by Alveena Salim (Published in TheRevival Magazine)

10 Secrets to a Happy Marriage

Apparently, love may be blind but marriage is the real eye-opener. Are you considering getting married or are already married? Wanna know how to keep your other half sweet? Have you been married for many years and wanna know how to put the spark back into your relationship? Check out 10 things that you need to do in order to have a happy marriage.

1. Role Expectation.

Women, know your place! Only kidding. Truth is, you DO need to know what’s expected from you and vice versa. Even before you embark upon married life, both partners need to reach an agreement with regards to how the household responsibilities are divided and how they will behave towards each other. Traditionally, the male would have always taken on the majority of financial obligations, while the female would have been the homemaker. However, tradition has broken down significantly over the years. It is now not uncommon to find the financial and household responsibilities shared. Problems arise when people fail to reach an agreement regarding role expectation. If your husband wants his wife to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen and she’s OK with that, then it’s all good. And if the wife expects to be financially looked after at all times and the husband doesn’t have a problem with that, then it will work very well. However, if there any disagreements regarding role expectation – expect fireworks.

2. Look Good

People nowadays are bombarded with images of attractive people. Guys and girls encounter good looking people on a daily basis – on the bus, at work, in the shopping centres, on the TV etc. The problem with way too many couples is that, after marriage people stop making an effort. Why? Before marriage, many people dress to impress members of the opposite sex. After marriage, when it’s all halal and there are no limitations placed on how you should look and dress for your partner –why stop? Many people after marriage only bother to dress up and look good when they’re going out – at home for their partners they look like slobs! Guys, look good for your wife. The modern man is well groomed and very stylish. Don’t use marriage as an excuse to gain weight and get lazy. Go to the Gym. Don’t over indulge in fast food. Wear smart clothes. And women – there’s so much you can do! Get pedicures, manicures, facials and your hair styled etc regularly. Wear nice clothes, lingerie, wear make up and always smell good. Guys are visual beings. Try to dress to impress your husband. Both partners should try to keep some mystery in their relationship. Don’t do things that you know would turn off your partner. Guys would you break wind in front of your wife when she was still your finacee? I doubt it. Girls, would you have shaved/waxed your legs in front of your husband in the early days of marriage? I don’t think so. Keep some mystery in the relationship.

3. Communicate
I can not stress this enough. Talk to one another. One of beauty of marriage is that you have someone to share your thoughts and feelings with. Don’t keep things bottled up. Guys, whatever is bothering you. Share it with your wife. Girls, if he’s done something, don’t give him the silent treatment. Tell him what he’s done. Good communication helps you to bond with each other, it resolves problems and helps to clear the air. Your and your partner get to understand each other more, each time you communicate with each other. This goes a long way to prevent future problems since both your needs will be understood. It’s usually lack of commucation that is sited as one of the key reasons behind separation of divorce.
The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him often used to discuss issues with His wives. When He returned from the Cave Hira frightened and worried because of his encounter with Angel Gabriel. His first instinct was to confide in His beloved wife Hadrat Khadijah (ra) and share his experience with her. She consoled him and put his worries to rest. Many guys today, don’t value their partners advice or input and tend to keep their problems to themselves. There’s no benefit to this. A problem shared is a problem halved.

4. Be a team

Share responsibility. You’re in this partnership together. What affects your partner also affects you as well. When you feel you partner is there for you, it can make a large difference with what you are dealing with. Some of the most difficult things that I have encountered in life have taken place after marriage. Family illness, debt, financial difficulties, unemployment, numerous relocations, difficult living conditions and lack of stability in life, all happened after marriage. But because I had my husband supporting me at every instant, it wasn’t as difficult or stressful as it could have been. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him discussed matters with his wives and considered them as friends. He certainly did not need their advice, since he was directed by revelation. However, he wanted to teach his nation. This was contrary to the conventions of the time. Couples who work together through the rough times end up closer as husband and wife in the end. Seek comfort in your partner during difficult times. It is said in the Holy Qur’an “It is He who created you from a single soul, And made its mate of like nature in order that you might find peace together….”(7:189)

5. Halal Dating

Why should unmarried non Muslims have all the fun? Growing up, you can’t go to restaurants, visit the cinema or make out in your car with your partner. But when you’re married everything becomes halal! Make an effort to get away from the draining, mundane chores of every day life and have fun together. Go to the Cinema. Go on a long drive together. Have a walk in the park. Eat in nice restaurants. Go away for the weekend. Just have fun together. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him enjoyed the company of His wives. He used to laugh and have fun with them. One time, despite all the troubles that was facing, He Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him took his wife Aisha (ra) to the desert for a race and she won. Later, when she had gained some weight, He Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him won the race and told her “this is for that time”. He Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him once took his wives to watch some Abyssinians who were dancing. Just cos you’re married don’t stop having fun.

