The first five to seven years are the most challenging of any marriage. They are the time that the couple spends getting to know one another better and adjusting to each other’s habits and personalities. Below, are some of the main problems couples face in the early years, and some possible solutions.
- Lack of Proper Information before Marriage
A number of problems are caused simply by the fact that the couple and their families go not discuss crucial issues beforehand. Some of these include:
- Whether or not the wife will work outside the home?
- Will the couple wait to have children?
- Which city and country will the couple live in after marriage?
- Will they live with his parents or have their own house or apartment?
These and other relevant issues need to be discussed and decided in the beginning stages of the marriage process.
- Who’s In Charge?
One of the biggest problems is the tug-of-war between couples over who is in control in the relationship. This has led to a stalemate in disagreements, as well as bitter feelings. Many couples today are refusing to compromise within moderation when differences arise. While from an Islamic perspective, the husband is given the leadership role in the marriage relationship, this does not mean that he can run the family life like a dictator. Allah (SwT) instructs in the Quran that:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ
“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded…”(Surah 4, Verse 34)
It must be remembered that Islamicly, a leader is one who serves, manages, provides and nourishes. A leader must also have humbleness and humility and deal with all of those under his care and protection with justice and equality.
A husband exercises the right kind of leadership by listening to and consulting with his wife.
Also, a husband is bound to follow the rules of the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (S) and the Ahlul Bait (as). So differences in opinion should be referred back to these sources (and of course the Religious Scholars in our local community), instead of becoming a source of tension and problems.
Not only is it the duty of the head of the house to make sure that the material needs of the family and order are kept, but it is also his duty to protect himself and his family from the fire of hell:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
“O’ you who have true faith! Save yourselves and your families from the fire which is fueled by people and stones and is guarded by stern angels who do not disobey Allah’s (SwT) commands and do whatever they are ordered to do.” (Surah 66, Verse 6)
Therefore, the head of the house must make sure that he has the proper Islamic knowledge to keep himself away from the hell and more importantly, guide his wife and children to the straight path and keep them on this road. In this regards, the husband has four important duties:
- To invite his wife and children and any others under his care to obey Allah (SwT). The husband should call his family to follow the religion and encourage them in this regard.
- Teach those under his care their religious duties and obligations. Of course this means that the husband must first and foremost know his own religion and beliefs. If he is not well acquainted with his religion, then he must employ the services of the local Masjid and the scholars and either invite them to his house or go to the Masjid for Islamic classes.
- Encourage the family members to perform good deeds (Amr bil Maruf), as not only is this one of the obligatory acts in our religion, but it will also help the family both in the short term and long term. If they know their responsibilities and are continuously guided to them, then peace, harmony and tranquility will rule throughout the house.
- The father must also make sure and remind other members of his family to stay away from evil and sin (Nahi Anil Munkar). Again, this is a part of our beliefs and without doubt, that home in which people are not plagued with committing sins and evil acts is one in which Allah (SwT) looks favorably upon and blesses the inhabitants of it.
- The Divorce Option
Once upon a time, “divorce” was the seven-letter word most Muslim couples avoided using. Today, amongst many Muslim couples, it is one of the first recourses turned to when conflicts occur in a marriage.
It should be remembered that out of all of the things that Allah (SwT) has made halal (permissible), divorce is the one He hates the most. Couples need to look at several other alternatives before turning to this drastic measure. The Prophet of Islam (S) has told us that:
ما خَلَقَ اللهُ شَيْئاً عَلى وَجْهِ الأَرْضِ أَحَبَّ مِنَ الْعَتاقِ وَلا خَلَقَ شَيْئاً عَلى وَجْهِ الأَرْضِ أَبْغَضَ مِنَ الطَّلاقِ.
“Allah (SwT) has not created on the face of this Earth anything more beloved by Him than freeing a slave, and He has not created anything on the face of this Earth more despised than divorce.”
The couple should seek the help of older, wiser and trustworthy elders and Scholars who will try to help them resolve their differences. Allah (SwT) tells us in the Quran that:
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِنْ أَهْلِهَا إِنْ يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا
“If there appears to be discord between a wife and her husband and if they desire reconciliation, then choose arbiters from the families of both sides. Allah (SwT) will bring them together; Allah (SwT) is All-Knowing and All-Aware.” (Surah 4, Verse 35)
Generally, the couple needs to make a sincere and concerted effort to try and work things out before divorce is even considered.
Source: The Religion of Al-Islam and Marriage compiled by Arifa Hudda