Advice for Newly Married Couples, Part 1: Cultivate Compassion

Muslim woman blows hearts at husband

By Wael Abdelgawad for Zawaj.com

Cultivate Compassion

If I could offer newly married couples one piece of advice, it would be to cultivate compassion between yourselves. There comes a time when the exciting honeymoon period wears off, and some of your partner’s little quirks that you thought were cute become annoying.

His habit of eating three bags of microwaveable popcorn back to back, which you once thought was hilarious, now irks you, because he’s filling up on junk food between meals and won’t be hungry for the dinner you are in the process of preparing.

Her habit of chewing her fingernails, which you once though revealed some deep-seated anxiety and made you want to comfort her, now just means that your wife has ugly fingernails.

In addition, you begin to learn about your partner as a real person, with greater strengths than you imagined, and deeper flaws. You imagined he’d give up late nights with his friends after marriage, but he continues, even when you complain. Or you, the husband, knew she had a temper – it made her fiery and passionate and maybe kind of sexy – but when you’re on the receiving end of name-calling, it’s no longer attractive.

That’s the time when it’s so important to be able to forgive mistakes, and to look upon your partner with kindness. That’s the time when you must respond to difficult situations not by holding grudges but by showing love. That’s the time when you must learn to control your anger, hold your tongue, and speak only out of kindness.

After all, Allah SWT says:

“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.” (Quran 30:21)

Notice how affection and mercy go hand in hand.

And the Messenger of Allah (sws) said:

“The merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens will have mercy upon you.” Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1924

That’s not to say that you must accept every one of your partners flaws as-is. Some things are open to negotiation. Some, especially if they are serious, can be addressed through couples therapy. Just know, going in, that these problems will occur. Divorce is not the answer (except when it is – I’ll get to that later), nor is fighting, screaming or a “temporary separation” where the two of you rent separate apartments, one one partner goes back to live with the parents.

Perfect Doesn’t Exist

If you expect perfection, you will be disappointed. You’ll find out that your wife snores, or spends too much money on clothes. Your husband is egotistical, explains things you already know (mansplaining, as they call it now), or is tight with money.

The grass is not actually greener on the other side. It just looks that way.

Maybe you look at your friends and wonder whey their husbands or wives are so much better than yours. Guess what? They’re not.

Every relationship harbors problems, sadnesses and even tragedies that are invisible to outsiders.

The grass is always greener on the other side, except that’s it’s not. It’s just that, from a distance, you can’t see the brown patches.

See Problems as Opportunities

Instead of turning little problems into bigger ones, turn little problems into an opportunity to grow closer to your partner by developing a deep bond of trust. That trust comes from knowing that your love is strong enough to survive difficulties and overcome them.

Is your wife putting on some pounds, and you’re not finding her as attractive? Start a routine of taking an evening walk, and invite her to join you. As you get fit together, you grow closer. Plus, when the two of you are basking in that sweet post-workout afterglow, with the endorphins flowing, it could lead to further intimacy.

Are the two of you broke, with no money for shopping or dining out? Among my best memories are making a meal of rice, green beans and canned tuna with my wife (now my ex, and I’ll say more about that later), and sitting out on the front stoop at sunset, watching the neighborhood kids playing outside. Or shopping at the thrift store with my daughter, picking out nice outfits for a fraction of the retail cost.

Problems – read challenges – are also an opportunity to strengthen your faith, by drawing closer to the Creator. Place your trust in Allah and practice your deen as a family.

So don’t look at problems as explosive mines, or trap doors that will doom the marriage. Instead see them as challenges to be overcome together, and opportunities to strengthen the bond between you.

Next: Advice for Newly Married Couples, Part 2 – Open Your Heart

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