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halfmydeen

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Tips for a Happy Marriage Articles
« on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:30 PM »

Ten ways to increase happiness in marriage!


The young and excited bride-and-groom-to-be; ecstatic about the upcoming wedding and marriage and the joy that it will bring. Three to six months later, reality has set in and both spouses realize that marriage is no easy task, but one that takes a great deal of effort and patience. The following are tips for both wives and husbands, to help make the task a little less daunting, and to increase the many rewards that are possible in such a marvelous and complex relationship.

Enter the Marriage with the Right Intention and Renew this Often

Both spouses should enter the marriage with the pure intention of pleasing Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, in order to receive His grace and blessings. The marriage itself then becomes an act of worship and one for which both spouses will be rewarded. Allah will be pleased with them and this will be the most critical element in ensuring peace, stability and happiness throughout the marital life. It is also important to realize that when an act of worship is continued over a long period of time, it becomes necessary to renew one's intention often to remain on the correct path and to obtain the most benefit.

Remember that Your Spouse is also Your Brother or Sister in Islam

Too often Muslims treat other people outside the home with kindness and sincerity, but then behave in a very different manner when it comes to their own spouses. Muslims should always remember that one's spouse is also another brother or sister in Islam and that the rights and duties that apply to the general brotherhood (sisterhood) of Islam, should also form the basis of the marital relationship. Obviously, a spouse has rights beyond these, but there should be a clear understanding of the rights of brotherhood (sisterhood) and adherence to these principles.

Do Not Hold Unrealistic Expectations

Before marriage, people often have unrealistic ideas about their spouse-to-be, expecting perfection in all aspects. This rarely, if ever, plays out in reality and can lead to unnecessary problems and concerns. We should recall that Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, created humans as imperfect beings, which means that many mistakes will be made throughout a lifetime. By turning the table and expecting imperfection, we will be pleasantly surprised and pleased when our spouse is much more than we ever hoped for. This, in turn, will lead to contentment within the marriage.

Emphasize the Best in Your Spouse

Since no one is endowed with all of the best qualities, emphasis should be placed on the positive qualities that a spouse possesses. Encouragement, praise, and gratitude should be expressed on a regular basis, which will strengthen these qualities and be beneficial in developing others. An attempt should be made to overlook or ignore negative characteristics, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A believing man should not have any malice against a believing woman. He may dislike one characteristic in her, but may find another in her which is pleasing." (Muslim)

Be Your Mate's Best Friend

Try to think of what a best friend means and be one to your spouse. This may mean sharing interests, experiences, dreams, failures and upsets. It may involve understanding a spouse's likes and dislikes and attempting to please him or her in any way possible. A best friend is also usually someone that can be confided to trusted, and relied upon. A spouse should be the kind of friend that one would want to keep throughout life.

Spend Quality Time Together

It is not enough to share meals, chores and small talk together. Spouses should also find time to focus on strengthening the relationship. Often couples get busy with their own separate tasks and forget about working on one of the most important elements in life. Quality time may be anything from having a quiet, profound conversation to going for a nice long nature walk, to sharing a special hobby or project. Both spouses should enjoy the particular option chosen and distractions should be kept to a minimum.

Express Feelings Often

This is probably a very "Western" concept and one that some people may have difficulty fulfilling, but it is important to be open and honest about one's feelings, both positive and negative. The lines of communication should always be open and any concerns should be brought to the attention of the other spouse as soon as they arise. The rationale of this is that what begins as a simple concern may grow into a major problem if it is not addressed quickly and properly. The "silent treatment" has never been the remedy for anything.

Admit to Mistakes and ask for Forgiveness

Just as we ask Allah to forgive us when we make mistakes, we should also do the same with our spouses. The stronger person is the one who can admit when he or she is wrong, request pardon from the other, and work hard to improve his/her aspects that are in need of change. When a person is unwilling to do this, there will be little growth and development in the marriage.

