Tips for Starting Your Marriage on the Right Foot

01 September, 2020
Q I need advice on how I can be a good wife? I just performed Nikkah. I am a Western convert. How do we set our marriage off on the right foot?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • In order to start your marriage on the right foot you need to keep in mind that marriage is a long-term commitment. It is not the wedding, it is not the first month or until the first baby or the first fight. It is, insha’Allah, forever.
  • Hopefully you already decided that your husband is a person you want to be with for a long time.
  • Now that you are married, when you make decisions about whether to spend time together, how to communicate your feelings, what sort of compromises to reach – ask yourself if you will be comfortable in the long-term.
  • I think that some people believe that love fades with time, but I don’t believe that is true at all. Love changes and evolves. It doesn’t look the same throughout the life of a marriage, but it doesn’t have to die out!
  • And, I cannot stress this enough: always, always communicate.

………….

Salaam alaykum, sister. Thank you for this question. I, too, am a Western convert, and I am married to someone who was raised Muslim. I do not know whether your husband is also a convert, or was raised Muslim, but insha’Allah, most of my advice will apply either way.

Tips for Starting Your Marriage on the Right Foot

1- Communication

It may be cliché, but it holds true. Establish open, honest, safe communication from the beginning of your marriage to set it on the right foot. What do I mean by this?

Open: When you or your spouse is upset, it is important not to close off. If you need some time to cool down, that is okay. But it should not be more than an hour or two. Clearly communicate your feelings without placing blame. Shutting each other out will only cause resentment and harm.

Honest: Do not be dishonest in order to preserve your spouse’s feelings. There is no need to be harsh, but if you are hurt it is important to communicate that.

Safe: If you are going to be honest, you also have to allow your spouse to be safe. You cannot get angry because he says you hurt him, for example. That will cause him to close off in the future. Rather than thinking of your next response, really listen to what he has to say.

It is EXTREMELY important to note that this advice all goes both ways. If you are being accommodating of his feelings, but he is being unkind to you, it is NOT okay and you should seek counseling.

The above advice is widely focused on negative – but it applies to positive communication too! Did something wonderful happen in your day? Don’t hold back because you think your husband may not be interested. He is your partner for life. You should share with him.

I also highly encourage being open in your communication of affection to one another. This will foster a loving relationship that will last beyond the “honeymoon” phase.

2- Do Not Lose Yourself

This pertains mainly, though not exclusively, to inter-cultural marriages.

It is very common that when a convert woman marries a man who has been Muslim all his life, that she loses her own cultural identity. She makes food of his culture, she wears clothes of his culture, she adopts gender norms and expectations of his culture. Do not do this. Of course it is good to appreciate the culture your spouse comes from – but again, this needs to go both ways. Why should your culture fall by the wayside?

There is a toxic belief among some Muslims that Western cultures are “haraam.” This is ridiculous, of course. You aren’t drinking alcohol or insisting on putting pork in the food or anything that is clearly haraam. Islam allows for the adaptation of many different cultural norms. Make sure you talk to your husband about how things will be in your home.

3- Keep the Love Alive

It has always been a mystery to me why people want to put so much effort into romancing their partner at the beginning of a marriage and then just let it all fall away. I think that some people believe that love fades with time, but I don’t believe that is true at all. Love changes and evolves. It doesn’t look the same throughout the life of a marriage, but it doesn’t have to die out!

Plan time around jobs and children (if there are or will be any) to bond with your spouse. Find something you both enjoy doing, and do it together. It doesn’t have to fit the typical “romantic” idea, if that isn’t what you’re into – though it can! It can be anything.

My husband and I enjoy going on walks and, when the kids are in bed, watching TV together. We get ice cream that is just for us, watch a show and talk to each other. Sometimes he likes to play a game and I will sit with him and do cross-stitch or read.

Another wonderful thing to do with your spouse is pray salat together. It is a bonding experience that brings you closer to Allah and closer to each other. If your husband was raised Muslim, maybe he can teach you some surahs. I like to ask my husband what he made dua for when he is finished praying. It feels spiritually intimate to know what is on his mind when he is communing with Allah.

And, of course, if you are into classically romantic things like chocolates and roses, there is nothing wrong with that!

4- Play the Long Game to stay on the Right Foot

In order to start your marriage on the right foot you need to keep in mind that marriage is a long-term commitment. It is not the wedding, it is not the first month or until the first baby or the first fight. It is, insha’Allah, forever. Hopefully you already decided that your husband is a person you want to be with for a long time. Now that you are married, when you make decisions about whether to spend time together, how to communicate your feelings, what sort of compromises to reach – ask yourself if you will be comfortable in the long-term.

And, I cannot stress this enough: always, always communicate.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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