Posted on December 11th, 2013

Wise Wives was lucky to bring back Dr. Marwa Azab (B.A Psychology ~ MA Psychology ~ Ph.D Neuroscience) on Tuesday December 10, 2013. She covered many intriguing topics about marriage and I'd like to highlight four of them here.

Mother-infant relationships...
Dr. Azab began by explaining that the relationship we and our spouse had with our mothers has an immense effect on how our marriage are today.  The period between birth and one year (the years beyond this are important as well but get less important with age) is when a person builds trust with the world. It is crucial in a human's development and depending on the attachment style of the parents, "this will manifest in marriage" later on in the infant's life.  It will affect the person's quality and duration of marriage.

There are 3 types of parenting, or attachment, styles that she explored:

1) Secure: Which is considered "successful parenting" is one that builds trust in the infant. This is a trusting, persistent, predictable parent who is consistent in their behavior.
--This will result in a person/spouse who is secure in their marriage and has lovable qualities.

2. Anxious/ambivalent: This is a parent that is unpredictable - for example, this parent will reward a child for picking something up off the ground but will not make a big deal when they get a good grade.
--This will result in a person/spouse who is moody and mostly unhappy. They can also be jealous and possessive and will want reciprocation right away. Overall this will result in an unsatisfying marriage.

3. Avoidance: This is a parent that does not even give eye contact to her child.
--This will result in a person/spouse that is very difficult to be in a relationship with. They typically dislike others and their guard is always up. They do not get social support and have no deep relationships.

Azab says that with parenting, consistency is the key! "It is better for a parent to be consistently avoidant than it is to be up and down." A child needs to have a predictable parent in order to build trust in the world.

But as adults, why learn this in the first place? "You need to gain access to the problem," she says. And recognize which category you fit into in order to fix an aspect of your marriage that could be suffering. This should be a tool for you if you are having any troubles. You should not just accept them, give up and walk away from your marriage.

Three stages of marriage...
We then went on to discuss the theory of whether "birds of the same feather flock together," or do opposites attract? She says that it depends on what stage your marriage is in. In other words, it depends on if you are at the beginning of your marriage, the middle, or the end.

1. At the beginning of your marriage, you want to match in education/class/religion/values. If you match in these and other aspects then this is a predictor of a successful marriage. If you are different in these things, studies actually show that this will be a predictor of divorce.  "In the beginning you want a sense of 'we'ness,' she says. It's usually those aspects that bring you together in the first place.

2. In the middle of your marriage, the opposite is true! When you have been married for 10-15 years the above does not work anymore. In a sense, you need to be opposites, to "wear different hats." This is because this is the time when you are dealing with raising children. You have an increase in responsibilities and the last thing you want to do is be redundant or similar to your spouse.

3. At the end of your marriage, you want to go back to being similar. This is usually when the couple has retired and start to spend more time together alone once again.

While discussing the topic of "we'ness" she told us to think about how we refer to our husband whether in public, in private, in front of your kids, when you are proud of him, when you are mad at him, etc.  The more "we" words you use the more successful your marriage is. Using words like "us," "our," "we," indicate that you have a healthy marriage and a healthy level of interdependence. "You need interdependence," she emphasized. "No research that I know shows that being completely independent is successful."

She says that when in conflict with your husband put an effort to use these "we" words instead of "you," words which comes naturally to us because we want to disengage ourselves from him. In fact, in a Hadith, it is reported that the wife of the Prophet (pbuh) Aisha used to call the Prophet "Prophet of Allah" when she was mad at him instead of using his name!

Are you your parents?...
A third thing we discussed was looking into your parent's marriage to see how it emulates , or not, into your own marriage.  In this case there are three different categories you can fall into:

1. Accept and Continue: This is when you use your parents marriage as a template, you do whatever you have been tutored in doing. This happens when you liked their marriage and want to copy it because you saw that it was successful and satisfying.

2. Process and Struggle: This is when you see that there are aspects in their marriage that you do not want to copy because you realized that it was unsatisfying for them. If this is the case you should pick a mate that will work on this with you, she says.

3. Disengage and Repudiate: This is when you do not want their marriage at all! You do not have an example to follow and so you do not know what you want or what type of mate you want.

Using this information, she suggested that we go home and as an exercise talk to our husbands about this and see where each one falls into. And depending on what you determine you can discuss what you would like to emulate, what expectations can be causing problems, etc.

8 characteristics of a satisfying marriage...
1. Ability to change and tolerate change - This does not mean you are changing the essence of yourself or your spouse, this is about discovering hidden areas of yourself that are unexpressed.

2. Ability to live with the unchangeable - You have to realize that you cannot tailor a spouse. Sometimes the best way is to "work around a problem" instead of trying to change it.

3. Assumption of performance - This is realizing that you need to continuously work on your marriage, You need to commit on working on it instead of jumping to divorce with every problem.

4. Trust - This can be confused with love. Love can go up and down. But trust should not! You need to be able to be "emotionally naked" with your spouse. This, she says, also leads to a better intimate life.

5. Balance of dependance - You need him and he needs you. Relaying on each other is important. There should be no "power struggle" and you should not be fighting for sameness.

6. Enjoy each other - This means you enjoy their company, but not necessarily their interests. You can sit side by side in comfortable silence. "You do not need to over communicate," she says. You should have sexual pleasure with each other too. Also if you can use humor in your conflicts, this is a really good sign of a healthy marriage she says.

7. Shared history - This is when you develop history and memories together.

8. "Luck" - You need a little bit of luck to get through anything. (This is according to the study). However we determined as an audience that this can be replaced with "Rizq-" everything good comes from Allah.

Posted on November 12th, 2013

From http://eighthrising.wordpress.com.

 I’m now in my third marriage.  When people learn this fact about me, their reaction is usually pretty awkward.  It’s almost as if they’re waiting for me to be embarrassed by my admission. While going through two divorces was some of the most painful times of my life, I’d only feel ashamed if I’d gone through it without being able to say I’ve learned a thing or two.  

My husband and I had both been through divorce before we married each other, and with that brings a unique perspective into many do’s and don’ts of how to treat your spouse. Don’t get me wrong – our marriage isn’t perfect, but our failures in past relationships have shaped decisions we make about the way we treat each other, and to be honest, I’m glad I went through it.  We’ve learned better, so now we do better.


And with that, I’d like to offer up my version of his wise marriage tips – from a woman who has triumphed the murky waters of divorce.

1. Respect your husband.  - Notice how it doesn’t say “Respect your husband if he has earned it”. A man’s greatest need in this world is to be respected, and the person he desires that respect from the most is his wife.  The trap that we’ve all been ensnared by is that they only deserve our respect when they earn it. Yes, we want our husbands to make decisions that will ultimately garner our respect, but the truth is that your husband is a human being. A human being who makes mistakes. This is the man that YOU have chosen to walk alongside you for the rest of your life, and to lead your family and he needs to be respected for that quality alone. Take it from me – when respect is given even when he doesn’t deserve it, it will motivate him to earn it. That doesn’t mean you pretend that his choices are good ones when they aren’t. Things like that still need to be communicated, but you can flesh out your differences WITH RESPECT. It makes all the difference in the world to him.

2. Guard your heart.  - The grass is not greener on the other side. Do not believe the lie that with a slimmer figure, a higher salary, a faster car, or a bigger house, you will be a happier woman. The world is full of things and people that will serve as reminders that you don’t have the best of the best, but it’s simply not true. Live the life you’ve been blessed with, and BE THANKFUL. I get that we all have struggles, and there are even times when I would love 1,000 more square feet of house to live in, but square feet is not fulfilling – relationships are. Guard your heart from things and people that will try to convince you that your life or your husband is not good enough.  There will always be bigger, faster, stronger, or shinier – but you’ll never be satisfied with more until you’re fulfilled with what you have now.

3. God, husband, kids…in that order.  - I know this isn’t a popular philosophy, especially among mothers, but hear me out. It’s no secret that my faith is of utmost importance, so God comes first in my life no matter what. But regardless of your belief system, your husband should come before your kids. Now unless you’re married to someone who is abusive  (in which case, I urge you to seek help beyond what my blog can give you), no man in his right mind would ask you to put your kids aside to serve his every need while neglecting them. That’s not what this means. When you board an airplane, the flight attendants are required to go over emergency preparedness prior to takeoff. When explaining the part about how to operate the oxygen mask, passengers are instructed to first put the mask on themselves before putting it on their small child. Is that because they think you are more important than your kids? Absolutely not. But you cannot effectively help your child if you can’t breathe yourself. The same holds true with marriage and parenting. You cannot effectively parent your children if your marriage is falling apart. Take it from me – I tried. There will also come a time when your kids will leave the house to pursue their dreams as adults. If you have not cultivated a lasting relationship with your spouse, you will have both empty nests and empty hearts.

4. Forgive.  - No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If you make forgiveness a habit – for everything from major mistakes to little annoyances (every day, I have to forgive my husband for leaving the wet towel on the bathroom counter  [;)]  ) – you will keep resentment from growing.

