Building a Harmonious Marriage
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, despite his manifold preoccupations, does – in his capacity as a jurist – take on the duty of marrying young couples every now and then. The following is what he told couples about to get married on one such occasion. In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Before pronouncing you man and wife, I would like to say a few words to the bride, the bridegroom, and their respected families. First of all, I should say that the immediate result of pronouncing you as husband and wife is the establishment of a divine relationship. True that it is also the most natural of human relations, yet God has made this very natural, instinctive relation a sacred relationship which will bear fruits of immense value. Thus the importance of forming a family should never be underestimated.
One of the cardinal sins committed by the West today is the fact that marriage and family formation has been belittled and discredited. The Western civilization treats this significant institution, this great bond between a man and a woman, as something banal or ordinary as changing one’s clothes or going to a different shop! From this viewpoint, individual emotions, tastes, and instinctive feelings are set against the continuity of family relationships. So whenever one partner feels differently about something and as soon as marriage partners face some problem or shortcoming, if one of the two fancies something more pleasant, then the foundation of the family institution will be threatened!
But Islam does not condone such behavior. The family in Islam is based on a most solid foundation. It recommends that you should first be most careful in choosing a decent, honest, compatible partner for your life, and that you will then exert utmost care for the happy continuity and preservation of this greatest of human relationships. You must do your best to care for this new relation, as you may cater for a young shoot, so that it would grow into a beautiful, productive tree leaving sweet fruits.
In this respect, it will be irrelevant at what financial, scientific, or professional level you happen to be, for the basic human emotions, with regard to marriage and family formation, are almost the same for a scientist, an academic, a sportsman or a simple laborer, because these instinctive feelings and principal needs are the same in all human beings. Neither would the rich and poor differ in this respect. Both partners would like their home to be a haven of safety, comfort, and peace of mind after finishing their daily tasks. All husbands and all wives have such wishes and expectations for their married lives: a happy, sweet atmosphere for both of them. They may be engaged in business, in politics, in housework, and in raising children, no matter how they have divided their duties and tasks, both are tired whether one does work at home or the other comes back from work, both of them expect a cheerful family environment, and it is a very justified expectation.
It is not a question of how well-to-do you happen to be. Many a rich person may not enjoy a happy family life: his life could be full of strife, jealousies, and wrongful expectations. A man or a woman in a position of power who orders people about may be faced with many personal problems at home; he or she may have a bad-tempered, incongruous, lazy partner. Therefore, such matters as wealth, social titles, living in cities or in the rural areas do not change the familial atmosphere if the couple are not understanding and compromising in their private relations with each other.
Thus it is that the Holy Qur’an says: “He it has been Who did create you from a single being, and He made its mate of the same kind, so that you may find peace with each other.” (7:189)
The relevant word used in the Quran means “dwelling with each other in love and finding rest and peace with each other”. The husband and wife ought to be the source of peace, tranquility, love and rest for one another. And you, both young men and young women, should always keep that in mind. Your marriage is going to result in the creation of a family. The home you live in must be a place of rest and peace and safety for both of you and for your own children.
The next point I should mention is that such welcome state of affairs does not come about automatically; you should work for it! To create this atmosphere, the couple must be kind and loving to each other. You may ask: how? As a famous saying goes, “You can’t bring about love and kindness by using a stick!” Love is like a tender flower; it must be watered, and it must be watched and cared for. Whatever you do to have lovely flowers must also be done for love. This is entirely in your own hands, you young men and women. The way to achieve this is to be loyal to each other, and to show your partner your true love and care. Prove that you are dependent on each other, and all this will help strengthen the feeling of love in your partner’s heart.
All Islamic injunctions on Hijab are mostly aimed at securing this married bond. If you as a young married person do not pay attention to it when you are not at home, if your eyes are attracted to other men or women, if your heart may be inclined to external enticements, and if you engage in certain, extramarital contacts with other men or women whom you may daily encounter in many places and in different forms and colors, then the consequences for your loving marriage will be catastrophic. First your partner will gradually lose the original attraction which is essential to mutual love and kindness, for even if one has the famed beauty of Prophet Joseph, it will, by the passage of time, become an ordinary phenomenon. Therefore, like the example of the flowers, your marriage and your love should be constantly watched and cared for.
