Engaged? Newlywed? Married? You definitely need to give this a read.
The idea of spending a good half of your life with someone you barely know is surely overwhelming. Thanks to the process that leads up to the wedding, you start to familiarize yourself and try to mentally prepare for the challenges ahead. But are you really prepared?
Research states that the first few years of any marriage are essential for its groundwork. This means that while you settle in, you have to lay the foundations of what will, in the future, become a strong relationship. Obviously, it will include a lot of upheaval, not all of it being good. Your perspective on things is going to change – a lot. There will be times when it’s all smooth-sailing and others when it seems like responsibilities and commitments come crashing on you. So let’s start off with some pointers for you to keep in mind:
- Communication is the key! Sure, it sounds clichéd but it is very important. Establishing any relationship involves active listening and knowing how to put your point across without making it sound like an argument.
- Learn from other married couples. Remember, ONLY the ones who practice what they preach. Everyone will be tossing in heaps of advice in the initial years; clearly you can’t listen to everyone. You should be able to decide which advice to apply to your life.
- Expectations – keep them reasonable, or better, have none. Your spouse and you were raised in quite different environments. What is the norm for you may not be the same for them. Always keep an open mind and discuss any shortcomings.
- Learn to adjust. It will not be easy, but it won’t be impossible either. Adjusting to living together with your spouse and their family will take some time, so don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself the time you need. Willingness to adapt is what counts. ‘Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bear!’ (2:286) So, believe!
- Raising children is not easy. Plan! Work out when you are ready to have kids. Most people recommend waiting at least a year to have kids. You need this time to get to know each other better, and in the long run, this will be in your favor.
- Talk to your spouse about anything and everything! Don’t forget to listen attentively. If a disagreement arises or if they say something hurtful, get rid of your anger first – seek refuge in Allah/make ablution/drink water/sit down/do the dhikr of Allah ﷻ, as it will dispel anger and cause Satan to run a mile from you, thus allowing you to think rationally without his vile whispering. Put across your concerns gently because there’s a greater chance of them listening to you then, and not when you lash out, as the Prophet ﷺsaid to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her): “Aisha! show gentleness, for if gentleness is found in anything, it beautifies it and when it is taken out from anything it damages it.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4808; Graded Sahih (Al-Albani)]
- Say thank you (or jazakallahu khair)! Appreciate them for everything they do, make it a habit; it will bring a smile on their face and make both of you feel good! “He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4811; Graded Sahih (Al-Albani)]
- Have some “me” time. Take some time off! Do what makes you feel good. Dedicate time for you to grow, both as a couple and as an individual, so you don’t lose sight of who you are.
- While it’s necessary, it’s not “everything” you need – remember that. Discuss financial goals as a couple. Commit to memory that extravagance is disliked by Allah ﷻ as He clearly states, “Eat of its fruit when it bears fruits, and pay its due on the day of harvest, and do not be extravagant. Surely, Allah does not like the extravagant.” (7:31)
- You are human and so are they. To err is human, but don’t repeat the same mistake over and over. Learn from it. One can only take so much, so don’t test their patience!
- Expect challenges. You’re better prepared when you know you’re going to face challenges.
- Enjoy the “Newlywed” status. The spotlight won’t be on you forever, so enjoy it while it lasts!
- Sex is important. If a woman refuses her husband’s request to come to bed with no sound reason (such as sickness, a woman on her menses, or him being drunk), the following hadith narrates what happens: Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses [and does not come], and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 4794; the additional phrase quoted in square brackets is from Abu Dawood, al-Sunan, Kitaab al-Nikaah, Bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah). If you think you can’t do it because of your hectic routine, then schedule it. It is better than a sexless marriage.
- Physical contact is important, too. Touch, kiss and hug as often as you can!
- Don’t disrespect your spouse – in public or in private.
- In-laws. The first few years majorly revolves around you getting to know your in-laws and vice versa. Learning household chores, preferences, values, and making an effort to know them will mark your name in their good books. Practice the Islamic rules of social relations, i.e., no sarcasm, backbiting, and offensive nicknames. Be genuine. Be nice to each other.
- Avoid comparing. You might have read this time and time again, but this is another crucial aspect that needs careful consideration. Don’t compare your in-laws with your parents, your husband with your brothers, or yourself with other couples. Everyone is born with innate goodness in them. Have a healthier contact instead; visit your in-laws if you live separately from them, or if you live together, make it a point to make small talk throughout the day with them.
- If you and your spouse are working/studying, then this is quite useful. You can both set aside time for each other, so you don’t get carried away with work or studies. This also helps set a pattern that you can synchronize with. Keep in mind your spouse is more important than your schedule.
- A good friend is someone you want to have next to you for as long as you live. However, friends often end up being the source of many marital conflicts – prioritizing friendships over your spouse being the primary reason. Excessive time spent with friends on the phone or meeting out is time lost between you and your spouse. No wonder it creates a rift between the two of you! Not to mention, advice received from peers comes from their personal experiences that may or may not be appropriate for you. Give your friends the time they need, but don’t end up ignoring your spouse. Develop friendships with other married couples so that it’s a win-win for both of you.
The same goes for any other extra activities that you did before marriage – even Islamic activities! You need to give your spouse the time they deserve.
- Evil eye. The Prophet ﷺsaid: “The evil eye is real” [Ibn Majah]. Don’t put yourself in its way by showcasing your marital affairs on social media platforms. You may say they are your friends in your defense, but they have their own issues to deal It’s insensitive to be rubbing your happiness in their faces. Share your happiness, but do it sensibly. Before you log in to Instagram or Facebook to upload something, ask yourself, “Is it necessary to share it?”, “Is it better off being private?” YOU can protect your marriage from falling prey to the evil eye. Read duas and do dhikr that have been tailored against it, and constantly thank Allah ﷻ for your marriage and your spouse.
- Be a supporter, not a critic. Encourage your spouse and always support them as best as you can. Boost their morale and self-esteem. Chances are, both of you will feel good.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.” [30: 21]
Allah ﷻ has placed mercy and affection between you, bear that in mind. Do not let Satan/ego put any discord between you as nothing pleases him more than separating a husband and wife. Your spouse is meant to be a comfort for you, so don’t let them be otherwise. Smile at them. Remember to dress up because you’re both going to be seeing an awful lot of each other, and you don’t want to stick out like an eye sore, do you? Motivate each other and always root for each other. Trust Allah’s plans!
Written by: Shafia Jameel
Edited by: The Editorial Team
© The Islamic Reflections Blog