THE SPIRIT OF MARRIAGE: 2 – FRIENDSHIP AND PARTNERSHIP IN MARRIAGE
A’udhu billahi Al-Sami’ul al ‘A’leem min al shaytani al rajeem. Bismillahi Al-Rahmani Al-Raheem.
Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barkatuh.
Welcome to Episode 2 of The Spirit of Marriage titled Friendship and Partnership in Marriage: The Trust Factor.
In Episode 1 we covered Surah al Rum, Surah al Nisaa and Surah Al Taubah and the lessons we get from them regarding marriage one of which is the need for friendship and partnership in marriage. We got that lesson from the words, ‘zawj’, ‘azwaj’ and ‘awliyaa’ in those verses.
To develop a spirit of friendship and partnership in marriage, start with trust.
Trust is that feeling of being safe with each other, believing that your spouse will act in ways that keep you emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially safe; both husband and wife believe that each will do everything he/she can to support and protect the other. Trust is the rope which binds all aspects of a marriage together – friendship, intimacy, communication, child-rearing, finance, everything.
Some actions bring or support trust in marriage – let’s call them trust-builders. Some actions take trust out of a marriage or make it difficult for trust to survive – we will call these ones trust-killers.
You build trust in two ways. One, you give trust i.e. you act in ways that say to your spouse, ‘I trust you’. Two, you demonstrate trustworthiness i.e. you act in ways that say, ‘I am worthy of being trusted.’
Trust is a two-way street. You have to give it and receive it in order for trust to survive in a marriage, otherwise one person will end up feeling cheated, foolish or taken for granted.
How useful is all this for a couple whose trust level is in the red? If your trust has been abused many times, trust-building would be terribly difficult.
Remember the point of marriage – it’s about maintaining qalbeen saleem. Every act of ours invites others to act in a similar way. If your spouse is already acting in trust-killing ways, your trust-killing actions tell them to keep on acting that way because you have now joined them. If you adopt trust-building behaviour instead, even if only in small ways (after all Allah loves consistent good deeds even if they are small deeds) you are inviting your spouse to become a trust-builder. You are like the person who shuts the door but leaves it unlocked while going about their business because their spouse is outside and they think he/she might come in at any time. You use your actions to keep the door unlocked while you go about your business grooming your heart, building qalbeen saleem. Your spouse may eventually become trusting and trustworthy, inshaAllah. Whether or not that happens, Allah will decree that your name be written down among the truthful.
Here are a few scenarios, ideas and anecdotes that highlight some trust-building and trust-killing actions.
The first suggestion for embedding trust in a marriage is to BE WILLING TO ACT in a trust-building way.
There was this lady who asked her husband for his ATM card because she wanted to buy something online and her card was being declined. He gave it to her and went off to work without asking how much she would be spending or asking for details of what she wanted to buy or stipulating when the card should be returned or asking when she would repay him. What made him so trusting? He trusted her because she always spoke openly to him, did not keeping secrets or trying to deceive him. What made her trust him enough to be so open? He listened when she spoke. Why did he listen? Because…The reasons can go on and on but one thing is clear – both of them were willing to act in trust-building ways, each action reinforcing the spirit of trust in their marriage.
Suggestion 2 – ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES Husbands and wives take on certain roles and responsibilities based on agreement or as a result of circumstances. For example, one spouse prepares the children for school and another picks them up after school. To demonstrate trust, always show that you believe your spouse will carry out his/her responsibility to the best of his/her ability. You accept their judgment about how something should be done. It may be that your spouse may not do certain things as well as you can, or in the same manner as you would; however, being trusting requires you to step back and give them space. One trust-killing behaviour is to give reminder after reminder, to take over the task because they are not doing it to your satisfaction, or to say, ‘I know you won’t do it well.’
You show trustworthiness when you put your heart into fulfilling your role and carrying out your responsibilities; when you show a strong desire and effort to play your part in making things go smoothly.
A third suggestion relates to FINANCIAL TRUSTWORTHINESS. People sometimes borrow money from their spouses then refuse or neglect to repay the loan. When you borrow money from your spouse, make sure you pay back as soon as you are able. Husbands, if you tell your wife, ‘Give me such-and-such an amount of money, I will pay you back’, do everything in your power to pay back. When your wife reminds you, don’t say, ‘After all the money I spend, is it this small amount you can’t leave?’ or ‘Khadija r.a. gave the prophet control of her wealth, can’t you do the same?’ Khadija gave willingly, your wife hasn’t. If you have spent money as a husband should, don’t try to force your wife to spend too – it is not her place to do so. If you need financial support from your wife, say so – this is trust-building.
Wives, when you tell your husband, ‘Please give me some cash, I will go to the ATM machine later,’ do go to the ATM machine later, withdraw money and give it back to your husband. Yes, he is meant to take care of financial issues. When such issues arise, have a candid conversation with him. Don’t use ‘lend me money’ to get the money of out him. If a husband is neglecting to fulfil his financial responsibilities, find trust-building ways of handling the issue rather than ways that do not build the marriage up.
Financial trustworthiness is also tied to how we spend money. If your spouse feels that you are frivolous or extravagant in your spending habits, your spouse might find it difficult to trust you with money. If you are the type who will always look for ways of spending money as soon as it arrives, your spouse might start hiding money from you. So understand how your spouse thinks about money and if this different from how you think about it, you both have to find ways of creating financial safety for each other.
Part 1 of this episode ends here. Please listen to the next audio for Part 2 where more suggestions for building trust when your spouse is being overly suspicious or acting in a manner which makes you uncomfortable will be mentioned.
Meanwhile, think about trust-building actions which your spouse has taken recently. Let them know you appreciate it. Also do some self-check to gauge how well you have been doing in building trust.
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Alhamdulillah. Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barkatuh.