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

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


An Explanation of Allahs Beautiful Names and Attributes part 7

13) Al-Jabbaar
This Name of Allah appears in the Qur’an once. Allah says:
He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him. [al Hashr 59:23]
Linguistic meaning:
· comes from Jabara – to repair/mend/correct/provide a remedy.
· Jabbaar means ‘adheem (mighty), qawee (powerful), taweel (high over everything)
Shar’ee meaning:
· at-Tabari says: it means one who takes care of whole of creation, commands the whole of creation, does what will help/benefit them and does things that will test them.
· Qatadah says: al-Jabbār is One who does what He wants, commands what He wants. He makes it obligatory on the creation like the rain, the sun, the clouds, to run on its fixed courses, they are compelled by Allah to do exactly what He wants them to do. As for mankind some say we are compelled to do everything, we have no free will. Some say Allah doesn’t know what we are going to do; we do it however we want to do it. Ahlus-Sunnah say, Allah has allowed for us to do good deeds and bad deeds and He knows exactly what we are going to do.
4 ranks of Qadar
1. Al ilm – the knowledge. Allah knew exactly what was going to take place, before anything happened. He knew absolutely everything.
2. Al kitaaba – the writing. Allah commanded the pen to write down what will occur, from the beginning of time to the end of time.
3. Mashe’ah – free will. Then Allah allowed the things to take place, He granted the things to happen.
4. Khalq; creation/creating – then He created the creation for these things to happen / to be carried out.
The writing of the qadar hasn’t forced the creation to do anything because Allah has allowed things to happen. Then He created the things that will happen. Free will has already been allowed even before we were created. Thus Allah being Al Jabbaar, the One who compels and does what He wants to the creation, He compels and forces the creation that doesn’t have free will to run exactly how He wants. Then, He has prohibited what He wanted to prohibit and made obligatory what He wanted to make obligatory. He has rule over the whole of creation but as a sign of being just, He allowed us to have free will to do what we want to do so that on yawmal qiyamah, we have no argument that we didn’t have a choice in what we chose to do. Imam S’adi said Al Jabbār is the Compeller. Includes being above the whole of creation. He is the one that deserves the du’a [calling] of the people.
Three types of jabr
Jabbaar occurs ten times in the Quran, but is only used once for Allah ‗azza wa jall. Nine times jabbaar refers to the people oppressing others and only Allah is al-Jabbaar in a positive sense. His might is in the sense of power; Al-Jabbaar is the One who compels the tyrants, overwhelming them with His power and might.
His might is in the sense of mercy; Al-Jabbaar mends the broken-hearted by restoring peace of mind as well as reward if they are patient. Allah says about Umm Musa
And the heart of Musa‘s mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers. [al Qasas, 28:10]
Allah Al-Jabbaar mended her heart and so is He comforting to the oppressed and firm with the unjust; both Fir‘awn and the mother of Musa alayhi sallam will deal with Al-Jabbaar. He is the One Who solaces and comforts the oppressed and punishes the tyrants and arrogant. His might is also in the sense of greatness; Al-Jabbaar is far above His creation, yet close to them, hearing and seeing all they say, do, and even what they think.
Al Jabbaar – The Mender
An amazing example of Allah being Al Jabbaar the Mender is seen in the story of at-Taa‘if. After Rasoolullah sallalahu alayhi wassalam was driven out of the city in such a cruel way, his body and heart were literally broken and this is seen in the du‘a he made immediately after this incident.
O Allah I complain to you of my weakness, my lack of resources and being unimportant before the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful. You are the Lord of the weak and You are my Lord too. To whom do you leave me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy You have given authority over my affairs? As long as You are not angry/displeased with me, I do not care. Your favour is of a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the hereafter is set aright lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased and there is no might nor power except with You.
This was the call of Our Prophet, broken out of fear that Allah was displeased or angry with him. Allah mended his heart in many ways after this incident. He first sent the Christian slave Addas to Rasoolullah with grapes, who recognised him as a Messenger of Allah and who hugged and kissed his blessed feet. Then Allah sent Jibreel who told him about the angel of the mountain who was ready to destroy the people if the Messenger so wills. But we all know Rasoolullah sallalahu alayhi wa sallam said not to do so, for he had hope that from the descendents of the people of Taa‘if, will come those who say la ilaaha illalah. And soon after this incident the biggest mending came from Al Jabbaar in the form of the miraculous journey of Israa wal mi‘raaj. Also the people of Taa‘if did become Muslim, after the opening of Makkah. Truly Allah heals the hearts of the broken. So when we are broken due to any of life‘s hardships and calamities, we should call upon Allah just like Rasoolullah sallahu‘alayhi wassalam did, and then we will see the way Allah manifests this name Al Jabbaar in our lives.
Benefits that we can learn from this Name
1. Everything is predestined. Know that Allah has decreed what He wants to decree and He changes the decree how He wants but any changes are already part of what He wrote. The du’a of a person is raised up to Allah and if something that was going to befall a person was coming down, the du’a fights the qadar, until the qadar returns. But that du’a itself was part of qadar and it was allowed by Allah to overcome the qadar that was coming down.
2. Allah does everything with a Principle, He is the law giver, Al Jabbār, doesn’t command anything except that it is completely or predominately beneficial. And that He doesn’t prohibit anything except that it is completely or predominantly harmful. An example of this is alcohol. Although there may be some benefit in alcohol, it is predominantly harmful and thus it is prohibited. Allah says:
