60 percent of new marriages end in divorce within the first year (Shahina Siddiqui, Islamic Social Services Association, 1997)
So, What is the secret being marr(ied) today?
Disclaimer - the following is my personal opinion
1. Knowledge - know the "other half of your deen" - love Allah and his glory and as a preventative measure -
– know the 5 top reasons Muslims get divorced:
a. Money - Financial problems
b. Inlaws Interference - (includes greater family - uncles and aunts etc...)
c. Lack of commitment to the marriage and to children / different opinion about children
d. Poor communication / too much conflict and arguing / unhappiness / incompatible with spouse
e. Infidelity / Irresponsible attitude of husbands or wives / emotional abuse / physical abuse
(Slighly different order and content than Dr. Keith Ablow's Top Five Reasons Newlyweds Divorce)
Okay, back to the secrets of being married today:
I split it into three sections – Secrets for husband and wives, for wives and for husbands.
Secrets for Husbands and Wives:
1. Money - Set up a budget and follow it.. Excel is your friend – if you are bad at managing money – setup a 2 week budget that end on your payday instead of a month – and with 26 rows for each paycheck with columns for each expense – next line up your expense within a pay period – you can forecast your expenses up to a year in advance. If you are bad with money do not use credit cards! If you are debt - have a plan of getting out of it provides a game to become more creative - to thing and to do more with less.
2. Inlaw – setup boundaries or frame works to establish times to spend with each others family – Moms cannot have exclusive input to their sons nor can they use their daughters to be their mouth pieces, Dads cannot ask intimidate details about their finances or constantly remind them that they are doing things wrong. However, respect your in-laws – they took care of your spouse to the point of where you found them perfect enough to marry.
3. Lack of Commitment – Really means you have to grow up – you’re no longer in university anymore – you need to adjust to your new lifestyle – The MSA treasurer who was 18 when she got married and went to university told everyone that she can do all the MSA work that is required, but as soon as it was 6 pm – she had to go – because she was a also wife – that nasheeha stuck with me. About children – you really have to ask before marriage.. first do they want one, how many, what schooling system, etc.. we go to a job interview yet sometime we forget to ask the most important questions to our spouses during the marriage process
4. Poor Communication - Talk to each other - even about stupid stuff - TV shows, something on CNN or AJE, or learning something together and remind each other about funny times - conversations builds memories which brings you together.
5. No cheating - this includes cheating on finances, budgets, diets (yes I said it!), even friends your spouse does not like. This breaks down the only thing about marriage that keeps it together – building and keeping trust. Sisters trust their financial future and emotional well being with someone who is basically a stranger when she marries, and brothers trust a near stranger female to be the mother of their unborn children. Trust each other - husbands and wives are each other's garments means that your spouse is not only your lover but your confidante, trusted advisor, best friend, and a shelter for bad times.
Other important things for Husband and wives:
Do things together - Even praying together can spark an intimate moment or discussing that Islamic class you just came TOGETHER from before going to sleep ; other ideas: date night it ; plan halaqas together
Do things today ... not tomorrow - a mid summer's night walk in the park is a thousand time better than a holiday during thanksgiving weekend
The grass is usually not greener on the other side
Find friends that are compatible with both you and your spouse - I used to laugh at the Indian Gurjati Muslim model of marriage where a brother and sister from one family marries another families' sister and brother at the same time - but now I understand the meaning behind that it and actually makes a lot of sense ! Both wives can be comfortable in their in-laws house - and if these two couples are hanging out in each others houses, they don't have worry about hijab as the husband in the other couple is your brother - get it? That’s awesome!
***Secrets for Wives:***
Girls Only - when you go to a new home - remember that the secrets of your family should not be shared with your new family - nor should the secrets of your new family be shared with your old family! Very very important!
Be conscious of your physical appearance but don’t emphasis changes – don’t worry about little or medium changes in stuff, “ Do I look fat in this, or I am fat” seriously most bros wouldn’t even have known that there was a change – but now they know because you told them, get it?
Be sensitive to your husband's moods
Live within your means. Experiences is what makes a marriage not material things – in your death bed will you remember that amazing purse you got or the fact that you travelled to Mecca to perform Hajj with your Husband?
Secrets for Husbands:
Listen, that’s it ... Listen ...
If you are reading this, stop and read the sentence above again. Don’t say what she wants to her but be careful of her feelings
Your wife is a unique person - don’t ignore her and don't belittle her worries and feelings ... yes it was a spider but don’t grab it and bring it to her face
Don't always be serious but don't always be a comedian
Learn to say sorry – but don’t forget the reason your saying sorry (meaning don’t do it again)
Admit your mistakes – learn that your wife – as perfect as she is (and she is) also makes mistakes – don’t harp on it and don’t keep on reminding her of it – Encourage her to do better – by being a better role model
Remember how the Prophet (SAW) treated his wives, he did housework all the time while building an entire Ummah - You're not asked to build an Ummah, so at a minimum - don't add to the burden - pick up your socks and clean up after yourself > However, going that extra mile does bring other benefits from your wife
Do get additional benefits from your wife learn these two words – surface cleaning! It’s the removal of all visible mess from an area - different that deep cleaning. 9 times out of 10 – the house will look clean just by doing surface cleaning but it takes about 10-20% of time of a deep clean. Examples of surface cleaning - All clothes put away – either hanging or in the dirty bin, no dishes in the sink, garbage taken out, work stuff put away so no books newspaper etc lying around / bed spread on / floor /carpet vacuumed if dirty > close doors to closet, drawers, cabinets – basically anything you can see must be cleaned.
Being RIGHT does not build relationships - back down and choose battles wisely - especially if it affects your ego. If you fight - don't go to bed angry...you'll wake up being angry (Dr. V. Askan, McMaster, 2001)
> Bros: You can be right ... or you can be happy!
If your new wife moves from a distance (like out of state) build into the budget and schedule every year a time of when you can visit her family - if it's a drivable distance – try and visit them every long weekend or more - especially at the beginning of the marriage - if its flying distance within North America - visit them **at least** once a year esp during a special times of the year (like the 2nd Eid) - invest in technology - web cams or unlimited long distance plans - especially if she has sisters - that’s harder to leave them behind than her parents. If the sister is young - buy a plane ticket during her school vacation so she can visit you guys.
Be modest when around members of the opposite sex – don’t be a player. Also note that other sisters will find you safe now that you are married and may talk to you more – so please don’t misinterpret this as a come on – you’re now a proxy-marhem in their eyes.
Surprise each other with gifts – not even expensive ones. Treat her to an evening out alone, if she likes something – save up the money and buy it for her – give it to her as an Eid gift – note that www.sephora.com
is your friend. There are no words to describe the lift these little gifts can give to a marriage.
If money is tight, still look for deals – we have Halal Popeyes Chicken**, Moes, and KFC* here which offer Toonie Tuesday meals (meals for $2-3 each) find a halal restaurant that offers deals on Mondays or Tuesdays
*note KFC fries are not halal
** Aside - The closest Halal Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits to the US is located at 6734 Lundy's Lane Niagara Falls, ON L2G 1V5 – or about 5 hours west on the 1-90 from Albany
Finally ask Allah (swt) to shower his mercy on your marriage - that the love grows between you every minute you are around your spouse, and that this love strengthens your deen.