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Monday, May 23, 2011

PREVENTING CONFLICT IN A HOME

           Delivering the lecture at Al-Habibiyyah Women's Forum

The invitation letter had the topic given to me for this programme as: Managing Conflict In A Home which I unilaterally changed to: Preventing Conflict In A Home for two reasons: 1) to prevent a conflict from happening in the first place is better than managing one after its occurrence; prevention, they say, is better than cure; 2) my home is immune from conflict, though there are tense moments, but never to the level of what could be described as a conflict; therefore, I may not be the right person to discuss how to manage one. But in narrating how I was able to repel conflict from my home, the purpose of the original topic may be achieved.
It takes two to conflict; thus the attendance of the menfolk during the presentation of today’s paper would have made better impact in this year’s Women’s Forum of Al-Habibiyyah. Addressing women all the time and exhorting them on how to relate with their husbands will only solve half of our marital conflicts. It is only by speaking to the husbands and reminding them of their duties that the other half of the problem shall be addressed.
Marriage, it is said, is like watermelon; you don’t know what is inside until you cut it open. Often times it is a huge risk; you have either succeeded in having a lifetime partner, or have made a terrible mistake of your life.
AVOID DECEPTION
In courtship the vogue is to claim to be what you are not and to have what you do not possess: affluence or employment in a lucrative establishment. Thus by way of deception you are creating, in the mind of your spouse, a setting of great expectations after marriage. You have prepared grounds for unending conflict in your home by lying. What some sisters want, unfortunately, is false impression from a suitor; at times the mothers also encourage it. You are either rich or you should devise a method of deceiving them that you are. Nobody cares to enquire about your character, religion or family integrity these days; once you have money; no questions asked! In spite of all these, it will be a better investment towards a peaceful home to present yourself as you really are. Let the sister expect less and see more rather than be perpetually disappointed in having a liar as her husband. Everybody had to start somewhere in life. Is it a curse to admit that you don’t have? If you are poor today, your in-laws should know that Allah can enrich you tomorrow out of His grace (an-Nur 24:32).
The husband that has no secrets between him and his wife has found a niche in a stable home. If the wife knows exactly how much you earn, the true position of your finances, her budget will never exceed your financial strength. You have spared yourself the trouble of trying to explain why she cannot get the new phone, jewellery or even a car. I know many men will laugh at this proposition deeming it unwise to relate with women in this fashion. I advise such men to try being plain to their wives in monetary issues and see how peace will reign in their homes. Only on the rare occasion that the woman is unreasonable would you find money, or more appropriately, the lack of it becoming a trigger for conflict in such a home.
It is so important that a woman feel secure in the knowledge that her husband is honest with her, so much so that you will see the effects of being thus plain immediately! After all, it is said that there is no pillow or bed softer than a clean conscience.
REPEL EXTERNAL INCURSIONS
Many among the audience here are either divorcées themselves or have somebody very close to them that are or have been. Quite a number of divorces in our society are occasioned by people outside the home. Unfortunately, our parents, siblings and close kindred are part of such invaders. They ruin the marital homes of their offspring or relations through unnecessary interference into a consortium in which Allah has not assigned for them any role. They are distressed when your marriage is late in coming; they put unbearable pressure on you to bring a partner for marriage, but as soon as you are married they vie with one another in making life difficult for your spouse, and spare no effort in doing things inimical to that hallowed union.
Once you leave your family home to your matrimonial one, you have left a place that you can rightly call their home, and come into what is your own home. Only you and your spouse will remain here to salvage this home together in case anything goes wrong in your marital life. Every home has tense moments from time to time. The wise are they who will kindle the fire and extinguish it without even their children, within the house, seeing a smoke not to talk of neighbours. There should not be a special correspondent in either of you who will be transmitting live, up to the minute information about happenings in the home to parents, relatives and friends.
