Your marriage can be your gateway to paradise or hellfire. If it is a beautiful marriage, it can be a means of increasing your energy, productivity and happiness in this life. It can also be a means of salvation in the next world. On the flip side, a broken marriage is one of the biggest stressors on your life and it’s also the destroyer of your happiness and life in both worlds. In this article, I share nine qualities that can help you transform your marriage from “meh” (i.e.mediocre) to “wow!” (i.e. superb and successful), bi’idnillah!
When coaching 100s of people around the world, I’ve found that people who are enjoying a healthy relationship with their spouse are better able to achieve their health and fitness goals. They also tend to lead a satisfied life. I think that’s because the satisfaction of their marriage motivates them to push beyond their comfort zone and try new things in life. Increased motivation along with a supporting partner facilitate them to achieve things that are usually seen as “impossible”.
While a blissful marriage is a blessing for everyone around them, a broken marriage is a misery not only for the involved couples but also for the children and the people around them. So, a broken marriage can cause havoc not only in your relationship but also in every other area of your life.
Or to be blunter: A happy married life is like a ladder that helps you to climb over the hurdles you face in your life. A broken marriage is like a big massive wall in your way. It’s a hurdle itself for all your happiness, achievement and success in both worlds.
I sincerely hope that the nine qualities I share will be of great benefit for anyone who is looking to improve their marital life. These qualities I share in this article are based on Islamic teachings, the latest scientific research and things that I’ve implemented successfully in my own life. They’re advice that I’ve taught to many around me, alhamdulillah!
Ok, before we continue, here is a little disclaimer: I’m a nutrition and exercise coach, not a marriage therapist or relationship coach. So, please don’t contact me for any of your marital issues. Instead, to help you with your marriage, turn to the books and resources I share at the end of this article.
Nine qualities to transform your marriage from “meh” to “wow!”:
1. Start by finding your “why”!
If you know me well, then you know that I always talk about how important having a purpose is. If you want to change anything in life, the first step should be finding the purpose or the true “why.” Why do you want to transform your marriage in the first place? What do you want to achieve with this transformation?
So, I suggest that you start with this question: “Why do I want to transform my marriage from “meh” to “wow!”?
Knowing why you want to transform your marriage from mediocre to great is the first step towards a successful marriage. To help you understand the process of finding your why, read this. This article explains to you how you can find your real why.
Once you know your true why, it will motivate you to make your marriage a great success.
I mean, if you aren’t willing to save your marriage and you aren’t truly committed to it, then nothing in the world is going to help you, right?
So, start with finding your why and that’s pretty much the first step towards progressing to a marriage that leaves you saying “wow!”, bi’idnillah!
2. Utilise your best weapon – Du’a
With the why, you know which direction to go. However, this first step is pretty much useless if you don’t get the Divine assistance to attain the outcome that you seek.
So, it’s time that you utilise your best weapon to implore Allah for help. Yep, I’m talking about the power of du’a.
Allah subuhanawuta’ala says in the Qur’an:
“When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.” (Al-Quran, 2:186)
It’s as if Allah is giving you a blank cheque and asking you to ask for anything that you want. And, of course, He promises that He’ll attend to it.
Subhanallah, who else is better to help you than your own Creator?!
If you are truly determined, and you are ready to put the work to make your marriage the most beautiful one, then Allah’s help isn’t far from you. So, beg to Him, because, for Him all matters are easy and all He has to say is “Kun” and it is!
In Surah Furqan, Allah subuhanawuta’ala even teaches us how to make du’a for a successful marriage.
And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” (Al-Quran, 25:74).
Use this du’a from the Quran to help you formulate the right words to ask for what you need. And beg to Him with all of your heart believing that He will, indeed, respond.
3. Provide unconditional love
How can you happily spend a lifetime with a person, if you don’t cherish and love that person unconditionally?
Loving unconditionally? Yep, what I’m saying is that you should love your spouse regardless of his/her flaws and mistakes. You love that person with all their imperfections.
