How many sandwiches can you think of?
Let’s explore the everyday sandwich; two pieces of bread with some kind of filling in between. The example of which is a useful way of understanding our relationships for the follwoing:
a. You can look at it from the outside; check the ingredients, packaging, price etc.
b. If something doesn’t agree with you then you can take the sandwich apart and physically check if it DID contain onions!
c. With a bit of time and investment you can choose or make a tasty wholesome sandwich to your own high standards.
Look from the outside
Relationships can be highly charged with emotions, especially if we are close to that person or group of people. We may feel like withdrawing and let things be or use attack as the best form of defence. Assuming we are defending ourselves and we are not the culprit.
When dealing with a strained relationship take a step back, physically if need be, and ask yourself: what are the things that I like, value, appreciate and happily anticipate about this relationship. Just focusing on that part that isn’t working will only constrict our space to think, be grateful and productive.
The Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said: “No believing man should hate a believing woman; if he hates one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.” [Muslim].
Take it apart
If a relationship is going through a difficult time, think ‘what could be the issue here”. It would be helpful to avoid thinking about who is the problem so we don’t get lost in the blame game. It is in everyone’s best interest to focus on solutions. Of course this will depend on the matter at hand. Does it need fixing? If so is it a difficulty imposed from outside the relationship or constricting it from within. When looking at how to work it out be positive and keep the best of intentions about yourself and others involved. It has been said “Be optimistic and good shall be found”.
We need a starting point. When we understand who we are as individuals and what we truly value then we can set our standards. We can set the tone. We cannot make others do anything against their will. If we supposedly “succeed” in forcing them, their actions will not be coming from a position of love and sincerity. Let’s be humble and take the first step.
There are many ways of looking at this. One could be starting with the hierarchy of the relationship. We should treat others with respect and mercy. The detail comes in when the other is a parent, spouse, child, friend, older or younger person or a male or female. Each one of them deserves to be treated as an individual and, in-sha’allah, they will respond to you because what comes from the heart will enter the heart.
I’ll leave with Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) words:
“Shall I inform you about the people of Paradise? They comprise every poor humble person, and if he takes Allah’s Oath that he will do that thing, Allah will fulfil his oath (by doing that). Shall I inform you about the people of the Fire? They comprise every cruel, violent, proud and conceited person.” Anas bin Malik said, “Any of the female slaves of Medina could take hold of the hand of Allah’s Messenger and take him wherever she wished.” [Bukhari]
Until next time, Salams