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4 Ways Creating Shared Meaning Can Improve Your Marriage

Over the past several years, I’ve written several articles about how to improve your marriage and prevent divorce. However, it struck me recently that all of these articles were missing an essential element of a lasting marriage — the ability to create shared meaning, a purpose, or a dream with your partner.

Viktor Frankl’s award-winning book Man’s Search for Inner Meaning, which he wrote in nine days while a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, describes the importance of a purposeful life — allowing us to transcend the self and the present moment. In fact, Frankl theorized that the pursuit of meaning in life is more important than the pursuit of happiness, because it is more enduring — connecting us to the present and the future.

Some authors even believe that our focus on couples being compatible may be overvalued. Zach Brittle, a certified Gottman Therapist writes:

Personally, I think compatibility (or lack thereof) is overrated. Couples of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and creeds have the ability to make it work. But research shows that the happiest and healthiest couples have a unique ability to create shared meaning.

In fact, creating shared meaning is the highest level of Dr. John Gottman’s Sound Relationship House, a template on how to have a healthy relationship. It is the attic of the house where people can intentionally create a sense of shared meaning in their life together. Dr. Gottman posits that a healthy relationship involves building a life together that is full of meaning and prioritizing time and resources. It encompasses their legacy — the stories they tell, beliefs and the culture they create to form a shared meaning system.

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The Prophet (SAS) said, “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days”
(Bukhari).

Guarantee your blessings!

Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).