What are the duties of the spouses in the family?

Details of the Question
What are the duties of the spouses in the family?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The family is the smallest and most important social group that comes together through bloodline or marriage under the same roof. The family is the nucleus and the cornerstone of the society.  

The family is an efficient environment in which the power, talents, abilities, tendencies and even instincts and desires of a person grow and develop in a regular system and in which the physical, psychological and cultural development of a person is completed, and his/her personality is formed. The family is a holy institution in which joy and happiness are experienced together. The family is a productive field in which responsibilities and liabilities are shared, troubles are understood, individuals knit together, happiness and grief are shared, and the religion and values are lived together. Due to its importance, our religion facilitated and encouraged marrying and establishing a family. The religion of Islam did not only encourage marrying but also imposed criteria regarding its bases and smooth running; it gave rights and responsibilities to the members of the family regarding marriage. When we examine the Quran, we see friendship and mercy, sharing responsibilities, aiming to live with goodness, spouses holding, helping and protecting each other in the family; and when we examine the words, attitudes and applications of the Prophet, we see abundant information regarding the importance of establishing a healthy family, the necessity of protecting the family, the duties of the family members toward each other, the importance of being just, moderate, patient, understanding, altruistic, full of love and mercy toward each other. 


It is the most important concept that spouses need when they intend to marry and when they maintain the marriage. Love is the inclination of the spirit toward the thing that it feels mature and likes a lot. The texture of the world is woven with love. In other words, the foundation of the universe is based on love. Allah created us with love and wanted us to use that rich power (love) for Him, for those He loves and those he are content with. Those who deserve this unending power, which increases as we spend it, are our spouses, children, relatives, then other people and nature. Love is our primary source that feeds our family happiness. If that source is blocked, our family happiness will be endangered. Therefore, we should overlook and bear some of the negative acts of the people we love based on the saying, “he/she who loves endures”. In modern life, we see that people find sweethearts very quickly but they cannot remain as sweethearts for a long time. We should bear in mind that it is necessary to attribute holiness to love in order to maintain it and that it is the necessity of the love of Allah to love our spouses and to look at them with love.  

A woman expects constant love and care from her husband. She presents the same or even more love and care when it is her turn. Thus, love, grows, strengthens and spreads. In order to grow, strengthen and maintain love, it is important to utter nice words, to display nice acts, to renew memories, to celebrate anniversaries in accordance with the culture, to exchange presents, to make gestures and to pray for each other. We should pray in order to live healthily and happily, to take our love to Paradise too and to be together there.


Love is necessary in order to maintain the relation between the spouses healthily but respect is also necessary lest love should wear down, be exhausted and be unimportant. Respect is the sensitivity of protecting the honor of your spouse, considering his/her values and preferences, paying attention to his/her rights and appreciating those around him/her. Respect means to consider the existence of the person opposite you and not to do anything to him that you would not like others to do to you. Respect necessitates fine, kind, moderate and civilized attitudes and observing the rights of people and law. Therefore, a respectful person cannot swear at his/her spouse, cannot despise his/her ideas, cannot degrade his/her style and manners, cannot derogate his/her values, and cannot refuse his/her relatives and friends. A person who is respectful to his/her spouse cannot have the understanding of “I both love and beat my spouse”.


Marriage means to undertake responsibilities, in a sense. If a person’s responsibilities increase, his/her burden and role will increase, too. The spouses with increased duties and responsibilities will naturally be more tired compared to the period of bachelorhood. The stress of the spouses who get tired will increase. When the stress increases, annoying and shouting will emerge. In this stage, patience is necessary for the spouses to prevent themselves from annoying one another, shouting and fighting. Patience is an important virtue for the spouses to react to some negative words and attitudes of their spouses calmly, understandingly, and when they cannot fulfill the desires of their spouses. That nice virtue should be shown both toward the spouses and to their relatives. For instance, a person who puts up with the excessive talk of his/her spouse should put up with the excessive talk of his/her spouse’s mother, too. It should not be forgotten that a person who acts like that will receive a great reward from Allah. As a matter of fact, our beloved Prophet said: “A woman who puts up with the oppression of her husband is given by Allah a reward like the one given to Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh; similarly, a man who puts up with her bad-tempered wife is given by Allah a reward like the one given to the Prophet Ayyub (who writhed in pain but showed patience and did not complain.” Especially in the first years of the marriage, when the spouses try to know each other, there may be some negative situations, discomforts, financial troubles and pressures from the people around. It is necessary to cope with them patiently. There may be some deficiencies and negative situations even in the ideal families. It is necessary to regard them as natural and to cope with them patiently. We should not forget the common saying in the society, “everything comes to him who waits”, in the family, either.  


