ASA and Hello all you wonderful surfers of the internet. The hot topic of the day is how to discuss issues that arise in marriage with you husband. What to do when something goes wrong?
As part of my job I do a lot of family mediation/ counselling and I find that there is a general misconception that women “make mountains out of a molehill” or cause “storms in teacups” and if I had a penny every time I hear that women are acting emotionally or hysterically… The sad thing is that these misconceptions also come from women.
Women will come to me and say, “I know I shouldn’t have cried but he doesn’t understand, he won’t listen when I am crying!”
So I ask them to follow some simple steps and techniques which I apply to my own marriage.
- What are you feeling right now? Are you sad, upset, do you feel betrayed, hungry, angry?
- What actions made you feel this way? Is this a new feeling? Have you felt it before?
- Did your husband do this subconsciously? Was he unaware it would upset you? Was it done in order to preserve your feelings rather than malleficently?
- Are my feelings justifiable?
Take your time in answering these questions. Think about it carefully. I would say depending on your confidence level you may falter at the last question, let me help you, your feelings are always justifiable but not all feelings are worth an argument. As a woman you have the right to feel whichever feeling you are feeling. We are all God’s creatures and are created perfectly balanced, therefore our feelings matter. I advise you to take this time to pray, others will suggest breathing exercises or meditation but I am a Muslim so I will advise to pray! Take your time to focus on your prayer and ask Allah to make this easy for you. If it applies, do an Istikhara.
I then ask yourself:
- Is it imperative to have this discussion? Why?
- What are the circumstances that have led up to this crossroad?
- What do you want to achieve out of this discussion?
- What are you willing to compromise for the sake of Allah, your marriage, your love for this man, my family?
Maybe write it down, do a pro/con list or a bullet point list or number the urgency of the issue from 1-10, one being the most imperative and ten being you can live with this niggle. I advise that you always try to excuse his behaviour and think of reason why this would happen without making him the culprit. Write 3-5 nice things he has done for you this week. Has he made you a cup of tea, got the kids ready for school, let you have a lie in, got you a little something on his way home from work?
Depending on the circumstance I’d advise you to pick a time, let your husband know that after the football, when the kids go to bed you need to talk. Don’t Argue or start the conversation or even prompt him in front of others or the children. Do this mano-a-mano.
Show Time: Try and stay calm, don’t reach for the shot. Breathe. Sit facing each other, maintain eye contact, do not cross your arms, ( if you can bear it) touch his arm or leg. Studies show that physical contact can release stress hormones and make a person more receptive to what is being said. Then…
- Explain to your husband the need for the discussion. I suggest starting with two positives and then going in for the negative.
- Ask for his interpretation of it. Sometimes just the interpretation is enough to diffuse the argument. More often than not you can move to the next question which is one simple yet poignant question:
- “Help me understand why this happened?”
- If the discussion is getting heated, take a break, go and make a cup of tea (I suggest staying away from the caffeine, chamomile or valerian are soothing).
- Try not to say things you might regret. Here having a list is good because it shows your husband you mean business and not “hysterics”
- Once you have calmed, resume the discussion.
- Make sure you both are clear regarding what the other is saying, allow each other time to talk and process.
- Explain your feelings and the reason why what happened upset you and needs to be resolved.
- This is the time to COMPROMISE
- Be realistic, be kind. Unless your husband is an egotistical narcissist, chances are that he will learn from this experience and know not to do it next time. If he is an egotistical nacissist, well… May Allah make it easy for you.
- Always try to hug it out, even if you are wiping your tears as you do this. Physical contact is important in marriage, and at this point it’ll releases stress, lower blood pressure and hopefully remind you of your love and affection.
It would be so easy to say that these steps always work, they don’t always but try not to go to bed angry with each other. If necessary get someone in, you both trust to act as a conflict mediator or go for counselling. Don’t bury your feelings because you are being perceived as an emotional being. Don’t validate other’s ignorance or dismissiveness of you emotions. Stand your ground. Men are brought up to think that they are more logic than women but they are not, they just lack that emotional side that we have( you know -the estrogen side)! Men and women have been created to balance each other in an equal harmonious manner and be righteous and fair towards each other, not be oppressed! Own your pain and own your right to an explanation.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (Quran 49:16)
the word “hysterical” is unacceptable as it has negative historical and psychological connotations regarding a woman’s inability to balance her mental health. As women we are all emotional beings who sometimes cry, and yet we all live, work, have children. We have our periods and still go to the gym, to work and come home to cook and put our children to bed, yet we may at times we cry, or speak louder when we feel like they are not listening to what we are saying, this doesn’t mean we are hysterical.
Freud believed that women went hysterical if they had no husband or child to fulfill their needs. In ancient Greece when women did not want to give up their virginity to some man they would be considered hysterical. Throughout history women who stood their ground, whilst being emotional would be chained, given medication and shock treatment to cure their mental conditions, all in man’s pursuit of a woman’s meekness.
Men grew in this world where women are expected to comply and when we don’t they overlook our feelings and/or call us mad. Don’t allow a man to oppress you in such a way. Having these discussions can show your husband you can be emotionally logical.
The more you use the method, the better you will both get at it and the stronger your marriage will be, in sha Allah. I’ve seen it work so may Allah make it easy for you. With time and a lot of conversation men do learn to take our feelings into consideration and as mothers and teachers we can pass this to our sons and daughters so that they get to know one another is a respectful manner.
Do you have other methods? What strategies to you use when handling tensions in marriage? Share the knowledge, let’s support each other. If you have read it this far 👏🏽