Book Review Family Relationships

The Key to Good Relationships.

This book called The Transformative Power of Crisis Our Journey to Psychological Healing and Spiritual Awakening by Robert Mark Alter with Jane Alter. It is one of my favorite books. Both authors hold PhD degrees, and are married to each other. They have written this book which I’d highly recommend for you. Reading this book prepared me for the far worse crises that I faced later on. I had got it when I was already going through a ‘bad’ time. At that time, I didn’t know how bad things can really get. Having this book with me, really helped me in my life. (Who doesn’t face crises of one type or another? )

About the book:

Front cover of the book.

 Anyhow, it has different sections in it, and each article is different, and highlighting a different type of crisis. Perhaps the toughest kind of crisis arises from a husband-and-wife relationship going sour. It is so, because you are with the person day in and day out, and even sleep with him/her. Your finances, living and everything is directly tied up with each other.  So, the crisis feels worse than any other. The point highlighted by the authors is by telling us that when a couple get married to each other, they give a special key to each other. Getting to know each other’s vulnerabilities. By living with the person, you find out what ‘clicks’ and what doesn’t. Most important is the fact, that you know where it hurts and where it tickles.

Brief quotes from the book:

This section I’ve chosen is from the article called The Keys to Hell:

‘As marriage partners and soul mates, each of us holds the key to hell for the other. When we said ‘I do’ on that alter, at that very instant each of us exchanged keys that , if turned, opened the door to our deepest emotional pain. It’s an invisible part of every wedding ceremony, the secret exchanging of the keys to hell.

‘Many of us spend years of our married life unconscious that we hold this key, and in our ignorance we turn it again and again, sending our partner into emotional hell on a fairly regular basis.’

How do you use this knowledge?

Come on, tell me, how do you use this information? We both know that most of the time, one uses it for taunts, insults and doing things which will hurt the person to the core! This is the key to hell that each of us has which is being used to make your spouse feel as if he/she is in hell.

Abusive relationships:

That is how a relationship becomes abusive. There are other sophisticated types too; When on the surface one is all milk and honey and very civilized. Yet never missing an opportunity to hurt the spouse as much as possible. Because now you know, where it hurts the most!

Bad Marriages:

I’m sorry to say, this is the case in many marriages, and this is how a marriage turns into such nightmares. Sometimes, a couple starts out fine, in fact they stay in a real honeymoon period, which seems to last for years. Slowly, bad feelings start piling up, because they allow it to happen that way. Instead of forgiving, revenge of one type or another starts taking place. Frankly, this is why, we find that life in Western countries, has almost completely given up on marriage as an institution. Human nature cannot help being mean and nasty to each other. So, they have facilitated the ability to walk off!

Instead of walking off, if the couple sat down and realized why things got to such a hell, each one could willingly work on himself or herself to improve matters.

The Paradoxical Power to Heal:

Yet, each spouse has the greatest power to heal and support each other. You have that privilege of knowing your spouse well, and can protect him or her from getting further hurt by you or others.

It is all up to you whether you want to make your marriage the best or worst?

Once you know how to keep the relationship strong by hiding each other’s flaws from the world. Then you can help heal and support each other. Where you both are at a place in life, where each other’s weaknesses become realities to acknowledge and smile about between yourselves, only.

Quranic verses:

Probably that is why the most beautiful verse in Holy Quran regarding the husband-and-wife relationship is: ‘You are a raiment unto each other.’

Raiment is clothing. We all know what clothing does: hides flaws, and protects from extreme cold and heat, it also enhances one’s strong and good points! That is what one needs to do for one another. That is all.

Another verse is in Surah Rum, verse 21: Translation by Abdul Haleem:

Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live with in tranquility: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect.

Yes, Love, Tranquility and Kindness.

Use the Key properly:

Photograph taken by Izzah Shaheen – wedding photographer.

If you use this key properly, by not using it at all. Meaning not to twist it to hurt, but to put it away, and be loving, protective, caring of each other.  That is when the relationship becomes priceless and blooms.

In a way, through this key, you can make your relationship the best or worst.

It is up to you!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Never talk about the faults of your husband or his family, with your own family or friends.
  2. Instead praise your spouse and share his/her good points with others.
  3. This is specially so, about any ‘secrets’ of the spouse or his/her family that you come across. Believe me, it is possible to do it.
  4. Same goes for personal flaws and habits. Keep these between yourselves.
  5. When you know your spouse is especially vulnerable, then protect him/her from others during those times.
  6. This goes for any bodily marks or problems, go for expert help if needed, but never to scandal mongers.
  7. So much so that if your relationship ends in a divorce or separation, even then do not talk about it. (Your personal matters are no one else’s business.) This is why I’m really liking the way Sajal and Ahad are currently handling their divorce. They have both been quiet about it. Why is everyone bothered about why it happened? It should be of no concern to anyone else. Such things are painful. No need to probe.
  8. Once you find out about something you don’t like about your spouse, keeping quiet about it is the best policy. Also, not to use this to hurt him/her. Accept him as he has accepted you with all your faults.
  9. Remember the key to good relationships is not use this key of knowledge about other’s flaws and weaknesses, against him/her.
  10. The trust you build in this way, goes a long way. Specially, when you do not bring such things up at every opportunity.

Basically, the same principles apply for all other relationships too. After all I’ve got friendships that have lasted for over fifty years. How did they stand the test of time? Very well. Only because we used the key to our good relationships wisely – by not using it at all.

Once a couple decides never to use each other’s key to hell, that is when the relationship gets on strong footing.

Stay blessed and protected by blessing and protecting your spouse and partner too! ?

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