5. Over-communicate.  - I used to have a bad habit of not speaking my feelings. I played the standard “You should know why I’m mad” game, and that’s just downright unfair. Men are not wired like women, and they DON’T always know that they’ve been insensitive. I’m still growing in this area, and there are often times when my husband has to pry something out of me, but I’m trying to remember that I need to just communicate how I feel.

6. Schedule a regular date night.  - This one isn’t new, but it’s very important. Never stop dating your spouse.  Even if you can’t afford dinner and a movie (which we seldom can), spending some regular one-on-one time with your spouse is essential. Don’t talk about bills, or schedules, or the kids. Frankie and I often daydream about our future, or plan our dream vacation. We connect emotionally and often learn something new about each other – even after four years.

7. Never say the “D Word”.  - If you’re gonna say it, you better mean it. Plain and simple, threatening divorce is not fighting fair. I did this a lot in my previous marriages. I’m not proud of it, but I learned better. I was hurting deeply, and I wanted to hurt back, but it never helped me feel better.

8. Learn his love language.  - Everyone has a love language. The way you perceive love is often different from the way your spouse perceives love. Does he like words of affirmation, or does he respond better when you give him gifts? Whatever his love language is – learn it and USE IT.  Edited to add: If you are unfamiliar with the principles behind love languages, you can learn more about it here.

9. Never talk negatively about him.  - I learned this lesson the hard way too. If you’re going through a difficult time in your marriage and you need advice, see a counselor. Family counseling is a great tool, but try to remember that your family members and friends are not the most objective people to give advice. The argument they are hearing is one-sided and they often build up negative feelings toward your spouse, which usually doesn’t subside once you and your husband have gotten past it. Protect his image with those that you’re close with and seek help from those that can actually be objective.  News flash, ladies – your mother cannot be objective!

10. Choose to love.  - There are times in a marriage that you may wake up and not feel in love anymore. Choose to love anyway. There are times when you may not be attracted to your husband anymore. Choose to love anyway. Marriage is a commitment. In sickness and health, in good times and in bad. Those vows are sacred. They don’t say “if you have bad times”. They say “in good times AND in bad”, implying that there WILL be bad times. It’s inevitable. So choose to love anyway. He’s worth it.

Posted on June 24th, 2013

In May 2013, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Dr. Marwa Azab come talk to us about the topic of hormones in a 3 week workshop. We covered so many useful facts that I’d like to share here; topics include how the brain works, herbs, PMS, cycle changes, emotions, intimacy, medications, sleep…

Here are some highlights:

Physiology:
  1. Hormones exist in your brain.
  2. Psychiatry is not separate than biology, they must be studied simultaneously.
  3. If you’re taking pills for anything brain-related (memory, etc.), it has to be “fat-soluble.”
  4. Keep in mind that steroids actually take months to create a balance/effect.
  5. You can’t ask, “What does estrogen do?” Hormones are a very complex part of our bodies.
  6. The hormone oxytocin is responsible for: Reproduction, Parenting-breastfeeding, Need to socialize—“do you ever crave going out with a friend over coffee?”
  7. If you’re stressed, the hormone oxytocin can send a message to your brain telling your body not to create milk, the negative stress hormone can be bad for the infant.
  8. Do you know anyone who completely can’t have kids? This is because of our FSH and LH hormones. There can be nothing wrong with the parents’ physiology.
  9. The hormone progesterone prepares the uterus to keep a baby. This is the hormone tested in pregnancy test during the 2nd half of the cycle.
  10. There is an actual anatomical difference in men and women’s brains.
  11. Long-term exposition of birth control can lead to hormone imbalance.
  12. “Don’t take pills of estrogen,” she says. “It’s fighting nature.” 
  13. PMS is usually one or two days before menstruating but can start as early as after ovulation.
  14. PMS has to go and come. The symptoms can’t be consistent throughout the cycle or else its not PMS.
  15. During PMS you become irritable and moody.
  16. If you become depressed during PMS you will crave carbs, it is controlled by the same hormone.
  17. During PMS you have a low sex drive.
  18. Extraneous exercise can cause skipped periods; “physical stress” is just like mental stress.
  19. Traveling can cause period/cycle changes.
  20. The hormone that deals with stress is in the kidney.
  21. “Doctors are very behind when it comes to hormones,” she says.
  22. Pharmaceuticals play an economical game to make money. “Can’t patent something natural.” They make synthetic man made pills that resemble something in nature (Vitamin B for example).
  23. “Don’t heat food in plastic!” she says. Plastics, (Ziplocs and plastic bottles, etc) have estrogen-like components.
  24. Organic milk and dairy is necessary for your kids if you have girls; some dairy have estrogen like components in them.
  25. Imbalance of estrogen can cause cancer, cysts, constipation, low sex drive, stress, infertility…
  26. It is good to breastfeed for two years, because of higher fat content for brain development.
  27. Vitamin B can help with PMS when taken for prolonged time.
  28. Getting your vitamins from food is always better because supplements get absorbed differently.
  29. Probiotics that are forced in yogurt can be easily lost because of improper storage. Once its heated it looses the probiotic agent.
  30. Vitex is an herb that can really help with PMS.
  31. Always let your doctor know what herbs and vitamins you are using because they can interact negatively with the meds you are taking like birth control.
  32. Black Cohosh herb is a natural sedative, anti-inflammatory, good for PMS, temperature changes, menopause… but it cannot be taken with iron.
  33. Dandelion herb is an antioxidant, good for water retention from PMS, do not use with meds for blood clots.
  34. Licorice is “really good for you,” she says. But it raises blood pressure, good for anti- ulcer, hepatitis, antioxidant, do not use if pregnant.
Emotions:
  1. The week before your period is called PMS.
  2. PMS: bloating, weight gain, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, depression, hopelessness, irritably, anger, crying, self-deprecating (putting yourself down)…
  3. “Can interrupt parenting.”
  4. “Turn it around and make it work for you,” she says.
  5. “Choose who you go out with,” “Write,” “Go to yoga, get a message, you are sick.”
  6. It’s not spoiling, you deserve it.
  7. One of the disorders in the DSM-IV is PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) (extreme PMS): Must have four of the above symptoms, has to be affecting your work and day-to-day life, has to happen twice in a row.
  8. PMS symptoms must end by second day of period or else its something else.
  9. PMS is made worse if you already have: migraines, depression, ADHD, anxiety, asthma, epilepsy.
  10. In a study it showed that 82.81% of women with PMS had trouble in their marriage.
  11. “Before getting married, men and women should be educated about this stuff.” Men should know the science behind PMS in order to better understand women.
  12. It’s very rare to find a women who does not PMS and have adverse reactions/behaviors.
  13. Coach your teenage children through PMS because they are hit with it during a time when they are in a phase of “identity vs. non-identity” where they go through peer pressure, etc.
  14. Just because you’re religious, doesn’t mean you can’t be depressed. It's a chemical imbalance. Sometimes we need outside help (meds, psychology).
  15. “Never give an adolescent anti-depressants.”
  16. Serotonin levels decrease PMS symptoms and depression.
  17. Exercise can release serotonin and therefore combat symptoms.
  18. During the latent phase of your cycle you become more easily startled.
  19. Women with PMDD and women in general eat more calories during PMS.
  20. Carbs and fat are the most things craved (chocolate—not complex carbs) during PMS.
  21. If  you have low serotonin during PMS you will crave carbs, you need carbs to make serotonin in the body.
  22. If you have high cortisol levels your body will crave carbs and fat.
  23. If low blood sugar then you will crave simple sugars (cupcakes, etc).
  24. These are chemicals in your body, you can’t control the cravings.
  25. Better to eat something that slows down carbs like salmon, mayonnaise, oils (on an empty stomach).
  26. Plan ahead to eat certain foods.
  27. “Allow yourself the pasta, the burger once a month” and don’t feel guilty about it. Allow yourself an extra 300 calories a day.
  28. “PMS is like when a man is really hungry and very irritated and aggressive…but for a whole week.”
  29. “Just because your libido is low, it doesn’t mean detach from your husband.”
  30. However, your sensuality increases (holding hands, massages).
  31. Explain this to your husband and plan ahead—tell him to do the sensual acts and maybe it will lead to the sexual acts.
Cognition:
  1. Estrogen affects the brain, memory, attention, etc.
  2. During severe PMS women perform poorly on working memory activities, ex: solving a math problem, conversing with someone and repeating yourself because you don't remember what you said.
  3. During the ovulation phase you can become disgusted and sad easily.
  4. During your period you spatial skills (ex: parallel parking) improve (like the masculine brain because estrogen, the female hormone, is low), verbal and manual skills decline.
  5. During PMS you become clumsy.
  6. During PMS you make the same mistakes over and over, poor frontal lobe function—calling the wrong person on the phone repeatedly.
  7. Reactions are slow during ovulation.
  8. PMS causes selective attention-don’t learn something new or learn a new skill during that time.
  9. Studies show that people who sleep less than six hours a day die earlier.
  10. Sleep affects memory.
  11. Brain continues working while you’re sleeping. Ex: you can go to bed after studying very hard for an exam, then when you sleep it gets organized and consolidated and you wake up from a good nights sleep ready for an exam.
  12. Studies show that going to bed at 10 pm gives you better quality of sleep and eight hours is best.
  13. Sleeping from 1 am to 10 pm will not give you good quality of sleep.
  14. Daytime naps improve subjective alertness.
  15. During PMS you get sleep attacks, your body makes you sleepy, just like when you have a cold. “Body is telling you to take care of yourself.”
  16. Naps are like restarting your computer.
  17. Men also have fluctuating hormones and are just as irregular.
Conclusion:
You spend 2,400 days in a lifetime during PMS. You should not take it lightly and you should find effective ways to make it better (allow yourself that burger or bowl of pasta, take those naps, explain to your husband you need sensuality, etc.).