6. Deen

One of the main benefits of marriage is that it protects you from many sins. It keeps you away from zina (fornication) and other immoralities. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said “When the servant marries, then he has completed half of the deen. Then let him fear Allah with regard to the remaining half”. A successful marriage is based on reminding each other about their duties towards God. If you want your marriage to work: put God first. If you’re praying together regularly, reading Qur’an, attending lectures, reminding and encouraging each other about your duties towards God. You’re more likely to have a successful marriage. This is because pleasing God will put blessings and success in your marriage.

7. Interference

One complaint at a low time in your marriage will always be remembered by your friends or family forever. Even if you forget what the argument was about. Your family and friends will always see your partner in the same bad light in which you saw your spouse during your fight. And you will be reminded about your partners negative trait often. Ultimately, there should only be two people in your marriage. You and your partner. Some scholars even recommend that for the sake of a happy and stress fee marriage; couples are advised to buy their own home not live with their in laws. However, this is not to suggest that you should not seek marriage advice or counselling from friends and family. But you should limit the amount of interference that takes place in your marriage from other people. If you want to keep your partner happy, don’t moan about him to your family – they may only wish you well but rifts are often caused because of way too much family interference. Your friends may not always have your best interests at heart when you complain about your partner to them. Way too many marriages break up these days because of interference from others.

8. Pick your battles.

Learn to let things go. When you’re living with someone, its only inevitable that they will do something that makes you want to loose your rag. But does it really matter if your partner always leaves the top of the toothpaste, leaves their shoes lying around or doesn’t always call you when they’re at work? OK, so if it really bothers you that your partner doesn’t make an effort with your parents. Then bring it up. However, if you’re not too bothered by the fact that your partner wets the bathroom floor each time they have a bath. Let it go. Save your breath and energy for the issues that really matter to you. And when you’re arguing, never hit below the belt. Do not seek to humiliate or insult your partner. Words, once said, can never be taken back. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said “A believer must not hate his wife; if he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another”. In other words, don’t focus on the negatives. Many people get bogged down with the few negative qualities that are found in their partner. We nit pick and blow small things out of proportion. Let it go. It’s not a big deal. Focus on the positive qualities of your partner. Show your appreciation and give thanks often.

9. Treat them well.

For some bizarre reason some people treat their friends, random strangers and even their pets better than they treat their partner. There are boundaries that exist between people at the workplace or with relatives that do not seem to exist in marriages. Remember how you used to treat your partner when you first got marriage to them? Did you answer back, get sarcy or insult them? I doubt it. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him said ‘The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behaviour; and the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives”. Buy gifts for each other often. Buying each other gifts, increases love for one another. Plus, if your partner is pleased with you; God is pleased with you. The Prophet Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him was so concerned about the treatment of women, that even in his last sermon he reminded men to treat their wives with kindness. Similarly, women are expected to treat their husbands with the utmost respect and affection.

10. Sex.

Now that I have your attention, it can not be denied that sex plays a very important role in marriage. One of the many purposes of marriage is to procreate. However, this should done in consultation with you partner. Discuss the use of contraception. Talk about how many children you would like to have. Would you want them straight away or after a few years of marriage? Do not do things without your partners knowledge. The use of contraception is a choice that you both need to make together. Bear in mind though, making babies is not the only purpose of sex within a marriage. It is important to make an effort in your marriage and enjoy your partner and allow them to enjoy you. Women AND man should make themselves attractive and available to their partners. Withholding sex for no apparent reason is not allowed in Islam. It creates resentment and bitterness in a relationship. Plus, sex with your partner is a rewardable act! Sex within marriage is a halal outlet for your desires, so if there’s anything that you are happy/unhappy with in your sex life. Talk to your partner.