By Amreen Rehman – An MBA graduate from Pakistan’s top business school
“Where are you these days? No messages! No phone calls! You are always busy with work and have no time for your wife!” I angrily said to my husband, who had just gotten back after a long, busy workday, but as always, he ignored me, banged the door, and left the room.
Does this sound familiar?
It means that you have been married for almost a year and love has vanished from your life. Honeymoon days are over, and all that’s left are days full of complaints and emptiness. We are often stuck in such a relationship and passively accept this as being part of the highs and lows of married life. Married now for almost two years, I, too, had become a victim of this and secretly wished for some miracle to happen, which could take us back to the Lalaland of love. Day and night, frustrating thoughts haunted me about my deteriorating relationship, when suddenly I came across a new dimension of love, which played a crucial role in getting my relationship back on track. Shaykh Abdullah Hasan explains this beautiful concept of the ‘five languages of love’ (introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman).
Love is a language, which needs to be understood for a healthy marriage. Shaykh Abdullah Hasan (Imam/Khateeb of Masjid Ibrahim, London and an Islamic advisor at Nour Domestic Violence charity) identifies five love languages that people universally display. He explains how people can identify their primary love language, and how best to express that in the various contexts. People are different and feel loved in different ways; knowing your spouse’s language of love would save you from exerting efforts in the wrong direction. For example, you would stop spending hours in the kitchen trying to cook special meals, if you realize that words of affirmation please your spouse more.
Below are some reflections from the Sunnah, on how the Prophet (sa) demonstrated his love to his wives, based around the five love languages presented by Abdullah Hasan.
1. Words of Affirmation – Express Your Feelings Verbally
The words we use to express our appreciation for our spouse are of immense importance. Complimenting your spouse, thanking each other for small favours, leaving small love notes would surely please your spouse, if this is their primary language of love. It is very important to tell your spouse that you love them. Men in our society find it difficult to say ‘I love you’ simply because of the way they have been brought up. On the contrary, in Islam, this is the basis of chivalry and manhood, as taught by the beloved Prophet (sa).
The Prophet (sa) was once asked by Amr Ibn Al-As (rta): “O Messenger of Allah, who do you love the most?” The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “Aisha.” Amr (rta) then asked: “And amongst the men?” The Prophet (sa) then said: “Her father.” (Bukhari)
He showed his love even in her absence. Subhan’Allah! Note how the Prophet (sa) said “her father” and related the answer back to his beloved, even though he was asked about whom he loved the most among the men.
The Prophet (sa) was soft-spoken. He would never raise his voice or his hands on his wives. This is why the wives of the Prophet (sa) all said that they would not want to spend their time with anyone else except him.
2. Acts of Service – Show Your Love Through Actions
Some people find pleasure in doing small things for others. This means that they feel loved, when their partners help in small chores like ironing the clothes, helping in the kitchen, etc. The Prophet (sa) would sew his own clothes, sweep the floor, repair his shoes, service himself (without asking his wives), etc.
Another way of showing your spouse love is beautifying yourself for them. Ibn Abbas would always brush his hair and make sure his appearance was pleasing before entering his home. He would say: “Just as I would like my wife to be beautiful for me, I like to look beautiful for her.” (At-Tirmidhi)
3. Receiving Gifts
Giving gifts is one of the primary actions of expressing love. If your spouse’s language of love is gift-giving, you should make them feel loved by giving gifts on Eids and other special occasions. Even such simple gifts as a homemade cake, card or flowers will convey your love. Little things mean a lot and can totally change your relationship.
Aisha (rta) said: “The people were waiting for Aisha’s (rta) day to give their gifts, wanting by this to please the Prophet (sa).” (Muslim)
4. Quality Time – Give Your Undivided Attention
It is extremely important for a couple to enjoy quality time with one another, especially after having children. This time can be utilized in eating out, talking, taking a walk by the beach, or engaging in other fun activities mutually enjoyed by the spouses. A short vacation can be planned ahead to spend some quality time together. The Prophet (sa) would allocate time and days to each one of his wives adequately and fairly.
5. Intimacy – Physical Touch
Intimacy strengthens the bond between the spouses and is a source for maintaining peace and security within marriage. Both husband and wife have the right upon their spouse to have their conjugal rights and desires satisfied.
It is from the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to passionately kiss one’s wife. Aisha (rta) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sa) would kiss one of his wives and then leave for prayer without performing Wudhu. Urwa Ibn Zubayr (her nephew) says: “I asked Aisha: ‘It must have been you?’ (Upon hearing this,) Aisha smiled.” (At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Nasai)
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) forbade from engaging in sexual intercourse before foreplay. (Tibb An-Nabawi) In a Hadeeth, the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Not one of you should fall upon his wife like an animal, but let there first be a messenger between you.” “And what is that messenger?” they asked, and he replied: “Kisses and words.” (Daylami)
Entertaining Each Another
The Messenger of Allah (sa) encouraged his followers to play with their wives and entertain them. Aisha (rta) records that on more than one occasion, she and the Prophet (sa) raced. Sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men consider it to be far beneath their dignity to play any games with their wives, and their marriages are duller and poorer due to this.
Apart from the above stated languages of love, a surprise element is something which can really boost your relationship. One should try to do things a bit differently to please the spouse every now and then. A surprise visit made to the wife when she is at her mother’s place, a surprise drop by at your husband’s work place, or a surprise night out can help in taking the spouses away from their mundane routine.
However, once we have identified the primary love language of our spouse, we must not ignore the other languages, as they all complement each other.
What is your language of love?