Here are 5 top tips on navigating marriage in your first year as Muslim parents
It is safe to say that having a child significantly changes the dynamic of any of your close relationships, but most importantly – your marriage. There are far too many sleep-deprived, constantly burping, colic-y crying nights where my husband and I stared at each other thinking… How will we do this? Does this last forever? Short answer: no. But boy, those difficult seasons really do feel like forever. In fact, many state that once they become parents, they develop a whole new perspective on life, family and their outlook on the future.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be surprising that after becoming a parent you may feel like a whole new person. With the major changes a couple faces, the relationship you had prior to your child will inevitably change, grow and mature. During the early days of newborn life, it is common to forget that we are also a wife or husband as well as a mother and father – roles that are all-encompassing and time-consuming. With that said, here are 5 top tips on navigating your first year as parents – together. (Only the first year, we’re still figuring it out!).
1. Allow the adjustment period to happen
A new baby arriving in your settled and routined life is bound to ruffle some feathers. As much as it is difficult to accept, your partner (wife or husband) may still be coming to terms with the drastic emotional, mental and physical changes occurring in their life. As a new parent, I was wrong to assume a child would neatly fit into my squeaky clean house, would eventually sleep throughout the night (so I can have evenings with my husband back) and it’ll all be dandy. I’m not here saying it’s all hard.
Parenting is a wonderful gift of life, no joy can compare. But there is an adjustment period and only you’ll know when it’s over, as you will finally feel settled into your new role as a parent. There is no timeline, so take it easy. With good clear and concise communication, you and your partner will be working as a team navigating this newfound life together, Inshallah.
2. Listen to understand, not respond
A light bulb moment is when you and your spouse learn to actually hear what each other are saying. Parenting will bring up debates and discussions, and no doubt you will have opinions on what you feel is right for your child. However, instead of shutting down any opinion that doesn’t align with yours – work together and be there for one another. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand each other’s context. Try have set listening time, a timer of 5 minutes where each person can speak about what is on their mind and how they are currently feeling.
Allow and accept any emotions that come forth. Sometimes solutions or long-winded discussions are not needed about formula or breastfeeding, or to sleep train or not to sleep train – but merely feelings and apprehensive emotions to be listened to heard and accepted are sometimes enough.
3. Understand the new station of one another – you are both equal on this journey.
During the pregnancy of the mother and birth of a new child, a great deal of attention, care and worry is taken over the woman (and rightly so, it’s hard being pregnant, let alone giving birth!). But in the midst of it all, the fathers seem to be a disappearing shadow, lurking behind a sink of full dishes, driving in the middle of the night to buy Infacol and endlessly burping a child who just. Will. not. Burp. Indeed, Islam teaches us that the rank of the father is like no other. Imam Ali Ibn Musa Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) states:
It is your responsibility to obey your father. It is also incumbent upon you to act with humility, benevolence, mercy, respect and good manners. Modulate your voice to a slow and soft tone before him. The father is the root of the son and the son is the branch of the father. Had it not been for the father, the son would not have existed. So, sacrifice your wealth, your respect and your life upon him. Your life and wealth are the property of your father, give them up for him. Act with him in the best possible manner. After his death, pray for him and beg God’s Mercy for him.
Equally, it is not unknown that Islam teaches parenting is one of utmost spiritual growth and has a great station in the eyes of Allah. In particular, the status of a mother. Imam Zain al-
Abideen (a.s.) explains:
The right of your mother is that you know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, she gave to you of the fruit of her heart that which no one gives to anyone, and she protected you with her all being. She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, if she was thirsty as long as you drank, if she was without clothes as long as you were clothed, if she was in the sun as long as you were in the shade. She gave up sleep for your sake, she protected you from heat and cold, all in order that you might belong to her. You will not be able to show her gratitude, unless through God’s help and giving success.
Bear in mind, you and your spouse are on a whole new spiritual journey – ranking much higher in the eyes of Allah (swt).
4. Carve out quality time – make it happen
I was very apprehensive of leaving my little one with anyone at the start, but the more demanding the juggling act became, the less time I had with my other half. Mum guilt, breastfeeding demands, the list goes on. Then one evening, my mum came to stay and watched my bubba while he slept, so we decided to jump into the car and pick up some dessert to have at home. I can’t explain how weird it felt to just lock our door and get into the car. So simple. It was probably the first moment we had alone outside the home. And honestly, it was so quiet!
Sometimes it’s as simple as a ten-minute car journey where you can silently enjoy each other’s company, or a half an hour walk together. These simple moments can realign you both more than you can imagine. Don’t forget, your baby needs a re-energised mama and baba who are on the same page, feel connected and ready to tackle another sleepless night ahead!
5. Filter the free advice
As a first-time parent, there are lots of loving family and friends waiting to help in any way, shape or form. It can sometimes be overwhelming, especially during the first few months where anxiety is high and there are many grey areas on how to do things. As a couple, you can’t stop receiving these loving messages, suggestions and help. They are important. But ensure you have allocated your own personal parenting mentors
for yourself. Choose wisely.
Everyone will only advise on what they know and their own experiences. Prior to the birth of your baby, or even during your pregnancy – choose a few close people with who you can ask questions to know you’ll receive non-judgemental advice that’ll probably be in line with your ideal approach to parenting. Think of it like a bridesmaid or best man – except in the parenting format! It could be
your own parent, sibling, cousin or close friend. It could even be someone you’d like to learn more from and look up to. Creating a support network is key, and no doubt – you’ll need it.
So there you have it, 5 top tips. Statistics show 42% of new parents turn to their spouse when making a parenting based decision, so use this journey to grow closer and understand your spouse better. At the end of the day, your baby is a God-given gift to Inshallah to bring coolness to your eyes.