By: Sherif Mohammed
I start my advice to the couples by talking about World War II, The British military and the Egyptian desert! One of the most decisive battles of WWII was the battle of El Alamein, which took place at El Alamein in Northern Egypt on the summer of 1942. It is well known that the Germans had occupied North Africa and advanced into Egypt. They were hoping to take control of the Suez Canal, then occupy the oil fields in Iraq and Iran, then attack the Soviet Union from the south, etc. The British were determined never to let any of that happen, so they summoned their best soldier, General Bernard Montgomery and mustered an enormous force to stop the German relentless advance. It was a big battle. The German dreams were shattered, the British won, and so many soldiers died and were buried in the desert of El Alamein.
What concerns us here is not what happened next to the British or the Germans. What concerns us now is that after the war, the families of the soldiers who died in El Alamein came to visit their graves. Some of them left few words inscribed on the tombstones of their loved ones buried there. School children in Egypt sometimes go on trips to the site of the battle of El Alamein and read the words written on the different tombstones. Among these are the words inscribed by a young English woman who came to visit her husband's grave. She wrote: "To the world, you were just a soldier. But to me, you were the whole world"
By getting married you are not just getting a wife, you are getting your whole world. From now until the rest of your days your wife will be your partner, your companion, and your best friend. She will share your moments, your days, and your years. She will share your joys and sorrows, your successes and failures, your dreams and your fears. When you are ill, she will take the best care of you; when you need help, she will do all she can for you; when you have a secret, she will keep it; when you need advice, she will give you the best advice. She will always be with you. When you wake up in the morning the first thing your eyes will see will be her. During the day, she will be with you, if for a moment she is not with you, physically, she will be thinking of you, praying for you with all her heart, mind, and soul. When you go to sleep at night, the last thing your eyes will see will be her; and when you are asleep you will still see her in your dreams. In short, she will be your whole world and you will be her whole world.
The best description that I personally have ever read describing the closeness of the spouses to each other, is the Quranic verse which says: "They are your garments and you are their garments"
Indeed, spouses are like garments to each other because they provide one another with the protection, the comfort, the cover, the support, and the adornment that garments provide to humans. Just imagine a journey in the winter of Alaska without garments! Our spouses provide us with the same level of comfort and protection, cover and support in the journey of our lives on this earth as garments would do in the Alaska journey.
The relationship between the spouses is the most amazing of all human relations: the amount of love and affection, intimacy and closeness, mercy and compassion, peace and tranquility that fills the hearts of the spouses is simply inexplicable. The only rational explanation for these most amazing of all human feelings is that: it is an act of God. Only God Almighty in His infinite power, boundless mercy, and great wisdom can create and ingrain these amazing feelings in the hearts of the spouses. In fact, God is reminding those who search for His signs in the universe, that these feelings in the hearts of the spouses are among the signs that should guide humans to His existence.
As He says in the Quran: "And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect."
But the human heart is not a static entity, it is very dynamic. Feelings can and do change with time. Love may wither and fade away. The marital bond might weaken if not properly cared for. Happiness in marriage cannot be taken for granted; continuous happiness requires constant iving from both sides. For the tree of marital love to remain alive and keep growing, the soil has to be sustained, maintained, and nurtured. Therefore, here are a few tips on how to keep the tree growing:
In our world, we live a hectic life surrounded by tight schedules and bombarded by deadlines. For couples, this means that you might not find anytime to spend together, alone away from the endless work commitments. You must never allow this to happen. Try to periodically secure some time for do some special activities alone away from the rest of the world. Remember that our Prophet Muhammad (saws) had found the time to go out to the desert and race with his wife Aisha (ra). She outstripped him but later after she had gained some weight, he outstripped her.
Do go out with her regularly and frequently to do all sorts of activities: go to the mall, visit family and friends, go to the mosque, have picnics, etc. Remember that the Prophet (saws) took his wife to watch the young Ethiopians playing and dancing their folk dances.
Always keep some romance in your life. Modern life has almost transformed us into robots or high tech machines without emotions. Show of emotions is necessary to keep the marital bond away from rusting and disintegrating. Remember, that you will be rewarded by God for any emotions you show to your wife. As the Prophet (saws) said:
"One would be rewarded for anything that he does seeking the pleasure of God even the food that he puts in the mouth of his wife". Never underestimate the importance of seemingly little things as putting food in your wife's mouth, opening the car's door for her, etc. Remember that the Prophet (saws) used to extend his knee to his wife to help her ride her camel...
Try to always find some time for both of you to pray together. Strengthening the bond between you and God is the best guarantee that your own marital bond would always remain strong. Having peace with God will always result in having more peace at home. Remember that the Prophet (saws) gave glad tidings for those couples who wake up at night to pray together. The Prophet (saws) even urged the spouse who rises up first to wake the other spouse up even by throwing cold water on his/her face.
Always try your best to be good to your wife by words and by deeds. Talk to her, smile to her, seek her advice, ask for her opinion, spend quality time with her and always remember that the Prophet (saws) said "the best of you are those who are best to their wives"
Finally, it is common that spouses vow to love and honor their spouses until death do them part. I do believe that this vow is good or even great, but not enough! It is not enough that you love your wife. You have to love what she loves as well. Her family, her loved ones must also become your loved ones. Don't be like my colleague who was unhappy about his wife's parents coming to visit for few weeks. He candidly said to her "I don't like your parents." Naturally she angrily looked at him straight in the eye and said " I don't like yours either!"
Also, it is not enough that you love her until death do you part. Love should never end and we do believe there is life after death where those who did righteousness in this world will be joined by their spouses and offspring. The best example in this regard is the Prophet (saws) whose love for Khadija (ra) his wife of 25 years, extended to include all those she loved and continued even after her death. It was many years after her death and he never forgot her and whenever a goat was slaughtered in his house he would send parts of it to Khadija's friends and whenever he felt that the visitor on the door might be Khadija's sister Hala, he would pray saying "O Allah let it be Hala."
Love your wife and love what your wife loves not only until death but until you be together again in the next life Insha-Allah.