The Enduring Foundations of Love & Mercy in a Relationship
Arguably, the most immediate concern when finding a spouse is compatibility. Compatibility in values, interests, culture and goals in life. Over the course of time, it is entirely possible that interests may develop or change, goals may widen or become narrow and there may be greater awareness of each other’s cultural background. These are factors to be aware of in any relationship but according to the Qur’an, there appears to be a constant foundation which enables positive growth in a couple. God says, "And among His signs is that He has created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may live in tranquillity with them; and He has created love and mercy between you. Verily, in that are signs for those who reflect."(30:21)
The verse, often cited during marriage ceremonies, contains important foundations worth reflecting over. The mawaddah (love) and rahmah (mercy) are reciprocal values, outlasting the factors of compatibility which may vary over time. Love, a basic compassion and affection for the other and mercy, a willingness to sacrifice and care for the other, are twin values which provide a strong backbone for any couple. Moreover, the verse indicates that the very creation of spouses implies a natural tranquillity in life itself; a kind of peace and security by the virtue of males and females being together.
What is interesting is that marriage and the creation of love and mercy are ‘signs for those who reflect’ and ‘His signs.’ A sign can be interpreted in several ways but one way is that the love and mercy between spouses reflects the Love and Mercy of God Himself. It means that the feeling and practice of love and mercy is meant to lead to a greater awareness of God’s attributes. The positive growth, therefore, is a constant journey towards God through the vessel of a relationship which moves a couple from one plane of existence to another. The couple not only become a source of love and mercy for each other but for society as a whole, just as God cares for and loves all of His creatures. Perhaps these can be the guiding foundations in searching for a spouse.