That may sound hard but think about your own flaws. Don’t you expect that your spouse loves you regardless of your mistakes?
The reality is this: except for Prophet Muhammed (SAW), no human being is perfect and each and every one of us has our own shortcomings. So, if we were to love a person based on a condition, (“he or she should be like this” and “he or she shouldn’t be like that”) then you’ll never come across a person whom you can love.
So, one of the most important qualities that helps you to transform your marriage is that you love your spouse unconditionally.
That unconditional love should also reflect on your duties towards your spouse. Do your duties with ihsan (perfection) and don’t be too demanding of your own rights.
On the Day of Judgment, Allah would ask each of you about your rights and obligations towards one another. And you want to make sure that you excel in your duties towards your spouse and that you are forgiving with the rights that are due to you. That’s certainly a safer position for your success in this world and in the Aakhira (Hereafter).
Here are a few ways how you can excel in showing your love in words, emotions and in actions:
- Say I love you frequently, even if you had an argument just before. As I said, your love should be unconditional.
- Kiss your spouse often. Create 100s of opportunities to kiss. Has she or he just entered the house? Kiss. See him/her in the kitchen? Kiss. Here is a good exercise for you. Brainstorm and write down at least 5 opportunities you can use to kiss your spouse daily
- Give a lot of compliments. Say things like,“Wow, you look great in this dress” and “masha Allah, you’ve cooked an excellent dinner”,
- Spend a lot of time in very fulfilling and beautiful intimacy. Though this subject is rarely discussed in Islamic circles, lack of intimacy is one of the leading causes of marriages falling apart.
As a married couple, you need to frankly talk about this issue. You need to inform your partner about your likes and dislikes in intimacy.
In the Quran, Allah says, “… your wives are your garments, and you are their garments” (Al-Quran; 2:187). So, part of being his/her “garment” is also to protect his/her chastity by giving them the ultimate satisfying sex life in your marriage.
4. Consider your in-laws as your family
How can you truly love your spouse, if you don’t even love and respect the persons who brought your spouse to this world? I mean there is a reason why we call them “parents-in-law”. They have almost the same rights and duties as your biological parents and these rights and duties are now given to them by the legal pact of marriage.
So, part of loving your spouse is also loving his/her family.
Abuse or disrespect towards in-laws is one of the biggest reasons for a broken marriage. If your relationship with your in-laws is sound, your marriage will be sound; otherwise, it may look like sound from outside, but it’s NEVER really sound!
When you fix your relationship with your parents in law, you’ll most probably fix your relationship with your spouse. That’s what I call killing two birds with one stone!
5. Connect through unconditional service
The more connected you are towards your spouse, the better your relationship becomes. But you might be wondering what I mean by “connecting”.
Connecting is finding ways to help your spouse whenever possible. Every act of service counts.
And what’s most important is, that you don’t categorise the chores at home or the errands outside home as “mine” or “his/hers”.
Being the bread-winners of the family, most men have this strong belief that they don’t need to help their wives, since their responsibility is to earn money. They believe everything else should be taken care of his wife.
But this is totally against the Sunnah.
When asked what did the Prophet (SAW) used to do in his house, Aisha, (RA) replied, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it” (Al-Bukhari).
This sunnah helps men to strengthen their romance life too.
In his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman says it beautifully:
“…romance is strengthened in the supermarket aisle when your partner asks, ‘Are we out of butter?’ and you answer, ‘I don’t know. Let me go get some just in case,’ instead of shrugging apathetically.”
6. Showing Gratitude
John Gottman, the man that I mentioned before, is a psychologist, scientist and an expert in marital relations. In the book I mentioned earlier, he says that unless a couple is able to maintain a high ratio of positive to negative affect (5:1 or greater), it is likely that their marriage will end.
He gives us a simple way to increase this positivity ratio. According to him, the best way to boost your positivity ratio is to practice gratitude in your marriage.
