Resolving Conflict

Resolving Conflict with your Spouse!!!
Written on : 8th May, 2010

Assalamu Alaikum,

When married couples get into arguments, we women, particularly of the west have a habit of holding on to grudges and we allow ill-feelings towards our spouses to fester and dwell within our hearts. So much so that these thoughts of ‘dissatisfaction’ and ‘discontentment’ with our partners hold a permanent place in our minds. These ‘mistakes’ and ‘slip-ups’ on the part of our spouses become the fuel for our behavior and just lay there ‘ready to pounce’ on the tips of our tongues! Does this sound familiar?

Now let me make this clear, I am not saying that men are never at fault, they most definitely prone to ‘neglectful’ and ‘careless’ treatment of their wives and ‘household responsibilities’….but they also usually have a very different attitude when it comes to confrontation about it. They may tend to behave as if ‘Huh? What did I do?” or maybe “Really, I was supposed to do that?” and then finally “Ah well, next time I guess”. This of course make us girls crazy and we feel as if everything we do goes under appreciated and is viewed as unimportant. As a result it is usually us girls that need to set things straight and unfortunately for us girls of the west mostly, we tend to have a more vicious tongue and tend to be more hot-tempered as they say.  This is the source of many conflicts between a husband and wife.

I will admit, even  I am guilty of ‘over-reacting’ with my husband at times as I am a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to organization. But what matters most is what we do after the problem has been brought to the table. How do we behave towards eachother after words are said and done, how do we pace ourselves throughout  these arguments so that neither of you lost your minds or tempers…how do we resolve conflict as husband and wife so that we can enjoy each other’s company more at breakfast  than we did at dinnertime last night???

Allow me, inshaa Allah, to offer some advice in this very problematic department of marriage. It is a huge problem these days as the divorce rates continue to climb. Marriage is a union that requires patience and understanding from both parties involved and most importantly, compassion and clear demonstrations of appreciation on both ends. Sounds impossible doesn’t it?

Just remember this….Although perfection is unattainable in this life, that doesn’t mean we should stop trying to achieve it. These are all tests from Allah(swt)…the trials we face as man and wife and the struggles we endure to preserve this sacred union….I mean if everything was perfect and floorless, there wouldn’t be much point to living now would there? Where would the tests be? What would true ‘accomplishment’ feel like?  It’s our hard work and our endeavors that motivate us. So don’t give up…there is no such thing as a lost cause… Have faith in Allah(swt) and anything is possible.

Let’s start with the basics:-

 1)      Marital Relations – You may laugh at the thought of this being my first point. But too many of us take this major part of marriage for granted. This is a very big part of marriage. It has been prescribed for us and the importance of it has been emphasized by the Rasool ( sal allahu alaihi wa salam). So much so that Allah(swt) has  deemed this as a blessing. We come from a religion where such a thing is not frowned upon or scorned. It is considered something beautiful and beneficial that is shared only between husband and wife. Too many couples take this for granted and neglect each other’s needs and rights. This can lead to an unsatisfied and disgruntled attitude towards your spouse and very often, this can be the source and root of so many larger problems within the home. Husbands go to your wives and wives do not refuse your husbands! The hadith below is of utter importance here:-

 Abu Hurairah (radyAllaahu ‘anhu), Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “When a man calls his wife to bed and she does not come to him, and he spends the night angry with her, the angels curse her until the morning arrives.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

2)      Make a pact to start over – If you and/or your spouse have decided to follow these steps towards a healthier marriage, then it is essential that you sit down together, undisturbed, and make a genuine pact to start over. This means that you are both willing to forget all past arguments and indiscretions towards each other and are both willing to move forward past the grudges and ‘passing comments’. There will be no more ‘bringing up of past problems’ to score points in arguments or pointing out your partner’s past faults to belittle or guilt them into ‘having things your way’.   You must both agree that those days are over, the past will stay in the past and all that matters now is the present and the future. Be sure to do this outside of an argument and in a more controlled and relaxed setting and/or state of mind.