Treatment:
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Regular aerobic exercise/yoga
  • Good nutrition
  • Counseling or antidepressants if necessary
  • Herbs
  • Add oxytocin to your life (book club with women, coffee with best friend).
  • Keep a diary (calendar to track your cycle and act accordingly).
  • Find patterns in your life—are you having fights with your partner at the same time each month? Decide when to buy that house or put your child in a certain school?
  • Tell your partner/close ones about this. They can help you cope with this reality.
Goal:
Choose three of the above and implement them in your life consistently to improve your PMS symptoms

Posted on April 3rd, 2013

On March 3, 2013 Wise Wives held its 2nd annual conference titled Ayah 4:34 – In depth, inclusive and in context.

Dr. Tahseen Shareef introduced the Ayah to us. Please see her video here.

Below I will list lessons about the Ayah that you may not have known before from Shaikha Muslema Purmul and MFT Noha Alshugairi.

The Ayah:
"Men are the (quawwamouna) maintainers and protectors of women by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another and by virtue of the money men spend. Therefore the (assalehat) righteous women are God-fearing and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property). As to those women from whom you fear are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) (idrabahona) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great."
  1. Hamza Yousef calls this ayah the most problematic Ayah in the Quran.
  2. “But it's not the Ayah that’s the problem, it is the interpretations by some scholars who interpret its aspects in the wrong way,” said Noha.
  3. “If you look at the Quran as bits and pieces you are bound to have problems with it, you have to keep in mind that it is one big whole,” she added.
  4. She explained that there are two main perspectives of different types of people. One person is a believer, and that person believes in every aspect of the faith (Shariah, Sunnah, Quran…) but admits that some areas are challenging for them. Then there is another type who nitpick at the religion and say, ‘what do you mean Shariah, this is all non sense…this Ayah, and this Hadith they don’t make sense so I won’t follow them.’ These are people who come from a place of doubt and are not believers.
  5. She invited the room to remember that we must approach this Ayah from the perspective of a believer, it may be challenge for us today, but we must believe in it.
  6. “It wasn’t a challenging Ayah, however, during its revelation,” she said.
  7. “The ayah is meant for at time when hitting one’s wife was common practice and it came down to stop it,” she added.
Quawwamouna:
  1. The word Quawwamouna is derived from the word Qum, meaning to stand. This is implying that men must stand up for their women as their guardians.
  2. They are not their controllers or rulers, they cannot act as dictators. They must remain fair, gentle and kind as directed by the Prophet (pbuh).
  3. "When you really look at it, what the husband owes his wife is much more than what the wife owes the husband," said Muslema.
Nushuzahuna:
  1. Examples of Nushuz include adultery, leaving the house for days without saying where you’re going, etc.
  2. It has to be an extreme action and it has to be recurrent.
  3. The husband must be harmed by the action.
  4. The word “fear” in the Ayah (Takhafona) indicates that the act of Nushuz must be a real occurrence, not a mere suspicion.
  5. There must be proof and if the husband is wrong then he gets physical punishment (Ta3seer).
Idrabahona:
  1. Even though there are four Hadiths that specifically talk about not hitting your wife, and many more dispelling the whole act of abuse in general, the word Idrabahona (derived from Daraba) (strike) is in this Ayah and we must accept it. But we must understand its context.
  2. “Allah does not want harm on his creation…The worst interpretation of this Ayah has come in the modern era. We need to have critical thinking; it is our responsibility as Muslims. If it doesn’t make sense then we look into it further…you don’t have to be a scholar to do research,” Muslema said.
  3. Muslema explained that there are guidelines for the action of Daraba and when you explore each one you will find that the whole action becomes obsolete: Cannot be not injurious, must rectify the Nushuz, can’t make the situation worse, not in face, cannot cause animosity, the husband has to have been fulfilling all his obligations as a husband.
  4. “How can you strike someone and not cause animosity or make the situation worse…With all these guidelines and restrictions it eliminates the act all together,” she said.
  5. The way this Ayah is practiced around the world is challenging because it’s used as a green light to abuse women and it can be a justification for domestic abuse.
  6. There are numerous false translations (English, Spanish, Urdu…) of the word Daraba. Instead of strike it might say “beat,” “slap,” “hit…” 
  7. Noha explained that Daraba doesn’t give the impression of beat, or slap, or hit, or abuse, or whip.  
  8. The best translation of the word Daraba is “strike.” This indicates that the action is done once. Not over and over again.
  9. One explanation says that it should be done with a Miswak (lightweight, small wooden stick used to clean one’s teeth). Not with your hand she said, as in to say “only extend your hand (or other body parts) in a positive manner.”
  10. Unfortunately she has seen some people go to their Imams (religious directors) and ask how they can implement this Ayah and they tell them that they can hit their wives but not more than 40 times.  These misinterpretations are deadly to Islam.
  11. “The idea of abuse goes against the framework of Islam’s view of marriage which is Sakina (peace) and comfort,” she said.
For more on Noha’s view on this Ayah go to this previous blog entry.


Posted on March 29th, 2013

Another entry by the writers at PureMatrimony.com. Look out for more entries provided by them in the future inshallah.

Before marriage, Shaitan, the devil, does his best to cause two people to commit sin and have a forbidden relationship.  And after marriage, the same two people that Shaitan tried so hard to tempt into sinning are now under attack from him again. He wants them split apart! Why? Because once a marriage takes place, the husband and wife are now halal for each other.

And because they are halal for each other, it means that Shaitan has failed in his objective to make people sin. In fact people are rewarded by Allah for getting married. 

This infuriates the Shaitan even further who will now focus his energy in destroying the home that they build so that eventually the husband and wife will split apart and any children will be negatively affected.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension between people); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Shaytaan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” He then embraces him”  (Sahih Muslim and narrated by Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah).

So what can you do to protect your home and prevent Shaitan from entering it? Here are some tips:

1. Shaytaan is made from fire, so one of the best ways to protect yourself from being affected by him is to make wudu, since the water will put the fire out! In real terms, if you and your spouse are arguing, go and make wudu and inshallah your anger will disappear. The Prophet (pbuh) said: "When one of you gets angry, let him make ablution with water as anger arises out of fire.” In another narration, he said: "Anger comes from the devil and the devil is made of fire."

2. Recite Surah Baqarah over three nights in your home, since Shaytaan will run from a home in which this Surah is recited. If you are busy, you can play a recitation of Surah Baqarah instead, just be sure to complete the surah by day three.

3. Get into the habit of keeping your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah by making dhikr often.  Shaitan will not whisper to you if you do this.

4. When you feel an argument coming on, recite Aoutho billahi min al-shaytani-r-ragim and Shaitan will go away.  If you fear anger from your spouse, recite Aytul Kursi as much as you can around them under your breath.

Source: www.PureMatrimony.com – The World’s Largest Matrimonial Site For Practicing Muslims. Love this article?

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Posted on March 24th, 2013

Another entry by the writers at PureMatrimony.com. Look out for more entries provided by them in the future inshallah.

Marital discord is extremely common, and even strong, happy marriages have their ups and downs. However, how you deal with these hiccups will go a long way in determining how successful your marriage will be.

One of the biggest fitnas in a marriage occurs from the utterance of the tongue. To illustrate just what a powerful weapon the tongue can be, consider this hadith:

Abu Moosaa Al-Ash’aree (RA) said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allaah Which of the Muslims is best?’ He (SAWS) said: ‘He whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe from.”’ [Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

We all know backbiting is forbidden in Islam, but did you know this is also true of speaking ill about your spouse? You might think that by sharing your problems you’re seeking counsel in others. The truth however is that unless you’re specifically seeking help and guidance on a serious matter, you should refrain from speaking ill about your other half.

All marriages have their flares, but it’s always better to sort your problems out yourself. Speaking ill can cause bitterness, anger and resentment in not just your spouse, but also in the hearts of those who you spoke to.

You might have an argument which causes you to vent your feelings to family members. Time will pass and you’ll make amends with your partner...but guess what? Family rarely forget the argument, which can literally be dragged up years later. And when it does, it causes bitterness and resentment in the heart of your spouse.

Here are some tips when you feel like speaking out to others or your spouse:
-Pray to Allah to guide you, rectify your affairs and to help you hold your tongue.
-Go for a walk if you are upset.
-Read a book to cool down.
-Write down how you are feeling and give it to your spouse so they understand how you feel.
-Avoid criticizing your spouse and instead, focus on their behavior.
-Keep your tone impactful but never vengeful  – don’t say ‘I hate you’ or ‘you’re a so and so...’ -Instead say ‘Your behavior has really hurt me, did you mean to hurt my feelings?’
-Remember never to hold the grudge – so as soon as you get the chance, talk about your feelings openly and discuss ways in which you can avoid something similar happening again.
-And the number one golden rule is to always make up and do something nice for the other person. Even if they hurt you first, be the better person and do good by them.