As already mentioned, true love and kindness cannot be taken for granted; you must work for it. In the West, in certain communities, a boy or a girl engage in many sexual contacts before they get married. That is why their age of marriage is higher than some other societies, usually between 20 and 30, and in many instances, even later than thirty. In these societies, both men and women, especially the men, engage in all sorts of sexual relations before marriage. Thus, their later marriage will be to them nothing new, and no important event! Well, how could they be compared with a young Muslim who has abstained from such unlawful engagements and lived a life of honor and self-dignity? Will these two contrastive sets of men and women have the same values for marriage? Do they respect marriage and family life the same? Of course not!
One should always remember that there is no man or woman without some faults, flaws, or weaknesses, and that nobody is perfect. Therefore, you will realize that all Islamic laws and injunctions are directed at safeguarding the marital bond. Hijab is for this purpose. It means not displaying your bodies for others, not to appear in public without proper, decent clothing, not to stimulate certain motives improperly and unlawfully, so that all and every such attractions are only reserved for your own loving partner in life.
Thus the husband and the wife should do their part, from the first day of their marriage, to nourish and develop the love that God Almighty creates in their hearts and souls after they are married in a lawful ceremony. They must always try to increase it and strengthen it. The way to achieve this, as I said before, is to be helpful to each other and to guard each other’s interests and the family’s common interests. As two honest partners, they must keep each other’s secrets, never to reveal them even to the nearest of kith and kin, and to strongly guard the appearances of your familial life. This way you will certainly enjoy a happy, sweet life together.
The third point I would like to mention here is the importance of having a compromising attitude. Compromise may not be a good approach in certain areas of life, but the most appropriate application of compromise is within the framework of married life. As a newly-wed couple, you will gradually find more and more about your partner’s character. Such findings should not discourage you. After all, there are no ideal men or women in the whole world. Therefore, you should be tolerant when you face occasional loss of temper, harsh words, and the like; kindness and love, however, are the only remedies for such unpleasant occasions.
Another fact for both men and women to know is that women are usually stronger than men in the area of emotional tolerance and patience. You may think that many men with strong physical built are stronger than women. Not so, as these are only appearances. They may be physically stronger, but as far as emotional and mental sophistication are concerned, women are much stronger. They possess a higher degree of patience and tolerance and have their own ways and methods to keep families together. Women often better recognize the source of weakness in their partner, they are usually more aware of their partner’s positive and negative points, and therefore may best lead the man towards creating a sweet, familial relationship.
Another point is the question of luxuries, ceremonies and certain other extravagant spending. What I have advised for many years about a limited amount of Mahr does not mean that large sums would nullify the marriage contract. No! I have been merely stressing the fact that marriage is a human bond, that it is a relationship or pledge between hearts and souls. But if it is overshadowed by financial matters or the wealth of the parties concerned, it will turn into a business deal as if you were exchanging commodities in the bazaar! On the opposite side, this sort of mahr will raise expectations for a higher, more extravagant dowry on the part of the husband. So the woman should not be saying: “The mahr for certain relatives of mine is such and such amount, therefore mine should be higher than theirs.” That is why I advise you not to opt for those expensive mahrs or dowries. Let them be at an ordinary, modest level according to your own needs and necessities, and do not go beyond them.
One final point that should always be remembered is the question of strengthening each other’s virtues and Islamic values. You must try to make your convictions ever more firm and strong in the course of your married life as well as in the social areas you happen to be: offices, workshops, sports gymnasiums, and the like. It is mainly through your deeds, actions, and behavior that you may influence others in religious matters. This way you will awaken religious values in other people and help strengthen those values. Do your daily prayers on time whenever you happen to be. Perhaps someone comes along and objects: “you could do your prayers later!” Do not pay attention to such objections, and be sure that your example is bound to influence others in time. Such behavior is to your own advantage and to the advantage of the society you live in.
I hope that, God willing, my recommendations will help you make your married life a firmer, sweeter, and more lasting relationship.