3)      Have a ‘Trial-Run’ – Notice or think back to the last time you had a disagreement. Think about the way you behaved towards one another. We have a habit of behaving like teenagers instead of adults: quick-tempered, irrational and defensive. These are obviously a horrible blend of feelings and emotions that are sure to erupt any volcano when combined. Now for the trial-run…seeing that you’ve now made the pact to start over, remind each other at the beginning of a new disagreement that you made this pact recently..”Honey don’t forget the pact Inshaa AllahJ”. When you have finished talking things through, compare this new argument with one of you past heated arguments. Notice that when there are ‘reminders’ put in place, that you are your spouse can now converse in a more mature and adult manner. Never underestimate the power of the ‘occasional gentle reminder’. Some successful couples have been known to stick ‘visual reminders’ on their walls. For example words or phrases that are constantly in their faces such as: “Treat your spouse the way you would like to be treated”, “Bite your tounge!”, “Rethink your thoughts before they become speech”, “Your words should spread like butter, not slice like knives”, etc! Such methods are very effective even when training your children. These constant visual reminders encourage positive habits of self-reflection. They make you constantly analyze the way you treat others and even yourself.

4)      Always look to the Sunnah – Now Islam is a very simple religion. People think that by sticking to ‘family traditions’ and ignoring the words and rulings laid down by the Rasool(salallahu alaihi wa salam) that they are simplifying things for themselves. And yet people still cannot realize that all this does is further complicate things. Allah(swt) said in Al Qur’an:

 “It is not fitting for a believing, man and woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have an opinion about their decision; if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.”
[Surah al-Ahzab: 36]

Therefore we need to come back down to our roots and accept that Allah(Swt) knows us better than we know our own selves. Learn the laws of marriage brought to us by His last and final Messanger (sal allahu alaihi wa slaam). Stick to them and we will have success in our lives. Stray from them and we will see nothing but heartache and confusion in our lives. Always look to the Sunnah when we have an argument about something. If the matter we are arguing about is deemed unacceptable by the Rasool (sal alahu allaihi wa salam) then it is unacceptable for your marriage. Learn your rights as husband and as wife:-

And Allaah says: ‘And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar to those (of their husbands) over them.’[Surah Al-Baqarah: 228]

5)    “Don’t Go to Bed Angry!!!” – I’m sure you heard granny and even your parents mentioning that a few times well! And still, we as young people are very stubborn! We think, “oh well one night of making em’ suffer will teach em’ a lesson”. I have never seen a more immature generation of young people than this one! I will tell you one thing, GRANDMA WAS RIGHT! Unlike you, most grandmas and grandpas were married for years and years and years and years compared to you. They must be doing something right people! Do not go to bed angry… Every time you go to bed without resolving an issue, the grudges against each other slowly start to seep in and infect your marriage. You slowly start to become strangers sleeping in the same bed. Now that you’ve made the pact, NEVER let this happen again! Resolve your issues before you lay your heads on those pillows…never go to bed without your last words to each other being something like ‘Assalamu Alaikum…I love you” with a smile. The more we, as a very ‘I know I’m right and you’re wrong’ generation continue to practice this ‘overnight war’ without our spouses, the more we will continue to destroy our marriages and even ruin our children in the process.

6)   Spontaneous Acts of Kindness – After a few years of marriage, most couples start to shake away from what they call ‘The Honeymoon Years’ in this part of the world. The gifts stop coming as often, the romantic gestures become non-existent for some and plain old ‘chivalry’ comes to an end.

What many fail to realize is that as the years progress, the comfort level between spouses increase. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the romance has died or that your partner has lost interest, it’s just that you have now become so comfortable with each other that there isn’t that extra need to prove yourselves constantly and earn each others affection… You are so comfortable with one another now that you may even finish each other’s sentences and maybe even know what your partner is thinking simply by their facial expressions.

