Before getting married, I didn’t give too much thought to the fact that my husband-to-be would be studying at university for the first three years of our marriage. The only immediate consequence I expected was that I would get to spend a lot of time with my husband during his long holidays, especially as newly-weds.
It was only when my husband went back to full-time studying that I realised how different it would have been if he had been working and the different ways in which I would have to support him if he was to be successful in his endeavours.
The first issue that was affected by my husband’s studies was, of course, finances. By all means, I hadn’t expected my husband to have the ability to buy me lavish gifts and take me out to dinner every week – neither would I have wanted that! Yet, as a consequence of his full-time studies, I knew that firstly, we would have to stay in his family’s home for at least a year, and secondly, he would most likely have to work part-time.
In order to support my husband while we were living at his parents’ home, I had to implement patience and husnu adh-dhann (having good thoughts of others). I soon learnt that doing acts of goodness to my husband’s parents and trying to ignore any negativity would not only strengthen my relationship with them, but also please my husband and allow him to fulfil his responsibilities with less stress and more contentment.
Of course, this required a great deal of patience, especially when I had to deal with the consequences of accidents, such as burning my mother-in-law’s rug while my husband was at university! Yet, trying to always think good of those I was living with undoubtedly helped me to overlook faults and avoid problems whilst living with my in-laws.
Supporting his time management
The fact that my husband had to work part-time during his studies wasn’t a problem in and of itself. The main issue was time. With multiple responsibilities, including duties to his parents, it was a struggle for my husband to juggle his time so that everyone would be satisfied.
It was for this reason that I had to do as much as I could in order to reduce his workload. Whether it was helping his parents complete a task, spending time with them, or being my husband’s general personal assistant, my role was fundamental to my husband’s success in his studies and beyond. I was his pillar of support. Furthermore, I realised that frequently asking my husband to do mundane tasks, some of which I could do myself, would only cause him to consider me a nag!
At times, when my husband had to stay at university until very late, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t by choice that he was doing so. If he had any say in the matter, I knew that he would be spending time with me; I just had to be patient. Living with my in-laws did give me some much needed company during the times when my husband was overloaded with work.
On the other hand, there were times when my husband was at home during the day. This of course had great benefits, since if he had been working I would have rarely been able to spend time with him during the day, unless he was working from home. Yet in order to support my husband when he did have to study from home, I had to at least attempt not to distract him, something easier said than done!
Exam time and other periods of more intense study were the hardest. With a routine of late night studying, partly due to having other responsibilities during the day, my husband often ended up requesting me to go to sleep and not wait up for him. Although I found this hard, I knew that responding to my husband’s requests would reassure him that he was taking care of me. Furthermore, it ensured that at least one of us had enough sleep!
When his exams were finished, we were able to make up for lost time. By keeping myself occupied when my husband was busy with his studies, yet at the same time trying to keep a flexible schedule, I was able to work around his timetable, and we were still able to spend a lot of time together, Alhamdulillah.
Renewing the relationship
Once or twice in the year, when I knew my husband was overly stressed and really needed a break, I secretly booked a weekend away in a cottage in the countryside, or a beachside flat. Despite this costing money, I found it to be more than worthwhile, since it allowed us to get away from our hectic daily lives and renewed and strengthened our relationship.
Helping maintain a strong relationship with my husband was another fundamental aspect of supporting him. Why? You may ask. By doing so, I was in fact helping to protect my spouse from the evil at university, helping him to guard his chastity, for isn’t this one of the main goals of marriage?
At times, not only did the mixed environment get my husband down, it no doubt had an effect on his iman. So it was not only important for me to beautify myself on his return, but also to help him become closer to Allah (SWT), whether through studying with him, motivating him towards performing good deeds, or encouraging him to spend time with righteous brothers, even if this meant less “us” time. This sacrifice was surely worth it, since I knew that my husband would, by the will of Allah (SWT), become closer to his Creator.
These three years of marriage taught me a lot. Ultimately, that in every situation is a chance for reward. For if we support our spouses towards achieving their aspirations, both in this life and the next, our own journey towards Paradise will be made easier, by the will of Allah (SWT). The Prophet (SAW) was reported to have said: “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), fasts her month (Ramadhan), guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise by whichever of the gates of Paradise you wish.’” (Ahmad)
Ummu ‘Abdir-Rahmaan is a freelance writer based in the UK. She hopes to give inspiration and encouragement to her sisters in Islam through writing about her personal experiences.