A Marriage Through Time

Feb 08, 2021

The Prophet ﷺ made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda.’

Salman paid a visit to Abu Ad-Darda’ and found Um Ad-Darda’ dressed in shabby clothes and asked her why she was in that state. She replied, “Your brother Abu Ad-Darda’ is not interested in (the luxuries of) this world.”

In the meantime, Abu Ad-Darda’ came and prepared a meal for Salman. Salman requested Abu Ad- Darda’ to eat (with him), but Abu Ad-Darda’ said, “I am fasting.” Salman said, “I am not going to eat unless you eat.” So, Abu Ad-Darda’ ate (with Salman).

When it was night and (a part of the night passed), Abu Ad-Darda’ got up (to offer the night prayer), but Salman told him to sleep, and Abu Ad- Darda’ slept. After some time, Abu Ad-Darda’ again got up, but Salman told him to sleep. When it was the last hours of the night, Salman told him to get up then, and both of them offered the prayer.

Salman told Abu Ad-Darda’, “Your Lord has a right on you, your soul has a right on you, and your family has a right on you; so you should give the rights of all those who have a right on you.”

Abu Ad- Darda’ came to the Prophet ﷺ and narrated the whole story.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Salman has spoken the truth.”

Bukhari (6139)

 

A healthy marriage is one where both spouses have time for one another and can thrive doing what is important to them.  Spending quality time with each other is an investment in one’s marriage – it is a wealth one can draw upon when needed.

Here are 12 ways to create a marriage where both of you can thrive in each other’s company.

1.   Spending Quality Time Together

Quality time is one of the Love Languages couples use to express their love to one another. In fact, it may be either yours’ or your spouses’ favourite love language, in which case it would be beneficial for your marriage to make a deliberate point of spending regular quality time with each other.  In our fast-paced life, sometimes it can be hard to create that extra time; yet carving out time for another can ensure that whilst everything is prioritised, so is your union. You will both be sending a heart-warming message to each other: you are important to me.

Here are some ways you can spend daily time with each other:

  • Spend some time together, connect over breakfast each morning
  • Have some time to connect in the evening after work
  • Spend some time in the evenings together
  • Watch something together, perhaps a series you can both watch together
  • Go to attend inspirational teachers together
  • If all else fails, go and do the groceries together

2.   Make time for sex

Busy and hectic lifestyles create busy people who as a result are exhausted, and too tired to want to be sexually intimate.  If you are so exhausted in the evening that you fall into a deep sleep the second your head touches your pillow, the chance that you will be receptive to physical touch will be low – unless that is in the form of a therapeutic massage, where you don’t have to give anything back.  A sexually intimate marriage is where both husband and wife can please the other – and how can you give if you are in a state of depletion yourself?

Take time out to unwind in the evenings so you can be sexually available for your spouse. Many couples ‘miss’ opportunities to be intimate because they don’t know if the other is interested in being intimate.  Some wait up hoping the other will be interested only to find their spouse has fallen asleep or is too pre-occupied in other things.  Others go to sleep not expecting any intimacy, leaving the other spouse feeling disappointed. It can be easy to prioritise work deadlines, the running of the house and raising children over your marriage – but supporting the marriage’s lifestyle is often the reason people work, live in a home that can house their family, and the children are often borne from the couple’s union. Isn’t it sad that the very cause of our busy-ness is not nurtured in perhaps the most intimate and enjoyable of ways?

You can let your spouse know, directly or indirectly so they can know you are interested in sex.  Directly, you can plan for intimacy – simply by letting your spouse know you are interested.  This doesn’t have to be arranged like a business meeting… ☺️ and can be done in a playful way.

'What are you up to this evening… would you like to be intimate?’

‘How are you feeling this evening? Should we have some fun... in bed?’

Indirectly, you could let your spouse you are interested by sending out ‘mood signals’

  • Set the home scene – help out in the evening to clear the house or getting the children to bed, be a part of creating a relaxed atmosphere in the home - light candles in the bedroom in the evening, switch on the soft lamps instead of the super-bright chandeliers.
  • Freshen up and perfume yourself before bed. Wear something special, it doesn’t have to be sexy red nightwear if you have kids around, but it can be something better than old, greying pyjamas!
  • Sit close and initiate contact – women prefer to feel emotionally close before being sexually intimate, so, husbands could initiate non-sexual touch, massaging their wife’s shoulders or legs after a long day. Wives could let their husband know they are sexually interested by touching their neck, arms, giving them a kiss. Letting each other know you are interested doesn’t mean that sex is going to happen that evening – but it lets the other know you are interested.  If not tonight, then perhaps tomorrow night... if not then, then perhaps (hopefully!) the night after......
  • Make unwind time easy for each other, husbands could encourage their wife to have a bath soak in the evening, wives could encourage their husband’s to switch off from their work commitments, and create some quiet space for them to unwind.

3.   Celebrate your time together

Make a special point to celebrate your marriage – acknowledge each year that passes that you have been together, whether that is anniversaries or birthdays you have spent in each other’s lives. You can keep it simple, by celebrating the significance of the day with flowers, chocolate or a special meal, you could go out together or even book something special, finances allowing.  Acknowledging this time spent together sends out the message that I value the time we have spent together.