Remember that attaining Jannah through marriage is perfectly possible. As long as you are mindful of each other and keep your secrets within your four walls, Insh’Allah you will be rewarded. There is a saying that a successful marriage is measured by the number of teeth marks on your tongue.

I will leave you with this hadith: “When the Son of Adam wakes from his sleep, all of his body parts seek refuge from his tongue, saying: ‘Fear Allaah with regard to us, for indeed we are part of you. So if you are correct, then we will be correct and if you are corrupted, then we shall be corrupted.” [A hasan hadeeth reported by At-Tirmidhee and others]
 
Source: www.PureMatrimony.com – The World’s Largest Matrimonial Site For Practicing Muslims. Love this article?

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Posted on March 12th, 2013

In a two part series, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi lead us in a discussion about temperaments and their effect on our relationships. Her talk was titled “Personality Differences: Know yourself, know your spouse.”

In this last entry, I want to outline the many aspects of this ideology that are important to note and take to heart.

- People are pre-dominantly one temperament type, but may be a blend of several. “According to my studies, your temperament does not change, but you can see yourself as a blend while having a predominant temperament,” she says.

- Some may think that men and women fall under certain temperaments but actually gender doesn’t matter. You will find both genders fall under all the categories.

- These temperaments explain natural tendencies…”how God created us,” she says. But our behaviors are definitely affected by our “nurture.” Our upbringing, life style, etc. will affect our behaviors and how we display our personality as well.

We cannot undermine the fact the people’s temperaments might be suppressed or altered due to upbringing. Lets say someone grew up in an abusive home, their personality will be altered by this and therefore a person’s true self might not show because of mental health.


- “We try so hard in our relationships to figure people out, our spouses, our parents, our friends our siblings, and its hard work if you’re just trying to figure them out by your own experience with them, your day to day with them, your history…but you’re missing so much. You’re missing all those years you did not know them, that really shape them. She says it is important to look at a person as a whole, not just in your interactions with them.

Let’s say your spouse for example came from a very low-income family and now here you are dealing with your bills and finances without taking into account their upbringing. Their life before you, their background determines so much. It gives you empathy…context framing for your spouse. Look at your spouse as an individual, not just your own opinion of them.

“Every human being deserves that,” she says. We should be respected for everything that makes us who we are. So when you know someone’s temperament this gives you a broader understanding of who you are dealing with.

- Communication! There are huge differences (along with gender differences) that affect the way we communicate. For example, a male likes to respond in simple statements, black and white, while a female wants to talk about details and emotions. “Now lay on a melancholic or phlegmatic temperament and you have a whole other layer of their personality.”

- “When I advise sisters and brothers to work with their spouse’s temperaments it really helps because suddenly they’re working with their nature, not oppositional to their nature. They understand who they are. And it ends up working in their favor,” she says.

- One attendee commented by saying, but by doing this aren’t we spending a lot of time and energy trying to change who we are in order to give into our spouse's personality? Won't this cause resentment?

Hosai responded by saying that, yes she has had many comments from people saying that this is too much work, and that they feel frustrated that they have to do this.

“But in our tradition we understand marriage to be a compromise, it’s not always easy, sometimes you have to do things that are uncomfortable, but if your objective is to create harmony, to have a balanced home, then you have to look at the bigger picture,” she said.

It’s your Nafs (ego) that brings these thoughts into your head. Thinking that you shouldn’t have to tailor yourself…a me me me attitude. But you should think that you are doing this for the greater harmony of your marriage.

And on top of that, it shouldn’t be a one-way street. This compromise is supposed to be reciprocated! Your husband should be tailoring himself to work with your temperament too. “It’s a mutually beneficial struggle and exchange,” she said.


- You have to realize that you are two different individuals, and respect those differences. This information is made to empower you, to allow you to learn ways to deal with the people in your life in order to get what you desire and maintain peace. “Don’t paint everyone with one brush,” she says.

- You also have to keep in mind that everything you do is for Allah's sake, and you will receive good deeds for every attempt you make at making your marriage better!


Posted on March 11th, 2013

In a two part series, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi lead us in a discussion about temperaments and their effect on our relationships. Her talk was titled “Personality Differences: Know yourself, know your spouse.”

Moving forward with our discussion, we took a deeper look at these different personalities and talked about how people with these different personalities would react to tense situations, or arguments.

Cholerics:
Their main focus is “I.” They are the managers and CEO’s. They will start something and finish it. Get in their way and you’ll have a problem.  They are full of energy and sometimes restless. They are workaholics…studying, always doing something. Mature, responsible, leaders, but can be viewed as bullies. Their focus is on the future because they are goal oriented.
 
The extroverted Choleric, who is outspoken, fiery, and has no problem with confrontation, will have a quick reaction to an argument. They maybe turn it around on you in a defensive way. Their reaction leaves a long lasting impression and they may hold a grudge, and will be not be forgiving. They are a “burn me once and that’s it” kind of person. You only get one chance with them and they won’t get over it quickly.

Sanguines:
These types are always in their thoughts…always planning for things. They enjoy parties, and party-planning, likes to bring people together. They are daydreamers. They have a “what could be” attitude. They are naïve, social, easily distracted and shallow. Sanguies don’t get a lot of things done, jumping from one project to another. They are present focused.

Sanguines are also quick to  react to tension. They might give you some lip but will not hold a grudge. Two minutes later its “ok what do you want for dinner honey.” They don’t like or want tension. But they don’t hold back saying what they feel.

Phlegmatics:
Plegmatics are wise people. They have an “old soul,” reserved, don’t say much but when they say something it’s profound. They are not forthcoming. They are deep and have good long lasting relationships. However they can be viewed as lazy, stubborn, and are slow to start something. They are also present focused.

In an argument, these people have a slow response. They might email you two or three days later. They will say “you really hurt me but I forgive you and I love you.” It takes them a while to confront the situation because they like to think things over, they like to analyze a little bit.

Melancholics:
These are pragmatic, black and white, number oriented, scientific, proof oriented people. They like to challenge the status quo. They are the “wounded healer,” sympathetic, and don’t trust easily. They are stuck in the past.

People with this temperament will let you know that something bothered them like one year later.  The other person might not have even remember the argument anymore. They have a hard time confronting anything negative. They hold it in and in and in. They might never even complain about it. They have a lasting impression, it will always be in their heart, but won’t bring it out.

Example of how to interact with a temperament different than your own:
Hosai gave us an example that she dealt with in a couple she counseled:

When dealing with a choleric husband a wife might not want to bring up problems and issues because the husband might "blow up," and argue in a fiery manner. The wife might be apprehensive to bring an important but tense issue that needs addressing because she doesn’t want to deal with his quick and intense response.

Hosai says, "don’t label him as aggressive or angry, because its not fair. It's just his nature. Not abusive of course, we are just talking about how he communicates. It is wise to keep this characteristic of his nature in mind and adapt to it...afterall,  this is how Allah created him.”

So “go around his temperament,” she said. Find another way to deal with the situation. Instead of bringing up a conversation that might spark this kind of response…send an email instead. Or make a nice lunch and put a note in his briefcase…”  Let him process your request while he is alone. “Be smart and tactical...don’t be present for the reaction.”

Stay tuned for part 3 where I will wrap up our discussion.


Posted on March 7th, 2013

In a two part series, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi lead us in a discussion about temperaments and their effect on our relationships. Her talk was titled “Personality Differences: Know yourself, know your spouse.”

She started by talking to us about the history of the idea of temperaments. It was created by Hippocrates in 450 BC. He determined that people’s behaviors were related to the presence of four humors, or liquids, in the body.

From Hippocrates onward, the humoral theory was adopted by Greek, Roman and Islamic physicians, and became the most commonly held view of the human body among European physicians until the advent of modern medical research in the nineteenth century. The famous Muslim scientist, Ibn Sina also further developed this theory.

The four humors are: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood and each corresponds to one of the traditional four temperaments: melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic and sanguine.

This theory was closely related to the theory of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air; earth predominantly present in the black bile, fire in the yellow bile, water in the phlegm, and all four elements present in the blood.

Hosai says that, “it is your reaction to stimulus and the duration of the impression that determine your temperament. Its not ones actions, it is your reactions…you look at how a person reacts to an emergency or when you receive pleasant news etc.”

Wikipedia explains these four temperaments as the follows:

Sanguine
The sanguine temperament is fundamentally impulsive and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are sociable and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean sensitive, compassionate and romantic. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. They generally have an almost shameless nature, certain that what they are doing is right. They have no lack of confidence. Sanguine people are warm-hearted, pleasant, lively and optimistic.

Choleric
The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others. They are task oriented people and are focused on getting a job done efficiently; their motto is usually "do it now." They can dominate people of other temperaments with their strong wills, especially phlegmatic types, and can become dictatorial or tyrannical. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. They like to be in charge of everything and are good at planning, as they often can immediately see a practical solution to a problem. However, they can quickly fall into deep depression or moodiness when failures or setbacks befall them.
 
