“In probably the most reliable survey ever done on divorce, by Lynn Gigy, Ph.D., and Joan Kelly, Ph.D., from the Divorce Meditation Project in Corte Madera, California, 80% of divorced men and women said their marriage broke up because they gradually grew apart and lost a sense of closeness, or because they did not feel loved and appreciated.
Only 20 to 27 percent of couples said extramarital affairs was even partially to blame.” – John M. Gottman on page 16 of his bestselling book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
The key words here are “loved and appreciated.”
Does Islam mention these words? Yes! Regarding marriage? Yes!
Qur’an chapter 30 verse 21 says: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect..”
Among the seven translations of that verse that I read, only Sahih International translated “muwaddah” as “affection,” all the other scholars used “love” (Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Shakir, Sarwar, Mohsin Khan and Arberry.)
Now love comes from respect. You can’t love someone whom you don’t respect.
What about appreciation?
Here’s a Hadith that said we should focus on the good traits of our spouses instead of the negative ones:
“A believing man should not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes something in her character, he should be pleased with some other or another trait of hers.” -Riyadh-as-Saliheen by Imam Al-Nawawi, volume 2, hadith number 265.
Q30:21 also mentions another keyword Rahma or mercy. We need to practice appreciation when things go wrong. UnderstandQuran.com explains:
“Rahm means the womb. Rahmah is the kind of mercy, protection and cushioning which a fetus enjoys in the mother’s womb. Where mawaddah is something you need to practice during times of peace, rahmah is so much more effective at the battle ground. During times of extreme provocation.”
We can further reduce everything in this verse to one word: friendship.
These experts agree: “Mawaddah is the kind of love which is very apparent. It is caring about someone, being friends with them.” UnderstandQur’an.com
In his commentary on this verse, Mirza Yawar Baig said: “For the spouse, his or her companion is their best friend.”
Which is also the exact conclusion of science.
Consider this study cited by Gottman:
“The determining factor in whether wives feel satisfied with the sex, romance, and passion in their marriage is, by 70%, the quality of the couple’s friendship. For men, the determining factor is, by 70%, the quality of the couple’s friendship. So men and women come from the same planet after all.”
Therefore, marriage is where you find tranquility according to the verse above. You will know that there’s something wrong with your marriage if you don’t find that tranquility. Then you turn to love and mercy through friendship in other to mend the crack.
Let me give Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the final word:
“The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are the best to their women.”
-Riyadh-as-Saliheen volume 2, hadith number 275
Dr. Ibraheem Dooba is the author of “The Social Science of Muhammad (SAW)”. To read more articles like this, subscribe to his newsletter at https://tinyletter.com/IbraheemDooba