The Importance of the Spiritual, Emotional and Physical in Marriage
Marriage as Allah intended is meant to be fulfilled spiritually, emotionally and physically in a balanced tripartite with Allah’s Spirit as primary. Think of the physical and emotional as being filtered through the Spirit so both are sanctified. And yet, men and women were created such that our respective greater needs oppose each other. Women emphasize the emotional aspect of a marriage based upon the way our brains our wired, while men focus on the physical as being more important. Because of these particular differences, women and men can end up in opposition to each other, instead of bonded with each other as Allah intended.
When the the tripartite structure becomes unbalanced, the beautiful fulfillment of Allah’s purpose in marriage can’t be accomplished and the marriage bond weakens. It is extremely important for men to understand that women need affection and to feel loved. When this is missing or partly missing, she won’t give herself fully to her husband sexually. When women don’t feel appreciated or loved, sexual intercourse causes her to feel she is being used by her husband just for sex. As a result, she will not be willing to engage in sex every time the husband wishes to engage. Subsequently, the husband will not feel as if he is getting his needs met, and later could seek out adulterous affairs. This becomes a vicious cycle. However, women are blamed for not providing for their husband’s sexual needs, when in reality he wasn’t meeting her need for emotional bonding.
Women need to understand their husband’s stronger need for sexual fulfillment and fully submit in the marriage bed. C.S. Lewis writes a fictional piece where a man’s young adult niece relays her dissatisfaction with her marriage because she expected a perfectly equitable relationship between husband and wife. Her uncle replies, “It is not your fault, they never warned you. No one has ever told you that obedience-humility-is an erotic necessity.”
Men are sexually dominant, and as such this plays out in the emotional aspect of a relationship as well. Men are to be respected as the head of a marriage. That being said, men need to understand they are to protect their wives, and not abuse their power.
Allah must be first in the marriage. When we together pursue the Straight Path, our relationships become whole as they are formed in the light of His will. By the use of prayer, those things that begin to drive a wedge between the husband and wife can be healed before the marriage becomes entirely broken.
Seeking sex for the sake of sex is meaningless and a pursuit of selfish desires. Wanting a marriage relationship only for romantic love without the expression of sexual love, leads to being unfulfilled in the relationship. And, without the important aspect of the spiritual, the physical and emotional can easily become unbalanced.
The beauty of the tripartite marriage is evident in the imagery in the Song of Songs (King Solomon):
How beautiful your sandaled feet,
O prince’s daughter!
Your graceful legs are like jewels,
the work of an artist’s hands.
2 Your navel is a rounded goblet
that never lacks blended wine.
Your waist is a mound of wheat
encircled by lilies.
3 Your breasts are like two fawns,
like twin fawns of a gazelle.
4 Your neck is like an ivory tower.
Your eyes are the pools of Heshbon
by the gate of Bath Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
looking toward Damascus.
5 Your head crowns you like Mount Carmel.
Your hair is like royal tapestry;
the king is held captive by its tresses.
6 How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
my love, with your delights!
7 Your stature is like that of the palm,
and your breasts like clusters of fruit.
8 I said, “I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes on the vine,
the fragrance of your breath like apples,
9 and your mouth like the best wine.
May the wine go straight to my beloved,
flowing gently over lips and teeth.[b]
10 I belong to my beloved,
and his desire is for me.
11 Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside,
let us spend the night in the villages.[c]
12 Let us go early to the vineyards
to see if the vines have budded,
if their blossoms have opened,
and if the pomegranates are in bloom —
there I will give you my love.
13 The mandrakes send out their fragrance,
and at our door is every delicacy,
both new and old,
that I have stored up for you, my beloved.