“So an interesting question came up yesterday at the meeting. As soon as it was mentioned, my mind exploded with answers to the question, but I knew that if I didn’t organize my thoughts before I stated them, it would all sound like a bunch of rubbish when I opened my mouth. I also figured it would just pass and I’d get over it.
But if you know me, you’ll know that if I go to sleep, and wake up still thinking about the same thing, that’s when I know I can’t be quiet about it. So I wasn’t. I wrote my thoughts down because, well, that’s what I do. Plus I had nowhere else to put them…so I’m throwing them your way.
As many women would agree, Wise Wives is a wonderful program that allows us to interactively learn about what the rules and laws of marriage are in Islam, through many resources made available to us through the website, as well as attending lectures by many well acclaimed doctors and authors specializing in the field of marriage. However in the past couple of meetings I have attended, a few women have voiced an interesting question. Why wise wives, and not wise husbands?
Why is it that us women have to take it upon us to burden ourselves with the responsibility of improving our marriage, or prepare ourselves for a future marriage, while the men do nothing of equal importance? Although I did not speak up at the time, I immediately had an answer as to why we are the ones taking on this challenge. I agree that just like us, men also have a lot to learn about what our Deen has to say about marriage and how it should go, and they too should be brushing up on their knowledge of the topic. However, I also believe that getting them to that point is easier for us women to maneuver rather than waiting for the husbands to do it on their own.
Interestingly, I recalled that in every article or book I have read about how a woman changed her marriage to the better, she always started with herself. In the beginning, the woman always set out to change her husband, to make him better, turn him into the ideal husband she has always wanted. Somewhere along the way, that same woman would find that a marriage and relationship takes two people, and imperfections don’t lie in the husband alone. After all, no one is perfect. And if there are problems in a marriage, usually that means both parties are contributing to those problems. Usually.
So where is the answer? Where do we begin in fixing our problems and bettering our marriages? Well as I continued to read, I found that those same women turned from their husbands, to themselves. Rather than trying to change him, better him, improve him, she began with herself. Changed herself, challenged her own faults, and started taking different approaches in acting and reacting to her husband.
It’s been proven, time and time again by physics, every action has a reaction. Initially, when the wife begins to better herself, as a person and as a wife, the husband in return would better himself, ultimately improving the marriage. So great, one person starts, the other person follows, things get better, right? So then why can’t the man start?! …Fair enough. But there is another answer to that ‘why’ as well.
Because we, as women, run and control the household. Think about it. We decide where things go around the house, what and when things are clean, what everyone is going to eat every day, and sometimes even how and when we spend our money. In truth, we run the show. And how we act or feel, will always affect everyone else in that household. So we decide if today everyone is going to get up early and have breakfast together and spend the day together, happily, as a family. Or if we are going to sulk around the house all day, being depressed and fighting with everyone. The rest of our family acts as a mirror to us and our emotions. As women, wives, and mothers, we can turn things around in an instant. If your husband is having a bad day, you make him his favorite meal, and he feels better. If your kids are sick, you play their favorite movie and cuddle with them, until they feel better. We have the remote and we control the ins and outs of our household.
So the real question is, where do we begin? We’ve established that we will be much better at improving our marriage than our husbands will be because of the power and control we ultimately have over our household and relationships. Because is it our job, as women, to nurture, and care for those around us, therefore caring for their well-being, as well as ours, and controlling which direction our relationships go in. We’re in the drivers seat when it comes to our relationships. So where do we start?
I say the first step is to let the man, be the man. Meaning that they are providers, protectors, and influencers. So let him be so! Us women can be very influential, without appearing to be. By simply restructuring a sentence or request, there can be a better outcome. So rather than pushing a decision on your husband, request it. After all, every man’s goal ultimately is to make his wife happy. Every man wants to be your hero, your knight in shining armor.
So when you begin a sentence with “I want…” he immediately wants to meet your needs, and make you happy, and feel like your provider and hero. SO LET HIM!! In Islam, women are meant to be taken care of. In all honestly, our religion spoils women. Our entire lives, we are meant to be provided for and taken care of. And even if we do work, our money is ours to keep, to do with what we please. We burden no financial responsibilities towards the household or otherwise. We are meant to be covered to be protected even from a strangers eyes, and provided with everything we need to live a happy and fulfilling life. The man has a need to fulfill that responsibility. He has to be the big tough guy that carries us when we’re too tired to walk. And really, what girl doesn’t love to be spoiled? Never has that meant that we give up our individuality or independence. It simply means that everything we do in our life, is for our own leisure and pleasure, rather than a requirement to meet responsibilities.
