So I just got married.
And let me say this: it’s great. You should try it sometime. Or if you’ve been previously married (like myself), try it again. In any case, marriage is a key moment in your life. But I gotta say: it can be tough sometimes. The life you live—religious or not—before you’re married and after you’re married are very different.
Prophet Muhamamd (p) told us that marriage is half of our faith. It’s something you’ll hear many imams and sheikhs say as a means of encouraging people to get married. I heard that plenty of times, but it wasn’t until I was married that I truly understood what it meant.
Now after having been married for a month (and with a bit of advice from Yasmin Mogahed) I understand what that saying means to me.
Bachelorhood was fun, let me tell you. I could play all the video games I wanted and hang out with my friends whenever I pleased. But in short, it’s almost as if I was only living my life half-full. Pretty much everything I needed to know or wanted to know about how to live my life was only in regards to me. I only had to look out for myself.
When you’re married that changes. You’re no longer living just for yourself. You now have to live for yourself and for your spouse and, eventually, your children. Everything you thought you knew about how to live your faith changes after you become married. You have two people with their own life experiences, their own stories, coming together to try and stick out the rest of their lives together and build something beautiful. I think that’s why they call your spouse your “other half”—not because you’re only “half a person” without them, but because you’re only living half your life.
Another thing you’ll often hear is that an imam or sheikh will quote this verse from the Qur’an, which reads:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (30:21)
This verse appears among a set of verses where God is mentioning such awe inspiring signs of His power such as the creation of the heavens and the earth, the lightning, the resurrection of life on earth after it appeared dead (such as after destruction). So marriage is, in itself, a major blessing from God woth being mentioned among such wonders as the creation of life itself.
10 marriage tips
Now, I’m no expert on marriage (says the previously divorced guy who’s been married for a month). But I like to think that the other successful relationships I’ve seen, as well as the successes my wife and I have had thus far in our marriage, can count for something.
- You have to trust your spouse if your marriage is going to be successful. This means all kinds of trust: emotional, physical, spiritual. It means being vulnerable and being uncomfortable, but that’s how you build trust.
- Marriage is an immense blessing. And no, I’m not just writing that because my wife is literally right beside me (if you’re reading this, hi there). In Islam, every moment and every dollar you spend on your spouse can be a source of reward for you. Anything you do together, you can gain blessings from God. So maximize on that.
- Don’t expect perfection. Each person has their own little tics, their own shortcomings, their own issues. There’ll be little things (or even medium-sized things) that aggravate you about your spouse. But when those things start gnawing away at you, pause and ask yourself: is this really worth getting angry over. Most of the time, it isn’t.
- Marriage is a team effort. For you gamers out there, it’s a co-op game, not an escort mission. You don’t just do what you want and have your spouse tag along (or be left behind). Your spouse is your Player 2. You work together, struggle together and achieve together.
- Marriage isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of responsibility. That’s not to say there won’t be sunshine and rainbows. Just don’t expect it to be all perfect, all the time. You’ll argue and fight with your spouse, and that’s normal—just don’t make it the norm.
- Say “I love you” every day. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re “feeling” it at the moment. We go through peaks and valleys of how strong our love is, but the constant is that you still love. Make it one of the last things you say before you’re away from each other, whether its due to work, friends or sleep. Speaking of friends…
- Your social circle is going to change. Guys, that means bro-time is going to be reduced, so you may as well accept that fact right now. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending more time with other married people than with your individual friends. The brutal reality is that your spouse has a priority with regards to your time. So, by all means, keep your friends close, but keep your spouse closer.
- Do things together—and apart. Be open to trying things your spouse may like, or things that neither of you have done. Try new things to help build your common interests. But at the same time, give each other space if someone needs time to themselves. Everyone is different, so don’t take it personally if your spouse says they just want some alone time.
- Consult with each other. Even if you’re considered the head of the house, you need to make decisions with your spouse. Having a second opinion can help you to make better decisions together. As well, your spouse will appreciate that you value their input.
- Know your place. Oof, did I just trigger something? Calm down, internet, and let me explain. What I mean here is responsibility. You and your spouse will have to suss out what each other’s roles will be during marriage. This doesn’t just mean, “Who does the dishes?” but some of the more deeper considerations. It means discussing the best possible future and finding out how you can achieve that together, and what duties and roles you will both have to play to get there. Once you’ve figured that out, dig into your duties and roles with everything you got.
The Marriage Box
Look at me, giving marriage advice. It’s easy to sit on our internet-boxes and tell the world how we think it should be (just look at the comments section of a YouTube video). But for all my platitudes on marital life, it’s something that, like faith, can’t fully be comprehended by words. Marriage is a lived experience, and one that you can’t sum up in 1000 words or less.
I will leave you with probably the most apt and honest descriptions of marriage that I’ve read. You may have seen it as an image quote on Tumblr or Facebook. And it’s called, “The Marriage Box”:
“Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for; Companionship, intimacy, friendship etc … The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.” –Unknown