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6 tips for Muslim couples dealing with marital disputes in the non-Western world

by Abdul Malik Mujahid

All marriages have problems, minor and major, but there are certain issues, which are common to almost all couples. There are practical ways to deal with them. Here are some of the issues that cause contention amongst couples and possible solutions:

1. Money matters

The desire to become richer or more financially established, to move up the economic ladder is one common to many people, including married couples. As a result, this can cause arguments and disputes about how to earn money, how to spend it and how to invest.

One of the ways to handle this is to simply make an easy budget which tracks expenses and income and establishes a framework for taking care of regular family necessities (see a sample budget for a family). As well, there should be openness, honesty, communication and consultation amongst couples about money issues. This way, families can meet their needs better and ways of improving a couple's financial situation can be discussed more openly and practically once this is put on paper.

2. Your in-laws

In-laws can be great friends or can become one of the most difficult family members to deal with. This is why it is important to keep certain things in mind and do certain things when relating to them so you can avoid some major hassles:

a. Remember that your spouse's parents have known them longer and loved them longer. Never make your spouse choose between you or them.

b. Always treat your in-laws with compassion, respect and mercy.

c. Maintain a balance between your needs and that of your in-laws.

d. Don't interfere in your in-laws relationship. If your mother-in-law has a problem with her husband, let them deal with it.

e. Don't tell your spouse how to improve their relationship with their parents.

f. Remember that mothers are usually skeptical about daughter-in-laws and fathers about son-in-laws.

g. Never compare your wife to your mother or your husband to your dad.

h. Do not go to your parents with your quarrels with your husband or wife, unless the issue is in danger of escalating. Try to solve problems between the two of you.

i. If you are supporting your parents financially inform your spouse as a matter of courtesy and clarity.

j. Do not forbid your spouse from seeing their family unless you fear for their religion and safety.

k.Do not tell other people your spouse and in-laws' secrets.

l. If you do not live with your in-laws, make time to get to know them. For example, invite them over at least twice a month for dinner at your place.

m. If you don't live with your in-laws, encourage your spouse to regularly check up on them.

n. Maintain the Adab (etiquettes) of Islam with your sister- and brother-in-laws (i.e. no hugging or kissing).

o. Give grandparents easy and reasonable access to their grandchildren.

p. Be forgiving and keep your sense of humor.

q. Remember that nobody can interfere or influence your marriage unless you allow them to.

r. If you didn't do this before getting married and moving in with in-laws, do this now: have a serious discussion with all parties present. Expectations and requirements of such a living arrangement must be worked out. Things like money, household chores, etc. should be discussed.

3. Parenting

Instead of fighting about what how your son or daughter needs to be raised, agree on setting an Islamic standard for parenting. You can consult your parents and in-laws, but agree to be open and honest with each other, and be ready to compromise on some issues. Remember, the interest, in the long run, is to raise good Muslim kids. Different methods can be used for this, as long as they are Halal.

(You can check out Sound Vision's parenting page at www.soundvision.com/parenting, for some help).

4. Stress

While things are usually more laid back in non-Western countries, a number of couples still experience a growing amount of stress. This is why there must be some respect for private space of each individual, especially if families are living together. Allowing for private time will help couples individually cope with stress in a way that is suitable for them. The methods can vary, but as long as they are Halal and work, they can be used.

5. Domestic violence

Domestic violence may not always lead to divorce, but it will lead to feelings of hatred between the couple, and children exposed to this are in danger of becoming abusers and/or victims themselves. Get the help of family members to sort out differences. For men, if you feel a fit of rage coming on, leave the house or the situation at least and make Wudu so you can cool off instead of venting your anger and violence against your wife.

6. Lack of domestic skills

While girls are being encouraged to become more educated, duties within the home are being less emphasized. While women are not forbidden from working within Islamic guidelines, and men are encouraged to help with housework, women's primary duty is within the home as a home manager and mother.

As a result of the lack of domestic skills, many married women may find themselves overwhelmed, and their husbands may refuse to help because they have never done that or seen their fathers doing that. Wives need to work out a household plan in cooperation with their husbands. Husbands need to become more compassionate and remember the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) who would help his wives in household chores. Also, mothers and mothers-in-law can help by both sharing housework and teaching daughters and daughters-in-laws skills in a compassionate way. They should try to encourage sons to help as well.

Muslim Social Services Page @ SoundVision

------Some relevant resources:

Buy Gender Equity in Islam
Buy Jamal Badawi
This book presents an effective overview of the status and rights of Muslim women as defined by the Quran and Sunnah.

Buy The Muslim Marriage Guide
By Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
The best book for a key to a happy Marriage, explains what a Muslim should do to make his or her marriage successful!

DVD: The Ideal Muslim Husband
An eye opening DVD documentary for all who are married or planning to get married.

Classes in Domestic Violence

Presentation Request on Domestic Violence

Muslim Wife Burned to Death in Chicago
Chicago Reaction to the Tragedy
Myths & Facts about Domestic Violence
Family Violence Statistics
How to Deal with Your Anger
13 Tips for a Victim
A Guide for Imams to Handle Domestic Violence
11 Tips for Friends of a Victim

SoundVision's Page on Domestic Violence

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Your Comments

ABDULLAH MEMON, PAKISTAN,KARACHI - wrote on 8/10/2003 12:53:21 PM
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Comment: Excellent tips to broaden narrowing hearts between married couples.MASHALLAH,Sent this page to disputing Son-in-Law & Daughter living in Yangon, Myanmar.

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