The Seven Principles for making Marriage work book review

So I wanted to share some thoughts on this book, The seven principles for making marriage work by John Gottman. This book was actually recommend by Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed at her event that I attended last year about marriage.

My rating: 4/5
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This book teaches us methods that the author has tried and tested on many couples over the years to create a happy marriage. It has easy to follow exercises that you can do as a couple to help resolve conflicts, improve communication, nurture love, fondness and respect for each other.

I found the book very useful and insightful in helping to improve my own marriage. Although there are small things I disagree with the majority of the book is very relatable and easy to understand.

What can make a marriage work is surprisingly simple. Happily married couples aren’t smarter, richer, or more psychologically astute than others. But in their day to day lives, they have hit upon a dynamic that keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other (which all couples have) from overwhelming their positive ones. They have what I call an emotionally intelligent marriage.

He first discusses signs of a unhappy marriage and one of the first things discussed in his book, are things that are so toxic to a marriage that he’s named it the four horsemen of the apocalypse. They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. He discusses how these can create long term problems and eventually lead to the couple becoming emotionally distant and can even cause divorce if they aren’t dealt with.

Then each chapter discusses a principle that will help to achieve a happy marriage.

The first principle is Enhancing your love maps. He explains that couples with detailed love maps of each other are better able to cope with stressful events or conflicts. Having a detailed love map means that they are intimately familiar with each other’s worlds.

The second principle is nurturing your fondness and admiration for each other. This is where you build on the belief that your spouse is worthy of being respected and liked. Reminding yourself of your spouses positive qualities even if you struggle with a negative one.

The third principle is turning toward each other instead of away. So the little things you do on a day to day basis has a greater impact on your marriage than going away for a holiday for example. The way you respond to your spouse can have a big impact on your emotional connection.

The fourth principle is letting your partner influence you. It’s important that you and your spouse make decisions together and you honour and respect each other’s feelings and opinions.

The next principle that was discussed was the two types of conflict, one that you are able to solve and the other that is perpetual. He discussed ways in which we can solve the solvable conflicts through several techniques in how we discuss them.

The sixth principle was overcoming gridlock, where a couple is stuck on a conflict for so long they feel they can no longer move past it. They are conflicts that keep coming up again and again, issues with in laws, when to have children, how to raise your children etc. These issues may never be resolved completely but the goal was to move out of the gridlock and to be able to reach a compromise.

The last principle was creating a shared meaning, so you are not just roommates that have seperate lives but you have goals and you create a life together that has deeper purpose than just sharing chores and looking after kids.

I found this book hugely beneficial even though I read it feeling unsure as to what I would gain from it. His writing can be a bit annoying at times but it well worth reading. Everyone has issues in their marriage, especially at the beginning when we’re learning how to communicate and understand each other but this book actually has really helpful advice in making it more effective.

There was a few things I disagreed with, for example he said the husband should always side with the wife in a disagreement between his wife and his mother. I don’t think it’s just to do that. Instead the husband needs to always remain just in all situations.

I think this is beneficial for anyone who is looking to find ways to strengthen their marriage and help to build better communication and understanding and to resolve conflicts.

Also if you’re interested in books check out my Instagram account @thetsundokuchronicles

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The Benefits of Reading

So I recently shared my love for reading but many people just see it as something to do for enjoyment. But there are so many benefits from reading regularly. I will go through some of them here and maybe it will inspire some of you to read regularly inshaAllah.

So some of the many benefits are:

1) Mental stimulation

Studies have shown that reading slows the progress of alzheimer’s and dementia and can even prevent them from developing. This is because keeping the brain active prevents it from losing power and enables the brain to stay strong and healthy.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

2) Reduces stress

No matter how stressed you are, you can lose yourself in a great story which will distract you for a short time, letting you ease your tension. Even if you spend 10-15 minutes reading in the evening or before you go to bed, will mean you are much more relaxed when you go to sleep. This will allow you to have a more restful sleep leaving you refreshed for the next day.

3) Knowledge

Every time you read, you learn something new. It could be a new word or a literary technique or a new piece of information or even how people react to a situation. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you will be to tackle the different situations you will face in your life. Gaining knowledge is very important to be able to progress in life and reading is one of the most effective ways to do it. Even the First word revealed in the Quran was ‘read’ this alone should indicate how important and beneficial reading is for us.

The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one that makes you think. – Harper Lee

4) Increased vocabulary

So carrying on from the last point, reading vastly improved your vocabulary. The more you read, the more words you’re exposed to which will give you a wider vocabulary to use for yourself. It will help you to become more articulate in your speech, which will be especially useful in a professional setting. Being able to speak more clearly and better explain yourself will help to increase your confidence and self esteem too.

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. – Mark Twain

5) Memory improvement

When you read, you have to remember a number of things to understand the story. From the characters backgrounds to subplots, so your brain creates new synapses for each new memory and will strengthen old ones.

A library is a hospital for the mind – Anonymous

6) Focus and concentration

We live in such a busy society that we often try to divide our attention between several things which increases stress levels and lowers our productivity. Reading is an activity that requires your full concentration so focusing on that one thing even for 10-15 minutes can improve your focus for the rest of the day.

7) Better writing skills

The more exposure you have to well written work, the better your own writing will be. One of the things authors say when trying to write is to read as much as you can. When you read you will pick up lots of literary techniques which will improve your own writing.

Libraries were full of ideas perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons. – Sarah J. Maas

8) Tranquility

Depending on what you read, it can help you find inner peace. So for us reading the Quran helps us to be more tranquil and calm. Reading self help books can help to improve certain areas in your life which help to also bring a sense of peace.

9) Improves empathy

Books can provide life changing perspective, reading the lives of characters can strengthen your ability to understand other people’s feelings and what others may be going through. For example many of us don’t really understand what someone who suffers from abuse goes through unless we experience it ourselves. But reading through the eyes of a character who may be suffering from abuse can help us to understand what real life victims may go through.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. – George R.R. Martin

So these are just SOME of the many benefits of reading! I hope these inspire some of you to pick up a book! If any of you think of any more please do comment below!

If you don’t like to read you just haven’t found the right book – J.K Rowling

What about the bad actions of Muslims and what does that have to do with Islam?

What about the bad actions of Muslims and what does that have to do with Islam?

By the age of 15, Khadija started questioning Christianity and decided to join a Bible study group to find answers. Unable to, she later met Muslims and her interest in Islam began. But she wondered about the bad Muslims she came across.

Watch on to see how God guided her and helped her overcome…

When becoming Muslim gets you a visit from the police

When becoming Muslim gets you a visit from the police…

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James came to a point where he accepted Islam as the truth. But he kept delaying his conversion because he was scared of changing his life. Until he got a visit from the police.

Watch on to see how God guided him and helped him overcome…

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.