We all know what led to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, leaving his house for some time due to family issues that caused him mental and emotional strain, as we read in at-Tahreem 66:1-5. During that period Umar ibn al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, came to the Prophet’s home warning his wives against vexing the Messenger of Allah. His daughter and one of the wives of Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, came out and addressed her father: ‘Dad,’ she said, ‘what you are saying will serve a better purpose in your house; this is the residence of the Messenger of Allah!’
The Prophet of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, returned to his home and the tension abated afterwards.
Therefore, whatever goes wrong should be addressed by the two of you without anybody’s interference. Inviting arbiters, as suggested by the Qur’an in an-Nisaa 4:35, in marital conflict is the last resort when both of you could not reach a settlement, and that heralds, sadly, the beginning of the end. As soon as outsiders start proffering solution to your problems, there are very slim chances for the subsistence of that marriage, because you will either be weary of calling people to settle your ever-increasing disagreements or the arbiters will start evading involvement by not honouring your invitations.
You must learn to speak to each other, not to your or parents or friends. How can an unmarried woman, a divorcée who could not sustain her own marriage be the one to advise you on how to consort with your husband? She has now become a self-appointed secret agent keeping your husband under surveillance, telling you about his womanising, with what girl he goes out, in what restaurant they dine and so on. What is her business in this? Why are you so easily tricked into believing that your friend is just trying to help keep your husband in check? No my sister! She is not a friend but a foe. She is envious of your matrimony; she ardently hopes for the breakage of your marriage so that both of you can be the same, moving from one office to another seeking for patronage. It is just like the blind man who is playing with a catapult and stones; he is merely looking for comrades in blindness! Expel such agent provocateurs from your home and your life. They have nothing to add to your lot but ruin.
No marriage is successful until outsiders wonder at what really holds the relationship together, and see the couple as being so committed to each other to a fault. How many times have you heard: whoever takes a husband like a father will die an orphan? Meaning what is best in a marriage is to make life difficult for your husband, not to cooperate with him in anything, make alternative arrangements just in case he may decide to end the affair when you least expect, etc. This is a sample of the admonition women give to one of their own in a successful marriage. If the sister hearkens to this advice, starts putting it to practice with the result that her adherence to their evil suggestions causes the disintegration of the state of felicity in which she is, her advisers will say: have we not told you? But was that the case? And how many times have the menfolk proved these alarmists right? Your wife married you out of real love when you had nothing. She remained faithful to you through thick and thin; she never wavered. She sacrificed a lot, in some cases, forsook anyone from her immediate family that was opposed to her relationship with you. They were warning her against what you are sure to do in the future. And it came to pass that one day you told her to pack her things and get out of your home. Just like women, how quickly do men forget everything! So, in a minute all is lost. How will this woman return to her people and what will she tell them? That their words were proved true? That she had been so foolish and naïve to have thought that this day will not come? All the years she has invested for your success in life was wasted. But do you think Allah is unmindful of what evil people like you do to his bondwomen (Ibrahim14:42)?

Director, Great Heights Academy, Hajiya Rabi Namtari and Director, Nurul Bayan International School, Hajiya Maryam Tahan and other participants listening.

In other situation, the man may not drive the woman out of his house; he would bring in a new wife, and relegate the old one to the background; she had sacrificed everything in exchange of nothing. Let her take care of her children as her time is over; she should not do anything to impede his enjoyment with his bride. What the bride should have known was one day will be her turn. As he did to his first wife, so shall he do to her. Therefore, she should not rejoice at the misfortune that befell her sister.
A lot of insincere men claim they marry another wife to punish the first wife for her disobedience, but this is not an intelligent reason to marry a second wife; she is likely going to increase in her rebellion if anything would change at all. What a man should do if he has a woman who is genuinely, unabatedly rebellious is to divorce her. What usually happens is that such men had other plans and merely used a single incidence of rebellion or disobedience as excuse to marry a second woman.
