Marriage has become a kind of ‘trench warfare’ with spouses dug-in on either side of the gender-line. In-between lies ignorance of the “other” as a kind of no-man’s land where insults are traded and frequent devastating assaults are launched. What has happened to the estate of marriage that it has become such a cause of despair for so many these days? If marriage is half the deen of Islam’s revealed requirements and instructions for salvation – i.e., if it is the venue in which Muslims are commanded to implement the comprehensive system of religion as perfected by the prophet – then marriage is a holy institution and should be treated as such. Why then is it profaned by so many? Here are some answers
THE SEVEN BASIC NEEDS OF A WIFE
Your Wife Needs the Stability and Direction of a Spiritual Leader
You are the patriarchal leader she seeks and yearns to depend on for spiritual guidance and vision for your family. Should you fail to provide this guidance, she will naturally be attracted to men who give evidence of spiritually mature leadership. This can manifest as an irksome comparison of you to other men if she does not see you seeking the Wisdom and Will of Allah, because she will mistrust your judgments in deference to theirs and is actually trying to help you by pushing you under their wings. Therefore, you should set yourself firmly in the study of scripture, wisdom and knowledge suitable for your needs in the world, which means in the fellowship of men who do the same.
Realize also that wisdom is learned by experience and not just through sitting, reading, or meditating and praying. The best and greatest wisdom comes by doing, that is, by applying knowledge through work… hard work. Therefore, my advice to ladies in search of mature husbands is to find a man who does not just sit and talk, but who actually works. You can usually tell the honest working wise man by the size of his belly, the strength of his hand, the limits of his speech and the mess in his office or workroom. No mess means no work is being done; a modest belly means discipline, balance and selflessness; a strong steady hand and eye means humility, conscientiousness and attentiveness; and softness of speech means wisdom given in measured words; if he has nothing of worth to say, he says little.
As a safeguard for you and your family, you, the husband, should clearly demonstrate your submission to a man of virtue who is held in high esteem by the community; someone your wife sees you turning to for guidance when perplexity comes knocking at your door. Under this traditional patriarchal structure or better said, divine order, she will feel safe and secure with your husbandry.
The caveat here is that a man without an Imam is a dangerous fellow because of his lack of communal accountability. Women know this instinctively and will remain unsettled or restless in their nests until this Divine order of governance is established in your life.
Therefore, when problems occur that are beyond your ability to solve, she needs to see that you seek the counsel of the wise. This calls you to a life of prayer and authentic companionship with wise and capable men rather than those preoccupied with ritual or the typical one-ups-manship of business, sectarianism or tribalism’s competitive delusion! Prayer is not only an act of ritual cathartic obeisance, it is also the performance of the Will of God after contemplation and meditation (taffakur) upon His precepts; meaning the application of adab to Islam’s deen which begins in the home.
When your wife observes your effort(s) in this direction, it allows her the peace of mind she requires in order to submit to your authority even when you fail, and fail you will. Bearing in mind that success is only born of the trials presented by failure, men who do not admit to failure or to faults are guilty of pride and no one but Allah knows either how proud or humble you are better than your wife and your parents. Therefore, if you desire the perfection of her charms and that she submits to you willingly, piously, courageously and without reservation – especially on those occasions in which you may not explain your directives for unusual motives or requests (such as when Ibrahim left Hajar in the valley of Makkah) – this approach to Spiritual Leadership is absolutely required.
For non-Muslims, the principle is the same because spiritual values governing marital relations are inherent and equally valid despite belief systems. Therefore, to apply this principle is easy. It merely requires that your wife witnesses your own submission to a man she and others in your circle consider wise. This person is, generally speaking, a man whom you respect as a leader of men, a man whose disapproval of your actions and decisions would make you—as well as your family and friends—uneasy or embarrassed.
The short end of this deep seated emotional and spiritually centered principle is this: without your own submission to a man greater than you, or to a fellowship of male peers if you’re an elder, your wife will not be comfortable submitting to your degree of authority which is above her own, even if she obeys you in all things.
Your wife must know that she fulfills vital needs in your life
She is the means by which you draw others to right living and, unfortunately, the inverse is also true. She does this by the public demonstration of her free-willed submission to your leadership and manhood. A wife who does not submit publicly demonstrates that her husband is a weakling and much to his embarrassment, and there are indeed women who take pleasure in this sadistic modality and men who submit to them as masochists. Nevertheless, if taqlid or “blind following” is practiced and you are an innovator of the left hand, then her submission aids you in drawing others to the fires of Hell. Considering that 72 of 73 Muslim sects are ‘people of the fire’ according to Hadith, this should give us all grave cause for concern, especially in view of the dismal innovations in which Muslims generally handle women’s rights.
