Tips to a Better Marriage By Sr. Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect" (30: 21). I have listed some rules that may benefit those seeking an Islamic marriage, as well as, those who are already married. I do not pretend to be an expert of any kind. I have learned what I know through marrying at the early age of 18, just 9 months after em bracing Islam. I muddled my way through much of my 14 years of marriage, and consider myself a graduate from the 'school of hard knocks'. The rules are: 1. Be conscious of your physical appearance. No one was more conscious of this than the Prophet. His Sulmah reflects keen attention to personal hygiene and good grooming. He kept himself strong and muscular. Most likely the first aspect of you that attracted your mate was your appearance, so don't think that simply because you are married the task is over. You can't hide a weight problem under Thawbs' (dress) and long Khimars' (veils). Your mate knows. Be aware that you live in a society that places a high premium on physical appearance. It flaunts the shapely female and her muscular counterpart. Temptations that beckon non-Muslims beckon Muslims as well. Don 't allow your mate to get side-tracked by the likes of a 'Raquel Welch or an Arnold Schwarzenegger'. Jog, join a gym, roller skate, swim and stay in shape. Insha' Allah, you will be more vibrant, more radiant, and more attractive to your mate. 2. Be aware of your role, but do not fall into role- playing. Muslim spouses sometimes experience difficulties because they are trying to do things 'by the book' without giving due consideration to the conditions prevailing in their country. For example, most female converts are taught that the role of the Muslim woman is to be at home raising her children. Supposedly, it is the man who works outside the home to maintain the family. She may have read about Birth Control and assumed that it has no place for the Muslimah; yet, it is worth noting that the Prophet himself allowed coitus interruptus. If ideal Islamic conditions prevailed, there would be no reason for a sister to worry about her financial situation interfering with her right to bear children. However, without an Islamic society, needy Muslim families may have to resort to welfare and food stamps rather than Zakaah and Sadaqah. This creates a feeling of dependence and humiliation that can place extreme stress on a marriage. In this ease, it may be helpful for the Muslim couple to delay having children, for the wife to work while the children are young and until the couple 's financial situation improves. Islam gives you this flexibility. Don't be afraid or ashamed to use it. 3. Be a companion to your mate. Try to show enthusiasm for your spouse 's interests and hobbies. It is well-known that the Prophet would run races with 'Ayesha. By all means try to involve your mate in your interests. 4. Be active in Islamic community life. This will strengthen your commitment to Islam while providing you wish a wholesome social outlet. Encourage your spouse to engage in activities that promote Islam. Have dinners at your home for Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and don't neglect your relatives. These activities will indirectly enhance the quality of your marriage through widening your circle of activity and con~ac~s. 5. Admit your mistakes and have a forgiving, generous attitude when your mate errs. This country is a difficult place to live in. Most Muslims fall short of the Islamic ideal. Contradictions abound. Be quick to admit your shortcomings and work to amend them. Be understanding when your mate does not live up to the Islamic ideal and gently try to motivate him or her in the right direction. 6. Have a sense of humour. Be able to chuckle at life's minor aggravations. 7. Be modest when around members of the opposite sex. Do not try to test your spouse's affection by feigning interest in another. This will only cause dissension and bad feelings. 8. Share household duties. Brothers, take note. This is especially important these days when women work outside the home. The Prophet always helped his wives around the house and even mended his own clothes. Who knows? You might find you actually like preparing the evening meal or taking care of junior so your wife can have the afternoon off. The Messenger of Allah said, "The most perfect of the believers in faith is the best of them in moral excellence, and the best of you are the kindest of you to their wives" (at-Tirmidhi). 9. Surprise each other with gifts. Treat her to an evening out alone, away from the children. There are no words to describe the lift this can give to a marriage. 10. Communicate your feelings to one another, good and bad. Tell him how handsome he looks. Where there is disagreement, have an open discussion. Don ' t collect red stamps. Nip it in the bud . 11. Live within your means. Stay away from credit cards if you can. Sisters, take note. Don't envy the possessions of your friends, and belittle your husband because he can't provide them for you. Muslim couples will do well to stay away from ostentatious living. The Prophet did not live this way, neither should you. 12. Respect your mate's need for privacy. A quiet time to oneself, either at home or away from home, each day can make a disagreeable person agreeable. 13. Don 't share personal problems with others. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but if you must discuss personal problems, make sure it is with a person in whom you have the utmost confidence. If you have a learned Muslim brother or sister in your community, seek him or her out first. 14. Be sensitive to your mate's moods. If you want to share a personal achievement, don't do it when your spouse is 'down in the dumps ' . Wait for the proper time. You may be saying to yourself, "This is easier said than done." Well, you're right. A successful marriage doesn't just happen. It's not simply a matter of luck or finding the right person. It takes hard work and determination. It means being selfless and making mistakes. It means having vengeance on your mind but forgiveness in your heart. But, then, its perfection is "half of faith". =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead righteous. Qur'an 25:74 "The whole world is an asset and the best asset is a good wife" (Muslim) "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect" (30: 21).