What sensible people do in a situation like this is accept the fact Allah has permitted them to marry more than one wife, if there is need for that, and if they have the means to sustain them and the ability to do justice between or among the wives. Such men will always give the first wife the honour of being with them from the start when they had nothing, for they know that whoever will marry them now must have done so out of other considerations; especially because of their wealth, something that the first wife may not have even thought of when she risked everything and married them. To these reasonable men, there is no wife like the first one, and they will make sure that this position is reserved for her in the inner recesses of their hearts, recognising and obeying Allah’s instruction that all wives must be treated equally but at the same showing everlasting gratitude to the first one for her unselfish sacrifices during the period of hardship in the past. This is another potent way of preventing conflict.
THE RENDEZVOUS INFLUENCE
There are men who run their homes by what they pick in rendezvous among their friends. Like the case of the sisters mentioned above, some of these friends may not even be married; may be women-haters and ill advising you on how to  make life difficult for your wife in order to keep her in her right place. Women, these misogynists will tell you, should never know your secrets or what you earn; keeping them in endless suspense is better: I will give you the money when I’m ready! Be the one calling the shots, they will say, and not one that is controlled by his wife. To these and their ilk, every peaceful home devoid of rancour means that the husband is under his wife’s control. How can anyone listening to such nonsense and acting by it have peace in their home? He is just a husband by name, how he runs the house is dictated to by his friends. The wife has not understood him, will never do, because her husband does not disclose anything to her about his life, business and day to day interaction with others. She does not even know whether the colour of his teeth is white or brown because he has been admonished by his mentors never to laugh with his wife otherwise she would deem herself equal with him and start misbehaving. He can only laugh outside the house with his friends; as soon as he steps into his matrimonial home, he is out of humour. Thus, in his absence everybody is jovial; the very moment he enters the house, peace departs and everything becomes gloomy! No wonder you will see members of such households in a state of jubilation at the prospects of the big boss travelling. They want him to go away from them for as long as possible so they can inhale some fresh air in his absence and be free. In normal homes, everybody is grieved when dad will travel because they shall miss him!
SET THE STANDARD
Do not allow anybody to set standards for you in consorting with your spouse. Use the courtship period in expounding what you want and who you are; don’t conceal any blemish or hide secrets; if your partner truly loves you they will understand. If, for example, you want your wife to wear what we call shadow hijab, which covers every part of her body (from head to toes) and to use niqaab, face veil, please say so before the marriage. Try to convince her on why you think that is necessary. You can’t be silent when you see her scantily dressed during courtship and try to impose shadow hijab on her after marriage. You are calling for a serious conflict.
This is what I told my wife before our marriage: “Allah has instructed women to wear hijab when they go out or in the presence of non-mahrams. It has to be hijab and not gele. Therefore, henceforth you must be in full hijab.” She accepted. After our marriage, she asked my opinion about women using niqaab, face veil. Why do you ask? She said she wanted to start using it. “Well,” I said, “my understanding is that once a woman covers herself properly with hijab, niqaab is not obligatory. What I want you to understand is this: I will not discourage you from wearing niqaab, if that is what you want; this is entirely your decision and may Allah help and reward you for it. But in case you don’t want to use it any more, don’t ask for my permission, just drop it.” Whenever we travelled to Saudia she would buy niqaab as she would her jallaabiyyahs. But since about 10 years ago now, I could not say where she kept her last niqaab or when exactly she stopped using one. No conflict.
We should keep it in mind that we are not in this world to pass anybody’s litmus test. Everybody is doing their best to please Allah. Realising this fact will aid us to be thick-skinned and set the standard for how we desire to live in our home devoid of external interference.
Some of you may have attended lectures on marriage where the speaker would tell you what to expect in your marriages. They even set time limits for such events to occur! They tell you if A, B and C has not happened by your fifth year of marriage, know that there is something wrong. Who made these folk experts in your marriage anyway? The fact is that each marriage is unique; just like the constituents of that union. No one can tell with any level of certainty beyond conjecture what will or should obtain in your marriage. They can only tell you what worked for them. This is equally a reminder to you that what I have described about my own marriage may have to be a little different for it to work in your own. The most important points to note are the headings.
