By Khadijah Stott-Andrew
Many marital advices have made the point that a woman doesn’t feel as loved as when her husband is spending quality time with her. Likewise, the husband feels valued and respected when given his wife’s attention. However, the question may arise as to what activities constitute “quality time” in the eyes of both spouses. Many women find little interest in so-called manly pursuits, and men find it tedious to participate in the folly whims of women. A middle ground must be sought in order to direct your marriage to the path of success. It is not a question of who should yield to the other’s demands, but how should each of you compromise to cater for the other’s enjoyment. What many fail to comprehend is that a spouse is much more than a provider, parent or cook. A spouse is a partner, companion and best friend. Surprisingly, there are a number of ways even two opposite personalities can engage together, and at the same time, increase the love and compassion between themselves.
Any wife would be happy to admit to the entertaining, sometimes frustrating, competitive spirit that is an almost constant presence within their husband. Whilst many women may roll their eyes and label the quality as immature, it is possible to succumb to the competitive side and participate with your husband. It can be light-hearted, such as a sport or even a race.
Abu Dawood ~ Book 14, Number 2572:
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:
While she was on a journey along with the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him): I had a race with him (the Prophet) and I outstripped him on my feet. When I became fleshy, (again) I had a race with him (the Prophet) and he outstripped me. He said: This is for that outstripping.
There may be a particular computer game a husband enjoys, much to the frustration of his wife. Transform the game into an act of worship by playing together, increasing the mercy between your hearts and making your spouse happy.
On the other hand, your minds may lean towards a more intellectual stance and you wish to challenge each other on an academic level; you could both read the same book and quiz each other, whilst keeping score. One recommendation, regardless of your personalities, is to challenge yourselves on an Islamic level: race to memorise a surah from the Qur’an, attend an Islamic course together and both sit the exam or quiz each other on the Seerah and lives of the companions.
Whilst this seems a rather obvious suggestion, many spouses un-knowingly neglect this vital component of marriage. Attempt to recollect the last time an interactive, wholesome discussion was made. If the memory does not come easily, it is time to make conversation a priority.
Taken from Sahih al-Bukhari ~ Book 54, Number 2731, 2732:
Narrated Al-Miswar bin Makhrama and Marwan:
“[…] When the writing of the peace treaty was concluded, Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) said to his companions, “Get up and slaughter your sacrifices and get your head shaved.” By Allah none of them got up, and the Prophet (s.a.w) repeated his order thrice. When none of them got up, he left them and went to Umm Salama and told her of the people’s attitudes towards him. Umm Salama said, “O the Prophet of Allah! Do you want your order to be carried out? Go out and don’t say a word to anybody till you have slaughtered your sacrifice and call your barber to shave your head.” So, the Prophet (s.a.w) went out and did not talk to anyone of them till he did that, i.e., slaughtered the sacrifice and called his barber who shaved his head. Seeing that, the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) got up, slaughtered their sacrifices, and started shaving the heads of one another, and there was so much rush that there was a danger of killing each other. […]”
As you can see from the above hadith, even the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), a military leader, political leader and Caliph of the Muslims, turned to his wife and confided in her. In modern day terms, this can be seen as the equivalent of a husband unburdening his troubles of the day and his wife, not just listening attentively and compassionately, but offering practical advice. This practical advice is something largely sought by a man when discussing his troubles, unlike a women who is content with a sympathetic ear.
A simple way to achieve this is to plan a meal together. When food is eaten in the home, the familiarity of the procedure and surroundings leads couples to finish their meal having shared very few words. In order to avoid this love-oppressing mistake, venture outside of the four walls and go to a restaurant. The relaxing, unfamiliar environment will hopefully spark the conversation. As long as understanding and compassion is utilised, both spouses should benefit from the experience, regardless of the topic of discussion. There may even be fresh discoveries of your spouse’s life and personality.
A common complaint amongst married couples is that on the arrival of children, quality time is a lost dream and it supposedly becomes impossible to spark the romance that once was. However, this is a rather pessimistic outlook, and far from accurate. In fact, the arrival of children brings with it a fresh dose of opportunities and experiences that can increase the love and even ignite the passion between Husband and Wife. It is encouraged for husbands to attend the birth of their children in order to partake in the beauty of such a delivery, to support the wife during such a physically and psychologically draining experience will no doubt surge the love and appreciation within both spouses. This experience will mark the beginning of many “Family Times” to come and spouses will find that they can achieve happiness and fulfilment with the children present and, once tucked up safely in bed, leave Mum and Dad to bond over those happy memories created during the day. Whether you chose a play centre, a park, a zoo or a family BBQ, there are ample choices available to give each and every family the chance to create the intimacy and love necessary for a successful family.
The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,
“The best of you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best of you to my family.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (3895) and Ibn Maajah (1977). (Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.)
How better to deliver your family the best treatment, than to dedicate your most valuable possession to them; your time.
From the above points, it is clear to see that there are many ways to increase the love between spouses. Make exploring part of the experience, whilst you and your spouse experiment with various activities, and decide for yourselves what you both enjoy. As is advisory in all aspects of life, follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w); his playful disposition and loving compassion lead to a contented household and joyous marriage with each of his wives. This endearing character also influenced the Mothers of The Believers as they were comforted and cared for in a manner that harmonized with their needs. In following these examples and suggestions, you may discover that, even when the romance is fading, your spouse can become your best friend.