Justice in our Relationships

Amongst many families today especially where in laws are involved there is something very important lacking. That is justice.

It is so important for each member of the family be just in their treatment. The main issue generally arises between the mother/sister in law and the daughter in law. These isues can lead to a lot of hurt and stress for those involved. It can cause stress between son and mother and between husband and wife relationship.

If everyone was just in their treatment of others there would be much more harmony in these relationships.

The daughter in law is not inferior or the maid of the family. She should be treated with respect. She is not obliged to serve her in laws and should not be forced to do so. In the same way the mother in law should be respected and treated in a kind manner.

Most importantly it is necessary for the husband to be just in his treatment especially when problems arise. He should not blindly just side with one or the other. But look at both views and ensure that no one is treated unjustly. Speak to both of them kindly but do not allow one to transgress the other.

Although it may be difficult at first to do this it will eventually become easier and in the long term allow people to live more harmoniously with one another.

Everlasting Marriage part 4

In the last post I spoke about what helps you to make a connection with your spouse. Now I will go through what destroys a relationship.

So when I discussed what makes a connection, a marriage expert John Gottman, through many studies and experience discovered that each relationship has to have a certain percentage of turning towards behaviour. In other words 80% of the time the spouses reaction needs to be to take the hand. Otherwise the relationship will fail.

He discussed in his book four things that destroy a relationship. They are so toxic in a relationship that he called them the four horseman. They are: Critisism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.

1. Critisism is when you attack the person rather than the behaviour. So, for example, instead of saying you felt hurt by an action, you say that your spouse is selfish.

2. Contempt is when you talk to them with superiority, like you’re mocking the person. As if you are better than them.

3. Defensiveness is attacking the person rather then taking responsibility. If your spouse tells you they feel hurt, instead of saying sorry, you say that they did something first and that’s why you said what you said.

4. Stonewalling is when you just shut down and disengage.

Constantly doing these things will eventually cut your connection with your spouse. If we want to say something to our spouse we should focus on how we felt. So instead of saying you’re selfish, say I felt hurt when you didn’t consider me. This will be more productive in trying to resolve the issue and less likely to escalate into a fight.

Marriage is supposed to be a refuge where you both can feel safe and find tranquility.

One of the best things you can do to help strengthen your marriage is to build a strong relationship with Allah.

This is the last post in this series. I hope you will find these notes I made beneficial inshaAllah.

Everlasting Marriage part 3

So previously I discussed how Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed spoke about love and how we each love differently. She then spoke about the next part of the ayah which says that not only should there be love between spouses but also mercy.

She defined mercy as; Even when you are angry or upset with your spouse you still don’t want them to be harmed. She described how a couple sitting on a bench facing away from each other, clearly angry, yet as it was raining the husband still held the umbrella over his wife to stop her from getting wet. That, she said, was mercy.

The death of a relationship is when there is no mercy left in it.

Passion, love, intimacy, all of these things go up and down in a relationship but the mercy needs to be consistent. So even if you’re not feeling loving towards your spouse your mercy should still remain.

As a side note; she also mentioned that there are some cases where divorce is necessary and we should not stigmatise people who are getting divorced or are divorced. We should however ensure that we separate on good terms and not spend all that time attacking each other. If no one was supposed to get divorced then it would have been made haram.

In trying to build that love and mercy, your spouse will try to make a connection. They will offer you their hand by trying to make a conversation, for example. There are 3 ways in which you can respond. You can take the hand, you can hit the hand away or you can ignore the hand.

Taking the hand will be the best response, it is what will build that love and mercy. When you take the hand you need to give them your attention, you should face them and you give them respect and importance. It is important for your spouse to know that you love them. You do that by the way you react to what they say or do. Even if they start a conversation about something that doesn’t interest you, you shouldn’t dismiss what they said. It’s all about building the bond regardless of what the actual  conversation is about.

The Prophet (saw) would publicly declare his love for his wife.