A wife’s surrender actually validates your authority in the community, and this unique grace of freely-given submission represents the Divine Order of Government and explains why the Prophet taught that no woman should marry against her will or be placed in State authority with power. You must therefore, reciprocate as her husband by acknowledging her unique role in your life and do not allow just any woman to do for you whatever tasks your wife does, including sex, without either her permission or knowledge! Should you do so, it is an act that undermines her self-confidence and standing authority in the fellowship of women in your community and as your consort – which then opens a door for her to be mocked and disrespected. This would be akin to hiring someone for an important executive position and then delegating their duties to someone outside the firm!
If there is another woman in your life or professional-work milieu, make certain she is known to and/or accepted by your wife. Never discuss marital problems with this other lady, and make certain you praise your wife to her. This other woman – including other wives – must make the purpose of your marital responsibilities to each wife their own priority, even to the point of admonishing you should they see you neglect any of them.
As your consort, she should ‒ from time to time ‒ observe that you humble yourself and confess your failures. Seeing this, she will praise your successes even more. Her position as your consort (co-regent) is an intimate extension of your own authority and influence that endorses her uniqueness as your companion in the community and strengthens her sense of identity and purpose. Furthermore, a wife with intact instincts is a natural alarm system given to you by God as a safeguard against persons with wrong motivations, and secondarily, her intuition serves to protect you from making hasty decisions! This latter is because she requires security and consistency in your behavior, and as such, this is a significant aide to the trial of self-discipline and taqua. Furthermore, her uniqueness is magnified by the fact that only she can discern the real needs of your children, hence you should also praise her and thank her for being a good mother. It is therefore beneficial for you to discover those areas of your life in which she uniquely fulfills a need, and then tell her exactly how you depend upon her for these things. Her love for you will be sealed in a continuum of bliss should you take the time and effort to do so.
She needs to see and know that you cherish and delight in her
This is the chief key to the suite of lasting romance and perennial honeymoon renewals! She must know that you hold her with such great regard that you actually praise her to others. She desires and needs to hear you say what it is that you see in her beyond her physical charms. Any number of women can meet your physical needs and she knows this, though she may be too shy to admit it. Here, the matter of import has to do with your joint-destiny. Something besides pheromones drew you to her and it is this quality that transcends the instinctive sexual union. This ‘spiritual’ aspect is the most significant element of your union and has to do with mutual compatibility factors as designed and destined by Allah swt. Her feminine qualities and specific talents help you complete your deen because they complement your own and thus aid the fulfillment of your destiny.
Opposites may attract but all surveys demonstrate that successful marriage depends upon similarities and collective expectations and desires that are shared, whether believers or not. These are the many sympathies and antipathies or likes and dislikes you hold in common and provide avenues for the grace of tolerance and mercy. You must define what these are in terms of her qualities of soul and intellect so that she knows the how and why it is that Allah prepared her and drew you to her and why you keep her as wife and companion! This is the essence of real romance and there is nothing Hollywoodish about it whatsoever.
Mohammad (pbuh) says a man may marry a woman for her religion, wealth, beauty, or social position. A man of discernment who knows his destiny will be able to identify why it is a particular woman is placed in his life. For example, a comely lady of wealth must be made to realize that her generosity on your behalf is a providential opportunity purposely destined to aid the “Cause of God” in your right hand! As wealthy as was Khadijah, all her wealth was gone in the end, having been spent in the Cause of Allah. This is the sunnah dear reader. Or the pious lady of humble means must be made to realize that her submission as wife is the key factor, without which both your destiny and your authority in the community would lose the divine sanction of the community’s validation of your manhood!
Women desire that you rehearse from time to time whatever heavenly signs led you to her life and bed, as well as the qualities of her character (virtues) that keep you there. If she spends your money wisely, praise her! If she has made mistakes, teach her how they have helped her to grow in virtue and your admiration! If she has a limitation, teach her how it helps her to depend on Allah and increase her iman! The romance that follows in the wake of such husbandry and counsel is a delight that rivals Paradise.
Every wife has a deep need to be understood
It is the husband’s responsibility to protect his wife from failure. She needs to know that you understand her well enough to shield her from over-reaching her limitations. This means you must set her boundaries proactively out of concern rather than the neglectful reaction that always follows an error you should have avoided! To do this, you must help her to understand her strengths and weaknesses, and give firm but loving guidance. For example, you should stop her from taking any position for which she is not qualified or one that would be detrimental to your household’s peaceful integrity. She may test you in this area, so do not give or permit whatever she may ask without careful consideration. It is advisable to postpone judgment on the matter, even if it means feigning consideration of the request! If you grant her every desire, she will become insecure because you lack the courage to say no! If you do not stand your ground, you will generate a petulant shrew that becomes a beautiful pebble in your shoe.
