I don’t need any reminders!
“I don’t need any reminders!” the sister snarled at me. I was surprised.
First off, it wasn’t my intention to give her any reminders, at least not consciously. We were having a conversation and I was trying to get her to recall a previous incident, so I uttered “You remember…?”
That’s when she cut me off and told me she didn’t need any reminders.
Although I was a bit affronted by her words and tone of voice, I understood there was a reason she felt the way she did. I could of told her that we all need reminders, but I realized this was not the time to convey this to her because of the state she was in; she wasn’t receptive to receiving any advice at the time, so instead of attempting to force anything down her throat, I decided to listen intently instead.
I understood that it wasn’t the reminder that she was rejecting. Before even hearing what the “reminder ” could be, she didn’t want to hear it. Why? Most likely, it was some negative experience in the past where she was given reminders and she didn’t feel good about it.
That’s all that is needed for someone to develop a defense mechanism and reject reminders all together.
The response from this particular sister wasn’t an anomaly. In fact, many times when a Muslim finds himself or herself reminding a fellow brother or sister something, citing a verse from the Qur’an or hadith, they find themselves getting a similar rejoinder.
While it may not be in those exact words of the sister who rejected the reminder, essentially they are saying the same thing: “I don’t want to hear it!”
The rebuttal from the initiator can sometimes escalate the problem, rather than diffusing it. They may attack the person and accuse them of being arrogant or rejecting a verse from the Qur’an or the hadith. They may use a stout tone with them and reproach them.
This approach is guaranteed to cause the person to be even more defensive and possibly grow angry or disturbed. If they already responded defensively, what good can we possibly expect from challenging or admonishing them in that state? We must use wisdom. If we wish to get the best from people and develop healthy relationships with them, we must learn how to speak “their language” and know the right time to approach them about a particular thing.
Sometimes, we may choose the right words but choose the worse time of conveyance. Ladies, if your husband is just coming home from a long day at work, that is not a good time to pick up a bitter argument that was never resolved.
Similarly, men must check the temperament of his wife and her emotional state before he decides to give her some “constructive criticism.” If, in fact, he really hopes that she would take it well and will actually reflect on his words and consider them, he would be cautious about having a conversation with her while she is in an emotionally unsound place.
If you notice that she is flustered, unsettled or distracted, you may want to give her some time before bombarding her with new information; it may just overwhelm her or take her over the top. You may find it helpful to ask her about her day and listen to her first, before you present anything to her and expect to have her undivided attention.
Chances are that allowing her to get something off her chest will allow her to be more attentive to you, when you finally do have your talk with her.
The same thing applies for women; if you want to get the best out of your spouse, take note of his disposition and mood. You should know when he is at his best and when he needs time to rest and recuperate. When he is frustrated, tired or distracted, it behooves you to give him space and time, before laying anything heavy on him.
And so is the case with the sister who roared that she didn’t want any reminders. I didn’t know her well but I knew well enough that it wasn’t wise to try to give her advice or challenge her while her defenses were up. I attempted to use wisdom in discerning the right time and place to talk to her about the issue, which not only benefited her but me as well.
She felt good about me respecting her wishes and I had the opportunity to do good deeds. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, seeking the pleasure of Allah and earning blessings.
It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
A man speaks a good word without knowing its worth, Allah records for him His Good Pleasure till the day he will meet Him; and a man utters an evil word without realizing its importance, Allah records for him His displeasure till the day he will meet Him. [Imam Malik and At-Tirmidhi]