Never Bring up Mistakes of the Past

It can be very hurting for another person to be reminded of past mistakes. In Islam, it is generally not recommended to dwell on the past. One may remember errors that were made so that they are not repeated, but this should not be done excessively. Certainly, as humans, we are not in the position to judge another person. Advice may be given, but not in a harmful manner.

Surprise Each Other at Times

This may entail bringing home a small gift or flowers, preparing a special meal, dressing up and beautifying oneself (this is not only for women), or sending a secret note in a lunchbox. A little imagination will go a long way here. The idea is to spice up the marriage and avoid getting into a dull routine that may negatively affect the marriage.

Have a Sense of Humour

This particular aspect can go a long way in preventing arguments and brightening the atmosphere of the home. Life is a constant stream of challenges and tests, and to approach it in a light-hearted manner will help to make the journey smoother and more enjoyable. You may also find that your spouse enjoys this characteristic and looks forward to spending time with you because of it.

Quick Tips for Discussions and Disagreements:

- Begin with the intention to resolve the issue. If both spouses have this intention and plan to consult together, it is more likely that there will be a successful resolution.

- Remember that it takes two to quarrel. If only one person chooses not to argue, there will be no argument. Generally, the one who is wrong does most of the talking.

- Both spouses should not be angry at the same time. If one of the spouses becomes upset, it is best if the other tries to remain calm and collected.

- Never yell at each other unless the house is on fire. Of course, house fires do not occur very frequently; yelling should occur at about the same rate.

- Never go to sleep with an argument unsettled. This is one of the worst things that can happen in a marriage and should be avoided as much as possible. This allows hurt feelings and thoughts to linger and generally exacerbates the problem.

- If one spouse needs to win, let it be your mate. Do not focus on winning yourself; this is the main reason that discussions tend to become heated.
   
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halfmydeen

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Tips for a Happy Marriage Articles
« Reply #1 on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:34 PM »

7 Marriage Tips

Marriage Tip No. 1: Purge the "D'" word.

With the taste of wedding cake barely off their lips, divorce is the last thought -- or word -- on newlyweds' minds. But as the honeymoon period wanes, and day-to-day difficulties crop up, the word can come up frequently during arguments for some couples, say relationship counselors.

"Just don't go there," suggests Steve Brody, PhD, a psychologist in Cambria, Calif., who counsels couples. "Some people pull that out much too early, and much too often in a relationship. It raises a whole level of anxiety [in the person hearing it]."

Divorce is also considered a dirty word by the more than 200 "marriage masters" interviewed for the book, Project Everlasting. Co-authors Mat Boggs and Jason Miller, bachelors and childhood buddies from Portland, Ore., traveled the country to interview the couples, married 40 or more years, and ask for  their best marriage tips.

"Don't use the D word" was one oft-repeated suggestion for keeping a happy marriage,  Boggs says. These marriage masters told him, "You need all your energy to find the solution to a problem and work it out. If you are even giving any consideration to a divorce, you lessen your ability to solve the problem."

Of course, Boggs says, the marriage masters acknowledged that some situations are deal breakers, such as addiction, adultery, or abuse. But when the problem is less severe, many of the marriage masters told him they create a "ledger of life." They get out a piece of paper and write down everything they love about their spouse. Eventually, they shift gears and begin to focus on what is right, not what's wrong.


Marriage Tip No. 2: Replace the 7 deadly habits in a marriage with the 7 caring habits.

Learning the seven bad habits and the seven good ones is the easy part, admit William Glasser, MD, a Los Angeles psychiatrist, and his wife, Carleen Glasser, MA, who co-authored Eight Lessons for a HappierMarriage and include this idea in their book and counseling sessions.  Putting them into practice takes effort, of course.
The seven deadly habits are criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and bribing.

The seven caring habits include supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating your differences.


Marriage Tip No. 3: Take care of yourself.

This marriage tip is short and sweet: "Take care of yourself physically and spiritually," Brody tells couples.

That way, your stress will be down and your tolerance will be up. You'll  be less likely to get on each other's nerves -- and to squabble.  You're more likely to have a happy marriage.


