Before Marriage Spouse

Successful Marriages: Part III

Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad

Read Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Problem Number Two: Marriage Makes Me Happy

The second major problem that people fall into – and there was a fifteen year study done in the West [on this] – 95% of people said, “[I had] the same amount of happiness before marriage, as…I have after marriage.”  [Thus, the second problem] is the idea that marriage is going to make me happy.

One brother came to me and said, “Akhi, I just need Khadija, man.  I just need Khadija!  If I have Khadija, everything’s going to be all right.”

I said, “Really?  Then you be Muhammad, brother, and she’ll be Khadija.  You be Muhammad, you’ll find Khadija.”

The idea that “If I get married…” – and also parents [who think] “Oh, all we have to do is get them married. Oh, she got a B+ on her exam, oh got to get her married.” [They think] marriage is like Harry Potter: *bing* and everything’s fine.  Again, that goes back to a misunderstanding of how things work in Islam and in life in general.  I’m going to get married, I’ll be happy.

Of course, there’ll be initial happiness.  There’ll be the initial happiness of companionship, of a physical relationship – let’s be honest – being together, spending time with a woman or a man.  You’ll feel happy; you’ll feel that you protected your deen (religion).  But after that, man, they’re waking up with dirty breath and nappy hair.

He’s going to leave his clothes on a chair.  She might burn the biryani.  All that happens.  So that [initial happiness] is going to disappear after a while.  Marriage doesn’t make you happy, but your investment and the time you spend to build a healthy family makes you happy.  The work, the cultivation – that’s why the believers are called muflihoon, from the word fallah (farmer).  We have some farmers in the south of Egypt called fallahoon (and also in all of Oklahoma).  And they call them fallahoon because they’re famers, because they cultivate.  Why did Allah call the believers muflihoon?  Because they cultivate this dunya (world) to harvest the akhira (hereafter).  So you’ve got to cultivate your marriage.

Don’t come into the marriage, brother, at the age of 25 thinking everything’s going to work.  You’re going to have to be patient.

I remember, wallahi (I swear by Allah), a brother got married once, he said,

“Everything is fine except she eats too much.”

I said, “Come on, brother.”

He said, “I didn’t know.”

I said, “What?  You didn’t think they eat?  They just walk around and clean the house, make you happy and don’t eat food?”

He said, “I forgot about that part.  I got to buy food.”

[Or a] sister comes and says, “You know, I didn’t know that men smell sometimes.”

Come on, sister.

And that might sound funny but these are the things that need to be talked about in these conferences because all of us have questions that we’re scared to ask because of the barriers set up in our communities of self-righteousness.  If I were to tell you the two main reasons people get divorced, you would ask the board to fire me.  Number one is money, and number two starts with an ‘S’ and ends with an ‘X’.

Yes!  I’ll be honest with you.  Physical relationships.  But can you even engage that in the Muslim community on a private level?  You better because problems are boiling over.  Pornography in homes: 25% of marriages in America are destroyed because of pornography.  So that tells you there’s a problem that needs to be addressed and the job of fuqaha’ (jurists) and ’ulama’ (scholars) is to deal with the issues – to engage problems with adab (manners) and with akhlaaq (morals).

Problem Number Three: There’s No Conflict in Our Marriage

“Oh, there’s going to be no conflict in our marriage.” The idea that we could be fighting, man, we could have fights all morning long, but then there’s no conflict in our house.  Deal with problems. Deal with problems.  Deal with problems.  Engage them, don’t ignore them.  Because what happens with that teapot [when] you try to hold it down?  After awhile what happens?  It explodes.  And how many of us know couples who one of them held things in for years, and after something set them off, the marriage was ruined.  I know a situation right now – not in this community – where this is happening.  It’s not funny. Seven years he held some things in his heart.  Seven years!

Forgiveness [is important] but not forgiveness as a blank check; forgiveness with responsibility.  Why [is it that] men who beat women are the nicest men to their women after they beat them?  To get over that feeling of beating them.  So that’s why psychologists say don’t forgive them for beating you.  Same thing – I know brothers that have been beaten by women.  And we have to be very careful that the feminist narrative is not sneaking into our community where we cater to the women and ignore the brothers, because a wife has to obey her husband if he’s doing his job.  He is the Imam of the house.

One sister came and told me, “My Imam is So and So.”

I said, “No he is not.  Your Imam is your husband.”

She said, “What?”

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “Well I don’t want…”

I said, “Then I’m telling that brother not to marry you.  Go marry So and So.”

