finger at your partner, turn it around first and you will probably figure out that everyone makes mistakes. By singling out your spouse, you mentally destruct the bridge that a marriage creates between two people. Eventually, the day (and night!) turns into a ‘you’ versus ‘me’ attack that is sure to lead to a downward spiral.

It is essential to keep in mind that when signing the marriage contract, you are also agreeing to fully trust your partner. A lot of marriage breakdowns occur when one partner begins to suspect the other is hiding something. The maliciousness of this suspicion is mentioned in the Qur`an in Surah Hujarat, verse 12: ‘O you who believe! Avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin.’ Keeping trust in your partner also means that both are open with each other and disclose all secrets they may have. To be on the safe side, it is better to take the cat out of the bag before sealing the marriage contract so that both have assurance of their decision, and are then able to carry forth this openness into the marriage.

In order to be able to trust and support a partner, the building block required is the commonly heard ‘C’ word. Communication is the breathing mechanism through which married couples express almost entirely everything. Whether its sadness, anger, happiness or sheer delight, communicating your thoughts and feelings to your partner is essential and is a key step to dealing with any difficult situations that may come along the way. Imam Sadiq (AS) stated: 'When you love someone, let the person know’ (Bihar al-Anwar, vol 74, p 181). Similarly when there is an argument, refusing to communicate and letting the issue fester in your mind, can easily make the situation even worse and can lead to irreparable damage to the relationship. It is not hard to find a couple that separate because they were not able to communicate their feelings to one another. More importantly, communication is an art that takes time to develop and requires training. In order to communicate well, one needs to listen first, understand where the other person is coming from so as to best see what their real intention is. It is only then, that you can then express your thoughts and openly discuss the issue at hand. Many a times, arguments flare up because one partner does not let the other express their feelings. Although feelings are not facts, they matter and are crucial to consider when shaping your response.

One of the building blocks of a strong marriage is accepting your partner for who they are, and appreciating their contribution. A simple thank-you to show your appreciation will definitely go a long way and is sure to help fuel the marriage for years to come. As Allah (swt) has said in the Surah Ibrahim, verse 7: “And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is fully severe”. Appreciating your spouse for the little things that he or she may do is actually an investment for the future success of the marriage so that it prospers and leads to more blessings.

Marriage is undoubtedly one of the most fulfilling and exciting experiences of a lifetime. Many couples for instance will mention the process of meeting their partner, learning more about them and eventually giving their hand in marriage. Sadly, our current day social spectrum struggles with high divorce rates that seem to be against the very essence of marriage.  This doesn’t have to continually be the case as the Qur`an and ahadith have provided us with sufficient tools to pass over any hurdles in marriage. Empathy, trust, protection and communication are positive steps forward that can, God-willing, change the dynamic of a marriage.

We wish you every success in your search, and wish you have a successful marriage insha’allah!