Marriage Tip No. 4: Discuss outside friendships.

While some married couples consider activities such as workplace friendships with members of the opposite sex acceptable, some relationship experts disagree.
"I'm not big on cross-gender friendships for married people," Brody says. "It's playing with fire."  One exception, in his book: If a wife has a friendship with a gay man or a husband has a friendship with a gay woman, he's fine with that, since the romance potential is nonexistent.

Otherwise, he says, the line is too easy and tempting to cross.


Marriage Tip No. 5: Stop trying to control your partner.

It's another one of those easier-said-than done marriage tips, of course. But trying to control each other -- using a technique psychologists call "external control" -- is the main source of marital unhappiness, according to the Glassers. In a happy marriage, partners know they cannot control each other.

You have practiced this "external control" if you have ever told your partner they need to behave the way you want them to or that you know what is right.
Learning not to control a partner can be a long process, but the Glassers offer some tips on educating yourself. "Think first," Carleen Glasser says.  Ask yourself: "If I can only control my own behavior, what can I do to help the marriage?" Then think of what you can change to make the problem better, she suggests.


Marriage Tip No. 6: Honor and respect your partner.

"Be honoring all the time," says Thomas Merrill. That means no "my old lady" stories, he says.  And it also means a wife shouldn't be flirting with male co-workers or other men.
Respect was also a marriage tip that came up often from the marriage masters, Boggs says. "The No. 1 principle that almost everyone talked about is respect," he says. "You can have respect without love, but you cannot have love without respect."

Respect, say those with a happy marriage, means not undermining your partner in front of the children. "And don't go outside the marriage when you are having a problem," Boggs says they advised. "Discuss it with your partner."

Respect also means not criticizing your mate in front of others, Miller and Boggs were often told by the marriage masters. To make this marriage tip easier to practice, consider the input of one marriage master on the topic, Boggs says.  "One man told me, 'Let's say someone is walking by when you are criticizing your mate. That is the only opinion they have of you.'"


Marriage Tip No. 7: If you're the wife, lower your expectations. If you're the husband, step up to the plate.

When Steve Brody and his wife, Cathy Brody, MFT, a marriage and family counselor, toured the country to promote  their book, Renew Your Marriage at Midlife, they asked audiences what they wanted from marriage.

"Women expected to be loved, cherished, listened to, cared for, and courted," Steve Brody says. They had a long list of wants and expectations, he recalls. The men joked that their expectations were more basic:  Their typical answers, Brody says: "Bring food and show up naked."

While the men were half joking, the gaps in expectations are a good lesson. To close the gap, Brody says, women need to lower their expectations -- to not expect 24/7 romance, for instance, especially if their mate has just worked an unbelievably long week.

Men need to do some of the things the woman wants, such as prioritize their relationship and listen more, he says. In a nutshell, Brody says, "Men need to do the same things at home that they do at work." He tells the husbands he counsels to think of it this way: "Your wife is the million-dollar client. If she walks out the door, the business is closed."
   
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halfmydeen

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Tips for a Happy Marriage Articles
« Reply #2 on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:39 PM »

10 Ways Happy Couples Get Closer

You've seen these couples around: They're the ones who always seem to be sharing a private joke, who can be found gazing into each other's eyes even after 15 years of marriage, who just seem so darned in synch. How do happy couples do it? We asked people to clue us in, and here are the top 10 tried-and-true bliss-makers.

Communicate

Happy couples are emphatic about the importance of frank exchanges with their spouses. But they're all quick to admit that keeping the lines open is hard work. "When my husband was working long hours," recalls Maria Kost, 38, of San Jose, Calif., "it felt like we lost touch and were acting like strangers. To avoid that, we always recap our activities during the day, during dinner, or late at night." Communication's not all talk either — you've also got to listen. Cindy Brehm, 38, from Eureka, Calif., explains: "After 13 years, communication was becoming increasingly difficult. We finally began marital counseling. Almost immediately, I discovered that I hadn't been allowing my husband to express himself verbally to me without stopping him in the middle and picking apart everything he said. Once we began to hear each other out, communication improved, and so did our marriage."

