Marriage is considered half of faith in Islam and with good reason. Your spouse can make or break you spiritually.
With all kinds of daily commitments, work, school, kids and more, couples today are under more stress than ever before. This is why our personal relationship with God often ends up taking a back seat to life's mundane tasks. Here are nine ways husbands and wives can help each other reconnect with Allah and each other.
1. Give the gift of spiritual time
Once couples marry, and especially after having children, time seems to vanish daily into thin air. Life becomes a rush of routine and we start to live on autopilot instead of reminding ourselves that our every moment counts and that we are accountable to God for each one. This is why one of the best ways to boost your husband or wife's spirituality is to simply give them time. This can be just half an hour in the evening or in the morning after Fajr to really connect with Allah by reading Quran, praying some extra prayers or working on a community project. By offering this gift, consider that you will be rewarded yourself.
2. Call/email/text message him/her to remind them it's time to pray
Many husbands and wives check in with each other throughout the day, just to see how things are going. Why not save the call for when you're about to pray? Injecting a spiritual reminder amid the mundane comments and inside jokes is a simple way to remind your spouse to remember Allah in less than five minutes.
3. Hold the baby while s/he's praying
Focusing during the five daily prayers, is a daunting task, even if you're in a place with no distractions. Now imagine trying to do it with a squealing baby or wriggling toddler in your arms. While the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, regularly demonstrated his mercy towards small children in prayer by not shooing them away or shouting at them to stay quiet, it would offer a great spiritual boost if each spouse could take turns watching the kids so the other one can get at least one prayer a day with fewer distractions than usual.
4. Babysit while s/he attends Islamic programs or volunteers for a good cause
Spiritual upliftment isn't just about isolating oneself in the practice of Aitekaf in Ramadan, for example, or waking up alone to pray the night prayer. It's also about service to the community and doing things that will benefit others. That's why watching the kids so that your spouse can attend or run an Islamic class, plan a mosque open house or organize the next fundraising dinner is so crucial as an act of spiritual support. If a parent knows that his or her kids are in good hands, that makes offering his/her time and talents for the community so much easier.
5. Wake him/her up for Tahajjud (the night prayer) and pray together
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "May Allah bless the man who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up his wife and who, if she refuses to get up, sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah bless the woman who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up her husband and who, if he refuses, sprinkles water on his face." The Prophet also said: "If a man wakes his wife and prays during the night or they pray two Rakas (units of prayer) together, they will be recorded among those who (constantly) make remembrance of Allah." (Abu Dawud).
6. Exercise while remembering Allah together
Instead of whining about how much weight your wife or husband has gained in the last few years, spend 10 minutes daily five days a week to take a quick walk while remembering Allah. You can say the Names of Allah as you walk, glorify Him (say Subhaan Allah), praise Him (say Alhamdu lillah) or remind each other of His greatness (say Allahu Akbar).
7. Take turns being the teacher
Don't leave all of the teaching about Islam to one parent. Take turns telling stories, teaching the kids how to read the Quran or taking them to the mosque and Islamic programs. This mutual involvement cements the team spirit of a couple and the family as a whole.
8. Take responsibility for the household
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was well known for helping his family out with the daily chores. While many men are getting better at following his example by helping out around the house more, there is plenty of room for improvement. The key is to offer help that may be small but is consistent. Husbands and older children can give their wives/mothers more spiritual time by, for example, washing the dishes after dinner, relieving mom of this task permanently. The time spent sudsing can instead be used to catch up on Islamic reading material, for example.
9. Pray and make Dua together
If you don't already do this, make it a house rule that if both spouses are at home, prayer must be performed in congregation. ?The family that prays together stays together? is not just bumper sticker fodder. It's wise advice. At least once a week, follow this up with a short, collective Dua, praying for your not just your individual concerns, but also your hopes, dreams and worries as a couple. Sharing life goals and praying for them is a powerful way to cement your relationship to God and each other.