Before you become his wife/ move in

>> Monday, September 26, 2011

Asalamu aliakuam!
May Allah bless you all for this wonderful blog. I just want to ask you regarding marriage. It is said that we must prepare our mind and spirit for the tremendous responsibility after marriage. This is because some of us enter into marriage with the hope that everything is going to be like in 'cloud seven' or just 'love and fresh air' and everything else is going to be taken care of...hehe..that's true but due to having lack of knowledge and preparation of the responsibilities could detriment the marriage in the future. Can you please help me in what should I prepare myself with and how? :) And I want to ask if the spouse is from different culture, what do i have to prepare myself to face the 'cultural gap' between the spouses.

Jazakillah khayran for this & sorry for the trouble.
Love you for Allah sake

Sister Muffin

wa'alykum as salam wa rahmatullah wa barkatoo!

Dear Sister Muffin!
My little cupcake! Mabrook on your engagement and upcoming marriage :) You know I hesitated to answer this question because...well...we're not married....I mean, not a single one of us, hehe, and so the most we can offer you is 'theoretical advice' rather than advice founded on experience and real knowledge. I was almost going to turn this question down, but then decided I would give it a shot and count on our lovely readers here to share their insightful wisdom, inshaAllah. hint. Hint. Hint :P)...

How does one prepare themselves for marriage?

Well, to fix the whole "It's going to be all rosy/whatever", I would say we have 3 things we need to look into (after reading about marriage from an Islamic point of view and understanding the obligations upon you).

1. YOU
Get to know yourself.
I don't mean "Hi, what's your name" kinda thing (now that would be bonkers, hehe, even for Little Auntie, here :P).

What I do mean is really look into your soul. Do some soul searching.

  • Do you have a bit of a temper?
  • Is there something that you've seen in marriages around you that worries you about marriage? Is there some hidden fear you have? Can this 'fear' affect your own marriage?
  • What are your spending habits? Are you a spender? Is there a void you're trying to fill?

In essence- do you need closure on something? A lot people think that once they get married, they'll be starting a new life and that maybe even their husband/wife will be their free therapist or that their problems will magically disappear....

But actually, darlin', chances are that if you need to get closure on something, it's not going to go away but make itself right at home in the middle of your married life. Your fears/worries/ will resurface in different ways again and again in marriage.  Now, that, my little friend, can result in chaos, if not properly handled. So why not take the time now to 'understand yourself more', 'what drives you', 'what scares you', and 'why you react to certain things in certain ways'?

What else?
Well, we do a LOT of things automatically, without even thinking. Get to know these things.

For example: when I come home from work, I have a habit of running into my room, changing my clothes, and leaving my (stinky, hehe) abaya, niqab and khimar on the bed.

Now, while I might not care about the 'pile' of clothes I end up having on my bed, a future hubby might. He might get really irritated by this habit.

Here's another one (for some reason, I've decided it's "Let's Embarrass Little Auntie day or something). Sometimes, I decide to brush my teeth outside of the bathroom, even in my own bedroom. I brush for a bit and then run to the bathroom and rinse. (You can lay it down to the fact that the bathroom isn't that big)... The point is, that is something that might seriously disturb a husband- seeing his 'little bride' with foam in her mouth ;)

So what I would suggest is writing down your daily schedule and writing down some of your habits. What are some things your hubster- or any room mate, including yourself- might not like? What are some things you can improve right now? I suggest making a list of 10 things.

Think of everything and anything. Granted, there will be some things that are just 'eccentric/cute/you"- I'm not telling you to completely change yourself but to look at yourself from an outsider's point of view and see what might 'annoy' someone about you . Choose 4 or 5 of these things in the list and think about what you can do to possibly fix these things. 

