5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship - By Azmia Magane
We’ve been sold so many ideas about love and romance thanks to Disney movies and fairy tales, but there’s no denying marriages are difficult, especially with all the pressures young couples and families face today.
In the United States, almost half of marriages end in divorce. In fact, the United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world. Although the divorce rate for the general population has been on the decline in both the United States and Canada, the divorce rate among Muslims in both places is on the rise.
While there are some who will say “divorce is never the answer,” unfortunately, yes, sometimes it is, especially in instances of abuse. If there is abuse happening, it’s important to get help immediately, and get out as quickly and as safely as you can. If abuse or neglect is present, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or visit their website; please keep in mind that many abusers monitor web usage, and access resources as safely as you can. There is no “improving” or working on a relationship where abuse is present.
But in those cases where you just feel you and your partner have lost your spark, aren’t communicating well, or just don’t spend time together anymore, alhamdulillah, these are things that can be worked on and improved. Here are some tips to help restore and improve your relationship.
Create What You Want In the Relationship
This is not to infantilize men, which some cultures can be very guilty of doing. Nor is it to excuse weaponized incompetence. But you don’t need to wait for your partner to initiate things, sis. You can start creating the kind of relationship you want to have by taking action, or speaking up and letting him know what you want. Don’t wait for him to read your mind.
It’s up to him to decide if he wants to partake or not. But if he’s not up for you showing your more adventurous side, and isn’t willing to reciprocate, or if this sounds exhausting, and sounds like all the work is being put on you, that points to there being larger issues around the division of labor in the relationship, in which case it’s definitely time for a conversation – and maybe even professional help.
Learn Each Other’s Love Languages
You may have heard of the concept of “love languages.” This is a concept developed by author and counselor Gary Chapman, PhD. The five love languages are:
- Physical touch
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Receiving gifts
- Quality time
Different people express and understand love in different ways. Once you and your partner better understand each other’s love languages, you can show each other love in ways that make each other feel heard, seen, valued, and appreciated.Take the free Love Language Quiz Here!
Don’t Stop Dating Each Other
Many Muslims are very intentional with “dating” since we don’t “date” in the traditional sense of the word. Muslim “dating” is dating to marry. While this intentionality is great, and inshallah keeps us from wasting time with casual dating, we sometimes don’t ever really learn how to “date” our partners when we go straight from “talking”/”halal dating” to marriage. Learn how to “date” your partner.
Learn how to flirt with them. Learn how to do all those cute things you’d do when they were your (halal) crush, before you secured the title of wifey/hubby. Those efforts shouldn’t stop just because you’re now married. Marriage isn’t the finish line. It’s just the beginning.
Limit Screen Time
Healthy communication is important. Research has shown that screen time is interfering with face to face communication in relationships. Nearly half (4 in 10) of people report being bothered sometimes by how much time their partner spends on the phone. Over half of people in relationships report that they’ve tried to have a discussion with a partner who was busy staring at their phone instead.
So set boundaries and expectations around phone usage and screen time, like no phones at dinner or that phones need to be set down when you start talking to each other. I know most of us are probably glued to our phones by force of habit, but let’s not let it become a barrier to building authentic and genuine connections with the people who are physically present with us in our face.
Be Assertive In the Bedroom
Yep, I’m going to say it. Women are entitled to sexual pleasure in their marriage. It’s okay to bring it up if you aren’t being pleased – if you don’t bring it up, he may never know. And he definitely won’t know if you keep faking it and keep pretending. So please, sisters…stop faking it. It’s not healthy for you or your relationship.
You may think you’re protecting his ego, but in the long run, it can damage the relationship, because this can eventually be a source of resentment. All relationships need reciprocity, but especially in the bedroom.
If you’re interested in solo or couples counseling with a Muslim therapist, check out Therapy for Muslims, the Muslim Association for Psychological Services, and the Institute for Muslim Mental Health. Everyone needs some help sometimes. There’s no shame in seeking out assistance from experts if you need some help.
What are your favorite ways to keep your relationship happy and healthy? Drop a comment and let us know. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at @tuesdayinlove.
5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship