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The Phases Of Muslim Marriage

After ridin' The Singleitis Train for so many years and then happily settling into a phase of marriage, one learns that the job description was a little different than advertised.

Typically, a marriage goes through various phases, changing at each couple's unique pace so the experience is not a standard cut-and-paste ride for all, but the evolutions are general trends.

*Disclaimer: Much of the following is from various Islamic studies and a result of research. This is not definitive nor applicable to all, but it is a standard 'science'. A lot of the content is adult material. Reader discretion advised. Seriously. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1st phase :: The Wedding Night

An interesting evening unfolds on the first night. It's one of the most sought after evenings. Funnily though, Muslim men and women are anticipating different things. During the actual night it's a very anxious time altogether. Newly married and fresh off the prayer mat, the Muslim couple are sat there in awkward silence. With so much anticipation and emotion built up, neither husband or wife knows what to do...
Should you be one of those rare Muslim couples that 'gets' psychological stuff and has read Sex 101 The Islamic Perspective (my next book), this isn't applicable for you but do stay. There's Chai Shai and biscuits after.

Nasiha Time

If there was any time to be romantic and sexy, it's the wedding night.

Brothers, use those languages of love to the max on this night. Get gifts. GIFTS. Notice that is plural! Know how to praise your wife and start a conversation, don't think too deeply, go with the flow. Be honest, ask, talk, show you're a gentleman. Honestly, the majority of women are absolutely terrified (or at least nervous) of what's expected from them so it's your job to keep more calm, comfort her. You're a husband now: Get husbanding.

Sisters? Kia hua, why are you nervous? Remember biology class? While women do look forward to being 'his' wife and hanging out with him, there's an anxiety of vulnerability and nakedness toward "that" intimate act. It isn't something Muslim women are used to outside of marriage and rightly so. Hayaa, modesty, is a heavy component in Muslim women and it kicks in hardcore on the first few nights after marriage. Muslim women are not used to such close proximity toward men. Your modesty may disappoint your spouse, but men, listen in: want to win your wife's heart? Ask her when she wants to go to "that" level. It's all about using the right ignition.

Brothers, if you've waited so many years, surely you can wait a few more days (?) Reassurance that you will go at her pace will open her up, figuratively speaking. Muslim men have spent ages looking forward to The Wedding Night for one reason, and women are looking forward because of another reason, but that self-conscious, bubbling excitement is clashing with an overriding fear. The first experiences of sex for women are usually icky, tricky and sticky.

Sidenote: Use lube to help. Use pH neutral wet wipes. Don't race towards the orgasm and learn to stretch out the foreplay. It's all Islamic ya`ani!

This isn't to stipulate that sex is a given on the first night, no. It's not even an Islamic tradition. It is a cultural conditioning as the actual rulings derived from Shariah on "how" to do it and "when" leave the first night open to the couple's own preference. So all those whisperings of what you're supposed to do to make everyone else happy and - tell them to quit it and stop freaking out.