There will also be things out of your control. Take my allergies. Because of my allergies, I suddenly cannot have the a.c. or fan on for more than a few minutes. My brother complains I keep the house a 'sauna'....This is something that could 'annoy a husband' but I have been given strict doctor orders as well, so it's something really not in my control. It's just something I have to learn to deal with/live with and so does Mr. Husband.Do you have anything like that?  Let your husband know before hand. And learn to live with them and make peace with them.

2. Him
- The next thing you need to prepare yourself with is getting to know him more...first as a man in general and second as 'your man'...Understand that he will be different from your 'girl best friend'.
- Read more about differences between men and women in terms of communication, problem-solving, needs, reactions to stress, etc.
- Then, once you've signed the Nikah (but presumably haven't moved in, yet), get to know more about your husband. Ask him things, spend time with him, etc. What does he like? Not like? His biggest pet peeves? What makes him anxious? What's his daily schedule like? When does he hang out with friends? etc.
-Consider the fact that he has his own daily habits and style and that these may 'clash' with yours...(Ask yourself how will you deal with it, if he insists on drinking from the milk carton, for example?)

3. Cultural Differences
So, it seems like you're from different cultures. There are a lot of things to consider there.
a.Do you speak the same language?
b. What cultural expectations does he have of a wife? What is his understanding of the relationship between his wife and her in-laws? Does he expect you to live together? Visit often? Etc.
c. What culture will your children follow?
d. What are you going to do if you have differences in child-up bringing. (E.g. your culture thinks that children and their parents should be friends and his culture thinks that children and their parents should have a relationship based on 'respect')
e. Day to day differences:
- What kinds of food does he prefer? Spicy? Mild?
f. What are some cultural red flags that you have/ that he has?

Basically, to bridge the gap, you need to discuss things with him and read more about his culture.

These are 'starting points' for you to work on....

What else? How do you prepare yourself for the responsibilities of marriage?
-Try budgeting with your parents for a month.
-If you have some nieces and nephews, take care of them....for an entire day without their parents. How comfortable are you around children? Once you've signed the nikah, you guys could even baby sit together. (Just to give you a taste of what's in store).

- Find out what time your hubby will leave for work and try waking up and making breakfast at that time :P
-Ask married friends and relatives!

InshaAllah the other sisters will share their much needed experiences!

Lots of love,
p.s. just for fun, you're also welcome to share any personal 'quirks'/ 'eccentricies' in the comments section ;)

12 wonderful sprinkely thoughts:

Anonymous,  September 26, 2011 at 8:29 PM  

Great answer. I love your blog! I wanted to ask if you or anyone here have any book recommendations to learn more about marriage and the opposite gender?

Anonymous,  September 26, 2011 at 9:59 PM  

You guys give great advice! Are you guys physiologists or something? Where do you learn all these stuff from? Mashallah your blog is amazing.

Blue Pearl September 27, 2011 at 12:35 AM  

My dear little aunties,

Great post - well answered. Keep up the great work. All my love

Cub,  September 27, 2011 at 1:04 PM  

Assalam Alaikum

This might be helpful:

Little Auntie September 28, 2011 at 8:56 AM  

Anon, number 1: I've been meaning to read books on the opposite gender for a long time but somehow I never get to it. Little Miss Aunty's read "Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars", though. I hope other people can give you some suggestions :)

Anonymous, #2: jazakillah khair! that's really way too kind of you :D Umm, we're not qualified at all...I think it's really easy to give advice but a million times harder to follow it!

Blue Pearl- you were missed! Jazakillah for poppin in :)

Cub, Jazakillah for sharing :)

Anonymous,  September 29, 2011 at 9:55 AM  

MashaAllah Lil Auntie:)

This is a video titled "The Healthy Marriage" by Br. Nouman Ali Khan. Sisters, I recommend we all watch this video.. It was an eye-opener for me :)

Anonymous,  October 3, 2011 at 9:55 PM  

Excellent post!

Good link:

Iqra,  October 8, 2011 at 12:21 AM  

I really liked the questions in "soul searching". They're very relevant.