Showing gratitude is basically thanking your spouse for every little help and favour they do. That’s it.
In a separate article, I’ve discussed in detail how to practice gratitude towards your spouse. It’s one of the most read articles. So make sure to read it.
But the most important thing to remember is this: Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said, “He who does not thank people, does not thank Allah” (Ahmad)
7. Spend a lot of quality time with your spouse
The greatest gift you can give to your spouse is your own mindful presence, i.e. you give your full attention without any distractions. Yeah, that means you PUT DOWN YOUR SMARTPHONE and engage with your loved ones.
So, what do you do in your quality time? If you have nothing to say or do, at least just hold your spouse hands. According to the latest research from the University of Gothenburg, “long-lasting gentle touch decreases stress hormones and decelerate heartbeat frequency. It also activates brain areas commonly linked to reward”
John Gottman, the renowned psychologist from the University of Gothenburg further elaborates in his book, how spending time with your spouse will both save your marriage and health:
“I often think that if fitness buffs spent just 10 per cent of their weekly workout time—say, twenty minutes a day—working on their marriage instead of their bodies, they would get three times the health benefits they derive from exercise class or the treadmill.”
8. Be the first to say “sorry”
Happy marriages aren’t devoid of problems or arguments, but what makes these marriages different from the rest is that couples in these marriages don’t linger on the arguments or problems that they have.
So, if you have an argument with your spouse and regardless of who initiated the argument, be the first to say sorry.
The simple sorry will diffuse the tension and will help you to garner the respect of your spouse, insha Allah.
Moreover, the forgiving of your spouse is a means for you to receive forgiveness from Allah subuhanawuta’la. Allah says “. . . and let them pardon and overlook. Would you not like that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-Quran, 24:22)
9. Save your best treatment for your spouse
“The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women.” (At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by Al-Albani)
“The best of you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best of you to my family.” (At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by Al-Albani)
There is so much wisdom behind these narrations. One of the most important aspects to understand is that it’s easy to be the best to everyone outside your home. That’s because they are oblivious of most of your weaknesses and flaws. All they see is the well-dressed and well-mannered person in front of them.
However, at home the story is different. You family knows everything about you and your flaws. For you to be recognised as the best to your family by your own family members, despite your imperfections, is indeed one of the greatest of achievements.
So, trying to claim the title “the best to your family” is truly an uphill battle. You seriously need to work on many fronts to achieve that state. But it’s a struggle that’s really worth it. Not only it will grant you joy, happiness and contentment in this world, but it will also be very heavy on your scale on the Day of Judgement.
Here are a few ways how you can start implementing this aspect into your life:
- Treat your spouse, as if you would treat a noble guest at home. Just as you wouldn’t shout at your noble guest and would always present your best side, treat your spouse likewise.
- Dress up beautifully for your spouse. No one deserves to admire your beauty more than your spouse does. You should impress your spouse not only through your character but also through your appearance. In this, we have beautiful examples from our salaf. It has been narrated, that Ibn Abbas (RA) used to beautify himself every time before entering his house. In response to those who laughed at him, he replied: “I like toembellish myself for my wife, just as I like her to beautify for me”.
- Choose compliments over criticism. Whenever you find positive behaviours of your spouse, compliment them. Never criticise your spouse. Criticism never helps to improve your relationship.
No article, book or therapists can solve all your marital problems immediately. But by incorporating these nine qualities in your marriage, you can change the course of your relationship, bi’idnillah! Sometimes a small change can bring huge benefits over time.
So, here’s what I suggest. Among these nine qualities, choose the two easiest ones and try to implement in your life for the next two weeks. Remember to be as consistent as possible.
You’ll, insha Allah, notice tiny improvements in your relationship. Then choose another quality and practice it for another 2-3 weeks. Over time you’ll be able to practice all these nine qualities with ease and then you’ll realise how much your relationship has improved.
If you are committed and ready to put the work, you’ll see improvements down the road.
I hope the following resources will be of great benefit for you.