It is of the utmost importance for you to realize that if another man understands her more than you do, she will be susceptible to his advances! So it is wise to study your wife and learn to read her well, so that you may honor her strengths and protect her from her limitations. This is a serious responsibility and should you ignore this warning, she will feel neglected, taken for granted, and not truly appreciated; all of which are open doors to divorce or even adultery for which she would be blamed, when in fact, it is you who invited the grievous default or sin by failing in your responsible diligence as her imam.
Your wife needs you to enjoy intimate conversations with her.
Intimate communication with her husband is a wife’s most basic need and has everything to do with your covenant’s confirmation. The touching of tongue to ear is where hearts dance the tango. This converse mixes the mortar that joins and holds the bricks in place as you build your Mosque together. You are the brick mason who mixes the cement of your sincerity and guidance with the sand of her many detailed concerns and observations. You must remove the rocks and stones of her worries with the filter of an attentive ear and understanding heart filled with patience. These requirements demand diligent craftwork so that the grit of her anxiety is filtered in order to smooth the blend for a fine joining and finish. Women are naturally chary and seek the solace of security in your manhood, which is, in this respect, more like fatherhood for her.
She is more than willing to be sifted by the sincere eye of your soul and manly intelligence. For her this is a vital component of foreplay in the art of lovemaking: a most solemn matter in the eyes of a woman! Without the resultant admixture of your understanding, guidance, consolation and at times directives, her desire to be manhandled by you is diminished. Over time, if this is the case, you neglect of intimate conversation will cause your Mosque of Romance to either collapse or become dilapidated for want of the maintenance of this crucially concrete and metaphysical process! She will eventually fail to take you and your needs either seriously or in a positive and constructive context, because you have not balanced her soul on the scale of this essential trial of her equality with you. Her graceful devotion and delightful submission to you depends almost exclusively upon this component of intimacy; because she measures your love for her, not by your wallet, but by your heart’s ability and desire to hear, appreciate, and at times, critique the song of her soul. Sometimes this song is dissonant and incompatible with yours. This calls for patience and tolerance of a thing you do not like. Notwithstanding this truth, when the soul-songs of each partner cannot harmonize on a continuum, it is a sign of a poor match and irreconcilable differences for which pristine Islam makes divorce easy. There is no middle ground unless you both choose to ignore the fitrah Allah has placed in your hearts. In this case, a certain mundane pall of silent conspiracy enters the bond, and reigns until death. Many marriages suffer this God-forsaken malady, wherein potency is surrendered to ritual and hypocrisy is king.
Your wife needs to know you are aware of her presence even when you are preoccupied
This is the quality that won her heart to begin with, and gave assurance to her friends and family that you would be a good husband. A wife is like a moon that revolves around the planet of her husband’s destiny. She measures your awareness of her as a test of her importance in your life and the effects of her gravitational pull on you. Be careful not to ignore or dismiss her carelessly! This test is an assessment of your manners (etiquette) and qualifies you as her specific gentleman champion, because love (kindness) always has good manners, always defends and defers, and never insults – a lady.
Do you help her with the heavy work; do you refrain from bad language; do you introduce her properly; do you inform her of your activities in a timely fashion; do you keep yourself clean and well groomed? In all these things she is looking for the consistent proof of the respect implied by the phrase ‘I love you’. Your acknowledgement in all these and more sets her firmly in orbit around your life for the time appointed by Allah SWT. Furthermore, your own honor and delight depend upon your proportional response to and manners in the presence of her gravitations!
She will often approach you while you are occupied as a test of her priority in the affairs of your life. Do not ignore her! Even if all you can afford is a loving glance or gentle touch, offer it in recognition of her status, then excuse yourself and return to your work. If her intrusion is important, she will somehow let you know. Stop your work and attend to her with patient sincerity. A few such episodes are sufficient to pass the test and secure her sense of self-respect in the circumambulation of your mateship with her as your equal and most intimate companion. You will not regret it!
In addition, the example of this protocol of impressive courtesy endorses the holiness good manners of marriage in the eyes of your peers and superiors. It sends a clear message to all that your union with this woman is not only yours but also Allah’s top priority in your living out the deen. When she sees the Divine Underwriter of our fate confirming this message as broadcast abroad by your deeds of recognition and honor on her behalf, her willingness to enslave herself to your destiny simply blossoms: increasing her courage, devotion, and loyalty by the grace of your loving diplomacy, which in turn confirms your own guidance by the Right Hand of Allah. All of this further endorses your position in the Ummah as a man of genuine authority. Remember, the endorsement of your authority in the community begins with her confirmation of and willing submission to – your manhood in its entirety. People measure a man’s quality of soul, intellect and authoritative abilities by the measure given to him by his spouse(s).
