Another two weeks will mark the 5th anniversary of Ahmad and Asmaa’s wedding. They have two kids, a nice house, and what everyone assumes is a happy marriage. They go to community events, have gatherings with their couple friends every other week, and play dates for the kids once a week. Ahmad works full time to make sure his family has everything they need and Asmaa makes sure the house is in decent shape, the kids are taken care of, and a delicious dinner is on the table each night.
Ahmad comes home late, exhausted, all he wants is to sit down and eat something while he zones out on his phone checking the basketball scores. Asmaa finally got the kids to bed and is hoping for an adult conversation. When she sees Ahmad isn’t up for it she decides to head to the kitchen and see what needs to be done. Less than a minute later she remarks “Ahmad, the garbage is starting to stink. You promised to take it out yesterday. You think you will have time in your oh so busy schedule to get it done tonight?”. He responds in a snarky tone, “Can you just shut up about the garbage and let me eat in peace for once?”
These comments set a chain reaction in motion with each one beginning to list every action and habit the other does that they can not stand. Each accusation becomes more hurtful and loud than the previous. They part ways an hour later. Broken, resentful, unsure of what to do next.
Underneath it all Asmaa is feeling unappreciated. While she knows her husband works hard for the family she wishes he would acknowledge the effort she brings to the table. She longs for the times when he would spend hours talking to her and making her feel like she was his whole world. On the other hand Ahmad thinks his love and appreciation for her is made obvious by all the hard work he is putting in. He longs for the days where she wasn’t as needy and didn’t nag about taking the trash out but instead did it herself if he forgot. He wishes she was more appreciative of what he brings to the table. They both wish things could go back to how it was when the weight of the world wasn’t on their shoulders and they still gave each other butterflies with every look.
Although this particular set of events is pure fiction it is an all too common reality in our communities these days. Spouses are so focused on the day to day of their lives that they don’t take the time to truly communicate how the changes in their relationship make them feel and how to deal with it. Instead, they bottle up all their annoyances with their spouse and sweep it under the rug until it all explodes and the mess, is sometimes, too big to clean up.
In order for a relationship to grow and flourish the lines of communication have to be open. Both spouses need to commit time and effort to really listen to how the other feels and accept it. Just because you feel that you give your spouse enough attention does not mean they agree—and that’s ok! After all no two people are created exactly the same and everyone has their own emotions and feelings.
Marriage is the cornerstone of our communities. They will produce the next generation. And they are worth working on and fighting for. While there are many steps that can be taken to support couples and help them make it work the simplest, and first, thing that needs to happen is for both of them to be open and honest with each other.