Melancholic
The melancholic temperament is fundamentally introverted and is given to thought. Melancholic people often are perceived as very (or overly) pondering and are both considerate and very cautious. They are organized and schedule oriented, often planning extensively. Melancholics can be highly creative in activities such as poetry, art, and invention - and are sensitive to others. Because of this sensitivity and their thoughtfulness they can become preoccupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world and are susceptible to depression and moodiness. Often they are perfectionists. Their desire for perfection often results in a high degree of personal excellence but also causes them to be highly conscientious and difficult to relate to because others often cannot please them. They are self-reliant and independent, preferring to do things themselves in order to meet their standards. One negative part of being a melancholic is that they can get so involved in what they are doing they forget to think of other issues. Their caution enables them to prevent problems that the more impulsive sanguine runs into, but can also cause them to procrastinate and remain in the planning stage of a project for very long periods. Melancholics prefer to avoid much attention and prefer to remain in the background; they do, however, desire recognition for their many works of creativity.

Phlegmatic
The phlegmatic temperament is fundamentally relaxed and quiet, ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish. Phlegmatics tend to be content with themselves and are kind. Phlegmatics are consistent, they can be relied upon to be steady and faithful friends. They are accepting and affectionate, making friends easily. They tend to be good diplomats because their tendency not to judge and affable nature makes reconciling differing groups easy for them. Phlegmatics prefer to observe and to think on the world around them while not getting involved. They may try to inspire others to do the things which they themselves think about doing. They may be shy and often prefer stability to uncertainty and change. Their fear of change (and of work) can make them susceptible to stagnation or laziness, or even stubbornness. They are consistent, relaxed, calm, rational, curious, and observant, qualities that make them good administrators. They can also be passive-aggressive.
 
There is a predominance in each of us that but you could be a blend of these four temperaments.

Take this test with your spouse to determine which one you are:
http://personality-testing.info/tests/4T.php

Stay tuned for part 2 while we delve deeper into these temperaments.

by PureMatrimony.com on February 13th, 2013

PureMatrimony.com has provided Wise Wives with this resourceful and basic synopsis of the rights and responsibilities of both husband and wife under Islam. Look out for more entries provided by them in the future inshallah.

The rights of a wife:
           
The rights and responsibilities of women as wives in Islam are numerous, and if followed properly inshallah, they help avoid conflict in the home. The wife has many rights, some of which are mentioned below:
  1. To be treated with kindness: Allah says, “… and consort with them in kindness.” (An-Nisa’: 19)
  2. To be looked after, provided for and maintained with honor and dignity: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his khutbah during the Farewell Pilgrimage: “Their (women’s) rights over you are that you should provide for them and clothe them in a reasonable manner.”
  3. Men should maintain their women in accordance to their means and provide women with:
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
General care Allah dislikes extravagance and miserliness, so women should consider their husband’s means and not ask for things in excess of their need, nor should they be denied things out of miserliness.

To maintain a wife with honor and dignity means:
  • Being treated kindly and justly.
  • Being respectful of her and not degrading or humiliating her for asking for her rights.
  • Never harming her physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • Giving the wife the right of divorce if the husband does not love her.
The responsibilities of a wife:
  1. Not allowing people into the home which the husband doesn’t approve of.
  2. Taking care of her husband’s belongings and her marital home.
  3. Not withholding the right to have children from him.
  4. To beautify herself for her husband and to give him her full attention when he asks of it.
  5. Being respectful to her husband at all times and not challenging him or being disobedient.
Women are known as the heart of the home, and should be treated as such. A good wife will ensure that she meets her husband’s expectations and looks after him so that he may inshallah return the love and have mercy upon her. Similarly, a good husband will ensure that he fulfills the rights of his wife without causing her any kind of injustice or emotional harm.

In the end, remember that Allah has made your husband the Ameer, "King," of the home, so honor this and be true to your responsibilities with patience and sincerity and inshallah you will be rewarded many times over by Allah.
 
The rights of a husband:
  1. To be respected by his wife and treated with dignity and honor.
  2. A husband has the right to intimacy with his wife when he wants – no matter how busy she is.
  3. The husband has the right not to have people he dislikes in his home and his wife should honor this in case it causes anger or resentment in his heart.
  4. The husband has the right to have his possessions protected and entrusted by his wife.
The responsibilities of a husband:

Men are placed as protection for their families and Allah has likened them to shepherd:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Every one of you is a guardian and every one of you is responsible (for those under your ward). A ruler is a guardian and is responsible (for his subjects); a man is a guardian of his family and responsible (for them); a wife is a guardian of her husband's house and she is responsible (for it), a slave is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible (for that). Beware! All of you are guardians and are responsible (for those your wards)."  Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith.
  1. Maintaining his family by providing for his wife and children without being harsh or humiliating.
  2. To protect his wife with ‘jealousy’ so that other men do not look at her.
  3. To give his family their own living quarters away from his own family so they can live in peace without any problems.
  4. To provide everything his children need without placing this burden on the mother.
  5. To treat his family with the utmost kindness and not to harm his wife.
  6. Treat his wife with kindness as Allah says: “They (wives) are your garments and you are their garments.” (2:187)
A husband has many rights and responsibilities to his wife and family, and a good husband will ensure that he fulfills his obligations while a good wife will fulfill hers.

In such marriages, Allah places much goodness so that a husband and wife can live in peace and harmony inshallah.
 
Source: www.PureMatrimony.com – The World’s Largest Matrimonial Site for Practicing Muslims. Love this article? Discover even more on this topic by registering for their free webinar entitled: The Heart of the Home – The Rights and Responsibilities of the Wife by clicking here.
 

Posted on January 22nd, 2013

A delightful poem about marriage shared by Mufti Ismail Menk.

"Marriage is a school where you get the certificate before you start.

A school where you will never graduate.

A school without a break or a free period.

A school where no one is allowed to drop out.

A school which you will have to attend every day of your life.

A school where there is no sick leave or holidays.

A school founded by the Almighty:
1.On the foundation of love,
2.The walls made of trust,
3.The door made of acceptance,
4.The windows made of understanding.
5.The furniture made of blessings.
6.The roof made of faith.

Before you forget, you are just a student not the principal. The Almighty is the principal.

Even at times of a storm, don't be unwise and run outside.

Remember this school is the safest place to be.

Never go to sleep before completing your assignments for the day.

Never forget the C-word, communicate, communicate, communicate with your classmate and with the Principal.

If you find something in your classmate (spouse) that you do not appreciate, remember your classmate is also just a student not a graduate. The Almighty is not finished with him/her yet, so take it as a challenge and work on it together.

Do not forget to study, study, study the Noble Book (the main textbook in this school).

Start each day with a sacred assembly and end it the same way.

Sometimes you will feel like not attending class, yet you have to.

When tempted to quit find the courage and continue.

Some tests and exams may be tough but remember the Principal knows how much you can bear.

Still, it is one of the best schools on earth; joy, peace and happiness accompany each lesson of the day.

Different subjects are offered in this school, yet love is the major subject.

After all the years of being theoretical about it, now you have a chance to practice it.

To be loved is a good thing, but to love is the greatest privilege of them all.

Marriage is a place of love, so love your spouse but remember: "This class doesn't involve a person who is not permitted into it"! If you invite your mother or father or your friends to this class, or anyone who is not allowed to be there, you will fail the exam.

It is you who should attend and it is you who will pass.

Its your choice today:" build it or break it."

Posted on November 7th, 2012

On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sister Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife's obedience to her husband.

To conclude this series I want to wrap up by covering a few more hadiths and outlining the lessons we can take away from this lecture as a whole.
 
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them.”
 
He also said, “If a woman prays her five, fasts her Ramadan, protects her chastity and obeys her husband, she is told to enter paradise from whichever door she wished.”
 
He also said, “Any woman who dies and her husband is pleased with her enters paradise.”
 
One question that came up during the lecture was concerning the one about prostration. She threw the question back at us and asked what we thought it meant. One woman replied saying that she understands it as an idea that is not meant to be taken literal. It is meant to emphasize the importance of respect towards your husband.
 
The "prostration" is out of esteem not out of worship.
 
Noha remarked that this explanation is right. In general, these ayahs and hadiths are meant to give a framework and the relevance of each one will differ from time to time and from place to place and even from home to home.
 
“None of these hadiths mean that you do not have a voice,” she said. You have the right to voice your opinion in all areas. 

But in particular things "you voice your opinion and leave it to him to make the decision," she said. As the second hadith above says, a woman who obeys her husband will enter paradise from whichever door she wishes. 
 
Noha says that in the urf of marriage today this idea may have little precedence, but what we must do is really concentrate on the areas below because of the ayahs and hadiths that give us specific and direct instructions (that we talked about in the preceding entries).
 
We must listen to our husbands when it comes to:
  • Money: not spending money without his permission; taking care of his property in his absence.
  • Intimacy: responding to his calls for intimacy.
  • Leaving the home: tell him before leaving your home/going out.
One woman remarked, “ If only the word ‘obey’ can be kept as ‘listen to’ everything would sound so much better.” The whole room giggled and agreed.
 
The ladies were happy to have received such an enlightening take on this issue that boiled the issue down to what is relevant in their lives today.