It is not fun, in a great many cases, to have an ustaz for a husband. But should I be saying this in a public lecture when the ustaz group is my constituency? I trust saying this here will make the point clearer, if we must state most of the challenges to a peaceful home. My constituency has more than its fair share of narrow-minded individuals and busybodies who, in the name of nasihah, good counsel, have exceeded their bounds. Let me cite some very personal examples here in order to make plain the issue.
I was told to stop my wife from driving, because according to their form of Islam it is haram, unlawful for women to drive. An ustaz’s wife should set example by sitting in the house, avoiding much interaction with people or engaging in trade. I should do something about the length of her hijab; it is not long enough. She should stop reciting the Qur’an in public or on television because her voice is aurah; if she must recite, then she has to cover her face with a niqaab, face veil.
Well, I will not, in this lecture, inundate you with details refuting the above position because I have done so in many forums including a television programme, Living With The Glorious Qur’an, the segment I present every Ramadan on Sahur Live on NTA Abuja. This is just an example of how, at times, with good intentions, my constituency can be part of the subject matter of today’s discussion if a husband is not firm is setting the standard he wants for his home. Suffice it to say that I did the opposite of what they advised, remained focused, and refused to be derailed and held stubbornly to what I believe to be correct according to my scant understanding of my religion.
MOBILE TELEPHONES
Is the invention of mobile phones a blessing or a curse? Mobile phones have driven khushuu’ (Allah-consciousness) from our salaah. With all the notices in our masjids urging people to switch off their phones, worshippers are nevertheless distracted during their devotions by satanic ring-tones. And whenever a phone rings, the owner’s mind is out of the prayer trying to guess who the caller could be, and other worshippers worrying who could be so devilish as not to switch off their phone in spite of repeated appeals to do so on the notice board? Either way Satan has succeeded in distracting the attention of the faithful from their salaah. He also triumphed in causing discord in our homes through the same contraption, the mobile phone. The wife will notice that her husband does not want her to have access to his phone; he goes everywhere with it, even into the restroom. If he happens to answer certain calls in her presence he speaks in monosyllables. She wants to know what is making him so nervous and protective of his phone. She has her suspicions and fears; she wants to confirm them. He forgot the phone one day; she read all the text-messages….; saw the love emails on the BB………….; and her worse fears were confirmed. To cut a long story short, that was the end of that marriage. Examples abound of married women having affairs outside wedlock and their husbands discovering through this electronic wizard, the mobile phone and the rest is history. This is not a call to guard your mobile phones better, making it less accessible to your spouse; it is rather a call to fear Allah and never do with your phone that which you would be ashamed to show your spouse.
FEAR ALLAH AND SPEAK THE TRUTH
Why will I hide steps I take towards marrying another wife? Am I doing something which Allah has forbidden? My constituency will say that you are not man enough until you have more than one wife. There is nothing wrong with that, I concede. But what I don’t understand is the same ustaz being so afraid of carrying his old wife along in this issue that she will either come to know about it from walking-radios in town when everyone is aware of it but she, or her husband will only tell her few hours to the wedding fatihah. I have a case of a brother who took his closest friends and father to the mosque to change their clothes after each man left his home in different attires. When people stared at them and wondered what occasioned the change in clothing, the brother replied: “we are going to stage a coup”. Subhaanallah! He was referring to the fact that he was wedding that day without the wife’s knowledge! You have planned for a fierce conflict since you made your wife the last person to know about a second wife her husband is about to take. Why do you demote your wife by making her the meanest of all people in relation to information on your new marriage? The answer: because if she knows, the process will be aborted. I disagree.
Many women will oppose their husbands taking a second wife under the above scenario because of the hypocrisy involved. Their position may be less hostile if the husband was more open and honest.
Before one ventures into the adventure of a second wife he should ask himself some questions. Has he been carrying out his duty towards his wife’s emotional, financial and religious needs and those of his children with the required diligence as prescribed by The Law Giver? In the circumstance, will he be able to bear another burden with equal commitment when he marries a second wife?
