Love is an emotion that holds immense power. It is a proof of God’s perfection, because all love is simply a reflection of the Divine. In few places does love manifest itself more so than in a marriage. Love, which linguistically shares the same root as the word “seed”, is an emotion that flourishes depending on how the spouses care for each other, and how much they maintain that care.
Around the world, one hears the phrase, it was love at first sight. While no one is disputing that this feeling is impossible, the majority of people do not fall in love simply by gazing at a person, but in fact, once in a relationship, they go in and out, and sometimes willfully quit their relationships. Men throughout history have been faulted for not understanding how to properly show their love and seldom do men have mentors on how to properly nurture their love for their wives. Almost every culture and most religions have stories which speak on this subject and highlight the beautiful relationship between husband and wife. In Islam, there are not only God’s words which tell us how to direct ourselves around our wives, but we also have the life of the Prophet Muhammad (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him), whom we believe to be the greatest man to have ever lived. A man who had several wives and even with the awesome task of conveying the message of God to mankind, he managed to uphold the task of being an exemplary husband. From him we will look at a few ways every man can better his relationship with his spouse.
Relationships are everything
The wife of the Prophet, Aishah (May God be pleased with her) narrated: "I was not jealous of any wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, and it was not because I saw her. It was only because the Messenger of God mentioned her so much, and because whenever he would slaughter a sheep, he would look for Khadijah's friends to gift them some of it (the meat)." (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet was once asked whom he loved the most. He replied, “Aisha.” When the questioner rephrased his question and asked from amongst the men, he replied, “Her father.” (Sahih Muslim)
One of the first things you can do to better your relationship with your wife is to better your relationship with her family and friends. We are people of relationships, and women are individuals that best show their love via these relationships. As such, if one wants to show their appreciation and love for their spouse then they should show it for those that bring their spouse happiness.
In these narrations we see how attentive the Prophet was to maintaining strong ties with those that brought happiness to his wife. This attention was there during her lifetime and continued after. That attention no doubt was a source of great love and affection during his marriage. It is important for any husband to ensure that he spends adequate time cultivating genuine relationships with those that share a relationship with his wife.
The narration in which the Prophet was asked by a Companion about whom he loved aside from Aisha is increased in beauty because of his answer. He easily could have mentioned that he loved Abu Bakr, because all knew of his close relationship with him. Instead, he tied his spouse into the answer thereby showing his immense love for her.
Abu Hurairah (May God be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of God said: "Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to God." (Tirmidhi)
Showing one’s love is important. In the English language there is a quote, “If you love someone you should go and tell them.” Why? Because showing and affirming that love is important in a relationship. Which leads to the importance of showing gratitude. This is an action that is easy and simple but often times becomes overlooked. At times your spouse just needs to hear a simple, “Thank you.”
This narration says it all. We are to be people that show our gratitude to others, and by doing so we are showing our gratitude to the Divine. With that being said, who better to show your gratitude towards than your wife? The one who loves you emotionally, physically and at times spiritually looks after your welfare. An individual that regularly sacrifices for the wellbeing of your home. When God blesses your family with children, who is it that most often sacrifices their time, their goals, and ambitions in order to sufficiently cultivate the young men and women that were entrusted to you both by God? No doubt the wife, cherish her and be grateful for that sacrifice by reminding her of her lofty status both in Islam and in your heart.
How well do you know her?
The Prophet once said to Aisha: “I know well when you are pleased or angry with me.” Aisha replied: “How do you know that?” He said: “When you are pleased with me, you swear by saying, ‘By the God of Muhammad’ but when you are angry, you swear by saying, ‘By the God of Ibrahim.’” (Bukhari)
If there is one area that we as men fall short, it is in empathizing with our wives. We often times can be clueless as to their mental state, and equally clueless as to whether it was our own actions that caused this. Being in tune with our wives and their needs, wants and dislikes is important to cultivating a strong relationship and growing that seed called love.
The Prophet Muhammad had such a relationship with his wives that he understood that a certain change in words denoted a change in her emotional state, he was in tune with his wives.
Have some fun and treat her
It was narrated that 'Aishah said: "The Prophet raced with me and I beat him." (Ibn Majah)
When you realize the amount of sacrifices that your wife has made and you are conscious of their emotional state, then it becomes time to take it to the next level by giving your wife the break she so desperately deserves. Here is a good place to mention that a wife is not only deserving of a break if she is a mother, but she, like yourself, deserves a break simply for being. Everyday is a test from God and she continually passes those tests by her dependence on God, will and patience.
How does one gift their wives with a break? The Prophet was known for racing with his wife, and or enjoying their company in other fun ways. Maybe you have the ability to take her on a cruise, rent a hotel room for a weekend and get away, maybe treat her to a day at the spa, or better yet, create a spa-like environment at your home. These are all ways to increase the love between you both.
Honor the trust given to you by God
God says in the Quran, “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth.” (Quran 4:34)
“They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them.” (Quran 2:187)
These two verses present a very important lesson to the reader, i.e., men have a trust from God. That trust should not be broken. A lesson to derive from the second verse is that just as clothing protects you from harm, just as it warms you in cold weather, just as it beautifies you, so should you be for your spouse. You should be a man that protects your wife from harm. When the world becomes difficult, you should be her source of ease, and you should beautify her, not only by gifting her clothing that is beautiful but by being a husband that serves to uplift her not one that burdens her.
The Prophet said, “This world is but provisions, and there is no provision in this world better than a righteous wife.” Do your best to honor one of the greatest gifts after guidance that God has bestowed upon you.