THE GUY WHO said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus was right on the money, because the fact is that men and women are very different.
I guess it is because we see the world differently sometimes.
That, and women do not have the same endurance a man has, and men have a hard time juggling a baby, work, cooking dinner and shopping all within a 30 minute time-frame. Granted, there are the exceptions…. but I would rather talk about the majority of us who just are regular people, and leave the Superhuman-wannabes out of it.
Some say that marriage is an institution; I say it is the Spouse-ship Enterprise: going where no man, or woman, has gone before. Each newly married couple embarks on their journey together, each experiencing life unique unto themselves—where no one ever in the world ever has exactly the same life experiences or expectations…ever. As married couples, we are all original. As wives, our husband is our captain, and as mothers, we are the guardians of our home.
Forgive all of the puns, but it was an analogy I could not resist. And, if I may continue—sometimes it can just feel like the entire universe seems out to get us; using all types of attacks that are aimed at breaking the martial bond that we try so hard to nurture.
One of the most beautiful verses in the Quran is when Allah describes for us what marriage is really all about:
It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. [Surat Al-Tawbah, 9:178]
One of the foundations of being a mate to another individual is to provide that person with a strong sense of security; and that type of security can only be acquired through a genuine trust and a close bond. However, for most couples, we start out only with passion.
Who would not want it in their martial relationship? Passion is a wonderful thing in any marriage, but it can be short-lived if you do not comprehend what marriage is really all about. An authentic bond with your spouse encompasses all of the passion, but also surpasses it.
We will all get older, changing physically, so we cannot allow our lives to be ruled by passion alone. Our marriage relationships must have substance and depth; and in order to achieve real passion—there must be a deep love and respect amongst one another.
This deep, heartfelt love can only be achieved by certain levels of intimacy— by this, I do not mean sexual relations—although that is legitimate—but what I am talking about here is intimacy of the soul.
Real intimacy of the soul is one individual willing to be completely open with another, to be able to read each other like a book you have read a thousand times. Some may feel: How boring! I want spontaneity, I want excitement! But in fact, to truly know your spouse is to make them your soul mate, and nothing is more placating than that.
People who know about each other’s likes and dislikes tend to develop a tight bond and often do not divorce…and, as years go by, they become closer to one another. Knowing another person intimately is not a dull experience if you truly care for them and certainly does not lack excitement. As people age and mature, there are always new things to find to talk about, to learn about together and to experience together and as a family.
True intimacy can be found through real conversations about life, sharing your thoughts and opinions of the world and your environment, your goals…. and, of course, sharing your dreams and your fears.
This is not to say that in order for two persons to be close, they must always agree…. but the key is to respect one another. The goal to achieve is to be able to freely talk to one another, and not become angry over disagreements where the line of communication is cut off, but to still listen—even if in disagreement—to the other person.
Part of being an active listener is having mutual compassion; trying to understand what your spouse is saying to you.
Mutual compassion is one of the single most important components to achieving a happy marriage. Without it, any love gained through passion will be immediately thrown out the window on the first trial and the relationship will continue to become bitter year after year.
All relationships—regardless of their nature—must have a level of mutual compassion or they will always be short-lived. Genuine compassion for another human being cultivates forgiveness, understanding and a wholelotta love. For you to show your spouse day-in and day-out that you understand and care about their day, their life experiences, and their hardships will only serve to draw you closer to one another and vice-versa. If your only interest is your day and your problems without regard or patience to give adequate attention to your spouse—do not expect to receive compassion next time you want a shoulder to cry on.
The rule of compassion is: you will get what you dish out, so be careful what you serve.
There is no other way to put it than this: make your spouse your best friend. Your spouse should be,
Your Confidant—the one you discuss everything with
Your Cheerleader—the one who encourages you to be the best you can be
Your Counselor—the one whom you ask for sound advice
Your Sounding Board—the one who just listens when that is all you need
Your Financial Consultant—the one whom you consult with before making major purchases (yes, even the husbands should do so because it displays a mutual respect for your spouse—sharing is caring)
Your Buddy—the one with whom you want to spend time whether at work or play
Your husband or wife should be the best friend you have in the world.
Your spouse should be placed on a pedestal above all others in this world, besides your parents. You need to treat them as you would your oldest, dearest friend and share with them your pain with tears and celebrate with enthusiasm all of their triumphs.
Your goals should be to strengthen your family unit for yourselves and your children. Being close friends with your spouse also enables your children to experience their family life in a strong, secure and loving environment; your relationship is their example and foundation to model their future marital relationship.
Marital Bliss Should Not Be Alien
We all want our marriages to be happy, and it can be if we treat it as an enterprise of love, and as a bond like no other—something that can foster years of harmony and joy. Find out what works best for you and your spouse and work on the areas of contention persistently until you both come to a resolution. Remembering that in all relationships there is compromise, but we should never compromise our marriage over minor issues. Remember what you build now will strengthen your marriage tomorrow.
Through the passion, intimacy, and mutual compassion of marriage—if given the proper attention—we can discover our best friend.
To be able to look into the eyes of your spouse, and realize you have in him (or her) your soul mate, is truly one of the most precious blessings of our Creator.
Take the following test and see how closely bonded you are with your spouse, and find out what areas you may need to work on.
The following test was designed by Dr. John Gottman (the author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) of the Family Research Lab at the University of Washington who, for the last 25 years, has been studying what he calls the “masters and disasters” of marriage. He measures heart rate, observes facial expression, and evaluates how couples talk about their relationship.
Give Yourself One Point for Each “Yes” Answer
- I can name my spouse’s best friends.
- I can tell you what stresses my spouse is currently facing.
- I know the names of some of the people who have been irritating my spouse lately.
- I can tell you some of my spouse’s life dreams.
- I can tell you about my spouse’s basic philosophy of life.
- I feel that my spouse knows me pretty well.
- When we are apart, I often think fondly of my spouse.
- I often touch or kiss my spouse affectionately.
- My spouse really respects me.
- There is fire and passion in this relationship.
- Romance is definitely still part of our relationship.
- My spouse appreciates the things I do in this relationship.
- My spouse generally likes my personality.
- At the end of the day my spouse is glad to see me.
- My spouse is one of my best friends.
- We just love talking to each other.
- There is lots of give and take (both people have influence) in our discussions.
- My spouse listens respectfully, even when we disagree.
- My spouse is usually a great help as a problem solver.
- We generally mesh well on basic values and goals in life.
13 – 22 Points: Your relationship has strength and staying power. Congratulations!
0 –12 Points: This is a pivotal time in your relationship. There are many strengths you can build upon but there are also some weaknesses that need your attention.