Be Honest

Want the truth? Happy couples think being genuine keeps their marriages rock solid. Some of you, like Sue Griffith, 42, of Rochester Mills, Penn., were candid enough to say that you do "sprinkle the truth with little white lies." And others, like Debra Reinert, 42, of Alburtis, Penn., noted that for those times when the truth may be hard to hear, honesty works best, especially when it's accompanied by lots of touching or followed up with a hug.

Trust

In marriage, you trust because, well, as LaVawn Taylor, 31, of Moon Township, Penn., so perfectly puts it: "I'm too busy to worry about petty secrets and lies. I know that if my husband tells me he is going to be somewhere, he is. If he's running late, I know he's stuck at a meeting."

Laugh

No joke, happy couples say keeping their sense of humor is the key to joyful matrimony. They use humor in many ways — to laugh off upsetting situations and to shake off embarrassing moments. Nicole Miller, 22, of Palos Hills, Ill., uses it just to have fun with her husband. "We do funny voices or make funny faces to make each other laugh. If music is on, we'll dance in a weird way to crack each other up. A marriage doesn't look healthy to me when the couple doesn't goof around together."

Be Friends

Here, Ondine Devenport, 30, of Akron, Ohio, tells you why chumminess equals happiness: "Let's face it, love is an emotion most people feel at one time or another. But the combination of being in love with someone and really liking them is far more rare. After my first marriage failed, my few years of dating taught me that without this combination, you are settling for less than you truly deserve."

Respect Each Other

To do this, say happy couples, you must respect yourself first. "This helps you maintain your identity as your marriage changes and grows," says Janet Tower, 38, of Northwood, N.H. "My husband and I have vastly different views on a lot of things. We have learned to express them and to respect each other for standing up for what we believe in."

Love Unconditionally

For many happy couples, the L-word — spoken loudly and often — is strongly associated with commitment to each other. Even on those days when it's obvious that he's driving you crazy, Ann Rosenberg, 55, of Scottsdale, Ariz., suggests you "make sure he knows you still love him."

Compromise

Sometimes you need to give a little to get a lot of happiness. Deb Madsen, 21, of Miles City, Mont., says compromising helps you feel like you're on the same team. "When we have our little disagreements, we are willing to openly admit where we're wrong, and can then compromise on situations together," she says. "When our work schedules conflict, we compromise about caring for the children and doing household chores."

Forgive

Happy couples are not grudge-holders. Shannon Jones, 26, of Clarksville, Tenn., says, "Forgiveness means letting go of the small, petty annoyances. For the larger wrongs, it must be total forgiveness. You can't harbor anger or throw it back in his face."

Pray

You gotta have faith, and most happy couples have learned this lesson from their parents. Patricia Williams, 31, of Wataliga, Tex., has this formula: Praying with your husband helps you respect and appreciate him, which helps you brag about him!
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halfmydeen

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Tips for a Happy Marriage Articles
« Reply #3 on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:41 PM »

Secrets of Happy Couples

1. Cultivate common interests. After the passion settles down, it's common to realize that you have few interests in common. But don't minimize the importance of activities you can do together that you both enjoy. If common interests are not present, happy couples develop them. At the same time, be sure to cultivate interests of your own; this will make you more interesting to your partner and prevent you from appearing too dependent.

2. Walk together. Rather than one partner lagging or dragging behind the other, happy couples walk comfortably together,side by side. They know it's more important to be with their partner than to see the sights along the way.

3. Make trust and forgiveness your default mode. If and when they have a disagreement or argument, and if they can't resolve it, happy couples default to trusting and forgiving rather than distrusting and begrudging.

4. Focus more on what your partner does right than what he or she does wrong. If you look for things your partner does wrong, you can always find something. If you look for what he or she does right, you can always find something, too. It all depends on what you want to look for. Happy couples accentuate the positive.