I, for one, am not a good candidate for a second wife. I consider a lot of factors. For a resident of Abuja, for instance, with the soaring rates of school fees in private schools, how many children will I be able to sponsor in a school with the standard of education I desire for my children? What is the financial implication of having a second wife in one of the most expensive cities in the world? What do I want in a wife? Are all women endowed with what I want or I have to train each wife to attain the qualities of a woman I can call my wife? If I have to expend time and energy in training another wife, do I have the pleasure of that time at this stage in my life? Would her level of understanding of the faith and her maturity be commensurate with that of my first wife such that they would live in harmony and understanding?
I want a wife who is an asset and not a liability. You have to help each other to attain a certain level of taste and standard: a wife who, when she drives past you, you marvel at the control and confidence of the person behind the wheel, that you wrongly deem her to be a man, because mostly women cannot drive like that; a wife that is not waiting to be baby-sitted any more on issues affecting her merchandise; one who is very active, bold, self-assertive, will take charge and make right decisions about her affairs without succumbing to external pressure; a wife who is a living-Islamiyyah-school for her children and one with whom you don’t worry about the future of your offspring when you die! I doubt if I will ever have time to grow with another person to such standard in my life. It was reported that Prophet Dawud, peace be upon him, used to supplicate for, among other things, ‘…a wife that will assist me in my spiritual and mundane affairs….’ Al-hamdu lillah!
THE ROLE OF THE MOTHER
Why do you have so short a memory? It was just like yesterday when you and your husband started life from the scratch. You had nothing. Your parents were not as rich as you are today. You are from a humble home. You learnt right behaviour from your mother. For years you cooked for your husband because you learnt that from your mother. Now, after Allah has opened His gates to you and your husband, you no longer have to go into the kitchen; your house helps or cooks do that. You have forgotten that your daughter is not you; she is only an extension of you biologically. She will leave your house, doubtless, one day and go to her husband’s home. You have not taught her those things that your mother taught you which have helped in sustaining your marriage in one way or another until today. You bark orders to house girls to prepare your food and that of your daughter also. Your daughter, big as she is, does not know how to wash a dish, light a gas cooker (not to talk of kindling firewood) or prepare cold indomie talk less of a hot one. The only thing she can cook is water in the electric jug! How sure are you that she will not need to cook for her husband as you did cook for her father before? It is a utopian idea to assume that your daughter will live in a home like yours, for you did not start life like this. It was all a gradual process, vicissitudes in hardship and ease that you attained to where you are today. How will your daughter’s journey in life be different? What do you think will happen when her husband discovers she does not know how to cook? Will that not be a source of conflict in a home? I know some of you may ask the rhetorical question: what if I make sure she marries a rich man? Well, there you go again! She would have married him for the wrong reason and he her; they would be miserable together in spite of the wealth!
I was told of a situation where the bride would cook through mobile phone calls to her mother. By trial and error and with all the attendant risks involved she switched on the gas cooker. ‘Hello mummy! I have cut the onions and tomatoes. What shall I do next?’
‘Hold on mummy, it’s like something is burning. The water I poured with the chicken is dried up. Shall I add more water or what?’ And on and on she went until at the end she prepared one of the worst dishes in human history. Unfortunately, the groom came home with friends and dinner was served; it became the last supper…as the conflict it created brought an end to the marriage.
I witnessed another sad end to a marriage for similar reason. After the marriage, the mother would cook soup; stew and assorted dishes for the bride at intervals, so what the daughter did was just to warm the food when it is time to serve breakfast, lunch or dinner. It did not last long when the bubble burst!
