Sheikh Yaser Birjas talks about the five stages of marriage.
The first stage of the husband-wife relationship is known as the “in-love” phase where the husband and wife start to get to know each other. Often times, this phase can take place during the nikkah or engagement phase.
The second phase of the relationship is the “newlywed” phase which acts as a honeymoon phase where the man and woman fall madly in-love with each other, wanting to spend all their free time with each other.
The third phase in the relationship is the “disappointment” phase where the husband and wife start to notice each others' shortcomings. The spouse seems to no longer be fulfilling the high expectations set by their partner. Additionally, each spouse starts to push the limit with their partner as the spouses work to establish boundaries in the relationship. The husband and wife will have disagreements and disputes during this period as they realize each others' differences and concerns.
After the third phase, the fourth phase of marriage is known as the “adjustment” phase where the husband and wife work to iron out their disagreements and differences. They establish boundaries and start to understand their partner's limits.
Finally, the fifth stage of the relationship is the “auto-pilot” stage where husband and wife understand their relationship, the disputes decrease, and the couple is able to function without major problems or concerns.
Before I got married, I read the book, Blissful Marriage: A Practical Islamic Guide by Dr. Ekram and M. Rida Bashir. The book was an excellent book when it came to explaining how an Islamic family should function. It gave advice to both husbands and wives in terms of how they should interact and respect their spouses. I would recommend Blissful Marriage to anyone interested in marriage (or anyone already married as well).
More recently, I read the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex by Dr. John Gray. The book, while making generalizations and often stereotyping men and women, can be used as an excellent source on how to interact with the opposite sex.
The book does not really discuss innate differences between men and women, nor does it delve into the nature of communication very deeply. Instead, the book focuses on common differences between men and women when it comes to basic communication skills. It's intended for people to understand how men and women think differently while it doesn't even touch on the why of it.
The book focuses on the importance of respect and the art of listening when it comes to communication. Though much of it may seem like common sense, I found the book to be extremely informative when it came to giving the reader a basic understanding in terms of how men and women communicate ideas differently. I must admit that the book does make significant generalities of both men and women to a frustrating extent. Nonetheless, the book does provide insight to the a man or woman on how to deal with the opposite gender, especially when it comes to the “disappoint” phase as described by Sheikh Yaser Birjas. I hope to give a brief synopsis of the book in the following few paragraphs.
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus starts out by discussing the inherent differences between the values of men and women. Dr. Gray starts the book by making a note that men do no ask each other for advice. Men only seek advice when they are at a dead-end and need help.
Women, on the other hand, tend to offer unsolicited advice to those they love. They try to help the people they love by advising them on how to improve themselves. A man often times misinterprets the advice he receives by a woman as though the woman is trying to control and change him. Similarly, women like to discuss their feelings when they are upset. Men tend to offer solutions when they hear someone who is upset. However, a woman is not looking for a solution, rather she is looking for someone to listen to her and validate her feelings. A man often times tends to invalidate a woman's feelings when he offers a solution without listening to the woman's feelings.
Dr. Gray also delves into how men and women cope with stress differently. Men tend to pull away and want isolation as they think about what is bothering them. Women tend to want to discuss their problems. A woman may start asking questions and delving into her man's problem when she feels as though he's not himself. The man often times will get annoyed by the woman's inquiries when he prefers to be alone and deal with his stress by himself. The woman's inquisition into the man's problems may prevent the man from dealing with his stress, escalating the situation.
The book continues with how to motivate the opposite sex. Dr. Gray discusses how men feel motivated when they feel they are needed, while women feel motivated when they feel cherished. Men tend to grow close to those they love before eventually having the inevitable need to pull away. The author calls this phenomenon the rubber band theory where a man will come springing back to his woman after he has some time alone. However, if the woman clings to her man, he may never be able to fully stretch away from her and so he won't be able to spring back to her when he is ready.
Dr. Gray also discusses what men and women need from a relationship. Men tend to need a love that is trusting, accepting, and appreciative, while women need a love that is caring, understanding, and respectful. What often occurs is that men and women tend to give their partner the type of love they need themselves instead of the type of love their partner truly needs and cherishes. The author also discusses how men and women keep score differently in the relationship.
Dr. Gray also offers a dictionary on phases men and women use differently. When a man says “OK” or “it's fine,” it means something significantly different that when a woman uses the same words. The author explores why women sometimes don't ask for support when they need it and expect their men to know it without being asked. Dr. Gray also advises the reader on how to avoid arguments along with solutions on what to do when you are inevitably upset.
He recommends what he calls the “Love Letter Technique” which entails writing down your feelings where you make sure to cover how you feel in terms of why you are angry, why you are upset, what you are afraid of, why you are sorry, and what you love in your partner. I personally have not tried the “Love Letter Technique” but plan to keep it in mind for the future, in'sha'Allāh.
Overall, the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex was a beneficial read and one I think will help me when it comes to interacting with my wife. It will help you when you don't necessarily see eye to eye with your spouse on a certain topic. The book has certainly helped me understand that my wife and I are inevitably different. And so I would recommend the book to anyone looking for some insight when it comes to interacting with the opposite gender. Again, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is not a be-all, end-all book. It also is not a book that will discuss theories of communication or psychology.
The book relies on generalizations and stereotypes. It's an introductory book into how men and women behave differently. And if there's one thing that's true, it's that men and women behave very differently!