The Icky, Tricky, Sticky bit
------------------------------------> FOR MEN
  • On your wedding night, don't make "the act" the focal point. Actual intercourse isn't going to be the highlight, it will be the memories built surrounding it. 
  • Understand the psychology of your wife and take things at her pace. 
  • There's no need to push the clutch and you're not in it for a one-man show. "The aim is not to score a home run at the first inning." - Sh. Yasir Qadhi
  • Don't hurry. Say ‘la huwla wa la quwwa ta illa billah. There is no might not power except with God'.
  • Realise that what you learnt on TV is not reality and it is not like simply putting X into Y. You're clueless actually, unless you're a gynaecologist, and will probably have no idea what to expect when uncovering that anatomical region.
  • Don't expect all that sultry sexy stuff you have put into your head. 
  • Should you both decide to proceed to level 3, take your time to both be adequately ready.  
  • Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay - for her. 
  • Guys, if there is no sign of 'breaking and entering', it does not mean anything. Suspicion is from Shaytaan. It's common for a broken hymen prior to a nikah
------------------------------------> FOR WOMEN
  • According to surveys the first time is not as painful when compared to child labour so don't be thinking that there is guaranteed pain. It's a unique experience, accept the love and "be" in the moment, relax. Seriously, RELAX, it helps much more. Giggle, laugh, tickle.
  • According to our teacher, over 75% of women will not enjoy the first few experiences but that just requires some biological tuning and know-how. It is your husband's job to make it easier for you. Teach him where to put his hands, how to do this or that. A good husband learns and follows through.
  • The discomfort is a result of not being ready for intercourse i.e. not aroused enough, not the hymen breaking since there are no nerve endings in the hymen. Not every woman will experience discomfort, and it is rare for woman to climax the first time although it can happen.
  • Intercourse on the first night[s] is one of those good things to begin a good marriage. To pray, read Qur'an, talk, and get intimate.
  • Know that your husband's in love with you and he's loving you, reciprocate that however you can. Utter rejection is devastating. Don't say 'no', say 'later'. 
  • This moment is also awkward for Muslim men although maybe not as much. The vast majority of men will not compare their wife's body to anything. He knows women are different, so don't worry he'll think less of you for this bulge or that. He's happy with what he has. Don't over analyse. Your husband's not thinking about "them" from magazines and TV or whatever ideal he had stored before, he's thinking about you! 
------------------------------------> FOR BOTH OF YOU
  • The Companions recommended that a newly wed should should pray 2-4 units of Nawafil salat together. This is not in ahadith, but it's good advice.
  • Our Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, told husbands to say the du`a' which can be read by wives too: 
"Oh Allah, I ask You for the good in her (or him) and I seek refuge in You from the evil from her (or him)..."

2nd phase :: The Honeymoon

Sadly, the "puppy" love is not here to stay. In the beginning of a marriage you go through a form of obsession, all loved up, but that is just one phase. Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, told us to aim for realistic expectations. We have to start accepting that there are no happily-ever-afters that our fantasies have deluded us with. This is why in our Deen we work on the content-ever-afters. This is real, this is achievable.

People though, are only really interested in the beginning. Who can blame them. The adoring gazes, the electric connections, the smiles and sighs and all that exciting stuff.

When a marriage begins, each partner feeds the other person's needs, physiologically, sexually and emotionally, and this makes sense. After all, who wants a one-sided relationship(?) But after time that effort fades away and then we're left wondering why the connection is not as strong. The answer is right there. You'll learn that you cannot keep up that momentum but still make the effort to flirt, text a sexy message, develop your private love and share those joys together.

A honeymoon period lasts anything from a few weeks to under a year. Longer if you're smart. Consider yourself blessed if you're still on a 'honeymoon' for more than 6 months. God blesses the marriage by solidifying the union with emotional trust and love. This is His opening to the future phases.

Love Stoned

For the sake of avoiding confusion, let's call our celebrity Muslim couple... Mr Musa and Mrs Hannah.
  • In the beginning of their marriage Musa and Hannah entered a period of unconditional love.  
  • Musa won awards for his gentleman behaviour and Hannah was devoted to him madly. They resolved arguments in 24 hours, they understood one another, life was perfect. 
  • Time passed and things slowly settled in. Hannah had a routine with work and Musa became preoccupied with friends. They sat for dinner together, they talked about the weather. Both found it more difficult to open up. 
  • Musa thought Hannah lost interest and Hannah thought Musa was a completely different person. Quality time for one another reduced, their excitement readjusted and 'date night' had to be scheduled. Was their marriage over? No.

Nasiha Time

Muslim women become more sexual after marriage, and this too, although not a scientific rule, makes sense. Having no experience of intimacy beforehand, Muslim women are closely linked to personal modesty (hayaa). This quality is pretty downtrodden in modern society where almost everything dignified is now debased. After marriage, a woman happily tends to catering her husband's needs if and when called for. Men too are proud in being responsible for their little woman, he knows she's mesmerising, he will buy her everything, text her 5000x a day, find no fault and make her his.