The issues I have raised thus far deal mainly with averting yet-to-occur problems in the home. I shall briefly refer now to the other aspect of an already-present conflict:
The conflict situation in many homes is akin to a war front. In some cases, you have a razor-tongued woman spurring a power-drunk husband to make war with her. In other cases, it is a master-slave relationship that you shall find; the husband screaming at the poor, timid wife. We also get cases of husband abuse; this rarely gets reported for obvious reasons- the husband becomes the laughing stock of his friends and colleagues. There are cases of infidelity on both sides and cases of warring co-wives. Some of the bitterest conflicts in the homes are between the spouses and those they most dearly love- the in-laws!
When any of the above scenarios or others I have not mentioned plays out in a home, the children bear the larger brunt. They become dysfunctional in most instances and where they manage to remain functional children or teenagers, they have a dim view of the hallowed institution of marriage. In homes where the conflicts are not resolved, leading to divorce, the consequences of a single parent family become quite obvious quickly. A cursory look into the case files of juvenile delinquents and hardened criminals shows the harsh reality of the outcome of conflicts in the home. So, we must look at how to resolve and manage the conflicts; in so far as we know that not all conflicts can be averted.
COMMUNICATE
One of the most potent tools in a successful marriage is communication. It is often a breakdown in communication that later worsens into a conflict situation yet, communication is also one of the most important ingredients of restoring normalcy to the home if conflict arises. Let the spouses agree to always communicate their grievances before things degenerate into hopelessness. They should do this with all the patience and mutual respect they can muster. It should never become a shouting match and the leader of the home (the man) has to show maturity in handling his wife or wives. He should not think of the woman as a shallow minded piece of male accessory to be summoned only in the event of hunger or the need for intercourse. He should consider the woman as his friend, partner in progress and, most importantly, an amaanah on him and his partner in ‘ibaadah; for marriage is no more than ‘ibaadah which requires a minimum of two people of the opposite sex to perform.
 The wife must remember that although she is equal to her husband in the sight of Allah, He (SWT) has still enjoined her to accept him as her leader. She should be mindful of her duty to her Lord.
Each partner should clearly communicate what the grievance is with the other. They should not make it a match of wits. Women often annoy men with subtle gestures that depict contempt, while men annoy women by behaving as though they have no emotions. Let neither partner expect an angel in conduct nor devil in action. Expect him to make mistakes and allow him to save face. Expect her to go wrong once in a while and learn to forgive without being asked.

 SHOW COMPASSION
Allah has said the spouses are ‘garments’ unto each other (Al Baqarah 2:187) and Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) warned the men with regards to how they treat their spouse. He hinted that the best of men are the kindest to their families; therefore, an important ingredient in neutralizing conflicts in the home is compassion. It is only when a man considers his spouse with compassion that her shortcomings do not appear as terrible as was at first. It is only in recognising that Allah, The Exalted, merely tests us with our spouses’ misdemeanours that both parties relax their rigid stances; remembering that even Allah forgives us.
Women enjoy being pampered; it is in fact a part of their delicate constitution. Pamper your wife when the wrong deed is against you (which should be ignored) and be stern only when it involves a direct violation of Allah’s commandment. Even this should not be an excuse to call her unprintable names, physically assault her or impugn on her integrity. It was merely a slip up which your frown should communicate that you would not tolerate again.

ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES
Most of us grew up in homes where the husband was revered like a demi-god. He could make no mistakes or if he made any, no one was to directly or indirectly refer to it in conversation talk less of pointing it out. The point is that many husbands inadvertently grew up believing this anomaly to be the right way to behave. Islam dissociates itself from this chauvinist attitude!
Indeed Allah has not given different standards to men and women in admitting we have erred. It is what you women call the ‘male ego’ that pushes men to assume a woman has no right to know they were wrong. On the other hand, we have women who see the admission of guilt as an opportunity to ridicule the man. Both attitudes are wrong and far from Islam. Spouses should learn to admit they are wrong and not be arrogant about it. Some people initially accept they are wrong but tear up the fabric of dignity they just purchased with that admission with an ensuing set of excuses. Learn to admit guilt without reservation.