People get so caught up in this commercialized version of what ‘romance’ is, that we are unable to see how beautiful marriage truly is. We allow this to fuel so many arguments!! Yes, I will admit that this ‘comfort zone’ may lead to neglectful behavior on the part of some spouses, but for most couples, this may all be a simple matter of unnecessary ‘dwelling on the honeymoon years’; the inability to move past this phase and embrace another more beautiful and possibly unbreakable bond…a bond too often broken by petty and frivolous outside influences. Accept marriage for what it is and not for the ‘western ideal’ that you desire it to be. Because, much like most other ‘western ideals’, they are impossibly unachievable and completely unrealistic

We need to, as married muslim couples, look past the surface of things. Look a little deeper when analyzing your spouse. Spouses have a tendency to overlook common everyday gestures in search of more elaborate ‘romantic’ gestures. This eventually leads to one or both spouses feeling under-appreciated and overly-criticized. If people would just relax and step back for a moment, they would realize how truly blessed they are to have a partner in life. Even something as simple as having your clothes washed and folded neatly in your drawer may go unnoticed. For husbands, your wives may not expect you to thank them every single time you find a pair of socks in the drawer, but a simple smile and  a ”Woohoo! New socks!!!”  every now and then, may have your wife feeling bubbly and happy for the rest of that day! Spontaneous acts of kindness go a long way…

I will close with the story that inspired this entire article… Believe it or not, it was precious yet simple acts of kindness on the part of my husband that made me realize how dear that ‘comfort zone’ really is and how often I have taken his simple yet extremely thoughtful acts of kindness for granted in the past.

I was sick with the flu recently and was really suffering as I was also pregnant. When recovering, it had left me with an awful cough that was causing some serious abdominal pain given the current size of my abdomen. He apparently noticed this and how drained I was looking. All of a sudden, after he had finished up his work for the night, he came upstairs while I was sleeping and applied some Vicks Vapor Rub (chest rub) for me to help ease the cough.  I didn’t even have to ask him to do this which was what I found so sincere about it. On another occasion, due to this particular pregnancy as well, I was experiencing some seriously exhausting pregnancy pains and symptoms. It had left me with a severe case of insomnia and had me crying almost every night since the problems began. He again seemed to have taken notice of this and again, after finishing up his work for the night, he had gone to sleep on one of the children’s beds. I asked him in the morning what he was doing all the way over there and he said “You looked like you finally fell asleep and I didn’t want to risk shaking the bed and waking you up again…poor suffering thing…”

Makes me say “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwee” every time I think about it…Alhamdulillah….:)

Ladies, if your husband willingly shows such concern spontaneously without you have to ask, this is a clear indication that he loves you. He may not do it all the time, but once or twice every now and then should be enough reassurance for you. Even though the surprise bouquets and chocolates have decreased in number over the years, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. We need to stop dwelling on those ‘Honeymoon years’ and embrace this comfort zone for what it is. It’s that place where he will help you carry down the clothes basket if he thinks it’s too heavy for you, or maybe  pour you coffee for you if he’s closer to the mugs, or maybe give you a sweet kiss on the cheek before he goes off to work. Don’t ignore these loving gestures, they are just as significant as the bouquets and diamond earrings; they may not be as expensive, but clear demonstrations of love of the part of your spouse are truly priceless.

If you come from a marriage full of conflict, you most likely need to change the way you view ‘the ideal marriage’. Do not create unrealistic expectations for yourselves and expect not to get constant disappointment in your lives…

Just embrace that ‘comfort zone’ and do not take it for granted the way so many of us do today… ‘Commercialized Love’ is misleading and deceptive… ‘Sincere and Genuine Love’ between spouses, once we take the time to notice it, is a dear reality…

“May Allah bring us closer as husbands & wives…Ameen”

Yours Truly,

Azizah…

o———————————————————o

…Comments from My Readers…

Jaza kallah Azizah! I really needed this, just a week ago one of your paragraphs was the exact thing that I discovered…about not having those little romantic gestures because over the years we found that’ home’ or comfort zone in each other. your article just reassured me that I was on the right path in understanding and accepting where my marriage really is and what it means to me. keep up the great work Insha Allah! [Nicky A. , (Sunday 9th May, 2010, 11:30pm)]

“Fantastic article..mashallah!!! [Sharana A. (Sunday 9th May, 2010, 12:46pm)]

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