Thus, the bonds of love have cemented. Marriage has blossomed in high-resolution colour and life is good, G-O-O-D. In this state, husbands and wives may begin to feel absolutely nothing could surpass the present. Love-stoned and on a high, it feels like the ultimate peak and nothing better could top it.

See, that's the beauty of it. Phases are short, they are temporary and they always, always lead onto a bigger or more sustaining phase where you are challenged in different ways.
  • What Musa and Hannah eventually realised is that life goes on. This love stoned phase wasn't meant to last, it couldn't, otherwise their life would stop. Remember: Dunya is not eternal. The very nature of life is to change.
  • Now that this couple learnt the pleasures of love, companionship and sex, they also learnt that the excitement and security of love was a prelude to the next phase. Just as God says, the situation changes because you're changing. You can't constantly be happy. You just can't. So what do you do?
Like life, marriage is a series of ever-developing states and events. You cannot possibly expect to stay the same forever. When have you ever been consistently in one stage of life or continuously in one state of emotion? So, marriage transforms and is transforming. It will brings its ups followed by downs, only to take you back up and higher each time. Toward God.

On each roller-coaster jolt, God sends a sign. You might be real cosy in this everlasting honeymoon, but God does have something better planned. He creates your full future now.

Both women's and men's hormones go back to their original levels and a more regular routine is resumed. This is when spouses need to shift gear out of cruise control and stay more alert.

3rd phase :: Accustomed To Your Face

After the first year or so things get a little strange. Musa wants that passionate sex-life back but Hannah's hardly interested. What's wrong with her? Why is she so difficult?

Hannah wants her romantic, poetic husband but he's changed too. He's not around to talk to. Doesn't he love me anymore? Frustrations take over and inevitably one complains to the other, "You're not like you used to be, you never listen, blah blah blah."

So what's changed? Is Musa turning back to his frat days and has Hannah hit early menopause? No. They haven't deliberately changed. Their hormones and outlook have returned to their normal levels. So their treatment changes. This is all the doing of Almighty God in His Infinite Wisdom.

Sisters, your man has become a Man. His priorities have become his focus and he is astutely aware that he needs to take care of his family and be capable at his work. He may be that bit more aggressive, often distracted by juggling several responsibilities. He deals with pressure and wants to succeed at it all. His attention toward you may feel non-existent but you must remember he's doing all of this primarily to maintain the best life for you and show you his love in a new way: through action. He is still craving your support.

Brothers, your wife has also synchronised with her inner nature. A proper woman wants to be her own self, since she is the better nurturer. Her focus will divert towards her role as a Woman in society and for God. She will spend more time with her social groups, on her own appearance, her responsibilities and education. Her attraction and admiration hasn't reduced for you, she is simply balancing herself with the mould Allah designed her in. She is still craving your attention.

Accept it: you now have to be prepared to meet the changes of love. Y'know, this was all in the fine print, you really should have read the nikah contract (!)

There is a little sadness that we're moving into a new phase of marriage, but say alhamdulillah because the next levels are better. Plus, those fantastic and sweet moments didn't die, they are taken with us.

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi shares a poetic example to illustrate this. A newlywed couple is like a lit candle. Yes, there's a little bit of light flickering, but how much heat is produced? Very little. The slightest gush of wind will blow it out. An older married couple though, is like burning coal. Their love emanates from the core of their relationship which can heat up great things. A monsoon couldn't destroy it. See? Love grows, its symptoms change, it's organic.

For the Twitterer fans, RT
'Be patient in your marriage; young love is just a flickering candle but deeper love is burning coal and heats up great things.' - Yasir Qadhi #LikeAGarment

4th phase :: Reality Strikes Back

Note that a person is complex. You have married all the historical and emotional baggage stored in this one person. You haven't met it all and you have yet to discover whether he/she even wants you to discover it.

