Wifehood

10 Things I Learned After 4 Years of Marriage

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Last night, just before I slept I took one last look at Facebook, and was reminded that today is my fourth nikah (wedding) anniversary. If not because of that Facebook reminder, the day may have passed without realising it – and that would be a shame because that is a good reason to be thankful.

Four years of staying married may not sound as glorious as 14 years or 24 years or 34 years – but when marriages these days sometimes only last for a few months, there is no way I should take it for granted. Alhamdulillah – all praise and thanks be to God. At least I am glad that this one passed the first two so-called crucial years of marriage.

After four years of living under one roof with a man, sharing joy and pain, living through good days and bad days, apart from raising two children together, I have learnt several things. I am jotting them down here as a reminder for myself.

  1. Know your rights as a wife, but focus more on fulfilling the rights of the partner.

    Marriage is an amazing opportunity to serve which reward is none other than His love. And such acts will be reciprocated by the partner sooner or later God willing. Good begets good.

  2. Do things because you want to please Allah first and foremost.

    There is no point on doing things or sacrificing certain things in your life because of your husband. He may forget, he may not appreciate – and you’ll be hurt and left in total pain when your expectation is not met. But God the Almighty will never forget, will never fail to appreciate them.

  3. Learn the love language(s) of your husband.

    I found that my husband loves it when I do things for him (i.e. Act of Service) more than getting him an expensive gift, holding his hand, or saying nice words. And I made it clear to him of my love language, and insist on getting enough ‘love’ when I feel like lacking. There’s no point in quietly sulking.

  4. In reference to point #3 – Ask. And more often than not you shalt get.
  5. Nobody’s perfect.

    During those moments when the worst of your partner emerges, remind yourself of the beautiful side of him; those traits that you love and adore. Whenever I am mad about anything my spouse did or did not do, I will ask this question: Is it worth doing damaging acts? Would I rather be with someone else? The answer is always ‘no’.

  6. Being thick-skinned as opposed to sensitive will make things easier. I guess that if anyone else hear the kind of jokes we make about each other, they would think that the one teased is severely hurt. At least I don’t. I know my worth that even if my husband is making fun about all my shortcomings I can laugh together with him. After all, if he doesn’t like all of those, why did he choose to marry me?
  7. Learn to speak ‘similar’ languages. 

    A person becomes your best friend because he or she understands you, have a lot in common with you, and because both of you are of the same ‘wavelength’. Because I want and need my husband to become my best friend forever a.k.a BFF, I see the importance of being able to speak the same language and to hold a conversation on his topics of interest. Engineering and physics, business-related issues, football, politics, religion etc. … and I am adding economics to the list now. I take it that I am doing well in this department, since my husband has never been out with his friends (outside office hours) :-P.

  8. Live and learn to love the in-laws. 

    Again, no one’s perfect. I am not perfect, and neither is, for instance my mother-in-law (just to refer to the typical feud exists between one’s wife and his mother). But I love my husband, and he is the lovable him now partly because of how his mother raised him. How could I not be thankful for that at the very least? I am lucky in a way however, because my husband understands that if I complain about certain things, it doesn’t mean that I hate them. It is just because sometimes I need him to be the sounding board. I love his family just the same, despite all the rantings. And oh, give presents – a lot of them if you have the means. They erase all the bad feelings you have towards a person like magic.

  9. Your family is a separate unit. It is hard to put this particular lesson in words, but I’ll try. I have learnt and realised after my first year of being married, that my husband sees our little union and growing family as an opportunity to build a thing from scratch, free of the influence of others. I, on the other hand, still carry the luggage and strong attachment to my family (which is not wrong to a certain extent, of course). My view was proven problematic if not hurtful to my husband. My arguments that more or less sound like ‘My/your father/mom does XX,so why can’t we/you/I do the same too?’ don’t work. What and how our families do it doesn’t matter. Both of us now are presented with the opportunity to do it differently and correctly (if the way it is being done is incorrect), so why hang on to those practices? Our little family is a separate entity on its own, with perhaps different (and hopefully better) internal culture, practices and new traditions to start.
  10. Say thanks – a lot. 

    No act of kindness by the spouse should be left unthanked. Even the smallest ones. Even those which are his responsibilities. I’ve read enough sad stories of dysfunctional families to be thankful of little things he does. Like when he brings home leftover fruit tarts from his departmental meetings because he knows I love fruit tarts but not talented enough to make them myself. Or when he lets me take unusually longer naps because he always thinks I am tired (even when I have the energy to run a marathon). Or when he kindly relieves me from having to iron his work clothes even after I becomw a full time SAHM. I know that not many men do these things, so I intend to keep mine by saying appreciating him.

So that’s it. 10 lessons I learned in my four (short) years of marriage, and I am looking forward to more wisdom.

May Allah ease.

p.s. Any wisdom you’d like to share with me on this matter?

The Lonely Road

I wrote about the change we made a while ago to our daily routine, but guess what, it lasted for a few weeks, before we both succumbed to the old routine – of commuting together in one car. Other than taking out one car from jamming  the road towards the city centre, I was just blessed to have him around for an additional two hours every day.

 

But this week my husband has to attend a training about 1.5 hour away from our home, so we just had to commute separately. While I could feel that being able to get home by 6:30 PM is a major relief since I don’t have to wait for him – and allowed me to cook for dinner, but I just feel disconnected from my husband – that two hours spent daily in the car now seems more precious than ever.

 

Sure, Isa can hold a conversation with me these days (though under a certain mood his answer to my question would only be ‘Tak Nak’ i.e. no) , but I want my husband.

 

Oh, how much patience those in long-distance relationship have!

The Proper Feeding & Care of Husbands: 10 Quick Lessons from Chapter 6,7, and 8

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  1. My man would need a time off to be with his friends. In my case, it is with his comics.
  2. My man wants my acceptance and approval. Never disrespect or belittle things that he does, everything I said matters and affects him.
  3. My man’s equivalent of my good, meaningful conversation, is  good and meaningful intimate times.
  4. My man must be respected in his own home. He is the head of the house. Keep him in the loop. Full stop.
  5. Take good care of myself and make the effort to keep myself fit and pleasant-looking. He’d rather have me spent my time doing that instead of cleaning the house or cooking 24/7 – this one I know well.
  6. A good man is hard to find, not to keep. I’m lucky I found my husband, so now I need to keep him.
  7. “Mom equals protection and nurturance. Dad equals autonomy and adventure. It is the perfect balance that helps produce a functional, secure human being.” It implies that I don’t need to be critical  of his parenting.
  8. My husband has feelings, and I should stop ‘abusing’ him as the author defines it. A woman abuses the husband in many ways: tantrums, railings, contentions, poutings, sarcasms, eye-rolling, door-slamming, neglect of the marriage bed, etc. 
  9. My mood influences and sets the whole family’s mood. Be careful about that.
  10. It will take time to undo the scar I have done, but it will work, God willing

Turning 29

A few weeks ago I turned 29. I have a good relook at my life, and turning 30 may not be as scary as it sounds.

But 29 is a prime age. As my best friend and I always say: when we were younger we always thought that 29-year-olds are..guess what, old. And mature. But look at where we are now.

It is funny.

My boss, who is a favourite of mine, of all bosses I have worked with has tendered his resignation. He is looking to migrate for some personal reasons. He said that he is soon turning 40, and if he needs to move to other jobs (which entails lower position and hence salary) he might as well do it now.

It struck me hard, more than I thought it would, the things he said the day he announced to me that he’s leaving.

I am turning 30 in less than a year, and if I were to reinvent myself I need to do it now.

Yes, I have a fulfilling job. It is still a dream job. I have all the recognition I need and the only thing left to do if I am really into winning this section of my life is to push myself a bit harder.

But whether I have excelled at least at the same level as my career in my other roles, I have doubt.

My role as a wife.

My role as a mother.

Most of the time I feel that my work and career has consumed much of my energy, and for the other roles there are only left-overs.

That is not right. I am never, never at peace with that fact –  I am disturbed by my incapacity, which is ultimately of my own choice.

This is not me trying to ‘have it all’ as they said. This is me worrying that I could not really give a satisfying answer to  God on the Day of Judgment.

If I were to reinvent myself, I need to do it now.

Now.

I am 90% firm on this life-changing event I am planning, God willing.

May He guide us to the right path, the path of those women who have attained His blessings and mercy and have been given a place in His Paradise.

 

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Three

My husband is an unromantic person. Here’s a proof.

We were in our car when I heard the news of a man who takes up diving in the effort to find his wife’s body, three years after she went missing during tsunami.

In the attempt to replicate a typical scene of a jealous wife baiting for romantic gestures from the husband, I started the conversation below:

Me: I’m pretty sure if that was you, you’d probably marry someone else three days after I die, not even waiting for three years.

Him: You are wrong. I’m gonna marry someone else three hours before you die.

That’s my husband!

And yes, I still love him.

I Will Sleep On It

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The favourite catchphrase of my big boss is ‘I’ll sleep on it first’, whenever he could not find a good solution to a problem posed to him.

I like the phrase.
I like it, and I apply it. Very frequently.

Especially when I am angry and upset with my husband.

You see, one of the oft-repeated marriage advice I have ever read or told is this: Forgive and forget everyone before you sleep.

And I confess here: I could not do it.
And having known how a good night sleep (or even day, but night works better so far) will miraculously erase whatever amount of anger I have in myself, I’ll choose this path.

The prophet Muhammad taught us that:  When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.

It is true, at least for me.

It is amazing how I could not recall, 99% of the time, why and how I got angry in the first place when I wake up from the sleep. I do not know how it really works. It could be that most of my anger and upset stems from the fact that I was tired and hence easily get irritated by the tiniest thing, so a good rest cures. And the bonus to choosing this method is that it refrains me from saying hurtful words out of anger.

It’s true that in marriage, we need to learn how to fight and forgive like children do.

I see myself improving in this aspect, though. Our arguments are indeed getting much shorter after two years by marriage (somewhere around 5 minutes these days).Well, it could last longer than that all right, especially if I apply this ‘Sleep on it’ method – since sleeping as a part of anger management will never be shorter than 8 hours.

 

[Dec ’13- Jan ’14 Book] The Surrendered Wife (1)

I believe feminism addresses what I want at work, but say little about what to do in my marriage. In the workplace, I would never settle for anything less than equal pay, equal opportunity, and having a voice equal to my male counterparts. But at home, those qualities contribute nothing to the romantic, intimate relationship I want. ~ The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle

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