Sean Covey says in "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers" that you should think whether you would like to marry yourself. Meaning, if your prospective husband/wife had 100% of the same behaviour as yourself, would you want to make them your life partner? I liked this thought because usually we single people can rattle off a list of "qualities I'd like in my spouse" at a moment's notice, but (surprise!) not all the qualities in that list are ones we possess ourselves.

Anonymous,  October 10, 2011 at 8:46 PM  

Assalamu Alaykum

Great insight! I'm a convert so can speak about my experience living with my ex-fiancee pre-conversion...

A big question to ask is how clean they are with their bathroom. Some men are wildly messy, which may drive you nuts. An easy solution most of my friends have come to, to avoid nagging and constant cleaning, is to simply have permanently separate bathrooms if he is messy - he isn't allowed in yours, you aren't allowed in his. You may want to hire a weekly cleaner for his so you don't have to walk into a tornado to clean it. But don't make this topic an argument, just nicely say "it seems we're incompatible with bathroom cleanliness. An easy solution is using separate bathrooms so neither of us is stressed" and see if he will go with it. It's a great stress reducer.

I would also recommend talking about expectations with cooking, cleaning, etc. If you cook, will he clean or grocery shop? With babies will you always be the one to get up in the middle of the night, or will you do shifts, or weeks where you get up vs him getting up? This will help you find out his position on equality in burdens.

I also recommend learning how jealous he is. If you're out in public and a man wearing a disco ball and strobe-lights pops into your eyesight and you accidentally look at him, does he get mad at you for looking at him even though it is humanly impossible to avoid seeing that person? Jealousy can be a downward spiral that results in an angry man banning his wife from leaving the house, which I don't imagine to be a good life.

An additional note on raising children - how does he foresee punishing children? Time-outs or spankings? What is your position?

One last item that will be tough to determine Islamicly before affectionate will he be, and what affection level do you need to be happy? How interested in you as a human being do you want him to be? How frequently do you need sweet words or actions or gifts, and how frequently does he think is appropriate? Do you expect cuddling with every movie at home alone and will be heartbroken if you can't cuddle with your husband during a movie? When one of you is away, how frequently do you expect to talk over the phone - daily or weekly?

Little Auntie October 11, 2011 at 7:39 AM  

Anonymous- Jazakillah khair for sharing that video! I watched it before and it is an eye opener :)
Khutbah gems, jazakillah for the link.

keep them coming, sisters :)

Iqra, what a great insight. Something to really reflect on. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous, lots of great points and thinks to discuss with one's future spouse, inshaAllah. I never really thought about bathroom cleanliness until a similar thing happened with my older sis and her husband, too. They have separate bathrooms, ;)

Thank you also for giving such a detailed response, ma'sahAllah! I really hope the person who turned this letter in reads it all :)

InshaAllah she will greatly benefit from all of your input :)

Anonymous,  October 11, 2011 at 5:07 PM  

Salaam! I'm surprised no one's mentioned in-laws yet (maybe they did in the links/Nouman Ali Khan video but i haven't looked at those). I'll be getting married in a few months and the wedding planning process has been tremendously complicated by my in-laws and their "traditions." We're not even that different culturally (we're both desi), but for some reason, his family seems to think they get the final say on how all our wedding events will be organized, just because they're on the groom's side. I'm not sure if I should just let this go or finally put my foot down and let my fiance know how much this is bothering me. Anyways, just thought I'd throw that out there.

Little Auntie October 12, 2011 at 12:32 PM  

^That's a really good point, anonymous. I was trying to allude to that by the point: "What is his understanding of the relationship between his wife and her in-laws? Does he expect you to live together? Visit often? Etc."

Definitely though in-laws are a serious issue to discuss!

may Allah make things smoother for you and your fiance

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Asalamu aialkum!
Well, what do you think? You know, you're part of the team, as well. Please help a sister out and share your own advice/experiences/etc. One for all and all for one =)
P.S. I reserve the right to remove any disrespectful comment ;)

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