3 Pieces of Practical Advice for Newlyweds
There are so many blessings in Muslim marriages.
Marriage is a journey. And in every journey, you can go prepared or unprepared. Considering that this is a long journey (InshaAllah), you’d want to consider using some tools to help you.
Though there is so much advice newlyweds will receive, my goal is to keep it simple and real. Muslim marriages suffer a more profound struggle because so many start off expecting the impossible.
How can you compete with the impossible?
I’ve narrowed down three pieces of advice that are best to keep at the forefront of your relationship. By sticking to these principles, you’ll have a stable base and mindset to move you along this long journey.
1. Maintain Your Tone of Voice
What do we do when we meet someone for the first time? If we care about who they are, we try our best to be our best. Marriage is no different. Couples want to impress each other and are constantly looking for ways to show their partner their worth. Ultimately, we are looking to offer our partners our best so they would accept us.
Here’s the problem, we can’t maintain our best. We are human, and eventually, we’ll slip.
Maybe one day, we’ll find our partner annoying, and instead of smiling patiently, we snap at them a little. To your partner, they misunderstand your moodiness, which may translate to a show of rejection in their mind.
How do we fix it?
First, you both must understand that you were on your best behavior when you married. That’s why it’s called the “honeymoon phase.” Everything your partner does is attractive to you but, over time, wears off. So, you must both openly prepare for that by communicating.
Couples must learn to communicate well when they first get married because this is the pattern they will follow for years. This means you need to speak openly but always, always kindly. Your tone of voice is what your spouse hears, so be very careful about that every time you speak. Especially when bringing up sensitive topics.
2. Aim to Understand, Not to Change
When divorce happens, you’ll often hear couples saying, “He/She isn’t going to change” or “If they haven’t changed by now, nothing will change.” The problem here isn’t that the situation should change, but one or both expect the other person to change for that to happen.
Marriage will shift based on how you move within it (this does not apply to abusive situations). We often respond based on our perception of our spouses’ intentions. We get so close in a marriage that we deal with another person based on what we believe is their intention. This is simply unfair. Yet we all do it without even knowing it. So, this must get checked, especially in the early years of marriage.
A Muslim marriage is not like any other marriage out there. A Muslim marriage is governed by the manners and teachings of our religion. This means that no one has the right to determine someone’s intention. Therefore a believer is supposed to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. It is tough to do in a marriage because we feel like we “know,” but we don’t.
If you aren’t happy with something in your marriage, gently communicate it. If communicating doesn’t create a mutually agreeable situation, you need to change how you see things.
The path to building a strong, intimate marriage is in wanting to understand your partner without judgment.
Your goal is to try to understand your partner. It isn’t to manipulate or control them. Understanding each other allows you to become your support network, unasked.
This takes time and patience, with many mistakes along the way. So, in choosing to understand, you’re also choosing to apologize for the times you fail to do so.
3. Muslim Marriages Need ‘Couple Habits’
Creating positive behavioral patterns in a marriage is essential to keeping a marriage standing when times get tough. I specify “Muslim marriages” because many marriages work defensively. I see many Muslim couples only try once both partners are thoroughly annoyed. Their attempts are generally for the children or their parents, but not for themselves.
Creating positive couple habits or traditions means that the husband and wife do something lovingly between themselves, consistently, even when upset.
So, say you both decide to get up and hug each other whenever someone comes home. This is amazing when everything is fine, but very difficult when you’re mad at each other. Still, you’ve promised to stick to this, even when angry. This is a ‘couple habit.’
It doesn’t have to be the above example or only one habit. But one is easier to keep up with and follow through when you’re upset. Whatever you choose, it needs to be a daily habit.
Someone once said that every night she and her husband would say: “What I love about you is….” And though it was hard to do when they were mad, it softened their hearts toward each other.
Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson says, “Couples should spend 90 minutes a week talking about their lives and keep each other in the loop.”
Another idea is that you each make a dua for each other every night before you sleep based on whatever is going on in their life. End it with a hug, kiss, or rub on the back. Whatever it is, make it yours and enjoy it! When those little problems creep up, it will help to deescalate them to be a little problem.
These three tips work best when it is the mindset of both partners, so I suggest you forward this to your spouse or spouse-to-be. Insha’Allah, as you learn more about each other, you’ll be mindful of your tone, seek to understand, and create affirmative habits between yourselves.
About the Author:
Shireen Patel is the author of Muslim Marriage 101 and a marriage coach.
To learn about Fiqh of Marriage in Islam, please visit this link