It means the spouses should be honest and trust each other in their words and actions.  The feeling of loyalty necessitates being pleased and content with the physical appearance, habits, importance, power and savings of one’s spouse, not searching other things and being glad with what one has.  Not to be content with the state of one’s spouse and to show disloyalty may originate from making use of the beauty of others, being curious about what others have, money, interests, cheating and deception; they all denote cheating or being cheated.

Cheating is immaturity, dishonor, instability, disloyalty, in short, not to be content with what Allah has given and ingratitude. The opposite of loyalty is treachery (betrayal). That attribute does not fit a spouse and a mature Muslim; therefore, the Quran prohibited it, and our beloved Prophet listed it among the signs of being a munafiq (hypocrite). For instance, the following is stated in the Quran: “Betray not the trust of Allah and the Messenger nor misappropriate knowingly things entrusted to you!..” A Muslim should base his relations with his spouse, other people and even other living and non-living things on the ethics of loyalty, and the principles of integrity honesty and openness.  Spouses must be loyal to each other in terms of both their duties at home and protecting their honor. The woman should not try to take revenge on the man who is not loyal to his family because the act of a person will bind that person and he will account for it since everybody acts in compliance with his own character and personality.


Sexuality is part of the human nature. Having created man emotionally and rationally rich, Allah added man a separate rich and fertile dimension with the sexual power. Man takes delight, is motivated, writes poetry and other literary works, obtains fertile generations, and adds spice and zest to life with that power. A person who balances that power and who uses it moderately becomes modest but a person who uses that force excessively and illegitimately becomes a sinful person or a sex maniac. Our religion never denied or negate the sexual feelings that man has and paved the way to satisfy those feelings legitimately. It showed that the nicest way for it is marriage. It is stated metaphorically in the Quran that the women are “a tilth” for men and that they can cultivate their tilths as they wish, thus, satisfying sexual desires illegitimately was aimed to be prevented. In another verse, it is stated that women are “garments (covers)” for men and that men are “garments (covers)” for women. That is, spouses protect each other from harams and sins, and they help each other regarding many issues. Our Prophet served as a model spouse and father with his applications by getting married, establishing a family and having children. Then, it is an act of injustice and sin to declare many things as forbidden, sinful and taboo in the name of the religion of Islam, and to enter the bedrooms of the spouses and limit their sexual lives. The illegitimate intercourse types regarding the issue are certain. They are violation of the family privacy, improper and immoral closeness outside the home, contrived attitudes outside the home, sexual implications and images, prostitution, exhibitionism, pornography, etc. The spouses have to meet the legitimate sexual desires of each other apart from those mentioned above, say nice things to each other, look beautiful to each other and approach each other beautifully, in short, satisfy each other.  It is necessary for the maintenance of the marriage and the continuation of the family, to have balance and happiness, and to be cheerful. If spouses act in accordance with those six items (headings) we have explained, enrich them with their own private and beautiful aspects, it will be seen that they will continue their marriage despite so many elements that threaten the family structure in this age. To sum up, those six traits will bring about family happiness and salvation. We pray that each family will continue their marriage happily and healthily.  


A sound family is only possible through the items that we have mentioned plus the feeling of responsibility by the spouses. Responsibility for a spouse is to educate and to protect himself first, to have the consciousness of duty and to fulfill his liabilities, and then to know how to behave toward his spouse, children, elder members of the family and relatives, and fulfill his liabilities toward them. We have spiritual and material responsibilities in the family. The former is related to providing the residence, eating, drinking, clothing, education, traveling, entertainment and holiday. The latter necessitates efforts to obtain the spiritual health of the spouse and other family members, their spiritual and cultural development, expansion of their inner world, in short, to be equipped with the essentials of being a good human being and a good Muslim.  To explain it a bit more, the following are the responsibilities of the spouses: to help each other more at home especially if both spouses work, to be interested in the scientific, belief, physical and spiritual developments of their children together, to take care of the relatives, too (because the family is strengthened by the relatives and close friends), to protect the family honor and chastity, not to spend the income of the family extravagantly, to share the nice things, to prevent each other from committing evil and to try to walk together on the road to Paradise. A family in which those responsibilities are not felt breaks up. Therefore, it is not exaggeration to say, “the religion was sent in order to remind man of his responsibilities” because it is stated that a person will not be left free until he is called to account for his responsibilities toward himself and his family.

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