5. Hug each other as soon as you see each other after work. Our skin has a memory of "good touch" (loved), "bad touch" (abused) and "no touch" (neglected). Couples who say "Assalaamu alaiykum" with a hug keep their skin bathed in the "good touch," which can inoculate your spirit against anonymity in the world.

6. Say "I love you" and "Insha-Allah, May you have a good day" every morning. This is a great way to buy some patience and tolerance as each partner sets out each day to battle traffic jams, long lines and other annoyances.

7. Say "Assalaamu alaiykum"- May you be with peace: every night, regardless of how you feel. This tells your partner that, regardless of how upset you are with him or her, you still want to be in the relationship. It says that what you and your partner have is bigger than any single upsetting incident.

8. Do a "weather" check during the day. Call your partner at home or at work to see how his or her day is going. This is a great way to adjust expectations so that you're more in synchrony when you connect after work. For instance, if your partner is having an awful day, it might be unreasonable to expect him or her to be enthusiastic about something good that happened to you.

9. Be happy to be seen with your partner. Happy couples are pleased to be seen together.

Even if these actions don't come naturally, happy couples stick with them until they do become a part of their relationship. They know that it takes 30 days for a change in behavior to become a habit, and a minimum of six months for a habit to become a way of life and love
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halfmydeen

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Tips for a Happy Marriage Articles
« Reply #4 on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:42 PM »

Tips for Husbands & Wives
By Ibrahim Bowers

Although many Muslims may right now be in failing marriages and on a fast track to divorce and its terrible consequences, there are many ways to put their marriage back on the right track if the husband and wife are sincere in their desire to reconcile. The following principles can be used by Muslims whose marriages are already in trouble or by Muslims who would like to avoid trouble in their marriage.

Examples of Negative Relationship of Husband & Wife
Many Muslim husbands and wives treat each other like adversaries rather than partners. The husband feels that he is the boss, and whatever he says goes. The wife feels that she must squeeze everything she can out of her husband. Some wives never show their husband that they are satisfied with anything he does or buys for them in order to trick him into doing and buying more. They make him feel like a failure if he does not give them the lifestyle that their friends and families enjoy. Some husbands speak very harshly to their wives, humiliate them, and even physically abuse them. Their wives have no voice or opinion in the family.

Marriage In The Eyes of Allah
It is very sad that this relationship which Allah (SWT) has established for the good has been made a source of contention, deception, trickery, tyranny, humiliation, and abuse. This is not the way marriage is supposed to be.

Allah (SWT) described marriage very differently in the Holy Quran: '. . . He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts) . . . " (Holy Quran 30:21, Yusuf Ali Translation).

Do not be a Tyrant
Regardless of whether or not Islam has made the husband the head of the household, Muslims are not supposed to be dictators and tyrants. We are taught to treat our wives well. The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives" (From Mishkat al-Masabih, No. 0278(R) Transmitted by Tirmidhi).

Be Partners in the Decision Making Process.
Follow the principle of 'Shura," and make decisions as a family. There will be much more harmony in the family when decisions are not imposed and everyone feels that they had some part in making them.

Never Be
Never be emotionally, mentally, or physically abusive to your spouse. The Prophet (SAWS) never mistreated his wives. He is reported to have said: 'How could they beat their women in daytime as slaves and then sleep with them in the night?"

Be Careful of Your Words
Be very careful what you say when you are upset. Sometimes you will say things that you would never say when you were not angry. If you are angry, wait until you calm down before continuing the conversation.

Show Affection
Show affection for your mate. Be kind, gentle, and loving.

Be Your Spouse's Friend
Show interest in your mate's life. Too often, we live in the same house but know nothing about each other's lives. It would be great if the husband and wife could work together for the same cause or on the same project. They could perhaps establish a husband/wife prison ministry, take care of orphans in their home, or lead an Islamic weekend class.