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY
Many homes have been destroyed by the words the spouses use in times of conflict. Rather than soothe each other’s nerves, they end up fuelling the problem. Pick your words with wisdom and do not exacerbate the conflict. All these should be done in your bedroom without raising your voices. If it is a matter between co-wives, let the husband talk to each co-wife in private and not scold one in the presence of the other. Many men ought not to have a wife with the way they handle serious matters of this nature.
Where the matter is between the man’s family, especially the mother, and the wife, more tact is needed to ensure you do not wrong your mother nor act unjustly towards the wife. I reverse scenario is the conflict that may arise between the husband and wife as a result of the poor state of the relationship between the man and his in-laws; especially the mother in-law. In all cases, fear Allah and choose the words that will calm nerves and soothe hearts. Do not cite already resolved issues as example of the spouse’s misdemeanour in resolving another. Do not use abusive language and derogatory remarks in talking to one another.
Remember your mother in-law is in the position of your mother and any insult that you give her is like that which you give your mother. Diplomacy, they say, is the ability to call a man a fool and get him to agree with you. Even when mama or your sibling is guilty, use words that show them you are not happy with the turn of events, quote the words of Allah and His messenger to buttress your point and never scold them in the presence of your spouse. Please do the same with your spouse. Words are a double-edged sword; you can use them to cut others or yourself. Protect your spouse and respect your family; this works both ways.
FORGIVE WITHOUT RESERVATIONS
When your partner has erred and has acknowledged that, do not delay to forgive. Try not to keep any ill feelings about him or her afterwards. Some people find this hard to believe, but when you forgive without reservation, you have opened the door of greater love. You have also secured Allah’s pleasure, which is a greater end in the process.

BE OF ASSISTANCE IN THE HOUSE
Many men think it is beneath them to help with house chores in the home. To these men I say the one who was better than you helped in his home. The noble Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) milked the camels and goats, mended his clothes and fetched water for his household. He taught the men how to relate with their families.
A woman saw a brother changing his son’s diapers while the boy’s mother supplied him with sanitary wipes to do the job. The woman exclaimed aloud “impossible! My husband will never try this!” She meant that the man does not think it is right to change diapers- it is a woman’s job, period! Tell men with this kind of mentality to cook for their family and they would stare at you believing you are sick in the head or something. The problem is with the cultural background of most of us; we just were not brought up to understand this wonderful way of fostering love and harmony in the home. In fact, some men do not want any excuse for getting their meals later than usual on any day- despite the fact that the woman may be working and raising the children and cleaning the home every day without help from either husband or anyone for that matter.

Finally, brothers and sisters, marriage is a great step into life; the more you prepare for it, the more are your chances of happiness after it. We spend a lot of time preparing for a trip, perfecting a plan or organising a business undertaking. Why do we then give little time to a lifetime engagement? Some people contract marriage within one week. How can you avoid conflict with such a rash approach and arrangement?
For those of you who are yet unmarried, it is a good thing if you start writing what you hope to achieve with and from your marriage. It is not out of place to emulate a brother I know who upon finding a likely candidate for marriage would give them a manifesto of what he expects from life and marriage and how to attain it together with his wife. They are the better for it until this day! And for those that are in a marriage, it is never too late to start on a different footing.
So, let’s search for a soul mate and a lifetime partner. Let your marriage be a lasting one, until death do you part. It is a responsibility that requires mental, physical and psychological preparedness. Patience is the key. And keep talking to each other. Discuss everything; forgive everything. Let no night pass without this exercise of searching where things went wrong, accepting responsibility and pardoning yourselves.
Men should dedicate time for their families; they need your love, care, smile and sense of humour. With this you can douse a lot of tension and prevent conflict in your home.
Even the devil speaks the truth on occasion; I will leave you with the words of Robert ‘Bob’ Nesta Marley which I read on a friend’s blog sometime ago; it seems to summarize a lot of what I have written here and he called it ‘How to Love a Woman’:
“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before, she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect – you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together; but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break – her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyse and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.”
Was salaam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh.

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