Conflict is natural and inevitable in marriages and Muslim couples are not immune. The question remains for both Muslim and non-Muslim couples: Why do we fight? A primary reason for all conflict is a dysfunction to ‘normal development’ in childhood referring to social relationships. The Muslim family often focuses on education and academic persistence; however, the children are not always taught life skills. This is where the problem arises – the individual is unsure of how to build a functional relationship with others resulting in couples conflict.
As a counsellor and working with Muslim couples I would say the most common sources of conflicts are communication, work, money, intimacy, parenting, extended family, culture and religion. Each one of these will be discussed in other follow up articles and I have kept this article brief. For more information please click Muslim Marriage Counselling
“ And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts”: (Quran 30:2)
- Unrealistic Perspectives of Marriage
Many couples believe that marriage is like the Cinderella fairy tale story and no change will take place and live happily ever after; unfortunately, this is entirely untrue. The majority of individuals in the 21st century, particularly children, base their expectations of relationships on the media or their experience at home. Many television shows now focus on social relationships and the development of the ‘ideal’ family; however, this depiction is rarely accurate. Unfortunately, children who have been reared on these television images and not provided instruction on realistic relationships are highly likely to experience couples conflict. The imitation of parental relationships can also lead to certain expectations which are seldom met.
- Role Confusion and Poor Communication
Society has evolved from nuclear family to different family systems and the partners should be open to communicating this and any expectations when entering into marriage. According to traditional cultural norms, the male would assume a dominant role in marriage; however, contemporary females are beginning to reduce the subservience of their long-established position in all types of romantic relationships by obtaining employment and increasing their position on previously male-dominated household matters (e.g. finances). This change in the classic marriage format and defiance of traditional views may cause a traditional husband to feel frustration and/or anger; furthermore, not communicating concerns may result in a division between the individuals.
Yet, you should not consider that the wife’s endeavour for independence is the basic tenet of role confusion conflict. In fact, many contemporary husbands who have less traditional views on cultural norms display a desire for their wives to play a larger role in the marriage and would denounce the typically dominant-subordinate position. If the wife has a conservative view of cultural norms and does not communicate this she may experience the same frustration and anger as discussed above.
- A Lack of Prior Information
Just as the lack of communication within the marriage can be damaging, a lack of communication before the marriage can also cause conflict. It is important to have an understanding of your partner’s opinion and expectation of various issues to avoid couples conflict. In addition, if personality differences are present regarding family and the format of the relationship, the couple can experience conflict.
Final Words on the Matter
Couples must look carefully at conflict management and how they tend to process anger. This should be covered prior to getting married or in pre-marital counselling. For example before committing to marriage my partner and I agreed that no matter what the argument was about we would resolve the conflict before the day was out i.e. before going to sleep, not only do you get a better night sleep but Shaitan will no longer be putting thoughts in your head which makes the conflict deeper than it really is.
Marriage is a leap of faith, a journey and in Islam it is a highly recommended deed (Sunnah); however, as can be seen above, there are different considerations to take into account before entering into marriage. By increasing an understanding and approach to various aspects associated with communication you will have less chance of facing marital discord or divorce.
If you need help to get your marriage back on track and to find out more click on Muslim marriage counselling to see how we can help.