Show Appreciation
Show appreciation for what your spouse does for the family. Never make your husband feel that he is not doing good enough for the family or that you are not satisfied with his work or his efforts, unless, of course, he is truly lazy and not even trying to provide for the family. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'On the Day of Judgment, God will not look upon the woman who has been ungrateful to her husband." (where is this hadith found) Show your wife that you appreciate her. If she takes care of the house and the children, don't take it for granted. It is hard work, and no one likes to feel unappreciated.

Work Together in the House
The Prophet (SAWS) is known to have helped his wives in the house. And if the Prophet (SAWS) was not above doing housework, modern Muslim husbands shouldn't feel that they are.

Communication is Important
Communication, Communication, Communication! This is the big word in counseling. And it should be. Husbands and wives need to talk to each other. It is better to deal with problems early and honestly than to let them pile up until an explosion occurs.

Forget Past Problems
Don't bring up past problems once they have been solved.

Live Simply
Don't be jealous of those who seem to be living a more luxurious life than your family. The 'rizq" is from Allah (SWT). In order to develop the quality of contentment, look at those people who have less than you, not those who have more. Thank Allah (SWT) for the many blessings in your life.

Give Your Spouse Time Alone
If your mate doesn't want to be with you all the time, it doesn't mean he or she doesn't love you. People need to be alone for various reasons. Sometimes they want to read, to think about their problems, or just to relax. Don't make them feel that they are committing a sin.

Admit Your Mistakes
When you make a mistake, admit it. When your mate makes a mistake, excuse him or her easily. If possible, never go to sleep angry with each other.

Physical Relationship is Important
Be available to your mate sexually, and don't let your sexual relationship be characterized by selfishness. The Prophet (SAWS) was reported to have said: 'It is not appropriate that you fall upon your wives like a beast but you must send a message of love beforehand."

Have Meals Together
Try to eat together as a family when possible. Show the cook and the dishwasher, whether it is the husband or the wife, appreciation for his or her efforts. The Prophet (SAWS) did not complain about food that was put before him.

Be Mindful of Your discussion Topics
Never discuss with others things about your marriage that your spouse wouldn't like you to discuss, unless there is an Islamic reason to do so. Some husbands and wives, believe it or not, complain to others about their mate's physical appearance. This is a recipe for disaster. Information about your intimate relations should be kept between you and your spouse.

Many of us treat our spouses in ways that we would never treat others. With others, we try to be polite, kind, and patient. With our spouses, we often do not show these courtesies. Of course, we are usually with our spouses at our worst times --- when we are tired and frustrated after a hard day. After a bad day at the office, husbands usually come home angry and on edge. The wife has probably also had a hard day with the children and the housework. Wives and husbands should discuss this potential time bomb so that if they are short-tempered with each other during these times, they will understand the reasons rather than automatically thinking that their spouse no longer loves them.

Good marriages require patience, kindness, humility, sacrifice, empathy, love, understanding, forgiveness, and hard work. Following these principles should help any marriage to improve. The essence of them all can be summed up in one sentence: Always treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated. If you follow this rule, your marriage will have a much greater chance for success. If you discard this rule, failure is just around the corner.
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halfmydeen

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21 F’s for a Happy Marriage by Muhammad Ayub
« Reply #5 on: Nov. 11, 2008, 10:45 PM »

21 F’s for a Happy Marriage
Muhammad Ayub
 
1. Faith:
The most basic and essential attribute of a Muslim marriage is the common faith that binds the couple.

Since Islam is a way of life and not just a religion confined to weekly worship it becomes an integral part of a Muslim's life. The frame of reference shared by the couple eases communication and sharing of values which is not possible in an interfaith marriage. It is highly recommended that faith play an important role in the developing a loving relationship.

For example, as the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, that even if a husband places a morsel of food in his wife's mouth, he gets a reward for this act and Allah increases the bond of love between them. So when we love each other for the sake of Allah WE ACTUALLY INCREASE OUR FAITH.

2. Forgiving:
When the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) asked his Companions ‘do you wish that Allah should forgive you' they said, of course O Prophet of Allah. He responded, ‘then forgive each other'.

