Show grace toward each other so that grace may also be shown to you: you will regret snapping, pouring over small mistakes, and not being patient with your loved one, especially when he or she takes the higher ground and shows a higher level of maturity!In the last year, I have been blessed to witness the marriages of several close friends, each in a different season. Each time, the lessons of nature reflected a different truth of marriage. In autumn, the whole of nature was ablaze in wondrous colors, while farmers reaped the benefit of their hard work and brought in the last of the harvest. In the winter, everything lay dormant, only to bloom in splendid greens and delicate blossoms of the early spring. Here we saw the beginnings of love and new ideas as the fresh sprouts shot through the seemingly barren ground. At this point, farmers and gardeners contemplated designs and crops for their plots of earth, and planted their precious seeds. Finally, there was summer, laden with juicy fruits, late-blooming flowers, and early vegetables.
Each of these seasons has taught us something about love, and how to cultivate this most precious thing in our relationships. In the glorious Qur’an, Allah implores the wise Insaan to observe the miracles of nature and reflect on their message for humanity. Marriage is one of the most important areas of our human existence to pay attention to: with the right partner and the right approach and mentality, we can build beautiful gardens of the heart in this life, as well as in the next world. We can weed out the negative thoughts and habits of each person in the marriage, choose to plant the right seeds that will give us the results we want, and reach for proper nutrients to help us grow. There will be more dormant periods where we reflect on ourselves, times of new growth when we welcome new things, times when we need to have patience while we let something mature, and times when we can sit back and enjoy the fruit of our labor.
Below are some suggestions for couples new and old, in the hopes that they may help to cultivate the very best of relationships, so that we may sculpt a lush inner sanctum of peace and harmony with our partners.
Practice mental and physical flexibility and abandon selfishness (without fully abandoning all your own likes and preferences). The key is a balance in which both people in a marriage can express themselves without overpowering or repressing each other.
Show grace toward each other so that grace may also be shown to you: you will regret snapping, pouring over small mistakes, and not being patient with your loved one, especially when he or she takes the higher ground and shows a higher level of maturity!
Nurture every good thing you see from each other: if you see a particular behavior that you admire, comment on it and appreciate it.
Never forget manners. Familiarity need not lead to sloppiness! Why keep manners for strangers or only friends, when they will help build amiability between two people? It will remind you of the respect you have for each other. And nothing good should ever be taken for granted.
Shining Adornments: let your love and good intentions be the beautification in your home, before and after you get a chance to get it all furnished the way you like! Expensive furnishings and decorations will never be able to make up for the absence of love, compassion, and humor in a home.
Purpose: Always pray for Allah to bring you closer to Himself, together. That is the ultimate purpose of your marriage. Being mindful of this purpose will keep you away from the pitfalls of other supposed “purposes” of marriage, such as being pampered, finding the single wealthiest or most attractive person to be with, constant (and costly) entertainment, having a second mom to do things for you, etc.
Golden Rule: Treat your spouse as you’d want to be treated – don’t hold grudges, don’t try to punish mistakes, or assume the worst when there is a miscommunication.
Stress Sources: New living conditions can impact our bodies and emotions. Sometimes the new chores, responsibilities, such as new bills, new eating habits, and preferences, different styles of communication, and new environment can be stressful. Before jumping to conclusions that there is a problem and rushing to a marriage counselor, make sure you take all the factors into consideration.
Guard Your Marriage: Always remember the blessings and sacredness of marriage by guarding you and your spouse’s privacy and happiness. Teasing our spouses in front of friends and family can be done to a certain extent. If something truly needs to be shared, be selective instead of complaining to all your friends, or comparing your spouse to someone else unfairly.
Blessings: Keep your home and marriage open to Allah’s blessings by not wasting food (especially challenging when only cooking for two people), water, and other resources, by praying together (on time), and by thanking Allah for everything sent your way.
Finally, here is a humble suggestion of resources:
You’re Driving Me Crazy! An article about ‘How Small Irritants Become Big Issues and What to Do About Them’, Psychology Today Magazine
Marital Success and Happiness A compilation of marital advice delivered by Shaikh Husayn El-Mekki Abdullah-Aziz, Islamic Insights
Building a Harmonious Marriage Speech given by Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, Islamic Insights
Islamic Marriage Guidebook – A 16-page newsletter discussing various marriage-related topics from an Islamic perspective in North America, PDF format
Duas.Org provides a variety of supplications for worshipers seeking good matrimonial relationships, including du’as to find a suitable partner. One example is listed below:
“To remove misunderstanding and discord and instead create love and understanding between man and wife” http://www.duas.org/matri2.htm#To%20remove%20misunderstanding
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by John Gray
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey
Principles of Marriage and Family Ethics by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini (online)
Websites with articles and advice
Marriage Success: Tools to Help Your Marriage Succeed