Dear Muslim Couples,
I read earlier that our community has a 33% divorce rate.
That means 1/3 of our marriages do not last! That is beyond shocking, disheartening, and demoralizing!
As someone who has lived experience and has worked with several couples over the years, I’d like to share some of my observations as to how or why we’ve gotten to this dark place and how we can maybe find our way out of it–in sha Allah.
First, let me say as a disclaimer that OBVIOUSLY, some marriages are not meant to last and should end as soon as possible because they are proven harmful to one or both parties involved. So, this is not a critique or debate about divorce, it’s just a general commentary about the problems plaguing our marriages and families, and ways we can perhaps do better moving forward in sha Allah.
- WEAK INTENTIONS: Our marriages are not primarily for the sake of ﷲ. We marry for companionship, as a protection from temptation, for kids, to please our parents, for tax breaks, etc., but we aren’t PRIMARILY marrying to please Allah ﷻ and fulfill the sunnah of our Beloved ﷺ. And as we know, any enterprise, endeavor, or major life decision that begins without invoking God’s blessing will be fruitless! So, we need to define what marriage for the sake of Allah ﷻ really means and help our youth make better choices. Marriage classes should start much earlier than in the college or post college years. Our teens are learning about all types of twisted relationship models and watching the breakdown of family and society unfold every day, so we can’t delay these conversations anymore. They need to know what a healthy relationship means in Islam, and more importantly, they need to see it modeled as well! More on that another time…
- WEAK BELIEFS: We have adopted dangerous ideologies about manhood, womanhood, and marriage itself, and have completely abandoned what marriage in Islam really means and looks like. When we approach marriage with distrust, suspicion, and cynicism, and see our spouse as either a conquest or a possession instead of a loving partner, then why do we expect the relationship to grow in a healthy direction? We can’t invite Iblis to join the union and give him ample opportunity to cause division and tear us apart, and then complain about it. Marriage in Islam is about mutual benefit, respect, and observing appropriate boundaries where BOTH partners are beholden to God’s standards and expectations not anyone else’s, including each other or one another’s parents, inlaws, families, cultures, etc.
- WEAK APPETITES: Pornography and sexual perversity is the rot that will eat away at the spiritual connection between a couple. If you allow this filth into your life at any point and then bring it with you into your marriage, you might as well sign the divorce papers because your marriage will inevitably fail. Whatever your personal struggles are, do everything in your power to AVOID the degeneracy of this pornographic culture. That means obviously DON’T watch any form of pornography but also STOP watching filth that may not have a XXX rating but is still pornographic. Watching television, shows, music videos, TikToks, Reels, Youtube videos, reading “erotica” etc., where people are revealing their bodies, and engaging in outright explicit and HARAM behavior is a direct violation of God’s command to LOWER ONE’S GAZE. We have long been conditioned to adopt these western standards based on their approved rating system for what is considered appropriate or inappropriate, but the fact is, we have our own rating system in Islam, and if we betray it and normalize watching certain things–especially as an activity with our spouse–then there are serious consequences! No one should be surprised to learn that their partner has suddenly developed a strange habit, or wants to “experiment” sexually with things that just don’t feel right when they handed them the keys to access the demonic portals that call to such evil! Deviancy is contagious and corrosive! So please stop bringing the garbage into your living rooms or bedrooms and just turn it off. Look for wholesome entertainment and have a ZERO policy for HARAM. And advocate for intimacy that is modest, pure, and rooted in true love and romance–not perversity, deviance, and pornography that just reduces a sensual and spiritual experience to an animalistic one!
- WEAK & ENTITLED EGOS: Appreciate what you have and stop the nafsy nonsense that entitles you to a perfect utopian life in this world. If you have a partner who is dutiful first and foremost to their Lord and upholds their responsibilities to you (and your children, parents, family, etc) and is doing their best to SHOW UP and pull their weight in the marriage, then STOP nitpicking over superficial things or comparing them to others. No one has the perfect marriage. No matter what you think about any individual or couple out there, know for certain, that everyone has struggles they have to push past. Just be grateful that you have a partner. Be grateful that God has given you someone to grow with, experience life with, share responsibilities with, etc. And if you have children with them, then for the love of God, stop being an ingrate. If you have ANY love for your children, then put aside your petty squabbles or nagging wishlists, and stop throwing around the word divorce. Unless you are in a situation where there are serious violations happening, you need to learn the language of compromise and focus on the positives in your marriage–which for sure there are many, even if you refuse to state them. The bottom line is, we WILL be tested in our relationships, and what we dismiss as incompatibility is often much more than that. Our partners are sometimes mirrors for us to see some harsh truths about ourselves, and if we are uncomfortable facing those truths then obviously it will seem easier to discard the mirror. But the better route is to look intently, to listen, and to redefine our partners as the means through which we arrive at the door of God–beseeching Him for salvation. Our partners are sometimes the reason we even make it to the door, because whether they carry us when we need to be carried, or they force us to flee to God for refuge from them, they help us and for that reason alone should be appreciated.
In the end, that’s all that matters, isn’t it? This life will end. We’re all on the way out, but it’s where end up when we leave here that determines our success. Divorce may be necessary for some, but for a lot of couples, it’s a false trap door that looks like an easy escape route. It actually leads to much darker days when opened prematurely and rushed into. We need to start shaking some common sense back into one another and avoid the illusory lies of the modern world that have made us all so self-absorbed we run at the first sign of problems. Let us learn to appreciate what we have. Let us take our marriages more seriously and start making the necessary changes to protect them from the traps of shaitan. Whatever challenges we have aside from abuse and any other serious violations, we should push through and overcome our nafs (ego) in the process. We should admit fatigue and seek professional help when we’re too tired and spent fighting on our own. And we should continuously ask God for help and strength.
Iblis will stop at nothing to destroy us. Divide and conquer is one of his preferred tactics. He will destroy everything we build until we’re left to rubble. Marriage is about building, and divorce is demolition. Please continue to build, even if you have to renovate, and do everything you can to avoid the wrecking ball.
May Allah ﷻ continue to give us strength…
P.S. Please note that this list is nowhere near exhaustive or complete. There are MANY other issues that can lead to the dissolution of a marriage, but for the sake of time and convenience, I mentioned the general issues above as I believe they are the overarching reasons why many marriages struggle. When the foundation of a building is built faulty or weak, we don’t blame its cracking walls, chipped paint, or creaking floorboards—we look to fixing the source of the issue, not the symptoms.