Qualities of a good Spouse

Everyone who gets into marriage wishes to be a good spouse. They would like to succeed in forming a strong marriage and a fulfilling relationship. These aspirations can be fulfilled if they remember that certain qualities are necessary in a good spouse. The following are some of these important qualities. The list is by no means exhaustive.

Love and affection

Love is the spirit that gives life to marriage. It has been described as the glue which binds the couple together. Ayatullah Mutahhari says:
Love awakens the dormant and sleeping organs, and frees the tied up energies just like the breaking of the atom . . . It is inspiring and a hero-maker. Love completes the soul and brings the amazing and astonishing interior talents into view..
The love between a couple is not only of passion. It is a more sublime love, as explained in Sura ar-Rum (see Ch.1). The real bond between the couple is more than just animalistic passion. It is a lofty love which brings with it companionship and affection. The love should be displayed in various ways to strengthen and increase it.

Respect

Both partners should respect each other. Arguments and anger are a normal part of marriage but should be conducted in a reasonable manner. Harsh criticism and humiliation of the other should be avoided, especially in front of others. Respect is an essential part of any relationship, and helps build self-esteem and a sense of wothiness. The Holy Prophet (s) always advised believers to respect one another. He himself showed a lot of respect to others, even young children. Once he had seated a child on his lap. The child urinated on the Prophet (s) making his clothes najis. The embarrassed father rushed to grab hold of the child, annoyance showing on his face. The Prophet (s) stopped him and told him to calm down. “My clothes can be washed”, he said. “What will erase the humiliation for this child if you reproach him in front of others”. To respect the partner means to avoid talking about them behind their backs, to family or friends. It means refraining from angry glares, harsh tones and offensive words. In a close relationship, familiarity sometimes encourages a lack of respect. So a husband may be very respectful to people outside the home, and treat them with excellent manners. At home however, he believes that it is not necessary. He may treat his wife with lack of respect in the way he talks to her, or interacts with her. This is a great mistake. A harmonious relationship cannot flourish without respect. It withers away with constant disrespect creating hurt feelings and anger. To respect the spouse does not mean one must put on a façade at all times. Respect must not be artificial or concocted. It must stem from the heart, out of a genuine admiration for the good qualities of the spouse. The faults of the spouse need not cause disrespect as both partners have their share of good and bad points. There should be acknowledgement and appreciation of what  is good in the spouse.Genuine respect cannot be concealed. It will manifest itself in the behavior of the spouse and contribute a great deal to the maintaining of a loving relationship. Respecting the spouse will result in maintaining and restoring each other’s self-esteem. Confidence in oneself needs to be continually reinforced. Although the foundations of self-esteem are laid in childhood, it fluctuates during adulthood. How the partners regard each other is extremely important. To be respected, even admired by one’s partner, is a great boost to one’s sense of worth. Respect and appreciation for one another are thus vital for helping partners appreciate themselves.

Contentment

Contentment with one’s lot in life is a great virtue. The Holy Prophet (s) has said: Contentment is a wealth that never ends. Another hadith says: There is no treasure more valuable than contentment. When a person is contented he is at peace. This attitude brings him a lot of happiness in life. Contentment has more to do with one’s internal attitude than what one possesses. When a husband and wife are content with what the other can provide, it brings great peace and harmony to the household. To be content with the spouse means to be happy with the type of person he is, with his financial status and the lifestyle he can provide. It means to appreciate whatever good he has to offer and be happy with that, instead of pining for qualities or things he cannot provide. This is true for both the husband and the wife. Comparisons with others are deadly. Although there may always be other men and women who are better in certain aspects, it is wrong to use this as a form of criticism. Some spouses artlessly praise others implying the lack of that particular quality in the partner. This can be damaging to the relationship and has the potential of destroying it completely.

Commitment

To be committed to a relationship means to be involved in it fully. It has been defined as a whole-hearted single-minded predisposition to someone, or something. A strong commitment is necessary for a good marriage. It prevents detraction and ambivalence about the relationship. Commitment to the spouse means to see him or her in the best possible light. To be able to do this, the spouse must dismiss negative emotions about the partner. Mistakes must be sorted out and forgiven. Commitment requires a set frame of mind in which there is no room for grudges and ill feelings. Commitment to the marriage means a firm intention to make it work. This involves solving problems not running away form them. It includes accepting changes and sacrificing. When a partner is committed to the marriage, he or she will invest time and efforts to make it work. The benefit of commitment is peace of mind from security and stability. The more the degree of involvement in a marriage, the greater the satisfaction. Putting one’s whole heart into marriage is the only way to get maximum benefit from it. It enables the spouses to experience the full potential of marriage.

Co-operation

Both partners should encourage and assist each other to reach their goals. Sometimes this may require sacrifices on the part of the other. It is necessary to understand that the spouses are now one entity. This feeling of we-ness rather than I-ness, helps spouses contribute to the development and success of the other. Apart from personal progress, the couple must also co-operate in their dealings with others, and their methods of child rearing. They must discuss matters such as family visits, community relations and bringing up children. Each may have different views regarding desired behavior in these issues. Discussing these however, may result in an agreeable compromise. This way the couple would not appear disharmonious. There are many qualities that could also be discussed. This list is by no means exhaustive. Each relationship is unique and it is upto the partners themselves to acquire desirable qualities to enhance their relationship. Too many of our prejudices are like pyramids upside down. They rest on tiny, trivial incidents., but they spread upward and outward until they fill our minds. William McChesney Martin Even in the best, most friendly and simple relations of life, praise and commendation are as indispensable as the oil which greases the wheels of a machine to keep them running smoothly. Leo Tolstoy