During counselling couples say, 'she's not the woman/he's not the man I married.' Well the real full YOU hasn't shown yet because you've been living with a bit of a false shell. Not lies, not fake, just a better version of you. Later on in marriage you are redefining boundaries, more chores need to get done and family events takes up your time. Balancing it all without neglect takes a while to figure out.

Muslim divorce is so common in the first few years because petty issues tend to overcome the love and sex. One says to the other 'it's not working for me'. Well, you need to MAKE IT WORK. Muslim marriage is in for the long haul. It's hard work, it's about giving and giving and it's for God.

What should you do?
Figure out how to regain some balance then work to keeping it. Your wife is less sexual now (maybe more so) and is busy with work, life, children, but she still wants you to take her out, eat in, talk to her, make plans and share goals. Likewise, ladies, your husband may seem to only want sex in the mornings but that could be the only way he has to connect to you after his own busy schedule. His work and his shopping and his earnings are his proof of love for you.

Have a review session: sit together for 30 minutes without distractions. Say three things you like about the other person and want to keep seeing. Say one thing you want to change and one new thing you'd like to see.

  • Musa thinks his wife is hot (even after two babies) and would love to see her sat on the kitchen table not wearing much after he returns from work.
  • Hannah laughs at this replying why doesn't he first clean the kitchen table first. 
  • Instead, Hannah could say she'll try to wear something pretty for him and in turn he'll promise to take up more chores
This is the natural evolution of marriage. You have to understand the other person's needs or requests and just do it, even if you think it's hard work. Try to be more available now. Try to also say what you want from your spouse; never assume. Husbands be more emotionally connected and wives be more physically connected. Don't give up doing those things that made one another happy.

Bonus tips:
Men, want more passionate sex? Work for it all day. Romance is not a dirty work and it isn't the soppy stuff you see on the screen. Romance exists in Islam in an adulterated kind version where you protect your wife from interfering gossip and say thank you to her and put the kids to sleep a couple times a week; all the while your wife will willingly initiate intimacy more often. Taking care of your wife's daily routine, remembering important dates, being grateful, putting an apron on and cooking - this will get your wife's attention, love and more.

Women, the same goes to you. Shari'ah encourages Muslims to dress up properly for your partner and be flirty, talk sweetly, or whatever your man likes. The famous Sahabi Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, wanted to rush into his home city but Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him said, 'mehlan! (calm down) let your wives have time to wear good clothes etc', meaning let her and you dress up for each other since it is a reunion and translated to a modern 'date night'.

These days Muslim couples take each other for granted. Both sides are always complaining. You sleep in the same day clothes and recycle your pyjamas but then spend hours phoning and getting ready for your friends. Who did you marry? Looking good for your partner is actually Ibadat, it makes them happy! The point is, when you do those things your partner likes they see you putting in the effort and your dying love is rekindled.

Sweet words, compliments, minding your p's and q's are all acts of kindness and when you take five minutes each day to assess the homely damage and thank the other person for building a family with you, you reinvest in your relationship.

Overall in marriage's ever changing faces one of the biggest misconceptions is that men think like their wives and women automatically think like their husbands. Not true at all. Therein lies the dilemma. We think we know but we don't. Without open communication and verbal requests we will stay unhappy or 'stuck with that' and everyone else will appear happier. Marriage is a phase of life and marriage has its seasons. Flooding oceans or burkini beaches. Which season you're in is now totally up to you.

Image: Zaufishan

The Series
Part 1 | Introduction
Part 2 | What Muslim Women Look For In A Husband
Part 3 | What Muslim Men Look For In A Wife
Part 4 | 5 Misunderstood Love Languages

Part 5 | Phases Of Muslim Marriage

© 2011 Like A Garment.
Please credit link appropriately when sharing (Source: www.zaufishan.co.uk, © Like A Garment)

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