Nurturing Marital Love
Salmaan ibn Fahd al-'Awdah
He bounded up the stairs so energetically
that it was hard for me to
believe that here was a man of more than eighty years. He had the
vitality of a youth. Then
I learned the reason why:
Though he had gotten married back in 1947 when he was about thirty
years old, he was able
to say to me: "I do not recall that I ever
once got angry with my wife or that she was even once annoyed with
if I had a headache, it was impossible for her to sleep
until after I fell asleep."
Then he said with feeling: "I
can never think of going out
somewhere, even to purchase some household needs, without taking her
with me and holding
her hand. It is as if we are newlyweds."
When, due to a medical operation, she had become unable to bear
he said to her: "You are more precious to me than
He told me: "As long as she walks upon the Earth, I
could never even
think of marrying anyone else."
That man is a good example of how devotion can last even into old
Unfortunately, when we look at the state of the majority of
people of any age, we can appreciate that his relationship
rarity indeed, a sort of ideal.
Of course, we do not have to be held to such an ideal. Moreover, we
not go to our spouses and expect them to be like that when we
ourselves have so many shortcomings.
Marriage is love
and affection. Allah says: "He created for you
mates from among yourselves so that you can seek comfort in them and
has placed between you affection and mercy." [Surah al-Rum: 21]
This is why each sex is drawn to the other in the first
place, as if
each person is looking for his missing other half.
When the wife of the famous jurist Abu Rabi`ah died,
he carried out
her burial himself and had to wipe the dirt from his own hands.
However, when he returned home, he was
overcome with grief and
lamented to his Lord, his eyes filling with tears: "Now…my home has
died as well. The
home only lives for the woman who dwells inside
Marital love requires extraordinary effort from both parties
is to last and remain vital. The difficulty of marital love does not
lie in those small disagreements that are
a normal part of everyday
life and that all couples haves to work out. Indeed, such problems
sometimes revitalize the
relationship, like spice in a savory dish.
The real problem lies in three things:
1. The inability of one
person to understand the other. Indeed
sometimes a person even has difficulty understanding his own self.
The inability of a person to adapt to the partnership that is
marriage and the inability to cope with the life changes
brings. Many people expect things to remain the same as they were
3. The most important problem
is a lack of commitment to the
relationship and to making it last. This is why it is necessary for
people to understand
"the rules of the game" when it comes to love.
Ten ways to achieve lasting love:
Since marital love is prone
to sickness and even death, it is
imperative for couples to constantly work to revitalize and preserve
and wives must do the following:
1. They have to get in the habit of saying things that are positive,
compliments and like making little prayers for each
A husband could say to his wife: "If I were sent back
to the days of
my youth, I would not choose for a wife anyone besides you." Of
course, the wife can easily say something
similar to her husband.
Affectionate words have an effect, especially on women. They have,
indeed, often been the
weapons used by unscrupulous men to gain
access to what is not theirs.
Sweet words arouse a woman's heart. A husband
should take care to
say them to his wife before someone else does.
2. Husbands and wives have to get into the habit
of doing those
little things that mean so much. If a man comes home to find his
wife asleep, he can cover her and tuck
her into bed.
A husband can give his wife a call from work just to say hello and
to let her know that he is thinking
If a wife finds that her husband has fallen asleep, she can give him
a little kiss on the forehead, even
if she thinks that he will not
be aware of it. Indeed, on some level his senses are working even
though he is asleep
and he may very well be aware of it.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized the value of these little
"…even the morsel of food that you place in your wife's
mouth…" [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
may very well be that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was
alluding to the expenditure of a man for his wife's needs.
the Prophet (peace be upon him) chose to express it in
the way he did for a reason. Most importantly, this is the way the
peace be upon him) conducted himself with his family.
This type of behavior is governed by the tastes of the people
It may take some getting used to, but it really does not
take a lot of effort.
A person who is not accustomed to
such things may feel embarrassed
just hearing about them and may prefer to leave matters the way they
are rather than
try to change his behavior and do things that he
might see as ridiculous.
