You can resolve problems with your spouse and today I’m going to draw on my almost 14 years of marriage, with all its challenges and tests, in order to help you do just that. We could never have created this project (they are our future) if we didn’t work extremely hard to overcome the huge tests Allah has given us, by choosing to learn, improve and remain committed to one another throughout everything. Are you ready to build a stronger and healthier marriage?
From a miscarriage at 18 to depression that almost tore us apart, if there’s one thing we know, it’s how to overcome marital problems. We have not got a perfect marriage. We just have commitment to one another and commitment to our goal – to build a strong and healthy family no matter what.
There are a million things attacking the success of our marriages today. The challenge is to rise above them with knowledge and empowerment, and CHOOSE to resolve problems with your spouse.
So, stop all the extras, the distractions and the bad influences, and focus on the most important things first. Your marriage and your children.
1. Navigate your negative emotions
Before you can resolve problems with your spouse, you need to understand how you’re feeling and what you want. On paper analyse:
- your feelings
- your issues
- your actions and words
- your spouse’s actions and words
Then write a list of all their positives and commit to problem solving your way forward.
2. Re-commit to your marriage
As I mentioned in how to navigate negative emotions about your spouse, ensuring that your ARE committed to your marriage is incredibly vital in successfully solving the problems between you. For many of us the novelty of finally having a life-partner, a family of our own and a place to call home, has lost it’s charm and appeal.
Diving head-first into huge, life-changing commitments with the only preparation being a big wedding, beautiful dress and the perfect honeymoon, was always going to be challenging.
With time having a habit of flying by, the pressure to have whatever is deemed #couplegoals in the latest Netflix shows, movies, celeb world and on social media, and the fact that raising children and building a strong marriage are the hardest thing you’ll ever do, it’s very easy to lose your zeal and commitment.
So, before you can resolve the problems with your spouse, you have to know that so long as there is no serious mental disorders and abusive behaviour, you CAN build a strong relationship. Notice I didn’t say the relationship of your dreams, because your dreams are made of Disney, Netflix and edited, smoothed, filtered and cherry-picked imagery. Those are NOT healthy dreams so let it go and mentally re-commit to your marriage.
3. Put your trust in your Lord
Simply put, most of us have zero barakah (blessings) in our life. How can we expect to have beautiful and happy marriages if we don’t take care of the One who gives us everything.
احْفَظْ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْك
‘Take care of Allah and He will take care of you’
Related by Tirmidhi
So make wudhu, pray sincerely, ask for forgiveness, make du’a and put your trust in Allah. If you leave bad, and do good, fearing Him and loving Him, He will take care of you, just wait and see.
4. Don’t discuss issues when emotions are high
First up, stop talking to just anyone about your marriage, especially if they will only make you feel worse about your spouse rather than encourage you to help yourself. Empathy is good, but you need sound advice on how to resolve problems with your spouse, not just support that makes your feel right and good, and him bad and wrong. That’s not healthy.
When you have gathered your thoughts and are ready to talk, make sure that you agree beforehand that if either of you become emotional (anger is an emotion btw not just tears) then the discussion must stop and you must cool off before continuing.
When cooling off, don’t let your emotions escalate by feeling helpless and powerless. You might not resolve things right now. You definitely wont resolve everything right now. If you can discuss calmy then that is a big step. Progress not perfection.
5. Communicate non-aggressively, don’t attack
Most of us have grown up without healthy communication being modelled. But there is a way to communicate negative feelings without making someone feel attacked and bad about themselves. Agree to use constructive statements like:
“When ‘this happened’, I felt ‘like this’”
“My concern is that when/if ‘this happens’ then ‘this is the result’”
Let’s put that into examples.
If you wish your spouse would do more to help you:
“When I am with the kids all the time and don’t get a break to re-energise, I feel continually exhausted and start to feel negatively towards you”
Or if you don’t like the way your spouse criticises the children:
“My concern is that if the children are criticised regularly, they will start to resent us and be pushed towards others who won’t be a good influence on them.”
Don’t attack by using ‘you’ sentences. Use ‘I’ sentences instead.
6. Recognise the good and show gratitude
Long periods of conflict will make us forget and lose sight of all the good and positive in our spouses. Train your brain to search for them, recognise them and show gratitude for them. Express it verbally in a discussion too. Start or end a discussion by exchanging good feelings about one another.
7. Stay respectful
As I mentioned before, not having healthy relationships to model inhibits us from building one ourselves. One thing my husband and I committed to when we first got married almost 14 years ago, was to never be sarcastic, make even the slightest ‘cuss’ or mock one another, even in joke.
Our idea was that if we didn’t say things like ‘that’s so stupid’ or make fun of each other, we would:
- Maintain respect for one another always
- Not resort to worse words when things got difficult
Even though taking digs out of your spouse maybe normal in your family and circles, it is NOT healthy. Reinstate one another’s dignity and respect if you’re really committed to resolve problems between you.
8. Recognise the cause of flaws
I always tell people that they have power. They have all the ability to make the changes they need, just by looking into themselves and working on themselves first. When you recognise your own shortcomings and ask yourself “What can I do differently” you are:
- Being humble by accepting your flaws
- Committing to self-growth
- Recognising that you can contribute to marital problems (takes 2 to tango)
- Modelling what you would like to see from your spouse
Having flaws does not make you bad. You do not need to feel weak or bad about them. We all have flaws. Recognise that our flaws are a direct result of our experiences, undealt with emotional baggage (read: damage) and bad influences.
When you both realise and can accept between you that you most likely did not have the healthiest of upbringings and examples to learn from, you will be in a far more accepting, understanding and merciful position with one another.
9. Focus on problem solving
The goal of every discussion should be problem solving. Even if it is only in your head. Before attempting to talk, choose one main issue you want to work on. Make your objective to find a solution or solutions to that problem. This way, the conversation will always have something to keep pivoting back to when the discussion strays off into tangents or emotional traps.
Remember, progress not perfection.
You cannot ever craft the spouse of your dreams (because you know, your dreams aint healthy or realistic) but also because that isn’t fair on them. And you cannot solve all the problems right now. Accept imperfection in exchange for self-development. Marriage is as long as life itself (- if you’re committed, if you’re not, you need to work on yourself and figure out what your real motive for marriage was in the first place).
Therefore, be patient with your spouse’s flaws (if you want them to be with yours, because yes you do have flaws) knowing that you are working on the important issues one at a time.
10. Be what you want from your spouse
It’s so easy to overlook our flaws. When I read parenting books I feel so inspired, motivated and empowered to improve my relationship with my kids. But the thing is, I cant see myself whereas I can see my husband. So even though I am working on myself, it is still easier for me to see when my hub is doing it all wrong and of course to then call him up on that, whilst I know I do make the same mistakes (but maybe less often 😀 haha).
The point is, really analyse yourself, and make sure you are giving him his rights and fulfilling his needs. Make sure you’re respecting him, giving him the leadership role he should naturally have in the home (even if he’s not used to it, keep encouraging him and facilitating for him to step up and own his role as a father and husband) and loving him.
Because when you give him this, he will naturally give it back to you as well. Sometimes this wont happen straight away, but don’t give up. (If he doesn’t respond and you’ve tried consistently and over time all the steps above, it may be a sign he has issues that need external help. Please get that help.)
To sum it All Up
The bottom line is, if you are truly committed to your marriage, then all it takes is:
- an attitude of problem solving
- and bringing barakah into your marriage
Keep going, stay consistent and long-sighted on the end goal (a strong and healthy family, Jannah) to resolve problems with your spouse, not only now, but always, because there will always be problems, this is the dunya.
Don’t panic, commit and grow.