Posted on November 5th, 2012

On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sister Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife's obedience to her husband.

Another hadith outlining a wife’s obligation to her husband is:

"Narrated in Al-Tabarrani that a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: 'O Prophet of Allah tell what is the right of a husband on his wife. For I am an unmarried woman and if I can satisfy it, I would remain unmarried. He said: The right of the husband on his wife is that if he were to seek intimacy with her, she would not refuse him no matter what she is doing. And from his right on her that she does not fast the nafl (non-obligatory) fasting except with his permission. For if she were to fast without his permission, she would be hungry and thirsty and it would not be accepted from her. And she would not leave her house except with his permission. For if she were to do that she would be cursed by the angels of the sky and the angels of mercy, and the angels of punishment till she gets back. And she would not give in charity from his money except with his permission. The woman replied: I will never get married."
 
Why do you think the women replied with that, she asked us. Because she is worried about her obligations to her husband. She is afraid that if she cannot accomplish these things she will disappoint Allah.
 
When you boil it down there are several lessons to take from this hadith.
 
Intimacy:
“The importance of responding to his call for intimacy,” is one of them she said. It doesn't mean that you cannot tell him that you don't want to at that particular moment. You can voice your opinion with him.” This is for the women who just say no no no all the time without a discussion. Or women who are consistently refusing,” she said. The point is to come to an agreement where neither is upset. In fact in this area of marriage, the women also has the same right, the man must satisfy the needs of his wife as well.
 
Another hadith related to this topic says, “If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, and he goes to bed angry, the angels supplicate against her.”
 
In fact, why do you think a wife shouldn’t fast a voluntary fast without telling her husband first? Simply so that a man doesn’t plan to seek intimacy with his wife one day only to find that she is fasting and unable to.
 
Leaving the house:
This hadith also mentions the topic of leaving the house. She says, this is very important as well. Tell your husband where you are going.  Each husband is different and will require a different level of detail.

If he wants to know that you are going from home to work to the store to the dry cleaners then tell him. If he’s the type that just wants to know that your running errands after work then tell him that. Just develop a system where your whereabouts are known to each other and that satisfies the both of you. This is so that he can uphold his promise to Allah to be your protector and maintainer, not for control.
 
Money:
And finally, the hadith mentions money again saying not to spend his money without permission, even if you are giving charity. Even charity, she repeated. The reason for this is simply that a man might work hard for each dollar he earns, therefore he wants to know were it's going. He might like to budget everything.

Sit with each other, budget with each other, figure out what works best for your family and there shouldn’t be any problems. Again this is in order to fulfill his duty of being a maintainer and protector, not for control.
 
She ended this portion by sharing a personal story on this topic. She told us, “When I learned this hadith I went to my husband and told him, I am supposed to ask you every time I want to give charity from our money.” She said, he looked at her in confusion and laughed. “No of course don’t ask me every time, give all the charity you want,” he told her.
 
So again, develop a system that works for you and your husband. Each person will have their own preferences when it comes to these particular issues.
 
Our next and last entry will cover a few more hadiths and will conclude the lessons from her lecture.

Posted on November 5th, 2012

On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife's obedience to her husband.

Ayah 4:34. This is an ayah that has sparked a lot of problematic debate, even among scholars, she said.

"Men are the (quawwamouna) maintainers and protectors of women by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another and by virtue of the money men spend. Therefore the (assalehat) righteous women are God-fearing and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property). As to those women who are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.”

Different privileges:
The first thing she explained to us was the statement "by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another." “Allah did not say men over women,” she said. “It is not specifying which is meant. The wording is general in order to mean that both genders are privileged with things that the other does not have"…In other words men and women were created to be different, but equal.
 
She asked us what we thought men were privileged with over women.
 
One woman responded with physical strength. Jokingly Noha gave us a simple example from her personal life. The other day she was installing blinds in her home. She was drilling and putting the screws in until she reached a point where she was physically depleted and couldn't go on.  Even her daughter started to help but she gave up as well. So she said to her daughter, "now it’s time for us to actually stop doing this and wait for your father to come home...he's just going to go tick tick and he'll be done.”
 
Women on the other hand were created with more patience, the ability to bear children and be nurturing, etc. These are just a few examples of how men and women were created differently, but you get the idea.
 
One women commented by saying, "It’s like puzzle pieces, what I have more of my husband might be lacking in and what he has more of I might be lacking in. And together the picture is complete."
 
So because Allah created us in different ways, we must fulfill different duties.The husband, for example, is commanded by Allah to provide the financial maintenance for his family.
 
While cooking and cleaning are not Islamicaly obligatory on a wife, financially providing and protecting one’s family is “100% obligatory on the husband,” she said. There is no debate about that she says.
 
So the question of, ok well who is going to do the household work then if the husband has to go out and work to provide for his family? That is why the custom of the women staying home and doing those things came from.
 
One woman even commented with "so wouldn't you want to do that for your family and for your husband, especially since he is doing so much for you…and taking care of you..."
 
“Exactly,” said Noha.
 
Many households live like this while some have taken on the trend or urf of hiring nannies, housekeepers, both partners helping at home, both spouses working, etc. In the end it is up to each household to decide what is best for them...as long as they are still following Islam.
 
So if we are not obligated to cook, clean, etc., (if we do these things we gain good deeds for them) then what are we obligated to do?

Assalehat:
She explains this by continuing within this ayah. The next part says, “therefore the (assalehat) righteous women, are God-fearing and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property).”
 
The right interpretation of this part starts with the meaning of the word assalehat. This means women who are obedient to Allah. Obedient to Allah, she repeated! So many interpretations take this to mean obedience to the husband, but in this ayah that is not what is meant.
 
So there are two types of women. One type is women who are God-fearing and in the absence of her husband protects what Allah ordains her to protect (her chastity, not to have an affair with another man, and his money, not to spend his money without his permission or be wasteful with it). So by doing these things for your husband you are obeying Allah.  These are the obligations set forth on a wife in this ayah.
 
And there are women who are the opposite.

Nushuzahuna:
The next part of the ayah says, "as to those women who are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly.”
 
Nushuz, or recalcitrant, has a very strong meaning and isn’t thrown around to just anyone. It means someone who is stubbornly disobedient, “we’re talking about someone who's manner and conduct is consistently disobedient and rebellious ... defiant.” It is someone who commits extreme sin, such as adultery. Allah tells us to handle someone like this in the three steps described above.
 
Now, lets talk about the word "strike" or in Arabic daraba. “There are some current translations of this word that say this means to strike figuratively, a mental daraba. But I don't agree with that,” she says. “It is very clear. Daraba is physical. It is in the Quran and we have to accept it.”
 
There is something very important to understand here that will change your entire view on this ayah. "Look at this ayah as a form of anger management," said Noha. This ayah came down during a time when the urf of striking your wife was common practice. This was not unusual, and it was not really even acknowledged.
 
So the ayah came down and told men that you cannot hit your wives:
a) right away/as a first reaction
b) in the face
c) harshly/makes a mark
d) unless you have accomplished the first two steps in the ayah first
e) and unless she committed nushuz
 
"You cannot hit your wife because she did not put enough salt in the food or because she didn't greet you with open arms when you came home,” she said. “Only nushuz!"
 
Again nushuz is an act equivalent to the wife having an affair. Which takes us to the next hadith on her list. As explained in the following hadith: “Fear Allah in your dealings of women. For you have taken them by a word of Allah. And you have been permitted to be intimate with them with a word of Allah. And you have the right that they don’t allow anyone in your bed. And if they do that you may strike them gently. And they have a right that you feed and clothe them with what is reasonable.”
 

So now instead of the default being to immediately hit your wife, a man must first consider whether what she did was nushuz, then shun them, then not share the same bed with them.
 
Megan Wyatt, who was also in the audience, says that when she presents this topic, she calls it "the Ayah that ended Domestic Violence." She gives the analogy of, if a man walks in on his wife with another man in bed, any man would want to react in violence (and many many do).  But Islam doesn't allow that. Islam wants us to take the three steps. She says if it gets to the last step, then it is needed for that woman to “wake up.” It is like when you are young and if your parents spank you, then that was the end of the rope… the child wouldn't repeat the behavior after that.
 
So once again, this ayah was sent down during the urf of a time when hitting one’s wife was common practice. And it came down to stop it.  Noha said that she honestly never thought of this ayah as a "problem." She explained that again, this was brought down during a time that this was relevant.

“This is not an ayah inviting domestic violence, I understood it from the beginning that it is an ayah that is describing a specific situation for a certain time,” she concluded with.
 
Stay tuned for the next entry that will discuss more hadiths and outline some basic obligations on a wife.


Posted on November 1st, 2012

On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sister Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife's obedience to her husband.

To set the stage for our discussion, Noha started by explaining a very important concept that all Muslims should keep in mind when discussing any religious obligation.
 
Urf:
This concept is called urf.  It is the Arabic word for social/cultural norms. In Islam, she says, “urf is taken very seriously as long as it doesn’t go against our religion.”
 
For example, hijab (proper Islamic dress) is obligated on women. The urf of hijab are determined by where and when you live. From the time of the Prophet (pbuh), hijab has been worn differently from time to time and from place to place.
 