Another way to respond would be to hit the hand away. Your response is, who cares. You disrespect and belittle what they say. You act like you don’t have time to listen to them.

The third way to respond would be to ignore the hand. You show no interest, have no reaction to what they said. Your body language shows that what they said is not important.

Both these two ways of responding will create distance between you and your spouse and it can cause problems in your relationship.

Sister Yasmin Mogahed discussed the four things that destroy a relationship. In the next post I will go through them.

Everlasting Marriage part 2

So in the last post I mentioned the 5 love languages. We discussed each of these love languages and how because we all have different ways of feeling loved we should take the time to learn how our spouse feels loved and show our love in a language they understand. To be able to do that we need to know what the love languages are.

They are:

1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality time
3. Receiving gifts
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch

1. One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build the person up and not tearing them down. Using verbal compliments or words of appreciation are powerful ways to communicate love. Simple statements such as, I feel like I can count on you, can have profound effects on your spouse and your marriage. Saying words of encouragement is another way to express love. Sometimes your spouse just needs words of encouragement to pursue an interest or some untapped potential. The way in which you speak can change the meaning of your words so it’s important to use kind words. When we speak to our spouse we should make requests not demands. Humble words should be used, you are equals.

2. Giving your spouse your undivided attention can be so important. Doing something together whether it’s going for a walk or sitting together on the sofa, paying attention to each other without any distractions. Give your spouse your focused attention, have a good quality conversation and do something together like going out for dinner or spending the weekend away or going for a walk. It’s important to make time for your spouse, it’s not what you do together but why you do it. The experience should make you feel like your spouse cares about you.

3. Gifts are a visual symbol of love. Receiving gifts can be very important to some people. Giving gifts comes naturally to some while others find it difficult. But it’s important to know if your spouse likes to receive gifts and it makes them feel loved that you should do your best to give regular gifts. It’s not about the price of the gift as long as it’s meaningful to them. It could even be something you make if finances are limited.

4. Acts of service are doing things your spouse would like you to do. Actions such as washing dishes, cooking, hoovering, paying bills etc. These things require though, planning, time, effort and energy. For some, when their spouse does these for them it’s an expression of love. Finding out some things your spouse would like you to do and doing these things regularly helps to show your spouse to love them eg. Hoovering every week. These things should be done out of love and not be forced or out of fear or guilt. Some of us may need to reexamine our stereotypes of the roles of husband and wife.

5. Physical touch is a powerful way of communicating marital love. From holding hands or hugging or sexual intimacy, these are all ways to express love. For someone whos love language is physical touch, not getting that can make them feel unloved. Eg. If the wife feels loved by physical touch then it is more important to hold her if she’s upset than to say comforting words.

These are the different ways or “languages” in which people feel and express love. It is important to understand the way in which you feel loved and the way in which your spouse feels loved. If you feel loved by acts of service but your husband feels loved by words of affirmation then you must express your love with words and your husband should express his love through acts of service. Otherwise you may feel you are showing your love but your spouse doesn’t speak that language and will end up feeling unloved.

Only when you are aware of your differences can you start to make compromises. As they say, knowledge is power. No relationship can work with the ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.

More details for this can be found in the book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. He has a personal profile for husbands and wives in which you can discover your love language and then discuss that with your spouse.

In the next post I will discuss what Ustadha Yasmin spoke to us about mercy within marriage.