She said, “Well, if that’s the case then he is my Imam.”

I said, “Yeah, he is your Imam.”

So we have to be very cautious here.  There are conditions, there is a unique balance there, but brothers are getting hit hard by the feminist narrative as well from John Wayne to Homer Simpson.  The man has been destroyed in Western society and now it’s seeping into the Muslim community.  These are the representatives of the Prophet (s).  You are the representatives of the Prophet (s).  These brothers have an honorable sharaf ’inda Allah (honor with Allah).  So we have to be very cautious about that, that in these types of conferences we don’t cater to women and ignore that brothers have a right from their wives to obey them, if those brothers fulfill certain conditions.  We don’t have to make our families like Western families.  We have our own identity as Muslims.  That identity is perfectly acceptable in the West, but it’s unique.  We’re not liberals.  We’re not going to cast everything aside from the Qur’an and Sunnah to please Michael Eric Dyson.  No.  We have our own identity and that says the man is the leader of the household if he fulfills certain conditions and rights.  Not an oppressor.  Not an oppressor, but a just leader who takes the time to listen to his wife and his family.  So don’t come into a family thinking we’re not going to have conflicts.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

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  • Once again, Jazak’Allahu Khairan for this series on marriage. So many great points that we can all learn from, whether single or married. It’s so true, we think its going to be all hunky-dory (all good), not just in the begininning, but for much longer. Yes, that idea about holding something from inside is also a big issue – that can always be an issue in any relationship such as friendship (which I guess should also be a component of a marriage). Anyways, again, thanks so much for these articles.

  • AsSalaamu Alaikum, I’m really happy Alhamdulillah that marriage is such a big and intense topic spoken about. Unfortunately I’m missing Fiqh of Love this weekend but Alhamdulillah I’m glad the opportunity is there, inshaAllah I can persuade my professors to schedule tests around these classes. lol. JazkAllahu Khairun for posting this article and transcribing the lecture.

  • yeah, i had those delusions when I was young but I spent time with a young family with in-laws.
    My cousin was the wife and I loosely related to husband as well. Spent a couple of weeks them
    and saw marriage is not easy. Both had to work really hard and little furstations would build and then they each would work trying to solve those frustation by the end of the night. Marriage is not easy and my cousin is the most laid back person in the world and she had problems. I sympathize with both of them; my cousin cause she’s my cuz; my sis; i grew up with her. Her husband because he think and acts almost exactly like I do. They have happy marriage but the work; is enormus. I didn’t realize marriage was going to be that much work. You live; you learn; it never was a rose garden.

  • I had read that the wife only has to “obey” the husband in matters relating to his rights? Does she have to make him a 7 course dinner if he tells her to? I mean, I know the husband should be understanding, but does she have to do this? I had heard in several spheres/shuyukh that she only has to “obey” him for matters in which she has rights to him.

    I know that she is to recognize him as leader of the household, but what I mean is that does she literally have to do everything he says or else she is disobeying him?

  • What?? marriage aint gonna make me happy??? thats marriage out the door! lol
    I found this series on marriage to be one of the most beneficial posts on this site! I just wish we had the audio…May Allah reward you both with everlasting HAPPY marriages!!

  • Mash’allah very beneficial and real article.

    Marriage is for sure hard hard work but I swear by Allah, if we are patient, Allah will pull us out of whatever conflict we think is just the biggest thing we ever faced.

    I know a dear sister whose husband has to travel alot for work and she is alone w/ their child for alot of the time. She has realized how she can step back and see how at certain times Allah is just testing her and once she turns to Him, things get easier and sort themselves out.

  • AsSalaamu Alaikum,

    I finished listening to the audio for this transcribed post. Alhamdulillah. JazakAllahu Khairun for such insightful words. Interestingly in dealing with marriage I find myself in similar situations. The lecture has shed light on my problem, especially with being involved within the community. May Allah guide us through these endeavors inshaAllah. JazakAllahu khairun.

  • It is hard to marry an almost complete stranger. Marriage is so intimate. Forget expectations of perfection, there is an expection of some degree of comfort, companionship, physical closeness, and liking, friendship. It is very difficult to be lonely outside of marriage, but it is intolerable to be lonely year after year, decade after decade, inside of marriage. This is the one part of implementing Islam that is really uncomfortable. Just to add, I think women require much more sustained emotional/friendship/nonphysical interaction as a prelude/prerequisite of enjoying/getting fulfiled from physical contact than men understand, or seem to care to understand. This would help a lot of marriage in sha Allah if these two aspects of married life were seen to be linked.

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