Urf describe the dynamic changes of things around us and the concept of marriage is also impacted by it. We live in the West in 2012. We must look at the social norms here and accommodate them, but based on the Quran and sunnah. “We can never make things up or go against what our religion tells us to do. The religion is supreme," she said.
 
She asked us what we thought our social norms say about the relationship between husband and wife. One woman responded by saying that there is a strong focus on equality of roles where usually both partners are working and both partners help out in the home.  Versus in the past where a relationship might have been based on "equity" where the wife looks after the home and kids and the husband works outside of the home as the sole breadwinner.
 
This is very true although you will find a wide range of living situations across the world. “There is no limitation on these roles. Islam does not say that the woman should not work outside the home, and Islam does not say that the husband should not help inside the home,” Noha said. On the contrary, the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) tells us that he used to mend his own clothes and help with household chores. And he married a woman named Khadija who was one the biggest businesswomen during their time.
 
In the end, couples may choose to live in any way that they want when it comes to housework, career, etc. as long as they are happy and satisfied with their roles and as long as they are upholding their religious values.
 
"Ultimately what you decide you are going to do as a wife and what your husband is going to do is going to be up to your agreements, up to your discussion, up to your urf and your understanding of what your roles are,” she said. Later in this series, you will see how urf affects many aspects of the specific issue of obedience.

Ayah 30:21:
In the end marriage is meant to be a beneficial part of life, so much that its positive light is even mentioned in the Quran in ayah 30:21.
 
So let’s delve right into this first ayah on her list. Ayah 30:21 says, “And among His Signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may come to for Sakina. And He put amongst you mawada and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.”
 
Even though we have not talked about the specific topic of obedience yet, she said that we must discuss this ayah when we talk about anything to do with marriage.
 
She explained this ayah to us by defining the Arabic words sakina and mawada. The word sakina means inner peace, tranquility, serenity…it is the goal of any relationship. To generate sakina, each spouse must have mawada and mercy. Mawada is a word describing a certain level of love. “A higher form of love,” she said. “It means the type of love that motivates you to act on it.”
 
Allah's goal is to make every marriage have sakina, therefore He put down guidelines, a framework, that must be followed in order to maintain it, it does not just happen automatically.
 
This framework includes guidelines that should be followed before, during, (or even after marriage if a divorce were to occur) in order for sakina to exist and to have a good marriage in the sight of Allah.
 
For example, before marriage a person should: pray istikhara (a prayer for making decisions), get to know their future spouse in a halal way (not going against any religious values), choose a pious husband with a good character. This isn’t the full list but you get the idea.
 
She dwelled on the element of choosing someone with a good character for a while saying that you should never just focus on just his religiosity, you must take his character and personality into account. You must "click" with the person and like his personality. It’s not enough to just see someone's outward actions of religiosity like praying and fasting. You must get to know his character in order to distinguish between a suitable spouse and a non-suitable one.
 
During marriage each spouse must follow certain rules and guidelines as well. She asked us what we thought these include, some responded saying: having respect, caring for one another, being honest, being trusting…etc.
 
She agreed with all these and added that in order to delve more into the guidelines of marriage set by Allah we must study more ayahs and hadiths.

Stay tuned for the next entry that will go into detail about one of the most controversial ayahs in the Quran: 4:34.

Posted on October 31st, 2012

On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sister Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife's obedience to her husband.
 
She started the talk by remarking that she was happy to tackle such an important and delicate issue (that no one wants to talk about) because she her self had once struggled with it.
 
"We should talk about these issues openly, and not pretend that they are not there,” she said.
 
Making the whole room laugh, one women remarked, "When my husband knew the topic of the lecture I was going to tonight, he said, excitedly, oh ok please come home and tell me all about it."
 
Noha decided that the best way to start would be to ask us what questions we had on the topic so she can be sure to cover all our concerns.
 
Some questions/concerns included:
  • What are Islam’s views on this? We are often taught many things and this one seems like it is from a man's view. So what exactly does Islam teach us about this?
  • How to be an obedient wife and what exactly that means.
  • Does a man have to obey his wife at any level?
  • Does a wife have to ask permission from her husband to spend money? Is it a one-way street or should the husband ask his wife as well?
  • What is the Islamic punishment for disobedience?
  • Is there a requirement to be obedient to his family?
  • Is it true that if your husband asks you to do something, you should just drop what you’re doing and do it?
To address these and other issues she handed out a list of the ayahs (Quranic verses) and hadiths (Prophetic traditions) concerning this topic and went through each one thoroughly.
 
She used these as a base for understanding the limits of obedience, what it means, and when you are considered to be disobedient.
 
What I want to focus on for this first blog entry in this series is how important it is to know that many interpretations of ayahs and hadiths concerning this topic or about women in Islam in general must be dispelled because there are many common misconceptions. 

She spent a great deal of the lecture telling us about this saying that, “there are many scholars in the Arab world that interpret ayahs and hadiths from a man’s point of view. Some have even bluntly said “men are better than women because they have the intelligence that women don’t.”  
 
She said, “That is not written in the Quran! That is an interpretation…an added layer to what the Quran is saying. This is where we need to be careful and unfortunately it is a tough battle.
 
It is very difficult to go back and assess everything that has been written about women in Islam and to decipher what is wrong and what is right and what can be seen in a different light.

“I remember the first time when I got an inclining of all this was when I was attending an mpac convention,” she said. They were talking about this topic and how there are many misrepresentations about women in Islam and the speaker mentioned an example in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. He talks about the Arabic word Assufahhaa, meaning someone who doesn’t have sound or intellectual faculties, and the speaker was saying that Ibn Kathir wrote that this word means women.
 
I’m sitting there and thinking there’s no way this can be true…how can such a great, reliable source like Ibn Kathir give such a wrong explanation. So I went back home and checked it and the speaker was right. This translation by Ibn Kathir existed!”
 
She couldn’t believe that such things that demean women were out there and we can't believe everything that we read. She said it is up to us to go back and find the true meanings of the Quran.

In our next entry, we will begin to explore the true meanings of some of the ayahs and hadiths that deal with this topic.  But first take a quick look at the list we discussed:
  1. “And among His Signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may come to for Sakina. And He put amongst you mawada and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.” 30:21
  2. “Men are the (quawwamouna) maintainers and protectors of women by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another and by virtue of the money men spend. Therefore the (assalehat) righteous women are God-fearing and guard in the husband's absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property). As to those women who are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant , admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” 4:34
  3. Narrated Muslim: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the khitbah of the last pilgrimage: Fear Allah in your dealings of women. For you have taken them by a word of Allah. And you have been permitted to be intimate with them with a word of Allah. And you have the right that they don’t allow anyone in your bed. And if they do that you may strike them gently. And they have a right that you feed and clothe them with what is reasonable.
  4. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I detest when someone would discipline his wife harshly and then seek intimacy with her.”
  5. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “...and the best amongst you will not strike others.”
  6. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most perfect of believers in faith are those with the most excellent character. And the best of you are the best of you to your women.”
  7. “If a wife fears ill treatment or desertion on her husband's part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best.” 4:128
  8. Narrated in Al-Tabarrani that a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: O Prophet of Allah tell what is the right of a husband on his wife. For I am an unmarried woman and if I can satisfy it or else I would remain unmarried. He said: The right of the husband on his wife is that if he were to seek intimacy with her, she would not refuse him no matter what she is doing. And from his right on her that she does not fast the nafl (non-obligatory) fasting except with his permission. For if she were to fast without his permission, she would be hungry and thirsty and it would not be accepted from her. And she would not leave her house except with his permission. For if she were to do that she would be cursed by the angels of the sky and the angels of mercy, and the angels of punishment till she get back. She would not give in charity from his money except with his permission for if she did he gains the reward and she bears the burden. The woman replied: I will never get married.”
  9. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,“If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, and he goes to bed angry, the angels supplicate against her.”
  10. Muaawiyah Al Qushairy narrated that he asked the Prophet: What is the right of a wife on one of us? He said: “You feed her if you eat, you clothe her if you are clothed, you don’t strike the face, you don’t criticize, and you don’t isolate from her except inside the house.”
  11. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,“If a woman prays her five, fasts her Ramadan, protects her chastity and obeyed her husband, she is told enter paradise from which door you wished.”
  12. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Any woman who dies and her husband is pleased with her, enters paradise.”
  13. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them.”


Posted on October 13th, 2012

Just came across this list and thought it was a great reminder about the character of our Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him).

We often get swept up in the routine of life that we take our marriages for granted. Luckily Allah has given us a perfect portrait in the Prophet (pbuh) to help break that routine. Here are five practical, yet powerful, lessons to help rekindle our relationships.


1. Smile often. He used to smile so much that his companions would say they never saw anyone smile more than him (1). It's easy to forget how powerful a simple smile can be. We all have long and strenuous days. Instead of bombarding your spouse with complaints on first sight, engage them with a smiling face. A simple smile is even an act of charity (2).

2. Say sweet somethings. He would say “Whomever believes in Allah and the day of Judgment let them have positive speech, or keep quiet" (3). It’s very easy to nitpick at our spouses. We are around each other all the time. But instead of searching for faults, point out their qualities. Try making it a new daily habit of complimenting your spouse.

