Notes from a marriage seminar

Our local masjid recently hosted Imam Muhammad Magid to do a program on how to have a successful marriage. It was a beneficial seminar from an imam who truly is in the trenches as far as helping his community members heal their own marriages. There were quite a few gems of wisdom; I’ll share some of them below.

The Key to Forgiveness

This gem was absolutely brilliant and particularly memorable for me, because it is something that just clicked and made such complete sense. To introduce the idea he put forth, I’ll first give an example of a piece of marriage advice I once came across by Muhammad AlShareef (of alMaghrib Institute). He said that when things go wrong, just say sorry. Even if you may not have been in the wrong, or were also wronged yourself, you can never go wrong by saying “sorry.”

That’s a great piece of advice, except how many times have you been in a situation with anyone and felt, as the saying goes, “sorry doesn’t cut it”? How many times has that harmed friendships, partnerships, marriages–virtually any relationship? A person gives an apology, and yet the other party feels as if a mere apology was insufficient?

Cut to Imam Magid–he offered a wonderful explanation based on a keen understanding of human nature as well as using an example from seerah. His advice is that one must be ready to forgive one’s spouse, but in order for one to do that, the one who is apologizing must acknowledge their mistake verbally and explain what they did wrong. Why? This shows the other person that the one apologizing has acknowledged their trespass and it frees up the other person to open their heart and forgive.

How do we derive this principle? When Wahshi, the killer of Hamzah, came to repent to RasulAllah (sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam), the Prophet asked him to describe to him how he killed Hamzah. He then told him to keep away from him (sallAllahu alayhi wa sallam) for a few days. Even after the person has acknowledged their wrong, they should not expect instant forgiveness, for it is a process, not an instant reaction.

A Parable for the Marriage Relationship

Imam Magid described the husband-wife relationship with the following example–they are like the two wings on a bird flying to its creator, Allah subhana wa ta’aala. The bird cannot fly with only one wing, and the two wings must be flying in unison in order for the bird to stay on its correct path.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T…

Allah says in the Qur’an: “And among his signs is this: that He has created for you spouses from yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility among them…” (Ar-Rum: 21).

A fundamental principle of the marriage relationship is that it is founded on respect, and this draws back to an aspect of our creed itself. We believe that our spouses are creations of Allah, so we offer our spouses respect that a creation of the Lord deserves. How easy it becomes for us to become used to our spouses, take them for granted, and then not offer them basic courtesy and respect? Remember that first and foremost, ones spouse is a creation of Allah, and as such is deserving of basic human respect.

Practical Advice: Go the Extra Mile

A simple way to increase love between spouses? When one spouse requests something from the other, say, a glass of water–go the extra mile and see what more you can do. “Would you like ice with that? A snack?” Little things can make the difference in a relationship.

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change, and…chai?

I’ve been out, taking breaks from the computer, working on my classes, my kids, my friendships, and so I have let my blog go to weed. Oh well. I just moved (AGAIN) and so there’s been a lot of change going on in my life. Which leads me to my first post out of my long break…on change.

Change sucks.

I mean the type of change that happens when you are “in the groove”, smooth sailing, and then bam! Smack! Out of nowhere you are forced to veer off course. You get to thinking, “Now, things were going so good, why this? Why now?”

But then you adapt, you accept that things always happen for the better and you deal.

Kids are cool like that. We are constantly traveling and so my father used to ask me after we took a long trip and then returned, “Does Abdullah miss everyone? Is he feeling sad?” and I’d realize that no, he could care less. Like water off of a duck’s back. If only we could be so resilient!

Change also got me to thinking about the old adage: It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

The bitterness of abandoning the life you love, the people you love, the routines and habits you love, is made easier by the sweet memories that they came with. There are certain things that I just can’t do now. But I still get a kick out of thinking of the things I have done in the past, and look forward to the day when I get back into enough fitness and health to do those same things again. I think about the many places I visited and people I have met, and am left smiling at the thought of having known such wonderful people.

I once met a wonderful Palestinian woman in the last few months of my stay in Jordan. Overnight, we became close friends, laughing and talking, crying and venting late into the nights as our husbands vainly called us to break up our meetings so they could sleep. When it was time for us to return to America, I was so upset that we had met only weeks ago, and now we would likely never see each other again. It was a sad departure, but I still feel so fortunate that I had known her. I only benefited from her company and friendship and the memories will stay with me always, bi’idhnillah.

I have done about five or six long-distance moves in the past 7 years (since I have been married) and each place has its own charms, memories, and quirks. Perhaps I have just been destined until now to really live the “life of a traveler” as the hadith tells us (“Live in the world like a stranger, or a traveler.”) And stranger? Don’t get me started on that, I’m sure that I have been thought strange more times than I can count, but that’s another story…

In a way, I have liked my life. My husband and I have basically just relied on each other to be the rock in the storm. We move in, root, then uproot and move on, and nothing stays constant but each other. For six and a half years we haven’t given up our routine of post-dinner chai, and after almost six years of not finishing my mug, I’ve learned to just make us one cup and we share. Two children have been added to that routine, but even 3-year old Abdullah knows that you don’t mess with Mama and Baba’s tea time. So some things don’t change, thank God, and that’s what keeps the ship sailing well. We create our own stability through each other, and that means that we cannot just sink into our own separate lives and take each other for granted.

Even now, the way things are looking for us, we will be in our current location for a few months, then move to a neighboring community for at least a year or so, then back to where we are now. So I look forward to that chai-time to keep our family laughing, learning, and living together, no matter what comes and goes around us.