Your wife needs you to promote her talents and gifts
Study her; learn her aptitudes and talents then encourage her to fulfill her ambitions with these in mind. Make provision and time for her to nurture her dreams as they flow into the stream of your own river of destiny. Applaud her responsibilities and find ways to expand them within reasonable limits, so that she can visualize a future value for what she is presently doing. If she is a good seamstress, buy her the best machine you can afford. If she wants to learn, make a way for her education. If she has a sound aptitude for business or administration, seek a way for her so she may enter that world under the guidance of your watchful eye. Make it a point to demonstrate your approval and authority in the matter in the presence of her friends, family, and associates; so that all may observe she is clearly under your wing. In this way, both she and they will feel secure.
You must be her chief management consultant, even if she is in an area beyond your expertise. She needs your guidance not in the affairs of her business, but as a rod of governance in her affairs with other people in order to protect her from overstepping the bounds of reason and her own limitations. Make certain that her ambitions complement your marriage as a prime priority, so that the Cause of God given to your domain remains administered by you and none other.
If your wife is to graciously submit to your guidance and perfect your manhood, you also must submit yourself to the tasks of fulfilling her needs. Meeting these basic needs is your chief responsibility as her husband and is also the essence of adab of justice as her Imam and Wali, which is the true meaning of the Prophet’s command to treat your wives with justice! So stop counting the money you spend and weigh your knowledge of her instead. If you lack the contemplative capacity to administer this justice, you are not qualified for polygamous leadership though you have wealth enough to provide sustenance for several wives. Most men cannot do what is described above for one wife. This lack of husbandly prudence is a chief reason that monogamy is the accepted and promoted norm, and also why illicit sex is a common outlet for the polygamous proclivity of most males. Customarily, men do not want to be bothered with relationship at this level because it’s too much work, and today’s boy-men would much rather play games.
The most obvious reason is their lack of submission to the Will of God, as evidenced by the gross disobedience and injustice (lack of adab) that blankets the earth’s surface with sin. Most Muslims even consider adab to be the politically correct hypocrisy of superfluous social etiquette and religious ritual, so common amongst the Malay set for example. However, the lack of marital wisdom ‒ that is, the implementation of justice by husbands towards their women (wives and daughters) ‒ is the cause of the many failures to execute both monogamous and polygamous models successfully, and by extension, this is also a major contributing factor to overall social injustices, most especially in the Muslim milieu.
If a man is not plugged-in to God’s Wisdom and grace through Prayer and Submission via obedience and knowledge, the marriage will fail or flounder in low tide upon beaches or rocks of tradition. Such a marriage will never set sail upon the sea of God’s Purpose and Cause because he is an unqualified Captain. It follows also that if a woman has a Godly husband ‒ “Godly” meaning much more than merely religious ‒ but she does not willingly submit to him, then God’s Word will cut off her marriage to him and remove her from his life! This was the case of King David and the daughter of Saul for example. These spiritual laws cannot be circumvented.
When an unmarried woman sees a man’s wisdom reflected in his demeanor and especially by the joy of his lawful wife, she will be naturally drawn to him and will willingly submit even as mistress or undisclosed wife because of the present miscarriage of God’s justice in the earth regarding marriage. Therefore, do not be alarmed any longer at the number of such liaisons, because it is the natural order that has been supplanted by mankind’s departure from truth. The psychobabble of the last three generations cannot apologize for the existence of family disorder outside of God’s Laws.
Therefore, consider these seven metaphysical laws that govern the headship of your role as husband (Imam and Wali). If you take these realities to heart, rest assured your wife or wives will submissively follow you in peaceful security and without the threat of disloyalty in any way. She/They will praise you to friends and delight you continually in ways many men can only dream of. Your own dignity as God’s Slave will be raised to heights not thought possible, because she/they will do everything possible to see that your ambitions are fulfilled and your fantasies realized. Most importantly of all, Allah will praise you for the manner in which you have received and cherished the precious gift of His incomparable love, for it is incarnate in your wife.
NEXT: WISDOM FOR WIVES
Category: Essays to the Contrary, ISLAM, Sexuality, Sexuality & Human Development, Sexualization & MarriageTags: accountability, authority, Cause of Allah, communication, conversation, Discipline, family disorder, foreplay, good manners, guidance, holiness, intuition, justice, Mosque of Romance, other women, patience, Patriarchy, Piety, protection, Spiritual Leadership, Submission, taffakur, taqlid, tradition, understanding, unmarried women, wealth