Praise be to Allaah.
Part of the Grace and Kindness of Allaah towards the sons of Adam is that He has prescribed marriage for them, and has made it so that they produce offspring in this organized and proper fashion. Marriage is one of the strongest and most noble covenants in the sight of Allaah, and the family is the most important unit in the structure of society. It is essential that a person gives priority to putting his own house in order and strives to teach his family the laws of Allaah. One of the things that he should make sure he teaches his wife is the duties that she has towards her husband, and the rights that are due to her.
Islam has stated these rights and duties, and it obliges and urges both spouses to fulfil them. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar to (those of their husbands) over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them [al-Baqarah 2:228]
The aayah states that for every right there is a reciprocal duty which must be fulfilled. In this way balance is achieved between them in all aspects, which supports the stability of family life. Ibn Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said concerning the aayah: It means: they have the right to good companionship and kind treatment on the part of their husbands, just as they have to obey their husbands in whatever they tell them to do. Ibn Zayd said: Fear Allaah concerning them just as they have to fear Allaah concerning you. Al-Qurtubi said: This aayah includes all the marital rights and duties.
Among these rights and duties are:
Turning a blind eye to faults and mistakes, especially words and deeds by which nothing bad was intended. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): those who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily Allaah loves as muhsinoon (the good-doers). [Aal Imraan 3:134]
Both husband and wife must put up with one another, for every child of Adam may slip, and the person whom one should put up with the most is the one with whom one lives and mixes the most. Neither party should resort to a tit-for-tat response. If one spouse sees the other becoming very angry, he or she should restrain his or her own anger and not respond immediately. For this reason Abul-Darda (may Allaah be pleased with him) said to his wife: If you see me angry, calm me down, and if I see you angry I will calm you down, otherwise we cannot live together.
Among the most important duties is:
Each spouse should advise the other to obey Allaah. According to a saheeh hadeeth, some of the Sahaabah asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): Can you tell us which kind of wealth is the best, so that we may strive to acquire it? He said: The best (wealth) is a remembering tongue (one which always remembers Allaah), a thankful heart, and a believing wife who will help you with your faith.(Reported by Ahmad, 5/278; al-Tirmidhi, 3039; Saheeh al-Jaami, 5231)
A man should not hate his wife if he sees in her something that he dislikes, because if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will like another which will make up for it. It was reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: No believing man should hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.(Reported by Muslim, 36).
Samurah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: Woman was created from a rib, and if you try to straighten the rib you will break it, so be gentle with her and you will be able to live with her.(Reported by Ahmad, 5/8; Ibn Maajah, 1308; Saheeh al-Jaami, 2/163).
One of the most important things that can make married life happy is a good attitude, hence Islam raised its status. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) reached the utmost heights of good treatment of others and good attitude. Abul-Darda reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: There is nothing that can be placed in the scales that will weigh heavier than a good attitude, and a good attitude can help a person reach the status of one who fasts and prays.(Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2003; Abu Dawood, 4799). Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: The most perfect of the believers in faith are those who are the best in attitude, and the best of you are those who are best to their women. (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1/217; Ahmad, 2/250; al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 284).
Both spouses should turn a blind eye and avoid picking on matters great and small, or rebuking and scolding about any matter except duties towards Allaah. This is what Allaah tells us to do (interpretation of the meaning): And live with them (women) honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allaah brings through it a great deal of good. [al-Nisa 4:19].
As far as different environments are concerned, a man should take care to pay special attention to this, such as allowing his wife to mix with good women from among her surroundings and intelligent, well-mannered women from among your surroundings. Although she must obey you and not go out of your house without permission, at the same time you should not prevent her from going out to places where she wants to go, so long as there is nothing bad there. You should let her receive trustworthy women in her house, in order to have some social life and a refreshing change of routine, especially in our times when many women no longer obey the Divine command to remain in their homes and do not pay proper attention to it especially Muslim women who live in non-Muslim countries where there is too much freedom.
We also advise you to give her some freedom of choice in issues that do not cause any harm, such as choosing food, colours for things in the house, or gifts to be given on various occasions. You should also seek her opinion in matters of concern to you both, such as naming your children knowing that this is your right according to Islam and where to spend your vacation.
You should also involve her and seek her opinion when making some decisions in which it is appropriate to include her, such as dealing with behavioural problems in your children, finding ways to reconcile disputing relatives or neighbours, and especially in resolving the problems between the two of you. Try to raise her level of education with suitable reading material and attendance at gatherings where the program and fellow-attendees will help to achieve the desired aim. Such programs may be available in some Islamic centres. Know that paying attention to her intellectual level, working with her way of thinking, understanding her psychology, treating her appropriately, being good to her and making her feel good are among the most effective ways of showing how wise and manly you are and how good your personality is. We ask Allaah to reconcile between you and bring you back together, and help you both to do that which He likes and which pleases Him.