Marriage requires the willingness to grow, and at times, change some behavior or habit that negatively impacts the health and vitality of the marriage relationship. What better demonstrates a devotion to the spouse than learning to be more patient, becoming a better listener, being more considerate, or whatever it takes to contribute positively to the happiness and success of the marriage? In our efforts to change a behavior that is counterproductive, we can use the technique of visualization. When we visualize or “see” the consequence of indulging our anger or restraining it, for example, we are engaging in a practice that can positively support and facilitate our motivation and determination to change.
The Qur’an repeatedly uses the phrase, “Do you not see…” as in the verse, “Do you not see how your Lord dealt with the ‘Ad…” (Qur’an 89:6-8). This inner “seeing” adds power to the rational process by engaging the imagination as we reflect and make effort to learn something about the world, about ourselves, about our deen. The companion of the Prophet (pbuh), Imam Ibraheem Al-Taymi, used visualization in a powerful way. He visualized in vivid detail being in paradise and then he visualized himself being in hell. Writing about this experience, he commented, “Then I said to myself, ‘O soul, which one are you going to choose?’ My soul answered, ‘I want to return to the dunya so I can do good deeds.’ He said to his soul, ‘So indeed you get your wish so heed and take action.'” In fact, when the subconscious mind vividly imagines something, the physiological response is the same as if the experience is real. The visualization of Imam Ibraheem Al-Taymi was so profoundly imagined and he was so immersed in his visualization that it was as if he were transported, first to heaven and then to hell. It seemed so real that his soul answered by saying, “I want to return to the dunya to do good deeds.”
Once we “see” the improvement we want to make in ourselves and “visualize” the better outcome that can be created by making the change, then we should commit to taking action — action changes things!