On Friday, December 13th, 2013 at around 12:30pm (a few hours before my wedding), I wrote this letter to myself as a form of reminder. I want to remember these things for the years to come Insha Allah.
These are some reminders to myself about being a husband, a father, and a person in general
Dear Married Aiman,
As a husband, I hope that you think of your wife as your partner. She is neither your boss nor your employee. She is your partner. She has opinions, thoughts, and feelings – so listen to them. Listen more, talk less. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two from her.
Have honest conversations with her. Discuss things. You’re going to disagree, so handle disagreements well. Don’t expect her to be like you. She’s not like you and she never will be like you. She is a unique individual, with her own personalities. Don’t forget that she’s a woman, and you and I both know that there’s a lot that we need to learn about women. Don’t expect uniformity. Uniformity doesn’t lead to unity. Diversity leads to unity and Islam celebrates diversity, but with limits.
Be a leader, not a dictator.
Know that both of you are on the same team, so don’t think about winning or losing. Use the Quran and the Sunnah as a guide, not as a weapon to bring the other down. If you need to correct her, do so in the best way possible. Don’t be a jerk about it. In fact, don’t be a jerk in general. Be kind and compassionate, especially towards your family. The best people are the best to their families. Like I said, you’re on the same team. You are both in this for the long run, all the way to Jannah. Insha Allah.
You will argue with your wife. There will be times when she will drive you crazy. There will be times when you will drive her crazy. As much as you would like to avoid those moments, they are almost inevitable. I have never heard of a marriage without conflicts. Even the Prophet had conflicts with his wives.
In those times, remember the Prophet. Remember that he kept his cool no matter what. If you’re angry, don’t talk while you’re angry. Don’t discuss things while you’re angry. You and I both know that while you’re angry, you’re not thinking straight. You might say or do things that you don’t mean. So keep your mouth shut while you’re angry and don’t do anything stupid. Make wudu, pray two rakaat, cool yourself down, and if you feel like you need to address something then do so in the best way possible. Not while you’re angry.
Love your wife, with all your heart. Remember that a woman was made from a rib. The rib is on your side so she is neither above you nor below you, and the rib is close to your heart so that you may cherish her and love her. Also, don’t forget that ribs protect the internal organs; so as much as you are protecting her, she is also protecting you.
Always say that you love her even though she knows it. Say it anyway. Show your gratitude to what she has done for you.
As a father, I hope that you think of your children as both a blessing and a trust (an Amanah) from Allah. Know that they are not oblivious to the things you say and do, especially to the things that you do. They learn mostly from your actions, not from your words. So pay closer attention to what you do than what you say. They will always look to you for examples, so be the best example that you can be.
Be a friend to your children. Be a place where they feel safe. Be someone whom they can share their most personal side and secrets. Be someone whom they look forward to meet; when you come home, they run towards you. Not away from you.
Never ever argue in front of the kids. Nothing is more traumatizing to a child than seeing his/her parents fighting. Don’t do that to your kids. Don’t bring kids into your marital arguments. In front of your kids, always smile and be cheerful. Be a source of positive energy for them. That’s how you want them to remember you by.
There is no vacation for being a parent. It is literally a full time job, 24/7, for the rest of your life. Even when your kids get married and have their own kids, that doesn’t mean that you stop being a parent. You will always be a parent. You will always be an example for your kids.
Teach your kids about Islam, about Allah, and about the Prophet. Be their first and their best teacher. Don’t outsource your parenting responsibilities to anyone. Teach them about accountability and about responsibility early on in life so that they learn how to be good and honest people. Teach them how to choose good friends and how to be good friends. Teach them to give back to the community. Teach them to serve people and be a good resource for people, not a burden. Teach them good manners through good examples.
Talk to your kids. Face them and have good conversations. Don’t face the TV. That’s not good quality family time. That’s just a bunch of people sitting in front of the TV. Ask them about their day. Stimulate their minds. Encourage them to think. Ask for their opinions. Encourage them to read good books. Read with them and read to them.
Don’t stunt their growth, but encourage their growth. Or better yet, grow with your kids. When they learn, you learn with them. Don’t be too busy with other things that you miss watching your kids grow. You only have one opportunity to watch your kids grow, so don’t miss it.
Pray with your family. Create a Masjid inside your own home.
In general, know that you will make mistakes. You are not perfect. But when you do make mistakes, please own up to them. Don’t let your pride and ego get in the way. If you know that you are wrong, admit it first and foremost to yourself. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t try to justify yourself with lame excuses. If you’re wrong, admit it. Learn from mistakes, grow, and move on.
The two big enemies of men are their pride and their ego. These two bad boys are not your friends, they are Shaytan’s friends. So don’t allow them to come into your home. Leave them at the door. In fact, leave them altogether. They are no good to you. Be humble. Stay humble. Insha Allah, Allah will raise you.
Build a home, not a house. A house is just made of four walls and rooms. If a house is not filled with love and obedience to Allah, then it is not a home. Build a home, a safe haven for your family. Build a place of tranquility. Build a place where your wife feels safe, where your kids feel safe, and where they feel love and a sense of belonging.
Be open to change. You’re not perfect. You don’t know everything. There’s always something new to learn. Something new to improve.
Find the good in people. Everyone has flaws; your wife has flaws and your kids have flaws. You have flaws. But choose to focus on the good and always mention the good, and seek to improve the not-so-good.
Don’t judge other people, judge only yourself. You don’t know the condition of people’s hearts. What you see with your eyes is not the whole story, so leave the judging part to Allah. Hate the wrong actions that people do. Don’t hate the people that are doing it.
Be the solution, not the problem. Know that the most valuable things in life are not things.
Married Aiman, I hope you can lead your wife, your kids, your family all the way to Jannah where you will live happily ever after. Remember that happily ever after doesn’t exist here in this world, it exists in the next world – in Jannah.
This is Single Aiman, signing off.
Married Aiman, all the best!