Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal gave the following advice to his son on his wedding day:
You will not attain good fortune in your home except by 10 characteristics which you show to your wife, so remember them and be enthusiastic in acting upon them.
1 & 2. As for the first two; women like attention and they like to be told clearly that they are loved. So don’t be stingy in expressing your love for your wife. If you become limited in expressing your love, you will create a barrier of harshness between you and her, and there will be a decrease in affection.
3. Ladies hate a strict, overcautious man, yet they seek to use the soft vulnerable one. So use each quality appropriately. This will be more appealing for love and it will bring you peace of mind.
4. Ladies like from their husbands what their husbands like from them, i.e. kind words, good looks, clean clothes and a pleasant odour. Therefore, always remain in that state.
5. Indeed, the house is under the sovereignty of the woman. While she remains therein, she feels that she is sitting upon her throne, and that she is the chief of the house. Stay clear of destroying this kingdom of hers and do not ever attempt to dethrone her, otherwise you will be trying to snatch her sovereignty. A king gets most angry at he who tries to strip him of his authority, even if he portrays to show something else.
6. A woman wants to love her husband, but at the same time she does not want to lose her family. So do not put yourself and her family in the same scale, because then her choice will be down to either you or her family. And even if she does choose you over her family, she will remain in anxiety, which will then turn into hatred towards you in your daily life.
7. Surely woman has been created from a curved rib, and this is the secret of her beauty, and the secret of the attraction towards her. And this is no defect in her, because ‘the eyebrows look beautiful due to them being curved’. So if she errs, do not rebuke her in a manner in which there is no gentleness, attempting to straighten her; otherwise you will simply break her and her breaking, is her divorce. At the same time do not let her off upon that mistake, otherwise her crookedness will increase and she will become arrogant with her ego. Thereafter, she will never soften for you and she won’t listen to you, so stay in between the two.
8. It is in the women’s nature to be ungrateful towards their husbands and to deny favours. If you were to be nice to her for her whole life but you grieved her once, she will say, “I have never seen any good from you”. So don’t let this attitude of her make you dislike her or to run away from her. If you dislike this feature of hers, you will be pleased with some other good habits within her, so create a balance.
9. Surely there are times when a woman goes through some conditions of bodily weakness and fatigue of the mind. Such that Allah has relieved her of some of her compulsory worships during that period; Allah has totally pardoned her from praying, and has postponed the days of fasting for her within this break to a later date until she regains her health and becomes normal in her temperament once more. Thus, during these days, treat her in a godly manner. Just as Allah has relieved her of the duties, you should also lessen your demands and instructions from her during those days.
10. Last but not least, know that a woman is like a captive with you. Therefore, have mercy upon her.
ETIQUETTES OF SPOUSES
The family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence. A healthy Muslim society depends on a sound Islamic environment. Happy couples make happy families, who make healthy societies. The union of two souls is the fibre which weaves society together. For this reason, Nabi H emphasized the importance of appropriate conduct after marriage so that it endures and becomes the ‘coolness of the eyes’, in the words of the Qur’an. A happy marriage is not made in heaven, nor does it flourish on its own. It has to be continually nurtured and preserved. Marriage can be a source of enormous tranquillity, yet it can also become a root of the greatest pain, sorrow and heartbreaks. Once two people have committed themselves to each other they should move mountains in order to stay together. It takes time and effort to blend two lives. Many marriages do not last because partners take the view that if it does not work, they will simply end the marriage. This shows lack of commitment, a lack of drive and is deficient by nature. This marriage is almost doomed from the start.
Marriage is very similar to constructing a building. It requires a strong foundation that can withstand the storms and shocks of stress. The adhesive that binds couples together is love and mercy. By acting on the following guidelines, Insha-Allaah, our marriages will become more enjoyable, love will increase and we will attain success in both worlds.
1.) Always make duaa for one’s spouse and for a happy marriage.
2.) Adopt taqwa (Allaah consciousness) and be mindful of your duties to Allaah F at all times, as piety is the stepping stone to a beautiful moral and spiritual character.
3.) Create an Islamic environment at home, as this will bring peace and serenity in your lives.
4.) Do not be concerned with fulfilling your own religious duties. It is your religious and moral obligation to encourage your spouse and children towards their Islamic duties with love, wisdom and patience.
5.) Acquaint yourself with the knowledge, reality and responsibilities of marriage. Remember that marriage is not only fulfilment of carnal desires but fulfilment of responsibilities.
6.) Under no circumstances should you compel your spouse or children to obey you in any act that contravenes the commands of Allaah F. At the same time, you should not succumb to the un-Islamic dictates of your spouse and children.
7.) If any problem or dispute arises in the marriage, then always turn to Allaah F for help and guidance first. If the problem persists, consult a pious experienced elder or aalim for advice.
8.) Live simply. Don’t be jealous of those who seem to be living a more luxurious life than your family. Sustenance is from Allaah F. In order to inculcate contentment, look at those people who have less than you, not those who have more.
9.) Be mindful of your discussion topics. Never discuss things with others about your marriage that your spouse would not like to discuss, unless there is an Islamic reason to do so. Some husbands and wives, believe it or not, complain to others about their spouse’s physical appearance. This is a recipe for disaster. Information about your intimate relations should be kept between you and your spouse.
10.) As far as possible, try to have meals together as a family. Express your appreciation, whether the cook is the husband or wife. Rasulullaah SAW would not complain about food put in front of him. Do not look for faults.
11.) Exchange gifts. This creates love.