Amidst all the hoopla of marrying a relative (or complete!) stranger, settling into (an often complicated) new family life with its own sets of rules and norms, navigating the ups and downs of daily life and juggling with the day to day burdens of raising a family, it is often easy to get sucked up into practicalities and forget the romance in marriage, specially after the first few months of the ‘honeymoon period’. Not to mention, being part of a culture, where romance between a husband and wife is more frowned upon than the romancing of a couple on TV.
However, sweet moments between spouses abound in the Sunnah of Rasool Allah (saws) and the Sahaba (ra) . While Hollywood and social media conjure up images of fancy trips and scrumptious meals in exotic settings, most of us may not be able to afford these (more so in light of the aforementioned burdens of raising a family!). Here are some completely free or relatively affordable ideas to keep that spark alive ten, twenty or even fifty years down the line!
- Start simple. Dress up for each other every day. Nothing over the top is needed, just taking the time for some basic grooming, a shower and fresh clothes, perfume. All these are sunnahs and make your spouse feel not only more attracted to you but also gives them a sense of importance. While in our society, this burden usually lies on the woman, it’s actually a two way street.
- Go for a walk – or for the more adventurous folks out there, a hike- in the mornings or on weekends. This one serves as a double whammy! Not only does being in nature improve mood and health, the exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Have long, deep heart to heart conversations while you’re feeling relaxed and the whole thing makes for a good bonding session, keeping the love alive!
- Learn each other’s love language. If you haven’t heard of The Five Love Languages, firstly, what rock are you living under? And secondly, read up on it. You don’t need to buy the book, just do some googling. The main idea is that everyone has a different love language, which is the way we receive love. Many times (or maybe every single time!), we have a different way of expressing love than our spouse, and we tend to look towards the other person to do the same. Which isn’t very effective because that isn’t how they perceive love. This is how star crossed romances are born!
- Travel! Travel doesn’t have to be exotic or expensive, just hop in your car or take a cab and go to the nearest affordable place you can visit. It can be the beach in Karachi, the ruins of Mohenjo-daro or the cool serenity of the hills up north. Just take some time out and have an adventure. Early in our marriage, my husband and I took a long bus ride from Islamabad to Karachi (where my family lives) stopping in at four or five cities along the way, staying at relatives or finding cheap accommodation. After years, and having finally been able to afford a couple of international trips together, we still remember that trip fondly. It made us grow as a couple and bond over new experiences.
- Have a mini staycation. Don’t have money to travel? No worries. Just lock your house, make sure you are stocked up on food supplies, turn off your screens and just spend some needed one on one time. Get back in touch and in sync. Talk about your feelings or simply snuggle. Do whatever it takes for you to get back into the groove as a couple, reconnecting on as many levels as need be.
- They say the way to a man’s heart is via his stomach. I say it goes both ways! Try different cuisines together, cook for each other, plan and make an ambitious meal together or just walk around eating local street food. If you don’t feel like eating, lie in bed together and watch MasterChef! Either way, culinary adventures await.
- It’s sunnah to give gifts and no wonder. It can really promote feelings of love between a couple. Get creative and personal when giving gifts. Put some thought in it. It really is the thought that counts! Also, you don’t need an occasion to give a gift – springing a surprise ‘just because’ gift is much more fun.
- Write letters/emails/cards to each other. I really feel letter writing has unfortunately become a lost art in today’s world of social media. I still have the letter my husband gave me at our Nikkah. Make time to pen one down every few months or even years. If there is something you have difficulty expressing verbally, write it down. Randomly pen down notes, expressing your love and appreciation for the other.
- Sometimes you just need to unwind and relax in front of a screen (and let your mind turn to mush…just saying!) and luckily we have halal entertainment options now in the form of Turkish dramas like Ertugrul and Payitaht, which also serve as history lessons. Other halal options are documentaries, food shows, home renovation shows. Just pick your vice of choice and zone out. Ahem, I mean tune in.
- Give each other a massage. After dealing with work, house chores and children all day, it’s nice to just give each other a back massage or a foot rub. Turn down the lights, light some candles and massage away. If you really want to get fancy, hunt up some nice smelling oils and make it a spa-like experience!