Think. Learn. Act. Remind.
She is gentle, dignified, graceful and serene. She has been through life’s ups and downs and has the advantage of being at a phase in life where she can look back and see things better. They say, hindsight is 20/20. They’re right. Everything is clearer in retrospect.
So here is the advice she offered me when I met her yesterday. Our conversation had turned to what works in marriage and what doesn’t and when she said, “A few things come to mind,” I knew that I needed to listen carefully. For how often do we come across somebody who can offer us a summary of the important things in our lives?
In no particular order, here is what she considers important:
1. Appreciation for each other as human beings. Yes, both partners in a marriage are individuals and they are different. We must learn to appreciate that in a marriage and give the other person’s thoughts and feelings due consideration when dealing with them.
2. Having an attitude whereby we focus on what WE can bring to the marriage rather than on what we ought to be given! So the focus is on our efforts rather than on the other person’s deficiencies.
3. Acceptance of each other’s strengths and weaknesses … i.e. accepting the person just as he/she is. And then helping him/her become better by acknowledging and focusing more on the other person’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. (It would be good to throw in a reminder to ourselves every now and then, that to change someone else should at least be as difficult as changing oneself … and that even with an intimate knowledge of our own selves and our weaknesses, we still find it fairly hard to change and improve … so not having an ideal mate in mind and then not trying to fit our partner into the mold of that ideal mate, helps.) We are after all human beings … and human beings are not perfect. We come in all shapes and sizes, we have good qualities and bad ones … perfection is only for Allah.
4. If a person has a bad quality that needs to be corrected/changed, then the suggestions we make for that change need to be subtle, to preserve the other person’s dignity and honor and not make him/her feel as though they have lost our respect.
These are of course general guidelines and everyone’s specific situation may be different. But it helps when both parties make an effort to establish a relationship of trust and respect with each other.
These guidelines are unlikely to work for those who happen to be in bad marriages because of the immoral character of their spouse because to make marriage a success, the effort needs to be made by both individuals.
But these tips should be of help to all those who are in a regular marital relationship, bi idhnillah.