Content Ever After

This article is written by Dr. Imad Bayoun. It is published on our blog by his permission. It is a must read

Those involved in family counseling (or family problems themselves) notice some recurrent complains:  “She doesn’t like to …”“he doesn’t like to talk”“he doesn’t spend enough time in…”

While some of the problems are real, sometimes these complains can be translated as “she’s not like Sr. X“he doesn’t treat me the way Br. Y treats his wife”, “she doesn’t look like Sr. Super-Z, and so on.

And one thing is certain: comparisons are the biggest killers of happiness.  One sure way to destroy your happiness is by comparing with others, who seem to have more.  Allah (S) say in Surat Taha, verse 131:

ولا تمدن عينيك الى ما متعنا به ازواجا منهم

And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them

What others have, always seems more appealing.  While what we have may be satisfactory, once we start comparing, we will always find someone who has it “better.”  Then what we have is not even acceptable anymore.  It becomes bad, even terrible, in comparison. We may even stop seeing the good things we have over other people, focusing on the “better” THEY have and failing to see the “better” that WE have.

We always compare because we’re always looking for the ideal in everything; in this case, the ideal spouse, the soul-super-mate (SSM).  And this is strengthened by over-exposure to so many ideal love stories and cute romantic comedies in books and movies. They show us that everyone, after some adventures, ends up finding his SSM and living happily ever after.  Thus, we reach a point where we think these ideals are indeed the norm, and anything short of that is not acceptable.  We think “the one, for me, for me, formidable” (as narrated by Aznavour), is somewhere out there, waiting for me.  She/he actually exists, and is easy to find.  Nothing less will be acceptable.

Then every time we meet someone (even if the Halal way), we hope he/she is the One.  So we project all of our heavy dreams, baggage and furniture over the poor person.  We expect them to be that which they are not.  Then we get married and discover the true person. We divorce. Then we repeat the same cycle, living miserably ever after.

While some people actually find their SSM, most people don’t (including the actors in those movies), yet still can live happily.  Omar Al-Farooq (R) said: Love is not the only component for building successful families (ليس بالحب وحدة تبنى البيوت).  Happiness can still be achieved with someone short of the ideal spouse.  The key is to accept what one has.  A beautiful Arabic proverb says: Contentment is a treasure that never perishes (القناعة كنز لا يفنى).  If a person is content with a difficult situation, he will be happy; if he’s discontent with a good situation, he will never be happy.

Here are a few things that could help:

  1. Stop watching those romantic comedies.  Most of those stories are more ‘fiction’ than Avatar.
  2. Remember, you’re not perfect yourself, even if your mother thinks you are.
  3. Get to know your wife/husband as they are, not as you wish for them to be.  Each person has his/her individuality, and if you accept them as they are, you may find someone very beautiful.  Put an effort to discover your other half, without any prior judgment.  But essential for that, is…
  4. … not to criticize them, and to make them feel uncomfortable.  When people feel they’re constantly monitored and evaluated, they act very sloppy and awkward, and could never blossom, and show their beauty.
  5. Do not define her by her shortcomings.  In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah in Sahih Muslim, our Prophet (S) said: “لا يفرك مؤمن مؤمنة إن كره منها خلقا رضي منها آخر” “A believing man would never feel repulsed by his believing wife; if finds something about her that he dislikes, he will always find something else about her that satisfies him.”
  6. Keep in mind that Mr/Mrs-Super-Perfect DOES NOT exist.  But then what about Khadija (R), she was perfect and real, wasn’t she?  Yes, she was real, for someone like the Prophet (S).  It won’t be fair to hold that perfect woman as the minimum acceptable standard, that unless my wife is like her, she wouldn’t good enough.  Khadijah was indeed the Maximum, the best a woman can be.  The Prophet (S) said four women attained perfection.  Only Khadijah, among them was married to a prophet.  In a Hadeeth narrated in the Musnad, the Prophet (S) said Allah sent 124,000 Prophets, yet only one of the perfect women was married to a prophet.  So 123,999 prophets had less-than-perfect wives.  Some, like the great Prophets Nuh and Lut (S), even had bad wives.  Something to think about.
  7. Have Taqwa of Allah in whatever you do, and keep in mind His reward.  Omar (R) said: We found the joy of our life in the patience (Sabr).
  8. And just to make it easier on others, if you are blessed with a great husband/wife, then a million Al-Hamdulillah.  Just don’t make it difficult on the others, by continuously telling them how great, perfect, wonderful and ideal your wife/husband is.
  9. Finally, if I still feel a compulsion to compare, then I should compare with those that have less.  The Prophet (S) said to compare with those that have less, “it makes it easier for you to appriciate the blessings of your Lord.”

I ask Allah (S) to give us the clarity and strength to accept all that He decrees, and to place our happiness in it. Ameen

Imad Bayoun

December 22, 2010



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