The Prophet of Allah ﷺ was a leading example in the manner he dealt with his wives, and a beacon of light that guides people to the best way of treating their wives, which would reflect on their marital life and on the community as a whole.
He ﷺ would spend time with his family and listen to what they had to say despite his responsibilities:
One night Aisha told him the long story of Umm Zar’, in which she said that eleven women gathered and pledged to reveal all their marital secrets to each other, and not to hold anything back. Each of them described her husband, and the best husband was that of Umm Zar’ who described her husband’s bounties and favors upon her. Aisha said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: “I am to you like Abu Zar’ is to Umm Zar’.”” [Bukhari]
A husband must allocate time to sit with his wife and hear what she has to say and socialize with her. Modern means of communication have facilitated for the husband to stay in touch with his wife all the time. He can send her SMS messages or call her to see how she is and this would not take more than a minute, but it would mean a lot to the wife.
He ﷺ did not hesitate to state his love for his wife:
‘Amr ibn Al-’Aas (a Companion) asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ “Who amongst the people is dearest to you?” He ﷺ said: “Aisha.” He (‘Amr) then said: “Who amongst men?” He ﷺ said: “Her father.” [Bukhari]
Contrary to the Prophetic guidance, some men stay years without expressing love to the wife, while others may even consider this unbefitting and not manly. Expressing one’s love to the wife is one of the strongest means to improve and strengthen marital relations and maintain a happy marital life.
Aisha narrated: “I would drink when I was menstruating, then I would hand it (the vessel) to the Prophet of Allah ﷺ and he would put his mouth where mine had been and drink, and I would eat flesh from a bone when I was menstruating, then hand it over to the Prophet of Allah ﷺ and he would put his mouth where mine had been.” [Muslim]
This narration reflects his kind treatment, consideration and noble manners, and it proves that one should not be repelled from touching, sitting and eating with, or being close to his wife during menstruation.
He ﷺ was considerate of his wives’ feelings:
The Prophet of Allah ﷺ would notice when one of his wives was happy with him or upset. For example, he ﷺ said to Aisha: “I can well discern when you are pleased with me and when you are annoyed with me.” She asked, “How do you discern it?” Thereupon he ﷺ replied: “When you are happy with me you take an oath saying, ‘I swear by the Lord of Muhammad. However, when you are upset you would say, ‘I swear by the Lord of Abraham.” Aisha said: “Yes (you are right) O Messenger of Allah, but by Allah, I leave nothing but your name.” [Bukhari]
The Prophet of Allah ﷺ had to take care of the responsibility of the state, battles, preparing armies, propagating his message to the universe, sending messengers to heads of state and following up on all other related affairs. Despite the heavy load he had to shoulder, he ﷺ did not allow these responsibilities to prevent him from following up with his wives and being considerate towards their feelings.
He ﷺ would comfort his wives when they felt unwell and performed Ruqyah on them:
Aisha narrated: “The Prophet of Allah ﷺ used to visit his wives when they fell sick and place his right hand and perform Ruqyah for them (i.e. recite certain supplications and verses of the Qur’an as treatment). He ﷺ would say: ‘Allaahumma Rabban- naasi, ath-hibil-ba’sa, washfi, Antash-Shaafi, la shifaa’a illa shifaa’uka, shifaa’an la yughaadiru saqama [O Allah! the Lord of mankind! Remove this disease and cure (her)! You are the Great Curer. There is no cure but through You, which leaves behind no disease].’” [Bukhari]
The fact that the husband asks about the source of pain, places his hand mercifully on it and performs Ruqyah, has a great impact of the wife even if the pain remains, because she would feel that her husband cares for her, is considerate, feels her pain and empathizes with her suffering.
He ﷺ used to protect his wives:
An-Nu’maan ibn Al-Basheer (a Companion) narrated: “Abu Bakr came and sought permission to enter upon the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and overheard (his daughter) Aisha raising her voice over his voice. He was granted permission to enter.
He said to her while pulling her (aggressively), ‘How dare you raise your voice over the voice of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ?’ So the Messenger of Allah ﷺ stood between them (to protect her). After Abu Bakr left, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to her (to comfort her and make her happy after what her father did): “Did you not see how I protected you and stood between you and him?”
Later Abu Bakr came back and found him laughing with her. Abu Bakr was granted permission to enter, and addressed the Prophet of Allah ﷺ saying, ‘O Messenger of Allah, include me in your peace as I was part of your war.’” [Reported by Ahmad] Meaning, let me be part of your joyful times, as I was part of the time you had a problem.
He ﷺ used to help his wives in their housework:
Al-Aswad ibn Yazeed narrated that Aisha was asked, “What did the Messenger of Allah ﷺ do inside his house?” She answered, “He ﷺ kept himself busy helping his wife (in her housework), and when it was the time for the prayer, he ﷺ would get up for prayer.” [Bukhari]
He ﷺ would pay attention to his personal hygiene and smell:
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ would use the tooth stick (Siwaak) to clean his teeth as soon as he entered his house so that his wife would not smell a bad odor from his mouth.
Shurayh ibn Haan’i (a Follower belonging to the generation succeeding the Companions) narrated that he asked Aisha, “What was the first thing the Prophet of Allah ﷺ would do when he entered the house?” She said: “Clean his teeth with a Siwaak.” [Muslim]
As-Suyooti (a scholar) said: “The wisdom behind this is that his mouth smell might have changed after talking to people all day, and thus he ﷺ was keen on removing any odor as a way of being extra nice and kind in his treatment to his wives.”
A husband must adorn himself for his wife and maintain cleanliness for her, as Ibn ‘Abbas said: “I like to adorn myself for my wife, just as I like her to adorn herself for me, because Allah Says (what means): «And due to them [i.e. the wives] is similar to what is expected to them, according to what is reasonable.» [Qur’an: 2:228]” [Tafseer Ibn Jareer At-Tabari]
Even though the Messenger of Allah ﷺ joked and behaved in a lighthearted manner with his wives, he ﷺ was keen on training them in religious affairs and making leading examples out of them.
Ibn `Umar (a Companion) narrated that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said: “All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards. The ruler is a guardian and responsible for his subjects; the man is a guardian and responsible for his family.’’
He ﷺ encouraged them to be devout worshippers:
Aisha narrated that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said to her: “O Aisha, always be conscious of Allah and maintain [the quality of] kindness [leniency] because whenever kindness [leniency] is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever something is devoid of kindness [leniency], it becomes disfigured [and defective].” [Ahmad]
Al-’Atheem Abaadi said: “The term “adorns it” means perfects it.”
Aisha narrated: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “O Aisha, beware of insignificant [minor] sins, for there is an angel assigned by Allah to record it.”” [Ibn Majah]
In another narration, the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said: “O Aisha, always be kind, for when Allah Wills goodness for a household, He guides them to kindness.” [Ahmad]