Seven tips to a happy relationship
By Yasmeen Qadri
Human beings have nurtured positive actions, which communities and families have always passed on through the generations.
One unique Hyderabadi tradition is passing on the seven-strand pearl saat larra (or lada) necklace as a reminder to brides to represent the beauty of the marriage she will create with her husband.
During the 42 years of my marriage, I created my own seven strands of advice, made my own recipe for a content home and value it deeply — especially after I lost my husband Syed Najeeb Qadri in June 2021.
Each strand is held together with seven tsavorites (a garnet in shades of green), which represent tips for a happy marriage that holds together the seven strands of the pearls …. one’s family on both sides.
Strand #1: Taqwa
Marriages are said to be made in heaven, and so are thunder and lightning. Carry your taqwa as you’d carry an umbrella so it will protect you from the thunderstorms in your marriage. Your umbrella is made of sincere du‘a, as only the Almighty can protect your marriage and home; taqwa (struggling against your nafs); and belief in self-improvement, for God won’t change the people’s conditions unless they change themselves.
Strand #2: Tea-time Talk
Practice honest communication skills — crucial during challenging times — during good times. The saying that “speech is sliver, but silence is golden,” is not an advantage in marital conflict.
Spouses often misunderstand “silence,” extending it for days on the grounds that “I was silent because I was practicing patience.” Many don’t realize that this is a form of emotional abuse and can cripple the family.
Common wisdom holds that 10% of conflict is due to a difference in opinion, and 90% to delivery and tone. As a couple, we didn’t breeze through conflicts or arguments. Rather, we learned the art and relevant skills by attending conflict transformation workshops and reading both Islamic and psychology materials.
Try to have regular open and honest communications at teatime, instead of waiting for problems to escalate. If they do escalate, call it the 3 Cs: Crucial Conversation on Chai.
Preparations Tips: Renew your intention and then select a convenient time and relaxing place, like a natural environment; initiate your conversation by taking refuge in God; treat each other in the best possible manner; listen deeply and take a big sip of the hot drink to help control your anger when you feel like yelling back; and don’t get discouraged if things become difficult. Return to the intention — pleasing God — and try again!
Strand #3: Temper Management
The key to anger, a natural emotion, is knowing how to express it. In any relationship, but more so in marriage, learning how to manage one’s temper is important. Adults commonly throw temper tantrums at home, in the workplace or on the road.
To control your temper, try to direct it at the situation and focus on your spouse’s strengths; your reaction is in your control. Instead of seeking to control others, remain calm; be wary of involving a third person and of casting yourself as the victim and your spouse as the villain; recognize your triggers and warning signs before your temper escalates; and don’t dwell in the past or generalize it. Avoid words such as “never” and “always.”
Strand #4: Thankful
Like most young couples, unrealistic expectations can lead to being ungrateful to each other. “… And if you should count the favors of God, you could not enumerate them” (14:34).
When we strive to show gratitude to our Creator, we eventually learn to show it to His creation, especially to our spouse. Discover what makes your spouse feel appreciated. You may feel you’re doing a lot, but your spouse might have other ideas; admire what your spouse is passionate about and offer support; praise each other by showing that you value your relationship, respect and love; share with your close family the good things your spouse does for you and don’t always highlight the limitations; and invest time in each other. Presence is more important than presents, so try to give more than you can take!
Shukr (gratitude) is a recurring theme in the Quran and Sunnah. Research shows that gratitude not only affects one’s mental, emotional and physical health, but also builds relationships with both the Creator and His creation.
Strand #5: Time
“Time is free, but it is priceless. You cannot own it, but you can use it. You cannot keep it, but you can spend it. Once you have lost it, you can never get it back” (Harvey MacKay).
Quality time requires much patience, wisdom, cooperation and certainly belief in God’s power. For example, I miss my baghbaan (gardener), my companion and supporter who took the time to nurture our family into a beautiful garden! You never know when your last moment will come!
You can beautify your own garden by prioritizing and nurturing your relationship, reflecting on Surat al-Asr; trying to “be the change you wish to see”; and nurturing positive cultural values and shedding negative ones. Make Islam the common value.
Strand #6: Touch
“Touch is far more essential than our other senses … It’s ten times stronger than verbal or emotional contact” (Saul Schanberg).
Touch plays a role in feeling understood, accepted and cared for, as it triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes emotional bonding. Touch and displays of affection differ across cultures. In most South Asian homes of my generation, a couple couldn’t touch each other affectionately or hug – let alone in public, but even before family. We have a beautiful example in Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his physical contact with Ayesha (radi Allahu ‘anh).
Strand #7: Taqdeer (Destiny)
Our marriage did not begin on a bed of roses. Shortly after my wedding, my husband returned to Iran. While anxiously waiting to welcome his new bride, things turned sour when the revolution broke out. We lost communication. Thank God he returned home in a few months. But he had lost his job and his savings. At times we wondered if we had made the right decision to get married.
A supportive family and a mother gently reminded me of “Another of His signs is that He created mates of your own kind of yourselves so that you may get peace of mind from them and has put love and compassion between you. Verily there are signs in this for those who reflect” (30: 21).
Here are some simple tips to help you see the benefits of believing in your destiny (taqdeer): Trust in God’s plan, but make a responsible and informed choice when selecting a spouse; don’t act as a victim to misery, but as the designer of your own happiness, for happiness is an attitude, not a state; believe in changing yourself before expecting your partner to change; and given that the spouses’ families can be great supporters, especially in times of crisis, keep your kinship relations alive.
In addition, gain knowledge to strengthen your faith and learn, for example, God’s many attributes; attend workshops to learn communication skills, conflict transformation, relationship development, counseling and so on; and believe in destiny, for it’s one of Islam’s six articles. Imam Shafi describes it as: “My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me. What misses me was never meant for me.”
Upon reflection over the past 42 years, I realize that neither my husband (may God reward him the highest abode in heaven) nor I was perfect. The credit for making our marriage blissful goes to both of us holding tight to the One who brought the two of us together.
Dr. Yasmeen Qadri, a mother of three and grandmother, is a tenured professor at Valencia College, advisor to the Muslim Ambassadors for Peace Student Club, as well as a board member of the Peace and Justice Institute.