When Muslim couples enter into marriage, they begin their married life not knowing much about each other. Many couples make the mistake of simply getting down to the business of married life – cooking, cleaning and earning a wage. The situation itself is so daunting and scary that couples often avoid the vital communication that they need to start their marriage off on the right foot. Communication is the only way to plant the seeds of love in each other’s hearts and eventually those seeds will grow into the strongest force of love to cement the union permanently. Both husband and wife should strive to find out everything about their spouse, even the most miniscule details like the name of the bully who terrorized them in school or what their most embarrassing moment was. The tiny details, as you learn them, are the very 'fabric' of the person you have chosen to share your life with. It is through those life experiences that they have come to be the person who they are today.
Like a garden, there is no doubt that marriage is hard work. When two people, no matter how much love they share, are in a confined space together day in and day out, it is only logical that they will have disagreements from time to time. Those disagreements can be about silly things, like who left the cap off the toothpaste, or more serious matters like disciplining children. Regardless of the source, anger and discontentment in marriage (the unwelcome weeds that often sprout up in your otherwise pristine garden!) are to be taken seriously as quite often that can overwhelm a couple, so much so that one or both parties may decide to dissolve the union. Communication, again, is the best way to deal with those pesky marital disagreements. Couples must sit down in the beginning of their marriage and decide how they will handle each other when tempers flare. Will dishes be smashed? Will names and insults be thrown off of razor-sharp tongues? Couples who have been married for years can also sit down and redefine the way they argue. The aim of any argument should be that both viewpoints are expressed in a calm manner. Then the couple should come to a compromise so that both sides feel they have gained minor victories. Marriage is not a dictatorship where one spouse rules over the other. Rather marriage is a partnership where spouses unite for the sake of their families and more importantly for the sake of Allah.
Like any garden, the seeds of love you worked so hard to plant need daily 'watering'. Without water, the seeds will never grow and existing blooms will shrivel and, eventually, die. The sort of watering that is required in marriage are actions that will build your spouse up rather than tear them down. For example, being grateful to your spouse and showing good manners are excellent ways to increase the love between you. Always remembering to say "Thank You" and showing respect when it is needed will go a long way to make your garden grow. Other ways might include adding a bit of romance to your marriage. Send your spouse a bouquet of flowers at work or fill their pockets with a bunch of heart-shaped candies (preferably not ones that will melt!) with a loving message attached. Being proactive and showering your garden with the vitality of good deeds will result in the success every gardener dreams about!
Unfortunately, even if you try everything to make your marital garden grow, it may only result in a few meager buds sprouting through the Earth. In this eventuality, one or both couples need to take immediate action (the fertilizer) to preserve the union of their marriage. Contacting the Wali, a local Imam, or even a Muslim marriage counselor can help couples move past the obstacles that are preventing them from achieving marital bliss and harmony. There is no shame in reaching out for help when a marriage is in distress. All measures must be taken to keep marriages intact, as divorce should always be seen as a last resort.
Lasting love and happiness in a marriage are not things that can be achieved instantaneously. Just like a garden, love needs to be cultivated and cared for lovingly with gentle hands, a kind word and an open heart. So go on, plant the seeds of marital bliss today and insha Allah, you too will enjoy a life filled with the beauty and satisfaction of a blossoming love affair with your spouse.
This article was first published in SISTERS, the magazine for fabulous Muslim women. Visit the SISTERS website at www.sisters-magazine.com to read more articles - and download a complimentary issue!