Strengthening families is a subject which is one of the core issues of the contemporary world. Hundreds and thousands families are breaking every year around the world. Lack of stable and long-lasting families is a reality which cannot be denied. But the important point to discuss is to find the reason why marriages are breaking. What are the problems? And how we can establish strong, faithful and lasting marriages and families?
I think it is very important and crucial to look for the solutions to strengthen our families. And I believe that strong families guarantee strong societies and stable and peaceful countries. If people are happy and content they can contribute much in the building of better societies and communities.
First of all it must be understood that what marriage is. Marriage or wedding is a legal union between a man and woman, in other words, it is an agreement under which a man and a woman live as husband and wife by legal or religious commitments.
Marriage is a divine bond between husband and wife so as to enjoy social and intimate relationship with each other and to have children. It is one of the most sacred divine contracts between them, so it must be a source of peace and comfort for both of them. Marriage is a part of a social system, which lays down detailed guidelines about the relationship between the two genders. This all makes a family.
One of the main purposes of marriage is to guard against evils and immoralities, to establish a loving and peaceful society and the procreation and protection of human race. And that a mutual love would develop between the couple safeguarding them against the distress of loneliness.
But a question arises: How can we make this relationship of a family stronger and lasting? This is a very important question which should be given great importance. Please permit me to write a few basic points which are the basis of a strong and faithful family.
In status men and women are equal; no one is superior or inferior to the other. But, of course, responsibilities and obligations are different. Therefore respect and love must always be exhibited for the other partner.
The selection of a faithful life partner is a very important factor, for that one must pray to God for a faithful life-partner. In selecting a life partner compatibility is one of the most important factors. In connection with compatibility, there are many things to be considered but faithfulness, morals, human values, religion and spiritual status should be preferred. This is so because, all other things are for a period of time and they are mortal but spirituality and faithfulness will last throughout their life. Consideration is given to social and economic position and worldly means of livelihood. In the same way, family background, education, age and health status are also considered. There is no doubt that the whole world is full of blessings, but there is no greater blessing of the world than a pious life partner.
The relationship between husband and wife should be as between two true, sincere and faithful friends. The husband should treat his wife with great love and respect; the same should be done by the wife. Everyone should try to be the first to help. However, unfortunately, there are those who treat their spouse with such severity and strictness and do not behave with decency and politeness. Such an attitude is most objectionable and is the enemy of a good family life. Respect, love, tolerance are the great weapons to kill such attitude, the enemy of the family.
The role of parents is also very crucial, and they should act in a benevolent manner towards their children. And when children have grown up, the parents, as they are the best well-wishers of their children and that they have a great personal experience of married life, have to play a vital role to teach their children in a most appropriate manner about marriage, and what a suitable and faithful spouse has to be. However, children should be free to take their decisions.
Husband and wife should never keep secrets from each other. They should never do anything that they feel the need to hide from each other. They must keep it in mind that although the spouse does not know about such behaviour, God does see, and they will lose respect for each other when the matter is finally discovered. But as human beings, if someone has done anything against the wish of the partner, it should not be hidden but they should inform clearly one another, as that is the way to retain respect. To hide it leads to disgrace and disrespect. So, a better understanding and sharing everything is also very important.
When one of the partners is angry with his/her spouse, one should not start arguing immediately but should wait for the right time to make the spouse realise his/her error. This will surely bring more harmony, respect and understanding between them. Showing patience is very important in a married life, as it is a great factor to solve many arguments and problems. One should keep in mind that, there are always problems in married life when there is criticism, and lack of trust and confidence in each other.
Husband and wife as life partners and have great responsibilities and obligations. Both of them must have a great concern and feelings of love and compassion for each other. Their sentiments and emotions must reflect love and respect for each other. They must become the garment for each other, and as garments are used to cover and protect one from extreme climatic conditions, to look civilized, nice and elegant and to cover weaknesses, faults and blemishes, husband and wife should show these qualities for each other, they should also exhibit these qualities between themselves.
As every person likes to have a pretty garment, to look nicer, the marriage partners playing the role of good garments should bring out and enhance each other’s beauty and should make every effort to make the spouse cheerful and happy.
As garments cover any fault or blemish of the body, in the same way, the marriage partner must cover the faults or weaknesses of the spouse. This is only possible if there is open-mindedness, forbearance and patience. These qualities must be exhibited by both sides. It is not possible that one partner shows patience and the other criticism, one overlooks and the other nags.
When playing the role of perfect garment covering the weaknesses or faults of the other, none of the two should disclose or advertise the shortcomings of the other. Each partner should compensate for the weaknesses of the other and fill the voids of the other to make a beautiful whole.
To take care of the simile of the garment’s role in safeguarding one from the effects of bad weather, both should help each other in sailing through occasions of grief, pain and loss to either or both parties, and in consoling and supporting each other during physical and emotional adversities.
Better atmosphere and reasonable bringing up of the children is also very important for strong and lasting families, because if the children are not treated with respect and values, how can it be possible that they will build their strong and valuable relationships? But, I am very certain that if children are brought up in a family atmosphere with teachings of values, they will succeed in building strong families when they will reach that time. Here, it should be clear as well that it is not enough to teach children good values; showing such valuable values is even more important. And as it is said that ‘actions speak louder than words’, it is very important and crucial that parents should be practical in what they teach; while children should be brought up in a practical atmosphere of values.
Children are the future of any society and community, thus they must be treated and educated very well, and we must respect our children and cultivate in them the best of manners. A valuable upbringing of the children is important for healthy families, because a healthy fruit depends upon a healthy tree, and a healthy tree depends upon a healthy soil. If the family is healthy the children will be enriched with values and great moral qualities.
We hope and pray that Almighty God may enable everyone to live a happy and prosperous ideal family life.By: Laiq Ahmed Atif, President Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. firstname.lastname@example.org