What is Islamic Marriage Counseling?
By Khalid Iqbal – Founder Rahmaa Institute
During a conference on counseling the speaker told a joke that seem to sum up why some people avoid going to counselors It said a husband and wife standing in front of two doors. One door had a sign that read, “Divorce Lawyer – $200 per hour.” On the other door the sign read, “Marriage Counselor – $250 per hour.” The husband was saying to the wife, “Let’s go to the divorce lawyer — it’s cheaper.” Also I don’t need counseling I know what I want.
Speaker after speaker shared their experience with statistics on the failure of marriage among Muslims. Each emphasized the importance of counseling at all stages of marriage. Recent study conducted by Research scholars from George Masson University clearly shows the benefit of pre-marital counseling. Couples who took part in tat survey over whelmingly stated that that counseling conducted by an experienced counselor helped them understand the challenges of marriage and helped them how to cope with difficult situations.
The first recorded counseling among Muslims was when Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) came to his wife Khadeeja worried, confused and unsure of what transpired after he received the first revelation. Khadeeja (Radi Allah Anha) counseled him by 1. Comforting him with providing warmth and love, 2) reassured him that he has always been kind and sane and 3) provided expert opinion on the situation he was facing
Why people avoid Marriage Counseling?
So what is marriage counseling and why do so many people try to avoid it? Let us tackle the first part of the question and then deal with the difficult part of why not later.
Prophet Mohammad used to provide counseling on marital issues on a regular basis to couples. The most famous one was between his daughter Fatima and Ali (May Allah be pleased with both of them). Today less than 6% of the over 2 million divorcing couples each year seek marriage counseling in America. Among Muslims it is even less. This may be due to the stigma attached with the counseling. In many cultures asking for help may be considered as a sign of weakness especially for men. They don’t want to sit in front of an imam or counselor and admit to their faults, especially being verbally or physically violent to their spouse and loved ones.
The myth among couples surveyed is that marriage counseling will be a dreadful experience in which you open up your dirty laundry in front of a stranger or worst in front of someone they know who will sit and then lecture you on your short comings and wrongful actions. People feel embarrassed to discuss personal and private things with a stranger. Majority of couples feel that they can “fix the issues themselves” or it is their problem and not to discuss with others. Family and marriage counseling conducted by a professional is actually not a dreadful experience that many think rather they use techniques and case studies that is expected to bring self motivated change in the couples environment, activities and behavior.
As far as feeling embarrassed goes, while that may be true at the very beginning, a professional and skilled counselor can usually encourage a feeling of warmth, confidence and security fairly quickly. I’m sure lots of you know other reasons couples won’t go to counseling. If you do, I’d love to hear them. You can send me a note with your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will benefit us in developing better family counseling and support system for the couples needing help.
Why Online Counseling
Online counseling provides a unique service in the comfort of your own home at a time convenient to you. We hope that this service will take care of any concerns that people might have regarding embarrassment or privacy. This may be the best couple of hours you spent in developing a better family environment for you and your family.
The counseling raises thought provoking questions in your mind that only you can answer best for you and your spouse or family. All responses are kept in strict confidence only to be discussed with you. Online counseling provides flexibility in terms of scheduling and location that just isn’t possible with traditional counseling. Even if separated or in two different locations, having the flexibility to work with a spouse or other family member creates a tremendous advantage for people using online counseling services.
Aside from the anonymity of online counseling, our clients feel that the process of writing out their thoughts and feelings is somewhat therapeutic in itself. It’s like writing a journal except that you’re going to be getting feedback from a professional counselor. And since your written words and any response you get are permanent documents, you can read them again and again if necessary. Also, you have the opportunity to take your time while writing about your situation so you get a chance to make sure that what you wanted to say gets said.