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Six Tips to Handle Marital Discord

by Rabiya Dawood

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Disputes and disagreements are only natural in a marriage when you’re living with the person of the opposite sex, the one with a personality considerably different from yours. Frequent squabbles – even over petty issues – make a marriage one roller coaster ride of emotions.

However, we need to know that a relationship that is stagnant can’t really go anywhere – neither forwards nor backwards. And that is why such occasional tiffs may even be healthy for your marriage, provided they are dealt with correctly.

Here are a few tips on how you can handle those sticky moments and how you can use them to actually strengthen your relationship:

Communicate; not confront
There’s a fine line between communicating to your spouse what upset you and confronting him or her about it.

When you communicate, you simply state what happened and how it made you feel. Your purpose in this case is to primarily help your loved one understand your feelings better. Confrontation, on the other hand, points fingers at the other and focuses on his or her fault. When you confront, you are essentially guilt-tripping your spouse into feeling awful for what he or she did and not really earning his or her empathy for what you feel.

Statements like “I was hurt because I felt like my opinion didn’t matter when you didn’t consult me before booking the tickets” are more constructive than statements like “Not checking with me before booking the tickets was really inconsiderate of you.”

A confrontational tone almost always leads to arguments.

Communication is a two-way street. So in the same manner that you’d like to be heard, listen to your spouse’s side of the story as well.

Giving an ear wholeheartedly to what your spouse is saying will help you understand his or her point of view and feelings or actions resulting thereof; even if you don’t agree with the actions, you would at least better understand the position he or she was in to commit that action in the first place.

And sometimes it may be not that bad at all. In fact, a lot of problems at home could be avoided just when you listen. Your spouse may be saying one thing but you could have taken it to mean something completely different, simply because you weren’t listening!

Forgive: Let go of your ego
If your spouse did make a mistake, forgive. Many-a-times, we let our ego get in the way. This is especially so when the fault lies on the other side. It may be really easy to look down upon and poke the other person when he or she is wrong, but pay attention to the Prophet’s words encouraging us to forgive even then:

The Prophet (sa) said: I guarantee a house in the surroundings of paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he is right… (Abu Dawood; reliable)

And when things get really tough, simply ask yourself: Is it worth damaging the relationship? If not, let it go.

Say “sorry” and “thank you”
Sadly, this a neglected habit in many of our cultures. Saying sorry or thank you is considered to be too ‘formal’ and so saying it to a family member is equated to treating them like an outsider. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

After all is said and done in anger and disappointment with your spouse, apologize for your mistake, express how regretful you are, and assure that you’ll try your best to not hurt him or her again. If you’re on the other end, thank your spouse for understanding and appreciate his or her efforts. This will only increase the understanding in your relationship.

Reaffirm your love
This is just as crucial as the previous point.

Reaffirming your love with words and acts of affection will assure your spouse that no fight between the two of you will tarnish your relationship. And if anything, Allah willing, you will come out stronger together than ever before.

Patience and prayer
Have patience – during and after any argument. Remind yourself that this is not the end and it will always get better. Pray to Allah at such trying times and keep supplicating constantly to increase the love and mercy between the two of you.

“And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (30:21)

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