4.   Make time to talk

Consider when to have important discussions with your spouse.  Often when we are tired, we don’t want to have heavy discussions. At other times, we may not be prepared to have difficult questions due to the energy that will be required. Schedule your discussions at a time when you are both available and prepared to talk.

Overloading discussions with many issues can be overwhelming and will make your spouse less likely to be comfortable want to talk, especially when avoidance can seem like the easier option. So, when you do speak, keep the discussion to only a few points. 

5.   Stay quiet for now

When inevitable disagreements occur between spouses, it is important to pace our difficult conversations.  Give your challenges time to work themselves out.  Your marriage is like a tree – it takes time to grow, and requires care, support and protection so its roots can strengthen. 

If you find yourself upset or irritated with your spouse, ensure that you wisely choose the times to discuss your issues.  And if you do start discussing things and either of you become overwhelmed, it is important to press pause and revisit the conversation again when you are both calm again - don't forget to reschedule the meeting so it doesn't just get discarded.

During the times you have to stay quiet for the sake of your marriage, see how you can self-soothe yourself to make yourself feel better - perhaps you could go for a walk, have some alone time, meditate, journal, etc.

6.   Be Present With Each Other

With so many distractions around us, especially with our electronic devices, it can be easy to get distracted (again and again) when in each other’s company. Prioritise each other’s company by not using your phones – you can always check your messages later.  When you do this you are letting your spouse know I put my time with you above others.

When you are with your spouse, be with them. Make listening a full-body experience[1].  Listen to what they are saying without interrupting.  Listen to them with your eyes, making eye contact. Listen with your neck by nodding, with your mouth as your smile (as opposed to a scowl!)  Listen with your hand by not fidgeting or doing other things, with your back by leaning in and listening to what they are saying, and with your feet by not walking away in a huff!

7.   The Seasons of Marriage

Each marriage goes through seasons.  The spring is time things are new and exciting. The summer is where we enjoy the fruits of our relationships. The autumns are when we are separate, needing our own space and the winters are where we go through difficult times. Just like in the world of nature, seasons pass with predictability.  After each season ends, another starts.

Honour the seasons your marriage goes through – sometimes we go through hardships, and may need help to get through those winters.  At other times we may really enjoy each other’s company yet other times we need to be clearer on re-establishing boundaries.

Allow your marriage to go through its seasons, yet be careful you don’t spend too long in autumn or winter.  You can give your marriage a new spring-time lease of life by re-prioritising one another, establishing or re-establishing dates nights.  Use each anniversary, Eid or special occasion to restart the spring season again.

8.   Make the most of each other

It’s so easy to start taking each other for granted when living with each other for years if not decades – the relationship becomes so normal; it can become boring. Yet, always try to keep your marriage alive, making the most the time you have together.  No one knows how long they will live, especially in these uncertain times we are finding ourselves in, so make the most of your time, health and money together, and spend it without regret.

‘Take benefit of five before five:
your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness,
your wealth before your poverty, your free time before your preoccupation,
and your life before your death.’

Al Hakim

9.   Respect each other’s time

Just because you are married, doesn’t mean you should spend all of your free time together.  Allow your spouse the time they need to nourish themselves in the ways that important to them. If they want to visit friends, family, watch TV, play a sport – actively encourage them and support them in this.  The more they flourish in their life, the healthier your marriage will be.

Similarly, make sure you have some time for yourself as well. Spend time doing things that you enjoy – visit your friends and maintain relationships and friendships outside of your marriage. Good company provides you with perspective and support that can strengthen us, so we can show up as the best version of ourselves.  If you like to do things or go places where your spouse is not interested, see if you can go alone or with someone else.

Let there be spaces in your togetherness

Kahlil Gibran

10. Priority time away from family

Ensure that your marriage has time that is not interrupted by extended family.  This is especially important if you live in an extended family system (like me). Each marriage needs time and privacy to thrive, so if your home is shared by other family members, take extra care to spend alone-time with your spouse.  This could be in your bedroom or going out for walks or meals. 

11. Priority time away from kids

Having children around can change the dynamics in the room, often in a beautiful, fresh, light-hearted way. But remember, your marriage needs time alone without children – a time when you can enjoy each other’s adult company. Teach your children that you and your spouse require time alone and that you are spending time with one another.

The same is true if not more, of the bedroom.  Try to ensure that your bedroom is child-free, especially if your children are old enough to sleep alone. The is nothing that will kill sexual intimacy more than an adorable 7-year-old who wants to sleep with you in your bed!

12. Get Away together

Keep the summer of your marriage alive by getting away regularly in each other’s company. Try to go out regularly with your spouse – this could be a weekly date night, drives or walks for coffees. Go away for the night to a nice hotel or book yourself away for a weekend city break. Taking out time in each other’s company will allow you to reconnect and remind you both of your commitment to one another.  If you have children, enlist the help of family and friends to look after them while you prioritise each other.

Final Thoughts

In short – the time you spend with your spouse is an investment in your marriage and yourself.  See how you can carve out time for your relationship.  In doing so, you will find yourself and your spouse nourished and fulfilled in your union.

“There is nothing like marriage, for two who love one another.”

Ibn Majah (1847)

[1] Chapman, Gary. The 4 Seasons of Marriage

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