One of the main components of a happy marriage is that the spouses are able to forgive, that they do not hold grudges or act judgmental towards each other. It is expected that when we live with someone, situations may arise when we end up saying or doing things that hurt our spouses. The challenge is not to dwell on it or lay blame but to move past it.  This can only happen if we are not too proud to ask for forgiveness and we are not stingy to forgive.

If we expect Allah to forgive us then we must learn to forgive.

3. Forget:
When we constantly remind our spouses of all the times they let us down or hurt us we have not truly forgiven. Things that happened in the past must be left there and not be used as fresh ammunition in new situations. Couples who use this technique usually fall in a rut and become victims of their own pettiness, unable to break free.

4. Forbearance:
Sabr (patience) is the most useful tool to have in managing a healthy lifestyle. Being patient and forbearing puts us in a pro-active frame of mind it brings us closer to Allah through Tawakul (trust) and reliance .We develop an inner mechanism that empowers us to handle life's difficult moments. As Allah states in Surah (chapter)al-Asr:

"Surely by time humans are at loss, except those who believe and do righteous deeds and counsel each other to the truth and counsel each other to Sabr (patience)' (Quran, chapter 103).

5. Flexible:
Many couples un-necessarily make themselves miserable because they are unwilling to bend a little.
We should not expect our spouses to be our extensions. They are their own selves with personalities, likes and dislikes. We must respect their right to be them selves as long as it does not compromise their Deen (religion). Being inflexible and not accommodating for individual differences leads to a very stressful and tense home atmosphere.

6. Friendship:
This aspect of marriage has three components.

First is to develop a friendship with our spouses. The relationship based on friendship is more able to withstand outside pressures.

We honor, trust, respect, accept and care for our friends, in spite of our differences. These are the aspects of friendship we should bring to our marriages.

Unfortunately the only aspect that people think of bringing to their marriage which is highly inappropriate is the buddy scenario. Shariah (Islamic law) has placed the husband in a leadership role within a family. This requires a certain decorum, which cannot be maintained if the spouses consider each other as pals.

This should not be taken to mean that husband is a dictator but a shepherd who is responsible for and to his flock. This is a position of grave responsibility and places an enormous burden on the husband. Furthermore the children need to see their parents as friends but not as pals as this encourages disrespect.

7. Friendly:
Second aspect of friendship is to have friendly relations with in-laws. When couples compete as to whose parents are more important it becomes a constant source of grief. Much valuable time is wasted trying to convince, one another of whose parents are most desirable.  It is better if we accept, that our spouses will not overnight fall in love with our parents just because we want them to. As long as they maintain friendly relations that are cordial and based on mutual respect we should not force the issue.

8. Friends:
The third aspect of friendship is our circle of friends. It is okay to have individual friends of the same gender but couples must also make effort to have family friends so that they can socialize together. If there is friction being caused by a certain friendship it must not be pursued at the expense of the marriage. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) advised us to choose God fearing people as friends since we tend to follow their way. Friends should be a source of joy and not mischief.

9. Fun:
Couples that do not laugh together have to work on sharing some fun times. The Prophet (SAW) was known to play with his wives. A simple walk in the park can add much spark to the relationship. Taking up a sport together or watching clean funny movies is another way of sharing a laugh.

10. Faithful:
It is commanded by Allah that we be faithful to our spouses. Adultery is a capital crime in Islam that is punishable by death. However there are various forms of unfaithful behavior prevalent among some Muslims.

The most common form is maintaining friendships with the opposite sex over the boundaries set by Islam, and the misgivings of the spouse. The latest trend of Internet relationships is also contrary to Islamic Adab (etiquette) and is causing serious problems between couples. Once a sense of betrayal sets in, repairing that relationship is difficult. Another form of not being faithful is when couples betray confidences (trusts/promises). This is a trust issue and one when compromised eats away at the heart of a marriage.

