Stop Talking About Your Rights
Articles and books that contain the phrase “Rights of the Muslim Wife/Husband” should be banned. Those are some of the worst and destructive articles I’ve ever encountered in the English-Muslim world.
This is not to say that Muslim men and women do not have rights. Of course they do. But I don’t think it’s wise for newly married Muslims, especially young Muslims, to focus so much on their “rights” at the beginning of their marriage.
First of all, I really believe most of these “Rights of the Muslim Wife” articles are a response to Western criticism of Islam and women. In order to prove that Islam treats women fairly, many Western Muslim authors came up with these compilations of all the “rights” Muslim women have.
And I’ve heard a lot of men emphasize the “Rights of Men” most vociferously when it comes to polygamy. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that Allah has permitted polygamy. But I don’t think it’s wise for Muslim men to wave this “right” in their wive’s faces every time they have a disagreement.
The purpose of this article, is to give young Muslim men and women, just starting off in marriage a little advice. These are a few things you guys can do to make sure your marriage does last long and that it is a happy one.
What you don’t want is to find yourself at 38 years old, stuck in an unhappy marriage, with three or four kids, and hating the man or woman you see every day.
You don’t want to spend your 30’s and 40’s regretting the decision to marry the person you married 10-15 years earlier.
You don’t want a halal roommate which is what many Muslim marriages in the West turn out to be.
The most depressing thing I’ve ever seen is a married man and woman who hate each other, but are stuck with each other. I’m sure there are worse things in life, but I hate to imagine them.
And if you’re young and just married or thinking about getting married, you want to avoid that destiny at all costs. It can ruin your life, both mentally and spiritually.
It’s very difficult to be a devout, believing Muslim when you hate your wife or husband.
And it’s very easy to commit sin and transgress your spouse’s rights when you can’t stand the site of their face.
Therefore, utilizing what I’ve learned in the past year of answering countless emails regarding marriage difficulties and having been blessed with a happy 14 year (and counting) marriage, I’m going to share some wisdom.
This little list I make is meant to help you young Muslims (and some of you older ones also) get your marriage started off on the right track.
Muslim Men Starting Off In Marriage
Your wife is young. A few years ago she was listening to Justin Beiber and texting for hours with her friends. You can’t expect for her to know everything your mother knows overnight.
She might also be a little headstrong and used to getting things her way. Or not. Whatever the case, remember that she’s human and just like you, she’s prone to mistakes. She’s going to say things that will tick you off. She’s not going to understand all of your weird little moods.
As time goes by, she will learn and adjust and mature and grow. She might burn the couscous now, but she’ll get it right eventually (Inshallah!).
Women need companionship. So be her companion. You have to listen to her. Even if she’s talking about stuff that means absolutely nothing to you (that will happen a lot), listen to her anyway.
And don’t just pretend to listen, saying “yes dear” at the appropriate times, all while you’re thinking of something else.
Actually, truly, listen. Look at her. Ask questions. Give feedback.
Watch the following video to get an idea about what I mean (this video is just for laughs; don’t take it seriously).
Learn To Apologize
You’re not always right. In fact, sometimes you’re going to be absolutely wrong.
Men sometimes have a hard time admitting their faults and acknowledging when they screw up. It’s like we feel it makes us weaker.
But actually it can put you in a position of strength. For one thing, it makes you more trustworthy. And you’re also seen as more human and less arrogant when you admit to being wrong.
You must do the same thing with your wife. Whether you want to or not, you will inevitably do something wrong to her. It may just be a word or a phrase that you don’t take seriously. But to her, it can mean a lot.
When these things happen, and you become aware of it, apologize to her. That can really mean a lot more than all the material gifts in the world.
And just in case you’re not wrong, be prepared to apologize anyway. Trust me, it’ll work out better for you in the long run.
Learn To Forgive
Just like you’re going to wrong her sometimes, she will wrong you sometimes. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not.
One of the tricks Shaytan plays is to keep whispering to us and reminding us of what someone else did in the past. He works on our emotions and makes it difficult for us to forgive and move on.
Don’t fall into that trap!
When (not if) your wife does something that upsets you or even is wrong, you have to learn to forgive. And I mean truly forgive her.
Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t constantly drudge up something she did three years ago everytime you get into an argument. Don’t remind her of all the mistakes she made.
Forgive. Forget. Move on.
Of course, I’m speaking of minor infractions. I’m not advising you to overlook major sins like adultery and heresy.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Most of the things your wife will want from you are rather simple. She’ll want small things that really won’t trouble you.
- Some of your time.
- A token of your appreciation.
- A thank you every now and then.
- A new car every other year.
Okay, that last one isn’t so simple. And you should put your foot down if your wife is making such a demand.
But the other things, I’m sure you can handle.
Don’t Take Anything For Granted
There’s a song called “Big Yellow Taxi” with the lyrics: You don’t know what you go till it’s gone.”
I’m not advising you to go listen to that song! So don’t clog up the comments with a bunch of condemnations! I just want you to focus on those lyrics.
You’ll never realize how much you appreciate your wife until you lose her. Your wife can be the biggest asset you’ll ever have (after Islam) if you have a healthy marriage.
Don’t take anything she does for you for granted! If you end up raising great kids and having a wonderful career, then it would have been nearly impossible without your wife’s support.
Of course, all praises and thanks for all good you receive are for Allah. But you must also be thankful and grateful to those people who do good for you.
Narrated by Abu Hurairah: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: ‘Whoever is not grateful to the people, is not grateful to Allah.'” Jami Tirmidhi.
It is very unhealthy and unwise to take the attitude that your wife has to do certain things for you. Of course, as a Muslim, she must obey you as Allah has commanded her.
