Editor’s Note: These responses have been lightly edited for clarity and structure.
When it comes to building a life with a partner, we often spend a lot of time planning for the wedding and surrounding events. But it’s the “ever after” that is really the crux of the life we build together with our spouse.
Marriage isn’t easy – that’s the understatement of the millennium. However, it can be so, so worth it. We asked married (and divorced) women what advice they have to share when it comes to creating a respectful, happy, loving marriage. And while there’s no standard or secret formula, many of you had great things to share, some of which were repeated multiple times! Pro tip as shared by many of you: Engage in premarital counseling!
So, let's get into it!
Nafeesah Z – Accept Each Other for Who They Are
Accept each other for who they are. DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE one another. That is when disaster strikes. Especially when marrying into another culture. Allah (S) put those characteristics in that person for a reason. If you try to break it, you will break the person and the marriage. If Allah (S) is not the lead and deen is not first in your marriage, it will fail.
Safia Dahhan – Respect is Most Important
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I have been happily married for 10 years, Alhamdulillah. When I look back at the naive young Safia who was about to get married in 2013, I think of how different I feel now to that person now. I think as young women, we [often] go into marriage thinking it'll be a fairytale, oblivious to the ups and downs of what "real" marriage is. We all want that happily ever after, which is quite understandable.
When it came to deciding whether I should marry my now husband or not, I got caught up in what people would think. Does he match up to me in looks, status, heritage and so on? However, what was essential and what has kept our relationship strong for the past 10 years is RESPECT. I felt that from day one, and I often follow my intuition.
Make sure the person you choose as a life partner respects you, first and foremost. Everything after that – be it wealth, kids, career or owning a house – comes in due time. But make sure the foundations of marriage are built on respect.
Kawther W. – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I was married for 13 years. One piece of advice I would give newlyweds [and married couples in general] is to not sweat the small stuff and know which battles to fight. Not everything is worth an argument. Also, try not to involve others in your marriage. You may resolve things, but the person you complain to [about your spouse] will always see [him or her] as what you said about them, so it’s better to try and not to at all.
Also, surround yourself with people who will call you out on your wrong doings, not those who will support everything you do or say. Take marriage counseling before marriage if needed, and remember to have faith in Allah (S) first and foremost. Base your marriage around Allah (S).
Nozrin Laskar – Show Kindness & Grace to Each Other and Yourselves
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1. It’s not you versus. him, but rather you AND him versus the problem at hand. Learn to fight together as a team. It will take time and skill to get to this point. But when you do, conflict and resolution will be smoother.
2. We are constantly evolving and maturing as we carve out our time on this Earth. Your partner is too. You will learn to fall in love with new versions of your spouse, as they will with you. You won't like them every day. And that is normal and okay.
3. Marriage is incredibly beautiful, but it is not easy. It requires hard work and commitment. Every day you will learn something new about your partner. They, too, will learn about you. Show them kindness and grace. Don't forget to also show yourself kindness and grace.
4. Listen to and respect each other. Honor each other's space. Lead by example.
5. It’s OK to financially contribute to your household or even be the sole bread earner. Do not forget who Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was and how she used her finances to aid those around her.
6. If your spouse is a revert, be patient and supportive. The best thing you can do is encourage their journey and celebrate their victories. Allah (S) is Creator and Turner of hearts.
Maryam H. – Set the Standards & Expectations From the Beginning
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My one marriage advice would be to set the standards and expectations from your husband and for yourself from the very beginning of marriage. This saves a lot of miscommunication and headaches later on.
Noor Suleiman, HH Marketing Manager – Remember, You Are on the Same Team
I think the key is, aside from being romantic partners, being best friends with your husband, because romance is only like 5-10 percent of your marriage. The rest is day-to-day management, and sometimes can get mundane as you go about your daily routines. Find something that’s your thing, that you both do together and look forward to. Bonus if you try new things together; the excitement of something new is always so fun and brings people closer!
At the same time, make sure you have time for yourself and your friends once in a while too. Let each other miss each other. Distance, even if for a few hours, can make the heart grow fonder.
This piece of advice was given to me by a friend of mine when I got married and has stuck with me since: Always remember, at the end of the day, that you are both on the same team.
Learn how to fight. You WILL fight. And sometimes, you will fight often. Learning how to fight maturely can turn those moments into learning and growth opportunities for your relationship. If you’re really in the heat of it, keep your language about the problem and don’t take digs on each other as people. Words aren’t easily forgotten.
Also, never stop working on yourself. Be so secure in who you are that your husband only compliments you and adds to your life, he shouldn’t be the keeper of your entire value (as perceived by you). A woman who knows who she is is worth more than gold.
And finally, no one changes unless they want to and are motivated to. Don’t expect to change your spouse. This is something to think about when making your choice for your life partner.
What marriage advice do you have to share? Share with us in the comments below!