11. Fair:
Usually when we are angry or displeased the tendency is to not play fair. We try to convince ourselves that since we have been wronged it is okay to be unjust in our behavior and our statements. Allah states in the Quran do not be unjust under any circumstances, even if they be your enemy, and here we are talking about our life partners and the parent of our children. To use words such as "never" and "always" when describing the behavior of the partner is unfair and puts the other on the defensive.

10. Finance:
One of the most common points of contention in marriages is money. Experts tell us that 80 percent of marital conflicts are about money.

It is therefore highly recommended that the couple put serious time and effort in developing a financial management plan that is mutually agreeable and is reviewed every six months or so. Preparing a budget together is also a helpful and wise way to handling household finances. It should be remembered that the wife's money in Islam is hers to do with as she pleases and therefore should not be considered family income unless she chooses to contribute it to the family

11. Family:
Parenting can be a stressful experience if the parents are not well informed. This in turn can put extra pressure on the marriage.

Sometimes couples are naive about the changes that come in the lifestyle. This can cause in some cases depression and in some resentment and misunderstandings. One golden rule that must always be the guide is; that family comes first.

Whenever there is evidence that the family is not happy or not our first priority it is time to assemble at the kitchen table and discuss with open hearts and mind.

12. Feelings:
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stated that Allah forgives all sins if we repent but not those we have committed against others i.e. hurt their feelings unless the person we have hurt forgives first.

Couples are sometimes very careless when it comes to their spouse's feelings, they take them for granted and assume that the other knows what they mean. It is surprising that people are more sensitive and courteous to strangers than they are to their loved ones. One must be ever vigilant and careful that they do not hurt the feelings of  their spouses and if they invariably do, they should apologize as soon as possible. Since one does not know when someone they love will leave this world, is it not better to make amends when we have the time?

13. Freedom:
Marriage in Islam is a partnership and not bondage or slavery. To consider the wife one's property is alien to Islamic concept of husband and wife role. The team spirit is enhanced and not curtailed when members of the team are free to be themselves. Freedom in the common western since is to be free to do as one pleases or to be selfish. On the contrary, to allow freedom to one's spouse is to be considerate of their needs and to recognize their limitations.

14. Flirtation:
A sure way to keep romance in marriage is to flirt (only) with your spouse. Many successful marriages have maintained a youthful demeanor in their marriages by adopting special names for each other and secret communication styles.

15. Frank:
Misunderstandings happen when couples are not honest with each other. Marital relationship is where the partners must feel safe to speak their mind with due consideration to the other's feeling, without compromising their own views. When the communication is not frank it hinders in the development of closeness and deep understanding of each other's inner self.

16. Facilitator:
When choosing our life partner, we must, as the Prophet (SAW) advised, look for a pious Muslim. The reason is that their first and foremost goal is the pleasure of Allah. This commitment  to Allah makes them an excellent facilitator (someone who makes things easy) for  enhancing their partner's spiritual  development. In essence, the couple facilitates their family's commitment to Allah and His Deen.

17. Flattering:
Paying compliments and indulging in honest flattery is a very inexpensive way to win your spouse's heart. Everyone likes to be appreciated and noticed. So being stingy about compliments is actually depriving oneself of being appreciated in return.

18. Fulfilling:
To be all one can be to one's spouse is a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. To be in love means to give one's all. The heart  does not put conditions or make stipulations. It gives without expecting anything in return, but such selfless giving is always rewarded tenfold.

19. Fallible:
It often happens that our expectations sometimes are so high that we lose focus of the fact that we are fallible (not perfect/make mistakes) beings. When couples start to nitpick and demand the impossible they must remind themselves that only Allah is perfect.

20. Fondness:
So many times couples fail to work on developing fondness for each other by [failing] to see their spouses as people through the eyes of their respective friends. Spending quality time alone doing and sharing activities are ways in which one can develop fondness.

21. Future:
Smart couples plan for their future together. They work on their financial and retirement plans, make wills and discuss these plans with their children. This provides peace of mind and secures the relationship.
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