Oppressive Marriages and the Shaming Culture

There are many women in our community that are stuck in marriages that they want to leave. They might have a husband who is emotionally or psychologically abusive, or he is physically abusive or he’s repeatedly cheated on her or that they’re so incompatible on so many levels that there is no way for them to have a successful marriage.
But they are forced to stay by family and friends because of the stigma attached to leaving their marriage. They are told to have patience and just stay with him. The reasons they are told is because “what will people say” or “stay for the sake of your children.” They are pressured and shamed into staying.
But this isn’t what we see when we look at the seerah of the prophet (saw). He did not tell women to stay because it will affect your child. He didn’t say that you should worry about what the community will think over your own safety and well being.
Women came to him asking for divorce and he never shamed them or pressured them into staying.
We forget that the toxic environment is detrimental to not only the wife but also to the children. They learn that abuse is okay. They learn that that marriage is not peace and tranquility, it’s a prison. And I always wonder why would you raise your children around someone who is not a good role model. They will learn that behaviour.
Now im not saying that we should get divorced at the first sign of small issues but there are legitimate reasons for women to separate themselves from an abusive and oppressive marriage.
We need to change our mindset towards these things. We need to stop shaming the women into staying. It is difficult enough for these women so don’t add humiliation and shame to make things even harder for them.
With this attitude we oppress the oppressed and empower the oppressor.

Ramadan Reflection – They are a Clothing for you

They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them. Quran (2:187)

This ayah is so famous. Everyone knows it. We may not know where in the Quran it is but we have most likely heard it before.

But you know what I never realised that this is part of the ayah about being with your spouse in Ramadan. It actually is part of a long ayah but it never really hit me, the significance of it being in this particular place.

It comes in the section of ayah that speak about fasting during Ramadan. Before this ayah, Allah speaks about those who are exempt from fasting and then Allah tells us how He will answer us if we call Him. It speaks about dua and that He is near.

Straight after this Allah tells us He has made marital relations permissible in the night. Then says “they are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.”

This made me realise that there has to be a connection between increasing our taqwa and having a good husband and wife relationship.

As we spend this month fasting and in dhikr, praying and reading Quran we should see that reflect in our marriage. Our God consciousness should make us more conscious of how we treat our spouse. These acts of worship should help us improve our character and this should be most prevalent in how we speak and behave with our spouse.

These acts of worship shouldn’t be just a ritual we do but we should put it into action in our daily lives. So as we read the Quran and it tells us the characteristics of the believers implement them. It tells us about diseases of the heart try and remove it from within yourself.

Reflecting on this ayah alone tells us so much about how to be with our spouse. We should look for the good in them. We should cover their faults from others so that means we shouldn’t go round telling others things that annoy you about your spouse. Beautify your spouse.

It is such a blessed time to work on your marriage. There are no shayateen to whisper in your ear to cause disunity between you. As we are more God conscious, we are more aware that Allah is watching us, we should behave in such a way that we will happy to know that Allah is watching.

So use this month to also work on your marriage. As you improve your relationship with Allah also improve your relationship with your spouse.

Ramadan Reflection

Last night after iftar I literally passed out from my migraine. To wake up an hour later thinking I need to clear up the kitchen, only to find that my husband has cleared everything so that I can rest. He stayed home instead of going taraweeh and prayed at home so he could look after me as I had double vision (aren’t migraines amazing!).
It was at this moment I truly understood what true love is. I understood the ayah that speak about marriage and the husband wife relationship on a whole new level.
It isn’t about the fancy gifts we give each other or the holidays we go on or the restaurants we go to. It’s about being there for each other when we are at our weakest. It’s about caring for each other when we need them most. It’s supporting each other when we feel like nothing will get better.
Today I truly understood what the ayah means when Allah says they will be the coolness of our eyes. When Allah says that we are garments for one another. That we should live in tranquility with one another. That He has put love and mercy between our hearts.
Because at that moment I felt the peace and tranquility when I looked at him. I saw how he cared for me. How he covered me and looked after me. I saw that it was his love and mercy for me that he did all this for me. I truly felt that coolness when I looked at him. And I realised that the most important moments of our marriage are times like this. At this moment I truly felt thankful for the amazing husband I was given. Alhamdulillah.
And through this I felt closer to Allah. I felt a connection with Allah. That I was able to truly be thankful to Him for my husband. And then I realised that this is why Allah tells us that these are signs for those who reflect. Because our marriage and especially these moments in our marriage are signs to lead us to Him.