By getting married you are not only getting a wife, you are getting your whole world. From now until the rest of your days your wife will be your partner, your companion, and your best friend. She will share your moments, your days, and your years. She will share your joys and sorrows, your successes and failures, your dreams and your fears. When you are ill, she will take the best care of you. When you need help, she will do all she can for you. When you have a secret, she will keep it. When you need advice, she will give you the best advice. She will always be with you and when you wake up in the morning the first thing your eyes will see will be her. During the day, she will be with you, and if for a moment she is not with you in physical body, she will be thinking of you, praying for you with all her heart, mind, and soul. When you go to sleep at night, the last thing your eyes will see will be her, and when you are asleep you will still see her in your dreams. In short, she will be your whole world and you will be her whole world.
The best description that I have personally ever read describing the closeness of the spouses to each other is the Quranic verse which says, "they are your garments and you are their garments." Indeed, spouses are like garments to each other because they provide each other with the protection, comfort, cover, support, and the adornment that garments provide to humans. Just imagine a journey to Alaska in the winter without garments! Our spouses provide us with that same level of comfort, protection, cover, and support in the journey of our lives on this earth as garments would do in the Alaska journey.
The relationship between both spouses is the most amazing of all human relations. The amount of love, affection, intimacy, closeness, mercy, compassion, peace and tranquillity that fills the hearts of a spouse is simply inexplicable. The only rational explanation for these most amazing of all human feelings is that it is an act of God. Only God Almighty in His infinite power, boundless mercy, and great wisdom can create and ingrain those amazing feelings in the hearts of spouses. In fact, God reminds those who search for His signs in the universe, that those feelings in the hearts of the spouses are among the signs that should guide humans to His existence as He says in the Qur'an, "And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquillity with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect."
But the human heart is not a static entity, it is very dynamic. Feelings can and do change over time. Love may wither and fade away. The marital bond might weaken if not properly cared for. Happiness in marriage cannot be taken for granted. Continuous happiness requires constant give and take from both sides. For the tree of marital love to remain alive and continue growing, the soil must be sustained, maintained, and nurtured. Therefore, I will now give couples a few tips on how to keep this tree growing:
** Here in North America, we live a hectic life surrounded by tight schedules and are constantly bombarded by deadlines. For couples, this means that you might find very little time to spend together alone away from the endless work commitments. You must never allow this to happen. Try to periodically secure some time for doing some special activities together with each other but away from the rest of the world. Remember that our Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. had found the time to go out to the desert and race with his wife A'isha. She outstripped him but later after she had gained some weight, he outstripped her.
** Do go out with your wife regularly and frequently to engage in all kinds of activities, i.e., go to the mall, visit family and friends, go to the mosque, have picnics, etc. Remember that the Prophet took his wife to watch the young Ethiopians playing and dancing their folk dances.
** Always keep some romance in your life. Modern life has almost transformed us into robots or high tech machines without emotions. To reveal emotion is necessary to keep the marital bond protected from rust and disintegration. Remember that you will be rewarded by God for any emotions you show to your wife as the Prophet said, that one would be rewarded for anything that he does seeking the pleasure of God even the food that he puts in the mouth of his wife. Never underestimate the importance of seemingly small things like putting food in your wife's mouth, opening the car door for her, etc. Remember that the Prophet used to extend his knee to his wife to help her ride her camel.
** Try to always find some time for the both of you to pray together. Strengthening the bond between you and God is the best guarantee that your own marital bond will always remain strong. Having peace with God always results in having more peace at home. Remember that the Prophet gave glad tidings to those couples who woke up at night to pray together. The Prophet even urged the spouse who rises first to wake the other spouse up even by throwing cold water on his/her face.
** Always try your best to be good to your wife by word and deed. Talk to her, smile at her, consult with her (seek her advice, ask for her opinion) spend quality time with her and always remember that the Prophet said, "The best of you are those who are best to their wives."
Finally, it is common here in N. America that spouses vow "to love and honour" their spouses "until death do they part." I do believe that this vow is splendid, but it is not enough! It is not enough that you love your wife. You have to love what she loves as well. Her family and her loved ones must also become your loved ones. Don't be like my colleague who was unhappy about his wife's parents coming to visit for few weeks. He candidly said to her, "I don't like your parents." Naturally she angrily looked at him straight in the eye and said, " I don't like yours either." Also, it is not enough that you love her until her death. Love should never end, and we do believe there is life after death where those who were righteous in this world will be joined by their spouses and offspring in the next. The best example in this regard is the Prophet whose love for Khadijah, his wife of 25 years, extended to include all those she loved and continued even after her death. He never forgot her, and for many years after her death, whenever a goat was slaughtered in his house, he would send parts of it to Khadijah's friends. And whenever he felt that the visitor at the door might be Khadijah's sister Hala, he would pray saying "O Allah let it be Hala"
Love your wife and love what your wife loves not only until death but until you are joined again in the next life Insha'Allah.
Sherif Abdel Azeem Mohamed has a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada) and is with the department of Electrical Engineering at Cairo University. He is the author of several articles on Islam and contemporary Islamic issues as well as being a Hafiz, that is, he has memorized the whole Qur'an by heart.