Marriage Is Like a Game of Doubles Tennis

When I was in high school, I used to play tennis on the girls’ tennis team, and I always preferred playing singles over doubles.

Playing singles means you are playing by yourself with no one else on your team. You face off against an individual opponent. I found playing singles easier because it was simple. I knew that every ball coming over the net was my responsibility. No one else was there to share that responsibility with me. Playing a singles game is simple and straightforward. It’s just you versus your opponent.

But, that being said, it is also very draining and extremely exhausting. Every ball is your own personal responsibility. There’s no one there to help you. There’s no partner to get the ball that’s out of your reach. There’s nobody to support you and have your back. You have to continuously be running in all directions just so you are able to cover the entire surface of your side of the court, alone.

Playing doubles tennis, on the other hand, means you have a partner. You are a team of two, facing off against another team of two. You and your teammate coordinate and work together to make sure the ball ends up back on the other side of the net. This means each of you is required to make fewer strikes on the ball, and you have less court space to cover individually.

But the reason I hated it was because it’s very easy to lose when you play doubles. Very often, the ball comes sailing right through the middle of you and your teammate. Startled, your eyes meet, then confusion and hesitation kicks in, and neither of you hits the ball.

They each assumed the other was going to hit the ball. Neither did, and the ball bounced off the court, losing your team the point.

Keep playing like this, and you lose the game, the set and the match. You walk off the court, feeling defeated and disappointed.

Marriage can be a little like playing doubles tennis. The only way for you to win, as a team, is for you to each have well-defined roles, and you must both communicate clearly with your partner. The two of you must coordinate so that nothing falls through the cracks. Each person knows exactly what they are responsible for. You know you’re on the same team and that you’ve got each other’s backs. However, you still need to talk about who’s going to do what and what your expectations are. And when you need help, you ask for it.

To ensure a good, successful and fulfilling marriage, the husband and wife need to work together harmoniously, in unison, like a well-oiled machine.

RELATED: Are Wives Responsible for Housework in Islam?

It can, of course, be quite challenging to work so closely with another person; to coordinate tasks between yourselves; and to divide the labor evenly based on each person’s strengths and weaknesses.

This is why many modern women prefer to just play the singles game. They live the single life without any of the hassle of being on a team or dealing with another person.

But living the single life is unimaginably exhausting and lonely. Sure, you won’t have to work things out with anyone else, and you can just do everything on your own…

But… you’ll be alone.

Marriage is a joint effort for the sake of Allah. It is a combined struggle of both the husband and the wife, to build and maintain a strong Muslim family. The husband and the wife are a team. They each have assigned roles that are clearly-defined, yet they don’t hesitate to also step in, lovingly, to help one another if and when required.

If you play it right, you can reap all the benefits of playing doubles tennis without any of the drawbacks.

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Make sure that you:

1. Have a clear division of labor, so each person knows which parts of the tennis court they’re responsible for. In marriage, we call this gender roles.

2. Communicate clearly and effectively with one another, so no points are given away due to each person expecting the other to hit the ball. In marriage, the husband and wife have to communicate well with each other to decide which non-obvious tasks—those that lie in the gray area—fall under which person’s domain so that all tasks are successfully covered and completed.

3. Ask for help if you need it. Unlike in a singles game, your doubles partner can bail you out or back you up if you try to hit your ball but somehow miss. In marriage, each spouse has a well-defined role, but one of the beauties of marriage is having the ability to ask your spouse for help if you need it. Marriage is a tender, loving relationship between a man and a woman who have love, respect and mercy for one another. You have someone who will willingly step in to help you carry your load on the days that you find it to be too heavy and overwhelming. You’re not alone.

4. Be a team player. Don’t be selfish, self-centered or negligent of your roles and responsibilities. In our modern age, hyper-individualism has made many people selfish and narcissistic. They put themselves and their own individual whims and desires above the needs of the group or their personal role within the collective. When you play selfish, whether that’s in a game of tennis or marriage, you lose.

May Allah bless our marriages, our homes and our families. Amin.

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Ojo Eli

Nice write up as always from all the Muslim skeptic team.