By Umm Khalid
Dear fellow wives,
Sometimes you might notice yourself getting annoyed with your husband. Irritated by stuff he does or doesn’t do.
Not because of anything major that he’s done wrong, or any shirking of his duties or Islamic responsibilities as a husband. He is, in reality, a good, upright Muslim man who takes his responsibilities as husband and father seriously and genuinely does his best. Even in your irked state, you know this and reluctantly admit it to yourself.
His problems aren’t lying, or cheating, or continued mistreatment of you, or major sins, or a big character defect, or open disobedience of Allah.
No. This is just annoyance over little things, small stuff that at times gets on your nerves but is really just harmless and innocent. Merely human shortcomings or qualities that you happen not to prefer.
Maybe he absentmindedly leaves the towel on the bathroom floor sometimes, or he has been working late and coming home too late for you two to hang out as long as you’d like so you feel a bit neglected, or he keeps accidentally leaving some crumbs on the counter right after you clean the kitchen. Maybe you are having a tiff over your parents or his, or he isn’t fulfilling your precise expectations of how many compliments a day you’d ideally like to get from your man and now you’re resentful because you feel undesirable.
But sometimes, you might notice that these little things can start to feel bigger, like they are suddenly bugging you now more than ever, you’re more mad at him than you usually would be, and you can’t quite figure out why.
Sometimes we wives will work ourselves up into an outraged state, or a righteous indignation, over a series of small but somehow still annoying misdeeds of the husband. I totally understand. I think all wives can relate. You’re not alone.
Before you let loose and have that fight with him, or confront him aggressively with your pent-up anger, or snap at him after the third or fourth aggravation, take a deep breath and remind yourself of some truths.
Go through this series of seven steps:
1. Make a detailed list of all the blessings in your life, particularly all the good things about your husband. And I mean: detailed.
Don’t just write, “He’s a good man.”
Instead, write, “He’s an excellent provider (with specific details of how this is true). He’s a good protector (with reasons and examples). He’s a wonderful listener (examples). He is tall and handsome. He is very generous (with recent gifts and purchases to renind yourself.) He is an excellent father (say how). He works very hard and self-sacrifices for me and our family (list examples).
See how long you can make your list. Give it some real thought. I know you’re mad, but don’t be stingy!
2. Remind yourself of the following truths:
In life, there will ALWAYS be a problem. Problems are a part of the deal. This is simply the human experience. Allah Himself tells us this:
لقد خلقنا الإنسان في كبد
“Certainly, We have created the human being in toil/ pain/ hard labor/ struggle.” (Surat Al-Balad, 4)
3. Alhamdulillah this problem is VERY MINOR, and not central to life or debilitating in any way. Just a small side issue that fades away when you zoom out and look at the totality of my life alhamdulillah. Look at the big picture honestly.
And if I see it correctly and frame it appropriately as the tiny side issue that it is, and intentionally have patience (صبر), I’ll get reward from Allah inshaAllah. This is literally an opportunity for ajr for me! I’m not going to squander it.
4. I’m not a victim. Especially given the smallness of this “problem,” feelings of victimhood stem from a sense of entitlement. I’m not a special snowflake. I’m not a “queen.” I have to have a bit more humility and gratitude.
One of the biggest disasters of the modern world is that people (especially women, let’s face it) have been taught to have wildly unrealistic expectations and overly high standards, which lead to a sense of entitlement and an erasure of humility (تواضع). This leads directly to a distinct feeling of dissatisfaction, a lack of رضى and قناعة (satisfaction, contentment). I’m not going to fall into that. I’d like to be a much more intelligent, wiser wife than this.
5. Shaytan HATES the existence of a happily married believing couple.
عَنْ جَابِرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: إِنَّ إِبْلِيسَ يَضَعُ عَرْشَهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ سَرَايَاهُ فَأَدْنَاهُمْ مِنْهُ مَنْزِلَةً أَعْظَمُهُمْ فِتْنَةً يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ فَعَلْتُ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَيَقُولُ مَا صَنَعْتَ شَيْئًا قَالَ ثُمَّ يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ مَا تَرَكْتُهُ حَتَّى فَرَّقْتُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ امْرَأَتِهِ قَالَ فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهُ وَيَقُولُ نِعْمَ أَنْتَ.
Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Satan places his throne over the water and he sends out his troops. The closest to him in rank are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Satan says: You have done nothing. Another one says: I did not leave this man alone until I separated him from his wife. Satan embraces him and he says: You have done well.”
So Shaytan is constantly whispering to you, coaxing, whining about how this isn’t fair and how that isn’t right. He slyly creates anxiety, paranoia, hysteria, grief, depression about problems that don’t even exist. Or he will greatly exaggerates small issues to make them seem insurmountable and inescapable. He fires you up to think you “deserve more,” are “entitled to” this and that, slowly making you as arrogant and selfish and entitled as himself. He saw himself as better than Adam and wants to make you, similarly, see yourself as better than your husband.
Then you’ll treat your husband with contempt and disdain, disregarding his good qualities and dismissing his kindnesses, which puts you in the category of women who were warned in the hadith about their greater numbers in the Hellfire due to their kufr, يكفرن العشير :
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: ”أُرِيتُ النَّارَ فَإِذَا أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءُ يَكْفُرْنَ.” قِيلَ أَيَكْفُرْنَ بِاللَّهِ قَالَ: ”يَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ، وَيَكْفُرْنَ الإِحْسَانَ، لَوْ أَحْسَنْتَ إِلَى إِحْدَاهُنَّ الدَّهْرَ ثُمَّ رَأَتْ مِنْكَ شَيْئًا قَالَتْ مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْكَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ.”
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.”
It was asked, “Do they disbelieve in Allah?” (or are they ungrateful to Allah?)
He replied, “They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, ‘I have never received any good from you.”
6. Real life is NOT romance novels or romantic comedy movies or Lebanese love songs. Real life has harsh realities, most of which I’ve never faced and am sheltered and protected from by my strong husband. So if there’s a small little thing he doesn’t have the time or energy to do *just so* or *exactly to my liking* maybe, just maybe, I can find it in my heart to excuse the poor man.
7. Life is about tradeoffs and choices.
What would I rather choose? A husband who has literally all my dream qualities and who loves me, with the tiny drawback of [insert your issue here]? Or a husband who doesn’t have this issue but doesn’t have the other amazing qualities? I have to choose one. I can’t have everything. This is what a tradeoff means.
After these seven steps, your heart will soften and your mood will shift inshaAllah. You will inshaAllah come to this conclusion:
I’d choose the marriage I have now with the husband I have now الحمد لله. I’m incredibly blessed, and I’m extremely grateful to Allah and to my husband.
Now, go show that husband your love and appreciation!