What Makes A Great Marriage?
There are many definitions of a great marriage. If you have an opinion, then you have your own idea of a marriage you can be proud of. But I’m going to break all of this down into a simple, albeit blunt, concept.
And I sincerely ask your forgiveness for being so blunt and frank.
A great marriage is when you can have sex with your best friend without any change to relationship.
Take all the psychological, interpersonal mumbo-jumbo and it all boils down to this single idea.
If your spouse is your best friend, and intimacy is not a problem between you two, then you’ve got yourself a great marriage. Children, finances, business, and yes, even spirituality, are just icing on the cake.
The first part of this equation is pretty easy. Hormones and lust can help complete strangers find intimacy if even only for one night.
But like we all know, finding really good friends, and maintaining and strengthening that friendship, is much, much more difficult.
A Great Marriage Is Like A Great Friendship (Only Better)
I get a lot of emails and messages from (mostly) young women complaining about their husbands for some reason or another. Oftentimes, those complaints are legit. Sometimes men mistake “friend” for “buddy.”
A friend is someone you care for. A friend is almost like a sibling and may sometimes be even closer. A friend is someone you love whom your life would be incomplete without.
A buddy is someone you can chill with. Someone you like hanging out with every now and then. There are few expectations and if either of you were to move away, the relationship would probably fade without any serious changes to your lives.
Too often, the Muslim men I hear about in these letters are treating their wives like buddies. They want someone they can hang out with, who doesn’t mind them coming over to play video games every now and then, doesn’t want too deep of a relationship, and might even spot them a twenty if need be.
But sometimes, the women in these letters are mistaking “friend” for “superhero.” And are often upset when they realize they’re not married to a superhero.
Sometimes these young women want a man who is an Islamic scholar, has memorized the entire Quran, is a doctor (or an engineer would do in a pinch), has an Olympian’s body, loves to cook and clean, is great with kids, and has managed to extinguish his desire for every other woman but her.
A true friendship is neither of these extreme scenarios and takes years to build. Hence the name of this article is BUILD a marriage you can be proud of.
These Things Take Time
Just like building a house or a Masjid takes time, planning, correcting mistakes, and sometimes even starting over, building a marriage takes the same.
Think of your real best friend (not your spouse). How long have you known that person? When did you know he or she was your best friend? Did you automatically like each other after the first meeting? Were there ever any moments when the friendship was strained?
Just like your non-marital friendships take time and effort and sometimes just plain old luck (or Qadr for the spiritually inclined), your marriage is the same. You will have to invest something besides your expectations in order for your marriage to succeed.
There Are No More Soul Mates
As far as I know, there are only two couples where their marriage was divinely inspired:
Adam (AS) and Hawwa (Eve), and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Aisha (RA).
Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: You were shown to me twice in my dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me ‘This is your wife.’ I uncovered it, and behold, it was you. I said, if this is from Allah then He will make it happen.
Narrated in Bukhari
The rest of us don’t have that luxury. The rest of us have to work on our marriages in order for them to work. The rest of us have to accept that things won’t be perfect and that there are no guarantees.
For this reason, I don’t believe in the idea of soul mates. Two people are not created for each other. None of us can say that Allah created us specifically to marry our spouse.
Even Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) married women both before and after Aisha. And from some narrations, he might have loved Khadijah (RA) more than he loved Aisha (RA).
Islam Should Be The Foundation
My point in this diatribe against soul mates is that we set ourselves up for failure when we have these ridiculous expectations of marriage. Many young (and older couples) believe a marriage is a divine union set up by Allah Himself. Therefore, since Allah put their marriage together (in their minds) everything will somehow work itself out in the end.
Of course, everything is decreed by Allah. I’m not saying any of us can act independently of Allah’s Will. But to expect a marriage to work by divine decree is like expecting a business to work the same way.
No one thinks that just because Allah allows us to start a business that it would succeed by dua and hope alone. Then why do we have the same foolish expectations of marriage?
However, a business or friendship that is based on Islamic principles would certainly be blessed by Allah. Likewise, the same goes for a marriage.
While it does not guarantee longevity or success, ensuring your marriage is being carried out correctly and according to Islamic principles will at least bring Allah’s Blessings and Mercy. And this is not easy to spell out, but there’s a lot more to this than simply having an Islamic wedding.
But here are some hints:
Brothers, if you’re sneaking porn in your household, then expect there to be problems in your marriage, even if your wife never finds out.
Sisters, if you’re exposing your husband’s faults to others, then expect problems in your marriage, even if your husband never finds out.
Doing these sinful things (without repentance) may remove Allah’s Mercy from your marriage.
For context, just imagine what would happen if you ran a business that sold beer or had a friend you constantly slandered.
How long would you expect Allah’s Mercy to remain?
Building a marriage you can be proud of is like building a business or friendship you can be proud of. It will not be perfect nor will amazing things happen overnight.
But if you put your trust in Allah, work hard at it, recognize your mistakes and how you can improve, Inshallah, you will be successful.