Where the River Meets the Sea: Lessons in Marriage Mastery for the Muslim Man
by Heba Alshareef
There she stands, on the shore of the sea, waiting...And to her right, he appears. He is a vision, a rider on a fiery steed. Master to his white horse, he is strong, dashing, and yet, his intensity does not eclipse his kindness. He stops the horse, and descends regally. He extends his hand and smiles. She smiles back demurely, takes his hand and allows him to lift her up. He then sits before her and she feels safe, like she could hold on to him forever. And he feels like he would protect her with his very life. He feels like his heart would break if ever she didn't look upon him as she is looking upon him right this instant. He wants to see her bring his children into the world. And he would love them only because she
is their mother. And the two ride off, as the sun begins to set on the now serene waters.
"Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means..." (Quran 4:34)
Men want to be heroes. And at the core of their being, all women want their men to be heroes. There is no conflict there, and if a man upholds his end of it throughout his marriage, his will be a mastered one.
It is when men forfeit this role, when men take the back seat, that the wives look upon them with disdain. He may think that she wants control of all matters in their marriage. She may think that he is incapable of taking control of all matters in their marriage.
And the resentment will build from both sides. If this ever starts to happen, a hard look at how to reverse it will immediately be in order. And how to reverse it is simply that each one needs to go back to whatever role they were wired by Allah SWT to play.
She needs to know that you are a leader, that the decisions you make will be solid ones. That's not to say that you shouldn't value her opinion or conduct shura with her on matters of the home. You should. And at the end of the day, know that you are the one who must be 'man enough' to face the consequences.
Your wives are the best of what you have now, the prophet SAW has said, "...the best comfort in this world is a righteous woman."
He, SAW, also advised his followers, "Treat women fairly. The woman was created from a bent rib. The most bent part of the rib is the top. If you want to straighten it, you will break it. If you leave it, it will stay bent. So treat women fairly."
It is the strong man who recognizes the nuances of the female psyche, and then finds the fortitude to deal with them. He loves her, and so he tolerates her imperfections and advises her lovingly to that which pleases him and benefits the marriage.
The narrations of how beautifully the Prophet Muhammad SAW treated his women are authentic and readily available. He was the "best amongst mankind" not only by virtue of his position as the messenger of Allah SWT, but also by his statement, and verily he does not speak through his own whims, "The best of you is the best to his family, and I am the best of you to his family."
Rasul Allah was the ultimate hero. He was the vision on that horse. The most handsome of men, the most brave, the most noble, the most tender.
He helped his wives with the mundane upkeep of their homes. He allowed them their insecurities and their mistakes. He played with them and took them to watch plays.
Muslim men who seek to master their marriages need only to emulate his, SAW's, example.
"They (your wives) are your garment, and you are a garment for them." (Quran 2:187)
I ask the brothers who seek to master their marriages: what does this ayah truly mean to you? You don't have to tell me your answer, but I do want you to reflect on it. Write down your reflections, your gems.
Do you have a gem you call wife? If yes, have you burdened her with your responsibilities? Have you let her take over your hero duties? Why? Have you ignored her needs when she needed you?
Is she that annoying that you would rather hang out with your friends than watch her brush her hair at the end of a long day? Do you fall in love with her over and over again most days? Why? Why not?
If you've lost it, how can you reclaim the glory of your marriage?
It is not a fantasy I paint at the point where the River Meets the Sea. It's a very real possibility of what our marriages can be. As long as both parties consistently do their part, consistently live up to the roles they are meant to live up to, the harmony will be there. Will it always be a fairytale? He may leave his socks beside his saddle on occasion. She may nag him in an unflattering way not to do so. But these are the insignificant things that we must not allow to cloud that image. And if it is a fairytale, if we are being unrealistic, if we are 'dreaming', then please, do not wake us up.
Heba Alshareef is a DiscoverULife Coach and author of the upcoming Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba!
She blogs at iamsheba.com