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7 Keys to a 20 Year Marriage

When I got married on June 23, 2001, I had no idea or concept that my marriage could/would last for twenty years (alhamdulilah!). Of course, I didn’t get married with the thought that it would end, I just never actively conceptualized what 20 years of marriage would look like. And now that I am about to celebrate this unbelievably awesome milestone with the love of my life, I want to pass on to you some of the lessons that helped make our marriage last and keeps the love and passion burning bright.

FIRST, I got married at the age of 22 (and my wife, well let’s just say she was younger than me!), which many would consider relatively young. However, because I had the approval of my family and my wife’s family, there were always multiple layers of support, especially in the early years. This support was essential to helping us start our life together. Yes, we were on our own, but we are not alone. We had family around us that wanted us to succeed and gave us the distance we needed to do that but at the same time were always there to help if and when we needed it. I know that at the time of my marriage my parents did not agree 100% with my decision since I was young, but this did not stop them from throwing 100% of their support to make sure we thrived.

TWO, my wife and I talked about our first principles when we first start talking about marriage. We made sure that there was 100% alignment on the important, meta-issues, and this meant that we had the same view of religion and faith. For us, Islam is the most essential aspect of our lives; both public and private. This means that no matter how difficult things get, we always manage to find our way back to each other because we know deep down inside, we share the same set of values. First principles are essential as everything flows from them. Sharing a life with someone who doesn’t share your principles is nearly impossible.

THREE, we always have clear and constant communication. Despite the many challenges we face together and individually, we are always able to speak and listen to one another. It’s also important to realize that communication is not limited to words, and you need to learn how your spouse communicates through other means. I admit, this took me some time, but it’s one of the most fundamental components to a successful marriage.

FOUR, each spouse has to have their own life. While marriage makes you both a unit, you can’t dissolve the individual identity of each person. As long as you respects one another and no one is engaging in the immoral or haram, each spouse needs to find their own way, own hobbies, own individual life.  This will help you thrive and grow as a couple. You learn to empower one another and cherish in seeing each other grow.

FIVE, never go to sleep angry! Yes, this means there are some nights you don’t sleep, but addressing problems right away is the best way to deal with them and not let them grow. When you go to bed angry, you send a subconscious message that I am ok with this problem and it’s not big enough to inconvenience myself over. This can be dangerous in a relationship. Not necessarily in the beginning, but as time goes on.

SIX, date night is essential. I admit that this is not always possible, especially with children and other distractions like quarantine, but it is fundamental to make time for one another. You don’t want the essential bonds that brought you together to dissolve in the distractions of day-to-day life. It is important to make time for one another, for the sake of one another. These small outings will become an oasis of happiness and refreshment. Don’t over think date night. I’m not talking about elaborate outings, although these are important and fun to plan, but it’s also the simple ones that matter.

SEVEN. You need to check your self (nafs)). Our self/ego gets the better of us all the time and we find out that most of our problems are that “I” want something, that “I” placed my needs ahead of someone else’s.  You can’t thrive in a relationship if you are thinking about “I” and “me”, rather you need think about “we”, and to do that you have to be able to know when your nafs is acting up. Sacrifice your nafs, not your partner; check yourself and humble it, don’t dissolve your union because you are selfish.

There are many, many more lessons that I plan to share soon, but these are the top ones that have worked for us. Remember that it takes a lot of effort to make a relationship thrive and keep going. It’s important that you seek advice and adapt so that you too can experience the joy of love for years, and years to come!