They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.” And they ask you what they should spend. Say, “The excess [beyond needs].” Thus Allah makes clear to you the verses [of revelation] that you might give thought. [al Baqarah 2:219]
3. Reflect on how Al Jabbaar compels you. Al Jabbaar compels you by creating you in the way He wills you to be. You are compelled to accept your form and shape as well as the beating of your heart, your blood circulation, firing nerve cells, the way your brain works, falling asleep, and waking up. These are all involuntary actions– they are compelled by Allah‘s power. Every day, take time to reflect on the way you are made and let it increase you in emaan in the perfect power and might of Al Jabbār, who compels the creation to be as He wishes.
4. Don‘t be jabbaar. The attribute of jabr does not befit people; you are supposed to be an ‗abd (slave) of Al-Jabbaar. Jabbaar is not just tyrant ruler; you can be jabbaar when you harm or hurt other people‘s feeling or undermine their authority. Thus does Allah seal over every heart [belonging to] an arrogant tyrant. [al Ghaafir, 40:35]. An example is not listening to your parents and hurting them by your words or actions. Allah says to not say to them [so much as], uff, and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. [al Israa, 17:23]. So never be arrogant.
5. Mend someone‘s heart. If you have oppressed someone, ask for their forgiveness straight away. If you see people suffering, try to talk to them and show them your care. Mend someone‘s heart because Al Jabbaar will mend yours in times of need.
6. Turn to Al Jabbaar to fix your faults . Do you feel like you don‘t have enough time or skills to accomplish your goals? Never lower your standards; rather raise your faith in Al Jabbār to fix your deficiencies, put your life in order, and transform your sins.
14) Al Mutakabbir
This Name of Allah is mentioned in the Qur’an once. Allah says:
He is Allah, other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him. [al Hashr 59:23]
Linguistic Meaning
1) To be great/kabeer, like the Name al-Kabeer or al-Akbar.
2) To be proud – something that is disliked in the characteristic for the creation, but as for the Creator it is pure and perfect.
Shar’ee meaning:
How is Allah Al-Mutakabbir? Allah is the only one that can be Mutakabbir for every benefit and blessing the creation has, it is due to Allah. We haven’t perfected any of the characteristics that Allah has given us, such as hearing, seeing – they are all limited because we are from the creation. But Allah is perfect in every characteristic. He was Al-Khāliq, before He even created. He was Al-Ghafoor before He forgave. He has no limit. He is proud for all of His Names and Attributes, they come from a pure, perfect form. Al Qatadah says: He is proud that He has no shar (evil). He is proud because He has no deficiencies, He judges justly. He has no sign or characteristic of evil. He is proud because He is the greatest, the Lord above the throne, He has the greatest reward and greatest punishment. He can command whatever He wants.
Allah Al-Mutakabbir versus the arrogant 
Allah azza wa jall describes people as mutakabbireen (arrogant) on multiple occasions in the Quran. They have arrogance in their hearts and actions towards Allah by disbelieving in His signs and they are arrogant to other people by looking down on them due to position, race, wealth, etc. The Prophet salallahu ‗alayhi wa sallam said: Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, arrogance is: rejecting the truth and looking down on people. [Muslim, At-Tirmidhee] Only Allah is al-Mutakabbir in a positive sense.
A lesson on how to battle pride
What is the opposite of kibr (arrogance)? It is humility, the adornment of a believer. Abu Hurayrah radiyallaahu anhu narrated that the Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam said: no one will exercise humility for Allah‘s sake, except that Allah will raise him up [Muslim]
Urwah ibn Zubair radiyallaahu anhu said: I saw Umar carrying a large leather water canteen on his shoulder. I said to him, O Amir-ul-Mu‘mineen, you shouldn‘t be carrying that‘. Umar replied by saying, a delegation came to Medina and I saw their obedience to me, and some ‗nakwah‘ entered into my heart and I wanted to destroy it. We all know of the strong personality of Umar radiyallaahu anhu and yet when a small amount of pride (nakwah) entered into his heart, he hurried in an attempt to destroy it before it destroyed him.
Benefits we can learn from this Name
1. Fills the heart with true understanding and true comprehension that Allah has perfect Names and Attributes. Fills our heart with knowledge that Allah is Al Mutakabbir.
2. Sign to us all, that whenever we have any pride for any of the blessings Allah has given us, it can cause it to be taken away by Allah due to this pride.
3. Be great by being humble. The greatest strength that you can attain is to have true reliance upon Allah azza wa jall and to seek His support in hardship and ease. The highest level of greatness you can attain is to show humility to your Lord.
4. Respect others for the sake of Allah. Allah says:
O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the Name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers. [al Hujaraat 49:11].
Your knowledge of others is only by perception. Don‘t mock or insult others as they might have a higher position with Al-Mutakabbir than yourself. The Prophet salallaahu alayhi wa sallam said: Whoever possesses an atom‘s weight of kibr will not enter into the paradise [Muslim]. Abu Bakr radiyallaahu anhu said: Let not any Muslim belittle another Muslim, for the lowest of the Muslims is great in the Sight of Allah.
5. Battle arrogance. Allah azza wa jall is the only true king and you are His slave let‘s not forget this. It‘s easy to fall into arrogance (takabbur), thinking you know better and transgressing the limits set by Allah al-Mutakabbir. Keep checking your heart for feelings of arrogance creeping in and deal with them straight away by reminding yourself of the greatness of Allah. Al-Hasan al-Basri said: I wonder at the son of Adam! He uses his hand to wash himself from his waste once or twice a day, yet he seeks to compete with the All-Mighty? Don‘t get carried away with your wealth or achievements, know it is from Al-Mutakabbir and not from yourself. The way to avoid arrogance is to remember Allah as much as we can until it becomes a habit to instantly thank Him for any good that comes our way, so increase in saying alhamdulillah. Every day ask Allah al-Mutakabbir to save you and protect you from the evil of pride and arrogance.