A Marriage of Discipline

Nov 17, 2021

This is an article from the Cherished Marriage Series

A balanced marriage provides a couple with the space to be their best selves; to do their best and to encourage each other to be the best version of themselves. A thriving marriage also requires both spouses to carry their own weight fairly and to ensure that the roles of both husband and wife are fairly shared.

Let’s look at the ways where both husband and wife can be balanced and self-disciplined so that they can work together and flourish as a team. When you are your best self you bring out the best in others.

Why Imbalances are Problematic

“The master or leader of the people (nation) is the one who serves them.”

Hadith

Balanced leaders show clarity and vision for their people. They lead with mercy and compassion, and they are part of the team, not towering Lords and Ladies, sitting on their thrones. Our Beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم did not want to attribute any distinction to himself and did not consider himself superior to his companions. What a beautiful leader صلى الله عليه وسلم .We can strive to be like him by ensuring we are leaders that get their hands dirty as much as our family members and we are loving and encouraging in our guidance and direction.

During a halt on a journey, the companions apportioned work among themselves for preparing food. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم took upon himself the task of collecting firewood. His companions pleaded that they would do it and that he need not take the trouble, but he replied,

“It is true, but I do not like to attribute any distinction to myself. Allah does not like the man who considers himself superior to his companions.”

Zarqani

 Yet if we become imbalanced in our leadership trait, we can end up falling into one of two disempowering categories: those who do too much and those who do too little. 

If either spouse is overexpressed in the leadership trait then they will inevitably end up doing too much become overbearing and almost dictator-like, resulting in burnout. Similarly, if they and underexpressed in their leadership, then they will end up doing too little, and become weak and powerless.

Marriage flourishes when both husband and wife both do their bit and perform their roles to the best of their abilities. In a time when often both men and women work, or even when the woman doesn’t work yet she tends to all of the duties of the home, it is important to share the workload fairly.

As discussed in the Guardianship habit, it is important for both husbands and wives to bring their strengths to the table. To teach, guide and inspire their children in both religious and worldly matters, and to tend to the running of the house, whether it is paying the bills, kitchen work, repairs, etc. For fathers to be there and educate their boys on how to be men, and for the mothers to educate the girls on how to be women.

When either spouse doesn’t do their bit, an imbalance in the relationship will result, causing discord. Let’s look at the complications that occur with such imbalances in leadership, and some ways to rectify them.

Doing Too Much

If you are a person who does too much, you will find yourself depleted in the evenings, with little energy or love to give to your spouse. The result is a detached, unhappy, and resentful spouse. Proactivity and ambition are masculine traits, and overexpression of masculine energy can often cause the other partner to naturally incline to be overexpressed in their feminine energy – resulting in submission and resentment. This is true even if the woman does too much – the result is often a submissive husband.

Generally, we live in a world where people do too much and although some people do struggle with doing too little, workaholism is on the increase and is actually encouraged by society.

Seasons

All couples go through busy seasons where they have to work extra hard. This could be a financial crisis, a new baby, or a temporary sickness in the family. During this time, the best and wisest thing to do may be to ‘do too much but be careful that you don’t burn out. Even during times of crisis, time-out for replenishment is essential.

Self-care

Take time out to replenish yourself when you get tired. Self-care doesn’t have to be long and elaborate. Here are some ideas:

  • Switching off and having some tea
  • Taking a power nap to replenish
  • Visiting phoning friends
  • Going for a walk in the evening
  • Taking up a weekly exercise/sports class

Doing Less

You may be capable of doing much, much more than your average man or woman, but for your own health’s and your family’s sake, it is important to do less. All work and no rest can lead to health conditions such as:

  • increased weight,
  • heart problems,
  • higher cholesterol levels,
  • nervous conditions,
  • raised cortisol levels
  • chronic fatigue

Just because you can work all the house in the day, doesn’t mean that you should. Start doing less, here are some suggestions:

  • start coming home from work early
  • switch off your phone in the evenings
  • speak to your boss about a reduced workload (people who do too much often take on more than their fair share of duties)
  • take on fewer commitments (people who do too much often find hard it hard to say no)

Carving Out Time

If you are married and you do too much, your relationship will inevitably suffer in ways such as:

  • neglecting your domestic obligations
  • neglecting your spouse
  • the feeling of a lack of support from your spouse 
  • a decrease in romance in a relationship

Make a point of spending more time with your spouse. Prioritise evenings for each other, schedule time for one another (and don’t cancel!). Find out your spouse’s love language and make an effort to give them love at least once a day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use words of affirmation to admire your spouse’s strengths, beauty, etc
  • Take the time out and put effort into looking attractive. Get your hair cut, buy some new clothes, renew your old underwear (yes that includes men, too!)
  • Being rested and available in the evenings lets your spouse know that you are open to spending quality time with them

Doing Too Little

If you are a person who does too little, you will find that your spouse will end up doing more, often picking up your share of the workload, which can create feelings of resentment. See what you can do in your family to lighten your spouse’s load – ask them how you can help. Doing too little is an over-expression of feminine energy. If you do too little, your spouse will be inclined to be in overexpression of their own masculine energy and become overly controlling.

Take the Initiative

  • Talk about it - Have an open discussion with your spouse and ask them where you can do more. Often communicating can be difficult – so check to see if you are communicating effectively.
  • Buy your spouse a gift that you know they will like.
  • Arrange a date for you and your spouse. Plan a time that is good for you both, choose a location you will both like, and arrange it with your spouse. Let them know that you care and are interested in them
  • Check to see what your spouse’s preferred love languages are and give love to them in that language.

Do More

  • Make an active effort to do more with your spouse and around the home.
  • See what needs doing around the house check to see what you can do about it
  • Check to see what things your spouse is doing and see if there any ways you could take some of their workloads off them.
  • Reflect on your skillset. What skills can you bring to the marriage?
  • Spend more time with your spouse and make a point of spending more time with your children too, if you have any.

Self-Development

  • Focus on your own self-development. Check to see if any underlying issues prevent you from doing what you want. Perhaps speak to a coach or counsellor. 
  • Look at your habit and lifestyle and work towards creating vitality for yourself – this could be through your diet, sleep habits, exercise and connection to Allah and His Inspiring Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم .
  • Start to expand your worldview by reading some books choose a topic that interests you and start with an easy to read book
  • It could be that you can’t offer any religious leadership in your home as you don’t have enough or any knowledge about your religion. Use this realisation as an opportunity to start learning more. Sign up for some local classes in your area, or online ones. Start with basic Islamic classes, such as basic fiqh or on the biography of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم

To summarise, the more you and your spouse work together, the more harmony you will have in your marriage and the deeper you will be able to connect with one another. Take a regular stock-take of your relationship and ensure that you both are balanced in your leadership so you can thrive as a couple.

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