1,000 Pages of Marriage Counseling in One Paragraph!

A must-read for all young people planning to get married.

1,000 Pages of Marriage Counseling in One Paragraph!

Dr. Ibraheem Dooba 

1,000 Pages of Marriage Counseling in One Paragraph!

Recently, I was at a friend’s house. We were seated together in his living room when a young man who was about to be married came to him for counseling. My friend did such a wonderful job that I felt I had nothing to add. Still, he invited me to say something. 

So I asked the guy: “between the two of you, who is more easily offended? Who is the quickest to anger?”

“I think I am. But when angry, her anger is worse than mine.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told him. 

“But before marriage, you should enter into an agreement or a contract. The agreement should say that you shouldn’t engage your partner when he or she is angry. You should be firmly united on this prenuptial agreement.”

This merits repeating:

If your husband is angry, don’t engage him. If your wife is angry, don’t engage her. Even if you’re right. Especially if you’re right!

That’s a thousand pages of marriage counselling compressed into one paragraph. 

By engage I mean don’t argue. No repartee. Don’t laugh and don’t correct. Don’t pray for him or her (Allah Ya ba ka hakuri), that will only escalate the situation. 

A very accomplished woman once told me that “when Maigida [her husband] is angry, I don’t say anything. I don’t even cry. After he has calmed down, then I talk to him or cry if I want to.”

When she told me this, my respect for her quadrupled. 

Indeed, the only thing you can say to your partner - if your ego would allow you - is that you’re sorry. Or that they are right. But that can also be misconstrued as sarcasm, so I advise against it. 

After the storm, talk to him or her about the incident. 

But if you insist on “winning” the argument, that would make both of you angry. Then that would make you say things that would make you resent each other. 

Then that can lead to the worst emotion of all: contempt. It’s almost impossible to recover from that. 

John M. Gottman in his bestselling book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,” said that contempt predicts divorce more than any other emotion. 

That’s why scholars and leaders of the past avoided steps that would lead to it. 

Consider Umar. My father doesn’t tire of telling me this story: A man came to Umar (one of the most powerful leaders in the world at that time) to report his wife. But he heard Umar’s wife telling him off. 

“This is even worse than my situation,” the man reasoned and started to walk away. Umar (RA) said that he should be called back. When the man told him why he left, Umar said “why shouldn’t I be patient with her when she takes care of my children?”

But there’s something equally compelling that scholars don’t usually point out. When the wife was telling him off, what did Umar say? Nothing!

He could have easily said: “woman, should I remind you who I am?”

And what would the wife say? She would have said more unprintable things to undermine even his leadership until Umar gets angry (he is human after all).

But he said nothing. And preserved the relationship. 

So when your partner is angry, shut the heck up!

If not, one day, even if you’re still together, the relationship would’ve been dead and buried. 

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