Our marriages are what we make them—whether we make them a heaven or a hell depends on us. However, many people, especially those in troubled marriages, are prone to be pessimistic and prefer to blame everyone or everything except their own ill manners and misconduct. Some people are even more fatalistic by concluding that “a fulfilling marriage is simply a matter of luck.” However, is this really the case? Can we live in this world with such an attitude or philosophy? Is this not simply denying taking responsibility for our own actions? More importantly, is it not also disobeying the commandments of God and then putting blame on Him (God) for the outcome of our own actions and transgressions?
In the Quran, Allah (SWT) reminds us, “And among His signs is this: He created for you spouses from among yourselves that you may find comfort and contentment in them, and He has put between you mawadah (love) and rahmah (mercy). Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect” (Al-Quran, 30:21). He also says, “O mankind, be conscious of your Lord, who created you from one soul and created (of like nature) from it its mate and dispersed from both of them multitudes of men and women. And remain conscious of God, in whose name you demand [your rights] from one another, and of the ties of kinship. Verily God is ever watchful over you” (Al-Quran, 4:1).
While Islam does not ignore the material basis of ‘kufu’ (compatibility) between the couple as they tie their knot, nothing can protect or even promote the marital relationship if ‘mawadah’ and ‘rahmah’ (love, compassion, understanding, cooperation, leniency, and mercy) are missing in the relationship. It is also worth mentioning that a person (husband or wife) could be outwardly pious because of his/her performing religious rites and rituals, but if he or she is ignorant or negligent about the recipe and required rules of marriage, that relationship is destined to be in trouble.
What makes the case worse is that, when faced with marital differences and disputes, some people not only break the sacred rules of marriage, but they fail to live up to minimum human decency and civility. More often than not, the disputing couple ends up in a relationship based on violence. However, they must remember that while differences and disputes in marriage are human, domestic violence displays a person’s devilish character only. This is not befitting for a believer.
How can a couple ensure happiness in their marriage? Rida Beshir and Ekram Beshir, the renowned marriage counselors and best-selling authors of Blissful Marriage: A Practical Islamic Guide (Amana Publications, 2003) write, “There are tried and proven recipes for a successful marriage.” Very appropriately, they call them the “Seven Essential C’s” and the “Seven Magical S’s”. The Seven Essential C’s are commitment, courtesy, communication, care, contentment, contribution, and compromise, and the Seven Magical S’s are sensitivity, sincerity, security, support, satisfaction, sharing, and sexual gratification. According to the Beshirs, this list is not exhaustive, for there are “Five Wonderful A’s” which, if applied, can make a marriage more fulfilling. They are adaptation, accommodation, appreciation, anticipation, and acceptance.
To conclude, marriage, a divinely planned institution, is highly valued in Islam. Those who undermine this noble and sacred institution actually defy God’s Commandments and devalue their own human dignity. Our peace and happiness in a marital relationship is contingent upon our mindfulness and molding our manners according to its rules and demands. Let us not forget that happiness is not a matter of ‘entitlement’ in marriage—to get it, we have to work for it.