Some advice on love and bonding in marriage
The bond connecting spouses can be said to be made up of numerous threads, each thread representing a human virtue. These threads are woven together to form a bond between the spouses that keeps them together through the years.
It is very essential not only to keep that bond everlasting but to make every effort to strengthen it as well. The success of a marriage is based on the strength of this bond. The biggest mistake that couples make is to take their bond for granted, assuming that their connection will stay strong because they love each other or with the passing of the time they will get more attached to each other. But they don’t have an ‘intentional strategy’ to maintain the strength of their union.
It may be said that there are five principal threads of human virtue that we have to work on very hard to keep the marriage robust and fiery. First and the foremost among these threads is love. A pleasant surprise is that the initials of the four subsequent threads that greatly help to keep the marriage thrive come together to form the word LOVE. They are: Loyalty, Openness, Variety, and Endurance. There are many other threads also that further strengthen the bond but these can be seen as the most fundamental.
Let us now examine each of these five threads.
Love: One of the greatest bounties that Allāh, with his infinite mercy, has presented to us is love. Though the word love is very easy on our tongue, it has tremendous significance in our life.
Literally, the word ‘love’ means a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion and affection. Love is also a feeling of complete bliss and peace, a source of immense pleasure and the most beautiful thing that cannot be seen or even heard yet it has such soothing powers that it cannot only warm our hearts but can also take us to a different world altogether.
Just imagine what life would have been like if love were absent from this earth. The aridity, the boredom, the discord, the hostility and the weariness would have been enough to take us close to our death even before its time.
Love has a very unique and lofty position in a marriage and its presence in our married life is totally indispensable. Islam also has given great prominence to love between spouses as can be seen in the extract given below taken from ‘The Bond of Holy Love’ by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai:
Even lifting a morsel of food to the mouth of the wife has been given the significance of ‘ibādat (worship). It is an act of love by which the husband derives thawāb (reward in the Hereafter).
It was part of the Uswāh Hasanāh (Noble and beautiful Character) of Rasulullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to engage in light-hearted talk with his wives. Hadhrat Abu Hurāirah (radhiallāhu ‘anhu) said:
“Allah loves a man who caresses his wife. Both of them are awarded thawāb because of this loving attitude and their rizq (worldly provision and earning) is increased.”
Loyalty: The importance of loyalty in a blissful marriage cannot be overemphasized. Where there is true love between spouses, loyalty can easily find its way. However, the standard of loyalty should be such that you are always confident that come what may your spouse will never betray you and vice versa.
In the modern times, and especially after the advent of the social networks, interacting with members of the opposite sex has become very common. People tend to connect with their ‘exes’ and also with other ghair-mahram persons without any restraint. We have to be aware that such actions constitute a breach of loyalty towards our spouses.
The virtue of loyalty also includes seeking to create a space of comfort and security in your relationships, making your spouse feel loved and cared for, lending a hand to your spouse, trying to remember all that your spouse has done and is doing for you. At times we tend to take for granted the repeated acts and services our spouses are providing to us to make our life easy and comfortable.
Being loyal to your spouse also means treasuring the beautiful moments you have spent with your spouse and looking forward to a more dazzling future life, with sincere optimism that insha Allāh you will come even closer to each other.
Openness: This is an important factor and there is no compromise regarding it. Keep communication lines open between the two of you. Don’t keep secrets and try your best to let each other know about the innermost feelings and sentiments. If something is bothering you, let your spouse know about it. If you have questions, ask your spouse in a calm and pleasant manner. Don’t be too inquisitive like you are making an interrogation based on unfounded suspicions. Just be honest and sincere about your thoughts and encourage your spouse to do the same.
Variety: Monotony in life can at times be very frustrating. That is why we have to spice our life with variety. Variety keeps boredom at bay. Someone once said, “Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.” If love keeps the marriage alive then variety keeps it lively. For this reason, we should not neglect the process of trying new ideas to keep the marriage flourishing. The wife has to use her ingenuity to introduce new dishes in her menu. She should also see that she avoids repetitiveness in the way she dresses up and gets ready to receive her husband when he comes back from work. The husband in turn should reciprocate by greeting her in a novel way every time he returns home. Also, bringing an occasional gift can work wonders.
Your spouse should not become accustomed to seeing one monotonously repetitive site: you being totally engrossed in your smartphone. When your spouse is with you see that you take a temporary ‘separation’ from your smartphone. No matter how much you are attached to your smartphone you have to give top priority to your spouse.
Endurance: The Islamic term for endurance is ‘Sabr’. Sabr is undoubtedly one of the most useful qualities for a blissful married life. Most people who get married have high expectations about their spouses and about the life after marriage. As soon as the honeymoon is over and the realities of the life catch up with them they realize it is not all the bed of roses they had anticipated. Some very unpleasant and uncompromising traits in a spouse can make life for both parties uneasy or unpleasant. Then there are some marriages wherein the in-laws make life difficult for the newly wedded ladies. It is very important at this juncture that both of you must have time to sit together and try to work out ways to resolve your issues. You must encourage each other to have patience and try to work things out calmly. Also, when the husband loses his temper the wife should try to restrain herself and likewise when she flares up he should try to remain calm and composed.
We have all had moments when we wished our spouse was thinner, wealthier, more romantic, and so on. Take a look at your expectations and ask yourself how realistic they are. Unrealistic expectations lead to chronic frustration, which is one of the main reasons marriages fail. Rather than simmering in such expectations, observe your spouse closely to appreciate qualities that are unique to him or her that you might have overlooked.
This is also the time when the virtue of Sabr becomes very helpful. There are many verses in Qur’ān and numerous ahādith that stress the importance of adopting the noble quality of Sabr. Being patient and forbearing brings us closer to Allāh and with His Grace He rewards us by developing in us previously unattainable heights of insight which empowers us to handle life’s difficult moments.
Remember, every difficult moment in our life is like an oyster and there is a precious pearl lying hidden in it.
The Strongest Thread
The thread that makes your bond the strongest has only been addressed briefly in the forgoing. Can you guess which one it is?
It is your connection with Allāh Mighty and Majestic!
To establish this connection, you have to have the noble qualities of taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh) and tawakkul (reliance on Him) in you.
Be abundant in du’ā (supplication) asking Him to bless your marriage, to keep your marriage safe from every calamity – whether big or small, and to make it easy for you and your spouse to follow the mubārak (blessed) Sunnāh of the Prophet (Nabi) Muhammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).
In conclusion here are two points of advice, for those who wish to embark on the journey of marriage that will facilitate all of the forgoing insha Allāh:
- The Spouse: Choose a spouse who has Taqwā (piety and fear of Allāh). To have such a spouse you have got to develop this quality in you. It is then that Allah will open ways for you to have such a spouse.
- The Wedding: Do you want blessings and barakāh to be showered in your marriage? Do you want to have true love between you and your spouse flourishing throughout your married life? It is very easy and the least expensive: have the wedding the Sunnāh way! If you have a lavish wedding where commands of Allāh are violated openly and without any reservations and where the Sunnāh of His Beloved Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) are nothing more than mere ‘window dressing’ then there is no guarantee whatsoever that your marriage will last long and if it does then it will be void of the barakāh and the blessings.
And Allāh Most High Knows Best.