3. Don’t get angry. When the Prophet's companion Ali married Fatimah, the Prophet (pbuh) gave him amazing words of advice. Advice so important that he repeated it three times. “Don’t get Angry," he said (4). He didn't tell him to control his anger, but rather don't get angry in the first place. We get angry at our spouses for the silliest things, from how they squeeze the toothpaste bottle to how they wash the dishes. Chill out.

4. Go out together. He would spend quality time with his spouse all the time. He didn't live a separate life under the same roof. He would go on walks with his wife, travel with his wife, and seek her advice. He would engage in stimulating conversation. When was the last time you took your spouse out for a nice dinner or went out for a cup of coffee?

5. Say "I Love You." He was not afraid to profess his love. Our religion is built on it as Allah states, “My love is guaranteed for two who love one another for My sake” (5). He would often speak of the great affection he had for his wife Khadija. ”Her love was given to me as Rizq" he was quoted as saying (6). Many of us are probably unable to recall the last time we said it to our spouse. That’s not prophetic.

1. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 3574]
2. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1879]
3. [Al-Bukhari 11:308; Muslim, 2:18]
4. [Bukhari]
5. [Ahmad, 4:236]
6. [Al Bukhari, 45: 6431]

Posted on October 3rd, 2012

Last week, Wise Wives Club Chino Hills discussed this article at their meeting. It sparked an interesting discussion.

Here is the article titled: "Top 10 Tips for Marital Bliss" from the Washington Post by Leslie Morgan Steiner.


1. Be nice. This is stupidly simple, but it works. Even when you feel like hell, or have a beef with each other, or are tense or tired, make the effort to be kind and gentle with each other. Make the partnership a safe harbor where the other person wants to be. This means taking a breath, biting your tongue and going easy even when that's not exactly how you feel.

2. Find common ground on your most important issues. Doing things together, even as simple as preparing pizza together or gardening together is a great way to show each other that you are there, you are present & your presence gets acknowledged by just merely being there. We do tons of activities with our children, for our children, what do we do for each other?

3.Whomever feels most passionately about a position wins that argument. It is rare that, upon candid reflection, you can't unanimously agree that one or the other simply cares more (or as is more likely the case, one cares less). You are going to have different opinions on many different subjects. Winning an argument doesn't mean the other loses. It just means one cared more about that particular issue.

4. Nurturing your marriage is more important than kids -- in part because staying together is so important for your kids. So, make time for each other. Have a regular date night without kids. Intimacy and affection and time alone together are a top priority. Make dates to cuddle up, let other things slide sometimes, do whatever you have to do. Just don't let it get pushed off the table by everything else that is "important."

5. Stay flexible, in every sense of the word. That means finding a compromise between his need to watch the game and your need get the house clean. It means finding ways to discipline the kids that both of you can live with. It means staying open minded to new ideas in intimacy. It means communicating, it means nothing is set in stone, other than your core values, which you should discuss and share before you ever get married.

6. Treat the logistics of raising a family and running a household like a small business. Once a week have a calendar meeting. Go over the schedule of the upcoming week or weeks, and talk through what you both and the kids have going on. Make lists about what has to happen to help the week go smoothly and who has which carpool, cooking responsibilities, etc.

7. Have a sense of humor -- some arguments can and should end in laughter.

8. Don't crowd too much into your lives. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.

9. When you get home at night, or when your honey calls in the middle of the day, stop, take a breath, smile, and say "Hello, sweetheart. How are you?" before launching into whatever daily business or complaints you have. Start every interchange on a basis of affection and kindness.

10. Accept that you can't change your spouse, especially by yelling or screaming or playing passive-aggressive. However, this doesn't mean letting small resentments simmer. Deal with them before they become big deals. If your spouse does anything that upsets you, talk about it. If he or she can understand why you are upset, and you can understand why your partner does what he/she does, both parties stand a chance of finding that happy medium..

Posted on June 27th, 2012

On June 25th, 2012 we were lucky to have three wonderful “older and wiser” women speak to us in a panel discussion about what has made their marriages last for over 25 years. These hand-picked, Islamicaly educated, bright women led an eye-opening talk by giving us a list of their most useful pieces of advice for us younger generation.


Here are 25 highlights:
  1. Think of your marriage as something that is meant to last forever…work through problems…don’t throw your marriage away easily.
  2. Choose someone older that you both trust to seek advice from along the way when you have problems…don’t wait until you are at a breaking point to ask for help.
  3. Take care of your Salah – prayer- and Allah will take care of your marriage.
  4. Admit when you are wrong and he is right…let go of your pride by saying “You have a good point” or “I didn’t think of it that way.”
  5. Cooperate…each couple should come to agreements about duties, etc.
  6. Let him know when you are hurt or what bothers you from the beginning…don’t let things bottle up inside of you.
  7. Realize that 50/50 doesn’t really work when it comes to taking care of your household…accept the fact that it’s more like 90/10 and you won’t be disappointed.
  8. Put Allah first…please Him in all that you do and He will take care of your marriage and your life as a whole.
  9. Be very patient.
  10. Make your husband your first priority.
  11. Keep in mind that when you are a good wife you get rewarded from Allah.
  12. Let the little things go.
  13. Use “I statements.”
  14. Listen instead of talking a lot…save the “bitty things” for the girls…spare him the details.
  15. Men aren’t mind readers.
  16. Don’t use disrespectful words like “Duh” or “Really” or “Whatever”… use Islamic expressions instead when you want to exclaim (and we all need to sometimes!) like “Subhanallah” or “Allahu Akbar.”
  17. Be positive, even when it seems bad…when the Shaitan (Devil) wants to break up society, he targets husband/wife relationships because they are the nucleus…so don’t let him do that by thinking negatively about your husband.
  18. Give him his rights (intimacy, etc…) for the reward from Allah.
  19. Keep in mind that men at an older age (around 50-60 years old) tend to want your attention more.
  20. Having many kids can help keep your relationship stable.
  21. Never go to bed angry.
  22. Both the husband and wife should put Islam as their focus.
  23. Create a road for the both of you to work towards…instead of always looking towards each other, look ahead together at this road.
  24. Forgive easily.
  25. If you are a stay-at-home mom, don’t put yourself down…being a good mom and wife can be the most difficult job in the world and it is very rewarding.

Posted on May 24th, 2012

On May 16th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was fortunate to have Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, marriage and family counselor and author of “Before the Wedding: 150 Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married” who gave a talk titled “Delightful Disputes,” where we learned how to turn our annoying arguments into constructive conversations and ways to resolve conflicts and effectively communicate with our spouses. Here are some useful highlights.

Munira said that in order to achieve conflict resolution a person must first:
  • Begin with basic acceptance of their partner’s personality.
  • Accept that there is no absolute reality in marital conflict, only two subjective realities.
  • Have respect for your spouse and be open to his/her point of view.
  • Not let things bottle up.
She outlined Five Steps to Conflict Resolution using the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by Dr. John Gottman.

They are:
1. Soften your approach:
- Make statements that start with “I” instead of “You:”
  “You are not listening to me” vs. “I would like it if you listened to me”
  “You don’t care about me” vs. “I feel neglected”
- Describe what is happening, don’t evaluate or judge:
  “You never help me with the baby” vs. “I feel like I am the only one running around after the baby"
- Be clear about what you want and be polite:
  “Would you give the baby a bath for once” vs. “Please give the baby a bath today"
- Be appreciative:
  “I really appreciate that you rescheduled your meeting to come home early so we can spend time together”

2. Make and receive 'Repair Attempts:'
- Putting on brakes is an important skill because it de-escalates an argument.
- Happy couples send and receive repair attempts with ease.
- Relationships engulfed in negativity have difficulty “hearing” repair attempts.
- Make the attempts obviously formal to emphasize them.
- Repair attempts are what will pull a couple out of the downward negative spiral.
- Accept the attempt in the spirit it was intended.
- Accept your spouse's influence.

Here are some examples of Repair Attempt phrases that you can use during disagreements:

3. Calm down:
- Let you spouse know you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Call a time-out and take a break.
- Re-schedule for when you will resume the discussion.
- Do what it takes to calm yourself down (pray, sleep, do a chore, etc).
- Give each other space to calm down.

4. Compromise:
- Negotiation can only happen once steps 1 – 3 have occurred.
- Compromise can only work when you open your mind to your spouse’s opinions and desires.
- You don’t have to agree to everything; but you have to be open to considering his position.
- Ask your spouse questions to help see his point of view.
- Search for the parts of your spouse’s perspective that are reasonable.
- Compromise is just talking out your differences and preferences and coming to a common ground that accommodates both.
- Ask yourselves these questions when trying to reach a compromise:
  • What do we agree about?
  • What are the most important feelings here?
  • What common goals do we have?
  • How can we understand this issue?
  • How do we think these goals should be accomplished?
5. Be tolerant:
- “If only” thoughts and attitudes about your spouse will make conflicts very difficult to solve.
- Accept your spouse’s flaws & faults – unconditional love.
- Recognize that you cannot change your spouse.
- Recognize that you are two imperfect beings trying to make a life together.



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