It is true that we only learn through experience. But I feel it is too risky to learn about marriage once you’re in it. Its best to learn through others experience and know whats right and whats wrong. I feel quite strongly about this topic. Honestly I would love to open counselling centres where girls, boys and mothers are trained on basic concepts of marriage. Many times, family members are the ones who spoil it all unknowingly.There needs to be basic training on how to become better people. Its our spouse who has to bear our bad habits. Everyone has different concepts on marriage but there are certain things which are black and white and there are no two ways about them. Following are the lessons I have learned:
1. Your relationship with spouse should be fair. Pakistani culture which insists that it is a girl who has to compromise most in a relationship is only encouraging men to behave badly. Relationships need to be fair. It’s not right for one spouse to keep compromising every time and the other getting his way. On principle, it should be 50:50, both compromise equally. That would be an ideal marriage. Wives compromise more than husbands so then it can be stretched to 60:40 at the most. Having a relationship with your spouse which has a worse ratio than the above, is definitely an unfair relationship and you must seek help. 2. When we are getting married, the most important thing to look for is a good person. A person’s big car or house has no value if he is a wretch. We must marry a person who has good moral values. If he has a good relationship with his family members, that speaks good about his character. If he says his prayers, reads the Quran and is close to Allah, it generally another sign of being a good person. When we are looking for a husband, we should look for a God-fearing person. Not someone who doesn’t care a damn and does what he wants. Same qualities are for a man searching for a wife. He shouldn’t only look for a gorgeous girl who cooks well. He should look for a God fearing woman who has a good moral character. Both husband and wife should try to improve their bad habits and be better people in a continuous effort to make their own and their partners lives easier.
3. Never get married if husband is unemployed/student. In Islam, once a Nikkah takes place, housing, clothing and feeding wife and children becomes the husband’s responsibility. If the husband is going for studies, he should never be getting married on the first place. Expecting your daughter-in-law to earn for your son is wrong to start with. Marrying off your sons when they are at a marriageable age is all nonsense if is not even capable of bringing food on the table. There may be a chance of engagement while finance is not yet done with studies but there should not even be a question of Nikkah until husband is earning well enough for both.
4. Groom your sons before marriage. Being the baby and centre of attention only looks good when he’s two. An adult man who is pampered by the whole family is not capable ofeven looking after his own self, what to talk about his wife and kids. Family should teach him how to grow up, act like a man and be a man. He should never be raised to behave like a sissy girl.
5. Set the ground rules at the beginning of marriage.
What we say and do in the beginning of the marriage is how you are laying the ground rules for your own future. We should start a relationship which is fair, and in which the girl doesn’t allow her husband to ask her personal questions like how much she is earning, what she is spending on and how much saving she is doing. He should be given the impression that she is old enough to manage her finances and that husband should only worry about his responsibilities. He should also know that certain actions are not permissible in this marriage under any circumstances (physical, verbal and mental abuse). I suggest couples should go through a list of their priorities in a marriage during their engagement period. They both should know what is most important thing they are looking for in a marriage and both should know what they will not get away with. Also, whatever happens during the start of the marriage continues. So in case wife earns and husband lives on her money in the beginning of the relationship, then that trend will never stop even if he starts earning. Its best never to set such a pattern to start with.
6. Never change your name to your husband’s no matter how much he pressurises.
Islam gives the woman right to keep her full name which her father kept. She is not supposed to change her name. These are things a girl must take stand on. These should be decided even before getting married. Legal requirement is only that on her ID card she needs to change fathers name to husbands name to prove that now she is married. She does not need to change her second name and surname to husbands in legal matters.
7. Never tell your husband everything about your finances. Not telling your husband each and every detail of your money matters isn’t being secretive and untrusting, it is being sensible and careful. Islam’s rules are the best. According to Islam, if a woman works or has money, it is not her duty to give it all to her husband or even buy household stuff from it. It is completely her choice if she wants to do so. In my opinion and experience, it is a very big mistake on our part. Whatever investment you have made with your money and saving, you will naturally later on spend it on your husband and kids. But the power to make that decision should remain in your own hands. Disclosing such private matters to husband can make your life hell.
8. Always have your own locker in your own name and have your jewelry and important documents safe there. Never let your mother-in-law or anyone else to keep them for you. Be very careful and take good care of your belongings yourself. Do not at any cost give them an idea that you are careless or they will not let you keep your possessions. We all make mistakes, but never tell your mistake to your in-laws or husband, they will think you are a careless person. 9. Be there for your spouse at his/her difficult time. During our life, we face a number of difficult times. A family member’s illness or death is one of such times when we must be there for our spouse no matter what. Your words of comfort or a hug at the most difficult time are moments your spouse will never ever forget. On the other hand, if you are not there for your spouse at such a time, then your relationship will mean nothing.
10. Always keep all your legal documents (passport, CNIC, driving license, visas) with yourself. Don’t leave them around at someone else’s house, even if it’s your in-laws house. Always have a lockable drawer or cupboard and have the key in your own purse.
11. Always upload a copy of all your important and legal documents on your personal online space. You will need a copy of those anytime anywhere. They should always be just one click away from you. For more on this topic, see my complete article on organising legal documents here.
12. Always encourage your spouse to pursue his/her hobbies, meet friends and family. Being controlling never helps anybody. As humans, we all need freedom which is necessary for a good quality of life. Stopping wife from visiting her family is something which is extremely common in our society and is a terrible human trait. I fail to understand why these husbands think of her family as a threat. He should be happy to let her go meet her family. That way she will be happier when she returns to him. You should always put yourself in spouses shoes before you order her around. How would you feel if she stops you from meeting your family or friends?
13. Never involve parents in your petty marital problems. Never discuss them with a friend of opposite gender. It will only make matters worse.You can trust a loyal friend and seek help from her if theres a dire need. In case there are serious issues with your marriage like abuse, one will have to be clear and let parents know in the intention to solve the major issue. In case of abuse, it is a mistake not to let parents know. Abuse should never be tolerated.
14. Money is not everything. Materialism is a never ending race. You’re trying to work more hours to get more money. Even when you spend time at home, you are wondering how much you could be earning if you worked that hour. Just stop your thoughts right there. This rat race is never ending. We should have enough money to afford a comfortable life and some saving for a rainy day. Having too much money and not enough time to spend it with your loved ones and at home is not worth it.
My great grand mother Freda Dorothy May Young used to pray:
‘Oh God! give me enough to cover my needs, I do not wish for more than that’.
15. Trust unconditionally.
There is a saying if you love someone, let them go. It means you trust them completely. Don’t stop her from working or sports in the fear that she may like some other guy. Love requires trust. If you can’t trust your spouse, there isn’t much left in the marriage. Love is about loving your spouse with your whole heart and then letting them go. If you’re loving her in the true sense, know that she will never ever choose anyone over you.
One can really feel the positive energy that builds around couples who are in love. You can see it in their eyes, you can tell by their tone and in their dimples. Even being around them is sheer bliss. Love is really an amazing feeling. No it is not over-rated. In fact, if you’re lucky to be in a loving marriage, it probably is under-rated. I feel couples have the power of making each others life hell or heaven. The truth is whatever you choose, will be your destination as well as you travel in the same boat.
I just pray and hope that all couples in the world realise how important each others happiness is for their and their family’s well being and sanity and make efforts accordingly.