It’s that time of the year again when everyone is charged to make personal resolutions that will change their lives for the next 365 days in the hope of scoring a different set of results than the previous year. Some focus on losing weight, while others turn their attention to pushing themselves to accomplish more on their to-do-lists. Whereas many people get caught up in convincing themselves that the mark of the New Year symbolizes a chance for a fresh start and a clean slate, as Muslims, we know that a new beginning can happen at any moment in our lives and it is not dependent upon the date of January 1st.
Allah Most High gives us an opportunity to ‘start over and become better’ with every tawba that we make. When we sincerely turn to Him, seeking His forgiveness with the resolve to act differently for His sake and not merely our own, Allah all-Mighty and Majestic places a blessing in our intentions and suddenly we’re given the strength to become a new person and alter our lives for a higher purpose: our eternal destination.
Instead of getting caught up with the high of how we’re going to gain more out of this worldly life with the onset of the New Year, we must devote our efforts towards removing anything from our lives that is displeasing to Allah all-Mighty and Majestic – especially the unIslamic, dysfunctional patterns in our marriages. While some may protest and claim that it is impossible to change their relationships without their husbands being on board with them, don’t let this discourage YOU from becoming a better version of yourself. Here’s the “real-life” newsflash: We won’t be able to live up to our true God-given potential as wives and mothers if we keep finding reasons to put our ‘home improvement plan’ on hold, and this sadly means that the quality of our lives will never progress from where it is now.
If something in our marriages is not pleasing to Allah Most High, then we need to take whatever means possible to transform it into that which is pleasing. Let’s make a resolution this year to do a marital makeover in whichever areas of our marriages demand it. Check out these tips on how to meet your marital makeover resolutions in 2017 inshaAllah.
STEP 1: Own Up to Your Problems
People like to avoid this step but it is crucial if you want things in your household to change. It is impossible to make something better when you keep persuading yourself that it is acceptable. Stop comparing yourself to other people’s marriages and convincing yourself that your marriage is not that bad. All marriages have their own unique ups and downs, and all marriages have varying problems; Allah will give us tests in our lives and we cannot control our circumstances. However, we can control the way that we react to the tests that Allah specifically gives us, and mastering this point is what will distinguish a good Islamic marriage from a suffering one.
People in good Islamic marriages are able to overcome their issues in a way that is pleasing to Allah Most High. For example, in good Islamic marriages, couples in conflict do not nastily criticize each other’s personal character, or vehemently accuse each other of committing wrong, or unkindly torture each other with the silent treatment, but rather, they voice their complaints about the matter at-hand with decency and share how they would like it to be different. Even if they disagree on the plausible solution or feel hurt concerning their spouse’s initial reaction, the foundation of respect and love in their marriages eventually pulls them closer together within the conflict, and after they’ve fully overcome it, they see that the test only caused their marital bond to become stronger. Likewise, for couples in good Islamic marriages who are experiencing hard times and big life challenges, like when their husbands lose their jobs or a close family member dies, they support and comfort each other by a kind word or deed, and they remind each other of the Hereafter.
If the conflict and challenges in your marriage are ‘ripping’ you two apart and creating more pain than you can bear, then it’s time to fess up and turn your marriage in for a makeover.
STEP 2: Create a Compelling Vision
Make a list of all the things that you dislike about your marriage or what is unIslamic about it. Write it out and get it all out of your head without judging how you feel.
Now evaluate your list and create a compelling vision by asking yourself resourceful questions: What do I want my marriage to ideally be like? If it could be different, how would it be?
When you know exactly what you want, the answers will come easily inshaAllah. However, some things may not be that easy to change, which is why you should circle the things on the list that are in your control and START with those. For example, you cannot control your mother-in-law’s behavior, but you can control how much you ruminate in your head about her. Or you cannot control your husband’s choices, but you can control acting on the annoyance that you feel when he chooses to do the opposite of what you want. Or you cannot control your children’s mistakes but you can control the way that you discipline and raise them. Basically, where are you able to influence a change in your marriage? Draw your sketch by writing out your vision and paint in the colors with your everyday actions inshaAllah.
STEP 3: Train Your Brain
Don’t allow doubts to creep in and stand in your way. You only have one life to live. The million dollar question is: Are you going to keep choosing to live it this way?
Change the way that you speak inside your head by training your brain that your new goals are a must for you – nothing less. ‘Shoulds’ weaken our standards whereas ‘musts’ motivate us to raise the bar. For example, ‘I should speak nicer to my husband when I’m stressed out’ is a nice way of saying ‘When I feel like it, I’ll change myself.’ It’s definitely not as convincing to the mind as when you tell it ‘I must speak nicely to my husband when I’m stressed out. THERE IS NO QUESTION ABOUT IT!’
Also, encourage yourself to be your best by listing the reasons for WHY you must live out this compelling vision and HOW it will make you feel when it comes true. Then review your reasons morning and night to remind yourself of your goals. By making a ritual of reviewing your reasons daily, it will continue to encourage you to make it a habit, even if you mistakenly have an off-day. By the way, it’s normal to have good and bad days, but don’t let yesterday ruin today. If you mess up, make tawba and try again; there’s no need to throw the entire vision away.
If you’re thinking that this step is impossible because you’re such a ‘horrible’ wife and you’re so ‘stuck’ in your ways that you cannot change, then take a hammer and break your glass ceiling. How we see ourselves will determine how hard we try, and we live our lives according to how we define ourselves. AlhamduliLlah, what’s great is that we all have a label that will push us to go above and beyond: we are Muslims and followers of the noble Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). When we stick to living up to that label, we will push ourselves harder for the sake of our Creator, our children, our ummah, and ourselves inshaAllah. Allah knows your heart and He will aid you if you continue to ask for His help inshaAllah.
STEP 4: Keep Good Wife Company
Our company greatly impacts our actions. If we hang out with physically fit people, we will feel a drive to exercise. If we spend our time with scholars, we will yearn to learn more about our religion. Similarly, if we sit with women who are working towards improving their marriages, we will think twice about what we are doing in our own. Muslima Coaching is here to support you inshaAllah.
In summary, just because you’ve made past mistakes and your marriage is not where you want it to be, it doesn’t mean that it’s too late to change it inshaAllah. In fact, the biggest and best changes come our way when we decide that we CANNOT live a moment longer with the way things are, and we dedicate every ounce of energy in our minds and bodies to make our situation something loving to Allah. Yet, we want to be realistic at the same time; the more a marriage continues to latch onto unIslamic, dysfunctional patterns, the HARDER it will be to wean them off and remove them from our lives. This is why rolling up your sleeves this year is imperative. Don’t delay fixing your marriage any longer. Join the our mission and give your marriage a makeover for Allah’s sake inshaAllah.
© Muslima Coaching, 2017.