Still, we must be willing introduce new
habits into our lives if we
do not want our problems to go on forever.
3. The husband and wife must set aside time
to talk to each other.
They should talk about the past; reminisce about the good times.
Talking about them keeps them
fresh in our minds as if they had
happened only yesterday. They should talk about the future and share
their hopes and
their plans. They should also talk about the
present, both the good and bad of it, and discuss different ways to
4. Keeping close physical contact is good for the relationship. This
is not just for times of intimacy,
but at all times, like when
sitting in the lounge or walking down the street. This is regardless
of the fact that there
are still men in our society who are ashamed
to have people see them walking in public with their wives at their
Emotional support should be guaranteed whenever it is required.
When the wife is pregnant or on her monthly period, she
may need her
husband to lend her a little moral support. He should take her
mental state into consideration. Medical
experts attest to the fact
that when women go through pregnancy, menstruation, or postpartum
bleeding, they suffer from
psychological stress that can aversely
affect their behavior. It is at times like these that a woman needs
support. She needs him to let her know how much she
means to him and how much he needs her in his life.
the husband might fall ill or come under a lot of
difficulties. The wife must take these things into consideration. If
want their relationship to last, they must let each other
feel that support.
6. There have to be some material expressions
of love. Gifts should
be given, sometimes without there being any occasion for it, since a
pleasant surprise is always
welcome. A good gift is one that
expresses feelings of affection. It does not have to be expensive,
but it has to be
appropriate for the other's tastes and personality;
something that will be cherished.
7. The husband and wife have
to learn how to be more tolerant of
each other and overlook one another's shortcomings. It should become
a habit to
forget about the little mistakes of daily life and not
even bring them up. Silence in these trivialities is a sign of noble
woman said to `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her): "When my
husband comes home, he becomes like a cat. When he goes
becomes like a lion. He does not ask about what might have
happened." [Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]
Hajar explains her words as follows:
They might mean that he is very generous and tolerant. He does no
make a big
fuss about what goes missing of his wealth. If he brings
something for the house, he dies not enquire about it later on.
does not make an issue of the shortcomings that he might see at home
but instead is clement and tolerant.
is wrong to go overboard in considering the faults of others but
when it comes to ourselves, keep a running account of
all our good
There is a tradition that goes: "One of you sees the dust in his
brother's eyes and forgets
about the dirt in his own."
8. A husband and wife must come to an understanding when it comes to
matters of mutual
concern, like the raising of children, work,
travel, expenses, and problems that might pose a threat to the
9. Husbands and wives need to do things to liven up their
relationship. Each one of them can read
a book or listen to a
cassette that might give them some ideas on how they can revitalize
their marital life and bring
more meaning to it. They can vary their
habits when it comes to relaxing together, dining, taking
their home, and in relating to each other
both openly and intimately. These are the things that keep up the
and interest in a relationship.
10. The relationship must be protected from negative influences that
can harm it.
One of the worst of these is the habit of comparing
one's spouse to others. Many men tend to compare their wives to
of other men. Some even compare them with the faces they see
in magazines and on television. Women also compare their husbands
other women's husbands in things like wealth, looks, and how
many times he takes her out. All of this makes people feel
insufficient and it can ruin the marital relationship.
If we must compare ourselves to others, we should
do so with those
who have less going for them than ourselves. Allah's Messenger
(peace be upon him) said: "Look towards
those who are beneath you
and do not look towards those who are above you. This is better so
that you do not belittle
Allah's blessings." [Sahih al-Bukhari and
We must accustom ourselves to living in the real world and
finding contentment in what Allah has decreed for us. We should not
look longingly at what others have been given.
Whatever little that
we have will be a lot if we utilize it well.
It is quite possible that many who speak about
their marital bliss
and go on boasting about their husbands and wives are untruthful in
what they say. They just like
The grass often does seem greener on the other side, but only
because we are not looking at it up close.