Marriage is a Prophetic tradition, and the relation that exists between the couples has been recommended in the holy book and the Ahadith of the Prophet (pbuh). Allah (SW) says in one of the verses in Qur’an that women are men’s garment and the opposite is true. The Prophet also said in one of His Ahadith “By Allah! Among all of you I am the most God rearing, and among you all I am the super most to save myself from the wrath of Allah, yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep too. I observe fast and suspend observing them. I marry women also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah (tradition) has no relation with me” (Bukhari)
Here are some of the fundamentals of a happy marriage:
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 (peace and blessings be upon him) said, that when a husband feeds his wife, 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.
Forgiving: When the Prophet Muhammad 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.
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.
Forbearance: Sabr (patience) is the most useful tool to have in managing a healthy lifestyle. Being patient and forbearing puts us in a proactive frame of mind it brings us closer to Allah through Tawakul and reliance .We develop an inner mechanism that empowers us to handle life’s difficult moments. As Allah states in Surah 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’ (Quran, chapter 103).
Flexible: Many couples unnecessarily 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.
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 good manners, 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. Further more the children need to see their parents as friends but not as pals as this encourages disrespect.
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.
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 (pbuh) 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.
Fun: Couples that do not laugh together have to work on sharing some fun times. The Prophet 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.
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.
And Allah knows best.