For example, a few weeks ago my husband and I had a very productive conversation, it is one of those conversations I am most pleased with throughout our marriage. My husband explained to me that if I want to work outside of the home that I may by choice. He told me he would always support me and my work and allow me to do so in order to fulfillingly feel the satisfaction of success. So that I may feel that I have done something useful with my education, and meet goals that I set for myself, and be proud of what I do. However, he said, it will never become a requirement for me to work. He will never ask me to work in order to provide or care for our home, and that that will always be his burden and responsibility. He also said that the only time he would ask me not to work is if he found that my work was getting in the way of other more important things. That’s not to say that if the house isn’t clean he’s going to tell me to quit my job! This is all of course while being understanding that I am working and helping me around the house.
But if my work was to get in the way of taking care of the kids or fulfilling my Deen’s requirements, such as prayer five times a day, then we would re-discuss my working. He also mentioned that the other circumstance under which he would ask me to leave a job would be if there were some unsolvable problem I am experiencing from it, such as some form of harassment. I thought these ideas to be very fair, and perfectly following the rules and guidelines of our Deen. At the same time, I am not challenging my husband’s needs to be the provider for our home, making it a win win situation.
Men also like to be your go-to person. Not just for opening a jar or fixing your car, but more importantly for advice. It does not make a woman stupid or incapable when she asks her husband for advice. After all, if we trusted them enough to give them ourselves for the rest of our lives, I’m sure we can trust their judgment and opinions on the matters in our lives. It doesn’t make us any less of a person, but sometimes women are more emotional, and so it helps to get a more logical perspective on things, which can be your husband’s role. Often times, asking for his advice or opinion on something will turn into a discussion in which you both learn something about each other, allowing you to grow closer as a couple. All because you turned to him in need of something, rather than pushing a final decision on him. Usually pushing a decision on a man will actually cause him to turn away from it, refusing it, whether he actually agrees or not, just because of the way the idea was proposed.
Some more personal advice from me is, praise your husband. Thank him for the things he does, big or small. Show him you appreciate how hard he works, and really get excited when he does something around the house. Brag about him to other people, let him and everyone know you are proud of him. In return, he’ll probably start doing the same. Not only will he also thank you for making dinner and cleaning the bedroom, but he’ll also want to start doing more of the little things you started noticing because he likes the praise. Its human nature to like to be praised, and has been proven that positive reinforcement is far more affective than negative reinforcement. However be careful not to “baby” him or the way you praise him, that just makes it feel fake, or mothering.
The best thing any person can do in any relationship they have, no matter who it is with, is to put themselves in the other persons shoes. Understanding a certain topic or situation is all about perspective. Each person sees things from their point of view, and when that point of view can’t be transferred to the other person, it allows a window of opportunity for a problem or fight to happen.
For example, you as the wife have spent all day cleaning the house and making a special dinner. Everything smells wonderful, and you put something special on, make yourself all pretty and wait for your husband to come home. He on the other hand has just had one of the worst days he can remember. Everything went wrong at work and he is dead tired. He gets home, kicks off his shoes, and crashes on the bed. Naturally, the wife is going to get upset, very upset, and probably not going to wait very long to voice her feelings. And a yelling whining wife is the last thing this husband needs today. And there is your fight. The husband doesn’t know all the trouble the wife went through today, and that she has excitedly been waiting for him to get home. At the same time, the wife doesn’t know what a terrible day her husband has been having, and how stressed out he feels.
But if we, as the good, humble supporting wife, took just one minute to put ourselves in his shoes, rather than jumping to assumptions that he doesn’t care, we’d find that in his situation, we would have done the exact same thing. And rather than making his day even worse by yelling and fighting, we take him his special dinner to bed, and help him relax. It takes a second to decide how your going to react, and that second can and will change the course of the entire remaining week! In return, you’ll find that when you too are having a bad day, your husband is more patient and understanding of you.
There are so many stories that can be told and so much advice that can be given on ways to improve a marriage. However no two marriages are alike, because no two couples are alike. Everything from personality to circumstances vary from marriage to marriage, so it is important to customize the ways in which you will better your marriage to fit the personality types and living circumstances you are dealing with.
Take it upon yourself to educate your husband along with you whenever you learn something new about what our Deen says about marriage . But in the end, a few things remain constant. We as individuals, hold the ability to improve our relaltionships, including having a fulfilling and satisfying marriage, because we are the most influential people in our own lives.
You may find that after you have done what you need to do, he no longer needs to attend any event to make things better. They are just happening because of the way you began, and he finished.
Ultimately, if you treat your husband like a king, he will treat you like a queen! And a happy wife is a happy life! :-)”
–Mai Hazem, Laguna Hills
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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