Have you cleaned the house? Is dinner ready? Have you fed the kids? Did you wash my clothes?
These are some of the questions that women hear, day in and day out, from husbands who assert that wives are nothing more than servants and baby machines. But a wife is neither.
Nevertheless, amidst busy schedules on the parts of both women and men, some husbands forget the real reasons behind marriage and likewise the rights of their wives. Subsequently, they deprive themselves, their mates and their children of the happiness and tranquility that is the bedrock of a successful family. This unbalanced vision towards a couple's ideal relationship is bad enough to plunge the family into a situation laden with troubles and worries.
Even among religious families, you will find some husbands who still do not have a proper understanding of rights of their wives, nor a clear vision of the intended relationship between a married couple.
It is both painful and distressing to see a Muslim husband practicing Allah's orders on the one hand, but forgetting to follow His guidance regarding how to treat his wife. Outside the home he is kind, patient and smiling. But, as soon as he returns home, the smiling face becomes angry and sad and the kindness and gentleness turn into nervousness and adversity. He starts shouting and screaming his orders at his wife.
He forgets that although he faces many challenges and pressures outside the house, his wife can also be overwhelmed with the housework and her responsibilities to the children.
He forgets that she also needs rest after a long day of working. Although his duty is to work outside the house and to provide for his family, a wife's role inside the house is not any less important. On the contrary, her role is often more important as she is the one charged with raising the children and guarding the family.
We often see this scenario: A wife feels tired and asks her husband to help her with the cleaning, washing or cooking. He refuses, as though it is shameful for a man to help his wife. Doesn't he know that Prophet Mohammad (SAW), the most beloved person to Allah (SWT), helped his wives with the housework? Doesn't he know that Omar Ibn al-Khattab provided recipes to a group of women in order to teach them how to cook? Could Omar teach others if he himself did not know how to cook?
No husband, regardless of how much work he has, can ever be busier than our Prophet (SAW) whose duty it was to spread Islam. Likewise, no one is busier than Omar who had to bear the responsibility of a Khalifah.
It shocks me to hear that some wives have never heard a loving or appreciative word from their husbands. When asked about the person he loved the most, the Prophet (SAW) did not hesitate to name his wife, A'ishah. Thus, he declared very clearly, that a husband should not be ashamed of loving his wife or even of declaring that love in front of other people.
It is also painful to hear that some husbands do not speak to their wives or spend time with their families, under the pretenses of a busy schedule and da'wa work. While it is noble to be involved in da'wa outside the home, it is also necessary that the wife and children also be recipients of a husband's efforts.
I wonder how married couples can live without ever talking or spending time together or how they can feel happiness and tranquility with this gap separating them. Who else can share in happiness and sadness better than one's wife? Who else can encourage one to confront the challenges of life with perseverance and patience? Who can listen and keep one's secrets better than a wife? Who can help renew iman and intentions better than a wife?
The Prophet (SAW) taught us that the best among men is the one who best treats his wife. Shouldn't we follow the Prophet's example in every issue of our lives?
The Prophet (SAW) spent time with his wives, talking to them, laughing with them, and even playing with them. He listened to his wife, Om Salama's (RAA), advice in the Hudaybiya conciliation, when she advised him to start shaving and butchering. It was her mature advice that solved the predicament and protected the Muslim nation. So why have we strayed from that example?
Raising children is not just the mother's job, as some mistakenly think. It is intended as a mutual responsibility to be shared by both parents. Everyone has his/her complimentary role to undertake regarding family. There is no doubt that the mother bears the bigger burden of responsibility, but the role of the father is likewise important and has tremendous effects on the stability of the family.
Children need the presence and input of a father. They need him to ask them about their homework, help them memorize the Qur'an and understand religion. They need to feel that he is there for them.
Dear husbands, your wife is your partner, your other half and your life mate. She can be your hassanah in this world and "the blessing of your life," but only if you give her the chance to be. She is the one who can bring a smile to your face and dry the tears of pain from your eyes. She has the potential to provide your family with iman, happiness, encouragement, and patience in the face of challenges you may face. Your wife is always ready to sacrifice everything in order to bring happiness and success to the family.
No one can claim that marriage is always blissful or that there will never be any hardships to face. But, if the basis of the relationship is strong and if each person has a clear vision of his partners' rights, then challenges can easily be overcome.
I do not mean to blame all husbands for the problems facing couples today. I am addressing a specific type of husband within the Muslim community: the misinformed one who does not understand that a happier and stronger Muslim family can only be built under a strong partnership between the couple.