In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Making marriage work: the missing link to success

by Yasmin Mogahed

Filed under: Featured,Lifestyle,Marriage |

un-couple-de-personnes-agees-tout-sourire-au-camp-de-refugies-dal-arroub-27-7-10_l By ☪yrl / Creative Commons

“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.” (Qur’an, 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 Qur’an and prophetic wisdom, there are no two concepts more stressed with regards to the marital relationship.

To men, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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)

Allah says:
“…Live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (Qur’an, 4:19)

In these jewels of wisdom, men are urged to be kind and loving towards their wives. Moreover, they are urged to 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 Qur’an 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 (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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)

aussie 5pts

Very good comment bystanding, so true too. Many people come into a marriage wanting to take the most out of it, & not willing to give 100% . I also find people getting married when they're not really ready for it, sometimes they're immature, or marrying to get away from one's family. Most of all in my opinion, one should look at marriage as a pertnership, not so much a 50/50 one, but a relationship based on the teachings of Allah. I have been married for 30yrs alhamdu liilah, & to this day I love my husband more than I did when I first married him. I always say to myself in challenging times that I am not perfect , therefore, I should try to understand & respect our difference of opinions that occurs from time to time. If you want to have a long lasting marriage, look to the Prophet PBUH , love &respect your partner, & always have a "line" that you never cross in times of anger.

bystanding 5pts

Ask the average person what marriage means to them or why they want to get married...and most people immediately list things they can get OUT of a marriage. Perhaps it would help if people retrained their minds to first think (every time) about what they THEMSELVES can actually bring or put INTO a marriage? 

If your first instinct towards marriage (but apply it to any relationship) was about contributing/giving/nurturing that relationship...I think in many cases, the things  we all want out of a marriage would begin to occur more naturally and fluently in reciprocation. 

Other than Allah's love for each and every one of us...I'm hard pressed to come up with anything in life, that doesn't require some personal (ONGOING) contribution in order to make it work or to get something out of it. 

It's a pity many of us see the word marriage as equal to 'what the hell can I get!' and unfortunately stop our thinking about marriage and its implications, at that superficial and selfish point.  

Marriage advice and help would be better framed with respect to the length of our lives. Credence needs to be given to the fact that love (being IN love and at other times, just LOVING someone), respect and hard work will often wax and wane over time. If we weren't after such instant gratuity all the time...we could develop our patience better and learn how to not only stick around when things are awry...but actually work at putting things right again. 

Easier said than done. But if you're not aware of this before you ask someone to get married...then shouldn't be getting married in the first place. And if we took just a bit more time to check that our partner possesses the necessary ingredients to weather and work through bad times...then perhaps we wouldn't enter prematurely into a partnership with someone that is never going to work in the first place.

Naz Cabar
Naz Cabar 5pts

for a marriage 2 work it takes both parties 2 put an effort in2. for a marriage 2 fail, similarly u wll find both parties at fault even if one party is less at fault. there is ur truth, my truth + the truth.... 5pts

@ Dania Devah Rarely when marriages fail do you hear either party say, "It was my fault. I didn't show enough love/respect." That says volumes. The reality, whether we like it or not, is that marriage is only ever as good as the character of the parties involved.

Dania Devah
Dania Devah 5pts

Sometime if people get a dose of reality, they can post more realistic comments!!! 5pts

@ Naz Nazz I can certainly see where you're coming from and can agree it isn't easy to love for Allah's sake. Yet if it were easy then Paradise and Divine pleasure wouldn't be its consequence. It's a struggle that's more than worth it. Allah give us success in our marriages. Amin.

Bahram Mia
Bahram Mia 5pts

Great article by sis Yasmin as always

Naz Cabar
Naz Cabar 5pts

w/salaam admin. u can luv mankind 4 the sake of God but if u abhor ur partner, i sumhw doubt yr gonna b able 2 luv or respect thm in the capacity of a spouse, as a member of the human race mayb but tht wud b beside the point. i still stand by wot i say. 5pts

@Naz Nazz As salamu alaikum Sister. It is a two way thing: between each spouse and their Lord. Matters will be facilitated if the husband shows love for Allah's sake, not because he feels his wife should be worthy of it and if she shows respect for the same reason. Otherwise it will be an endless cycle of tit-for-tat why the other doesn't deserve what I should give.

Naz Cabar
Naz Cabar 5pts

respect is a 2 way thing + has 2 b earnt. a man cant just expect it just lyk tht.

Naz Cabar
Naz Cabar 5pts

respect is a 2 way thing + has 2 b earnt. a man cant just expect it just lyk tht.

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