This Ramadaan in particular has been a time of introspection and transformation for me. I am unashamedly proud that I did not spend my ample free time labouring in the kitchen or trolling the latest pop-up stores; but instead immersed myself in deeply personal prayers and meditation which has blossomed into unmistakable contentment. Unsurprisingly I noticed that whenever I give thanks, my husband and my marriage (yes they are two separate entities which I will explain further down) ranked in my top 3 hits. No I am not going to go all starry -eyed and downright annoying on you, but I would like to share what I consider to be the foundation of a successful and happy marriage.
On social media I often encounter the hashtag #couplegoals and 99% of the time I have to pinch myself hard to not deliver a sermon on how marriage is not about looking like you stepped out of the latest edition of Harpers Bazaar (or in some cases the Playboy Mansion!) nor is it about taking selfies at the Eiffel Tower and it is most definitely not about being able to complete a set of those most ridiculous ‘couple exercises’ which look fit enough for the pages of the Kama Sutra (#coupleswho traintogetherstaytogether – seriously?! Let me know how a set of burpees and crunches saves your marriage!) An instagram post captures one perfectly constructed glimpse into that couple’s myriad of marital moments. I can assure you that no sane couple will be sharing their latest argument or divulge their financial arrangement or heaven forbid how #realcouples fall asleep! Another shining example of the artificiality that is influencing our youth on what a genuine relationship should look and feel like.
For me, as with everything of substance in my daily life, the best example of what a perfect partnership should look and feel like can be found in the ultimate union of the Prophet (pbuh) and his beloved Khadija RA. From my basic interpretation of their intense relationship, three distinguishable traits are apparent as the glue of their enviable marriage : 1) trust, 2) respect and 3) dependability. All three of these qualities are witnessed when Muhammed (pbuh) first received revelation in Hira. In his anguish and confusion, he took complete comfort in his spouse whom he trusted to console and guide him at this momentous occasion. He could have visited any of his close companions to divulge his news but he trusted her and her alone. She too had complete trust in him and did not question his sanity and consoled him to the best of her ability. If it was me, I would have cynically interrogated my dear husband’s consumption of sinus medication that could have lead to this most definite hallucination. What is also remarkable, is that even in his state of turmoil, the Prophet (pbuh) addressed her with the utmost respect and honour and gently asked her to cover him. She of course concurred and did not ask him hundreds of obnoxious questions and respected his simple request. Note: no vulgarity or sarcasm was exchanged. Finally, when he depended on her the most, she was there and present in the situation. She wasn’t out shopping and was definitely not commenting on Facebook! Trust, Respect and Dependability.
Now let’s face it when we were young and naive, those three fundamental qualities were not easily recognisable so I often wonder what advice I will give my children someday when choosing a spouse. I will definitely advise them of not being afraid to marry out of their comfort zone. By this I mean that opposites do attract and your father and I are proof. Instead of dwelling on our different backgrounds and food choices, we focused on our mutual aspirations for our future together and developed an unbreakable connection based on our value system. Our differences resulted in the most entertaining conversations and often lead us both on a journey of self-discovery. I will add that while love at first sight may exist; it is also an emotion that matures with your relationship as time passes and takes on many different forms from that initial spark. Chemistry on the other hand is as vital as H2O and is the formula to keep the relationship alive long after the petty arguments and will most definitely break the silent treatment!
As I alluded to above, I think we all unconsciously bind our marriage and spouses as one unit or in some cases one problem. What we need to realise is that we were individuals prenuptial. Individuals with unique personalities and individual aspirations. A marriage on the other hand merges two personas, binds two backgrounds and connects two lineages. The merge could potentially be disastrous if neither party is willing to negotiate and meet halfway in compromise. The bond could very well be breakable if the differences are insurmountable and the connection will be lost should there be too much interference and noise.
A perfect spouse does not exist. Neither does a fairytale marriage. However, two people who are completely committed and willing to endure the tougher times will build something better than their individual flaws; will create a unified unit that withstands the difficult days and will flourish as individuals rooted in an unbreakable relationship called marriage.
Life Book Hacks:
1. No need for elaborate date nights or expensive getaways which are sometimes impossible. Make time for each other daily. When the kids are asleep, switch off all technology and just talk.
2. Don’t let a small word called ego be the biggest problem in your marriage. Learn to say sorry without the ‘but’.
3. There is no space for a third wheel in a marriage. Whoever or whatever that third element may be.
4. Don’t always fight with each other. Find every reason to fight for your marriage!