Almighty Allah enjoins a man and a woman in marriage, a union so beautiful in every way. Admittedly, it’s not always a bed of roses. Cultivating joy in your marriage is a daily challenge. It takes unconditional love, dedication, commitment, kindness and a tremendous amount of respect and understanding to maintain a joyful marriage.

It all starts with respectfully listening to understand, rather than listening to reply.

Strategies to Cultivate Joy in Your Marriage

1. Look your spouse in the eye when you communicate. There is no barrier when you are together. Looking in the eye when communicating reaffirms your commitment and caring nature.

2. Listen to the reply when she/he speaks. REALLY LISTEN. Do not formulate a response while she/he is speaking. Do not interrupt.

3. Give undivided attention to each other. Multi-tasking is a wonderful skill but NOT when you are communicating with your spouse.

4. Ask each other this question: “What matters to you most in life?”. Knowing what matters most to your spouse helps you understand what you can do to fulfil his/her wishes.

5. Speak well about the people who matter to your spouse. If you speak ill about people who matter to him/her, it is hurtful. Causing your spouse hurt will eventually turn the relationship sour.

6. Respect each other’s fears and sentiments. Fear is very real to the person experiencing it. You do not have to encourage it, but you need to show the sensitivity to the person experiencing it.

7. Do not bring up past arguments/ negative events when addressing a new issue. Be clear from the beginning of any discussion that the topic of discussion is to remain a specific one and you both need to respect that rule.

8. Thank your spouse regularly. Expressing gratitude increases positivity in your relationship.

9. Emphasise each other’s good points. Dwelling on mistakes or negative traits will only put stress on your relationship. You both may slip every now and then too. Say sorry, forgive, and move on.

10. Say salaam. When leaving for work, exchange Salaams and a loving hug. There is no shame in hugging your spouse

11. Spend COUPLE TIME at least once a week where you are by yourselves for a couple of hours to share an activity you both love.

12. Follow Allah’s commandment that the husband is the guardian of the family. The wife is created equal and has different responsibilities. Following this commandment increases harmony in the home. Disharmony creeps in when these roles are reversed.

13. Be content with life and all that your spouse is doing for you. Express gratitude to Allah. If you want more from life, ask Allah instead of nagging or complaining to your spouse.

14. Compliment. Admire one another. Pay a compliment.

15. Protect each other’s honour. Guard it fiercely. Do not speak ill of your spouse to another person. If the matter is serious and your spouse’s behaviour concerns you, seek appropriate, professional help. Badmouthing will not fix your marriage.