The Five Cs for Happy Marriage: Legacy of the Prophet by Shaikh Ahmad Kutty
Marriage can work. It can even make us happy, fulfilled, and full of joy. You may ask, how? Let me answer this question.
When I say marriage can work, and it can be happy and fulfilling, I do not, by any means, mean to say that it can be simply wished for as if by waving a magic band. There is nothing further from the truth.
In order for marriage to work, we need to invest time and energy in it. We need to take concerted action. Once we utilize the best of our efforts, and trust in Allah, the outcome is guaranteed. This is what Allah says, “If they both cherish the intention and resolve in their mind to realize peace and reconciliation Allah will bless their efforts (in achieving it.” (Qur’an: 4:34) In other words, Allah’s laws are clear: We get in life what we strive for: Our everyday thoughts, words, and actions can either make or break our marriage. We reap joy or misery by the thoughts, words, and actions that we consistently cherish and nurture.
It is, therefore, within our power to build a happy marriage: Every couple should be able to do it by mastering the keys: it calls for commitment, earnest striving by mobilizing all the spiritual and emotional resources within all of us, and lots and lots of prayers.
I have had a life-time of experience in marriage. I was married more than four decades ago at an unusually young age; I can truly say I made my marriage work for me by following the basic formula. I have also dealt with family issues for over three decades as an imam. My recipe for a successful marriage comes from reflections on the Prophetic legacy: The prophet’s exemplary character has guided my efforts in building a most blissful marriage. The Prophet is indeed the greatest benefactor for me, second only to Allah, in this as well as in all other aspects of my life.
This Prophetic wisdom, I would distill, in a few key words all starting with C: connection, companionship, compassion, charity, compromise and contentment.
Let us begin with connection. Connection between married couples cannot be the result of an infatuation or fling or physical attraction based on outward beauty or charm; rather it must be based on one’s connection with Allah, the Creator and Sustainer.
By connecting with Allah, we connect to a higher source of values that transcend our petty selfish needs, desires and concerns. Through this, we can anchor marriage on a firm foundation. We become connected to each other not so much because of our own subjective emotions but because of our commitment to Allah.
Even as tawhid or faith in One God connects us with everything around us, it should also serve as the nourishment and glue that bind the couple. Thus with faith and trust in Allah the marriage becomes a spiritual bond they cherish as they face the daily challenges of living. Hence, their joint prayer: “Our Lord, grant us joy in our spouses and children and make us role-models for the God-fearing folks.” (Q. 25:74)
The couples who are thus connected through tawhid become partners and companions, whose primary goal is to do the will of God together. This is the second key for a happy marriage: companionship.
The Prophet stressed companionship as the true source of a good life. He said, “This world is a brief sojourn and the best asset one can have is the companionship of a righteous wife.” (Reported by al-Mundhiri)
Companionship cannot just happen: rather it must come from shouldering responsibilities, doing daily chores together, sharing joys and joys of life. The Prophet translated this into participating in the daily household chores. Aishah was asked, ‘what was the Prophet doing at home? She replied, “He would be helping the family in their household chores.” (Reported by Bukhari). Once, while they were ready to start the prayer, he told them to wait; then he went home and returned saying: “I forgot to place the lid on the cooking pot!”
By doing the chores and works together and cooperating on the large and small things they are cementing the marriage, and thus building trust and mutual love for one another. It should be the most powerful recipe to build a lasting relationship.
Companionship is further strengthened by nurturing compassion; which should be born of recognizing the other as part of oneself. For Allah teaches us in the Qur’an that He created spouses for us from among ourselves. Thus, by recognizing each other as an extension of oneself, we engender peace and tranquility in relating to each other.
It is the closest thing to a foretaste of paradise; the tranquility that is born of mutual love and affection. The compassion is reflected in acting kindly and affectionately: Allah tells us that is the foundation of true joy in marriage: the Prophet had the greatest share of it as witnessed by his companions and wives: they all: they knew no one more compassionate and loving to his family. 1
Compromise is another crucial ingredient of happiness in marriage. This can only come from one’s own awareness of one’s weakness vis a vis the strengths of their spouses or from a person of higher spiritual awareness like that of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This was the secret of Prophet’s success in forging and uniting people: It is the same principle he suggested for bringing peace in marriage. Compromise means that a happy marriage means that both couples should be finding self-respect and feeling of winning. In this way, both spouses are bound to find the relationship worthy of investment as it satisfies their innermost needs for love and respect.
This is why the Prophet while he was in a deadlock on arguing over an issue with his beloved wife suggested to her to find a third party to listen to them and help them to find a formula of arbitration. You may wonder: How would the prophet bring himself to this level? Well, he did so to set an example for all of us: that is the way to resolve the issues in marriage if we cannot do it ourselves: we need to be willing to open up.
This openness should be manifested in one's willingness to change the lens in looking at issues; for so often husband and wife get caught up in his or her narrow focus. Tawhid should teach us to look at the bigger picture or to consider the issues from the perspective of the larger whole. This would be providing a better perspective, closer to truth and justice.
Lastly, contentment is another vital element of a happy marriage. Happiness in marriage or life, for that matter, can never be attained without developing contentment. Contentment is the result of one’s sincere appreciation for God’s blessings, and trust in God’s Decree. The Prophet said, “Richness is not accumulating material things; richness is the richness of the heart.” (Reported by Bukhari)
By consistently nurturing strong connection with Allah, and daily practice of principles of companionship, compromise, compassion, contentment, couples can make marriage work and worthy of celebration.