But you’ll be doing yourself a major disservice by using that against her and treating her like a servant or slave. If you want a peaceful, happy, and loving marriage, appreciate every little thing she does for you.
This is the most important advice of all. Always remember that Allah is watching your every move. And every little thing you say and do is being recorded and you will be called to account for them.
If you are oppressive to your wife, you will have to answer for them. No matter how big and strong and powerful you think you are, Allah is bigger and stronger and more powerful.
So be cautious. Be careful. And be mindful of how you treat the slaves of Allah.
Muslim Women Starting Off In Marriage
Control Your Tongue
As a woman, you most likely are better at talking than your husband. You can probably talk rings around him. You can hit him with two or three verbal zingers while he’s still trying to figure out a response to your opening statement.
Your tongue is a weapon, and it can hurt. Not just him, but you too. Use it wisely and judiciously.
If you’re not careful, the things you say may ruin your marriage. You might shut him up with a particularly sharp comment, but that will only be a temporary and false victory. The long term damage of making your husband look and feel foolish will hurt your marriage even more.
Remember, Men Have Egos
This goes along with the previous advice. Don’t be so determined to “win” an argument that you “lose” your husband.
Men have egos. We have big egos. Men go to war over their egos. It may be petty. It may be silly. But it’s true.
Some women get a wicked sort of satisfaction by humiliating their husband and knocking his ego down a few notches. Don’t be like that.
Even if your husband has done something foolish, don’t beat him over the head with it. Sometimes, silence is the best educator.
This Isn’t A Competition
Arguments will happen. They’re inevitable in any marriage.
Don’t turn your arguments into a “me versus him” sort of thing. Your marriage is not a competition. It’s not a chess game. If you checkmate the king, everybody loses.
Be graceful and wise even in your disagreements.
Sometimes, you might have to let your husband have the last word if it means preventing a bigger argument. Sometimes, you have to be the mature person. It’s just that simple.
In the long run, a happy marriage is more important than a fistful of memories where you where able to outmaneuver him and make him feel foolish and small.
Perhaps this sounds primitive. But all men are just big boys.
And we almost always marry someone who reminds us in some way of our mothers. And that’s because, secretly, we want to marry someone like our mothers!
Our mothers fed us and clothed us and took care of us when we were sick. She defended us and stood by us and every now and then, repremanded us when we did something wrong.
Like it or not, sisters, your husband wants the same thing from you. The only difference is that he also wants to have babies with you (sorry for being so crude, but we’re all adults here, right?).
Study And Learn Him
I get a lot of comments and emails from men who are attracted to someone else besides their wife. And do you know what attracts him the most?
It’s not the other woman’s beauty or her wealth or her youth.
Mostly, it’s because the man feels this “other woman” understands him better than his own wife.
Now, I’m not justifying his actions. Adultery in Islam is punishable by death and is one of the worst sins anyone, man or woman, can commit.
But you’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you truly learn what kind of person your husband is.
Don’t make the mistake of lumping him with all other men (though most of us all do share many common qualities). Your husband is an individual. Study your husband and learn what he likes and dislikes.
Start doing this now, while you’re both young and your marriage is just beginning. A little bit of foresight and knowledge can go a long way.
It’s Not About You
Most of the points I’ve listed so far – for both men and women – focus on one idea: SACRIFICE.
That’s what any marriage is about. Sacrificing your ego, your desires, and your wants (not your needs), to create a happy and lasting union.
Both you and your husband will have to make some sacrifices. You might think that you’re making the biggest sacrifices. And that may or may not be true; Allah knows best.
But it’s not about who does more for whom. It’s about doing whatever is necessary to have a happy marriage. Be prepared and be willing, sisters, to make sacrifices in your marriage. That’s just a part of life.
All of these points can be applied to both men and women. And this last one is no different.
You’re married to another person; another Muslim. He is a slave of Allah. He has rights just like you do (wait a minute, didn’t I start this whole thing off dissing our “rights”?)
Be careful in how you deal with your husband and don’t let his faults lead you to sin. As I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a competition to see who can hurt the other person the most. If it gets to that point, all you’re going to wind up doing is destroying yourself.
Remember that Allah is with you and He is watching you no matter where you are.
There is no private conversation of three except that He (Allah) is the fourth of them, and neither one of five except that He (Allah) is the sixth. And He is with them wherever they may be.
Quran, Chapter 58, verse 7.
And in another verse Allah says:
He (Allah) knows what goes into the earth and what comes out from it, and what comes down from the sky and what goes up into it. And He (Allah) is with you wherever you may be.
Quran, Chapter 57, verse 4.
Concluding Thoughts For Newly Married Muslims
My reason for writing this article is because I do get a lot of comments and emails from Muslims who have been married for several years and are stuck in horrible, unhappy marriages. Not marriages with abuse or neglect.
The husband and wife have gone years without any meaningful conversation. There’s little if any intimacy. Both individuals wish they could get out but can’t because of the kids.
Ugh. These situations are so sad.
A lot of these problems aren’t because one person is bad and the other is good. It’s because both individuals started off with conflicting values and ideas about marriage. It’s because they ran into little problems like all couples do, and allowed their tongues and egos turn them into big problems.
If you’re just married (three years or less) or thinking about getting married, I want to help you avoid these things, Inshallah.
Of course, there’s more to a happy marriage than just these simple tips. Every relationship is different. But I believe if you start off worrying more about pleasing Allah and making your marriage work, and less about “your rights”, you’ll be much happier with your husband or wife.
I offer live premarital and early marriage (married 3 years or less) counseling via Skype for anyone who’s interested. If you don’t get it from me, please get it from somewhere.