Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim
Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah
I’m an old married lady now, having been married ten years, and I’m always interested in the dynamics between husband and wife, especially in a cross-cultural marriage. These types of marriages are very common nowadays with immigrant and convert Muslims making up so much of the marriage pool here in the States.
My husband and I have found our level of comfort and familiarity. We know each others’ likes and dislikes. We know what we love about each other, and what drives us nuts. I like the fact that we are friends. That’s not a given in a marriage, especially when you are marrying a man from a traditional (often chauvinistic) society. Women are for making love and making babies, and for serving tea. Your wife is not necessarily your confidant. If you want to know the best way to get ketchup off your tie, ask your wife. If you want to know what to do about your financial or personal situation, go to your friend’s little café and drink tea and smoke shishah with your guy friends. In so many societies, men and women exist in different orbits, coming together only in the dining room and the bedroom. That’s such a shame. I never realized this gulf existed until I started hearing “between the lines” in conversations with women in my community. I thought that my model of a marriage was the norm; I realized it is the exception.
Now, sometimes when my husband comes to me for advice, or to have me act as a sounding board for some new idea, I think to myself, “Just leave me out of it…. I do not care whether or not you buy the big pressure washer on sale or wait to borrow one from your cousin”. Sometimes I wish he were a little more independent in his decision-making. Well, I take that back. I wish he wouldn’t come to me for advice when he has absolutely no intention of taking the advice I give. But I never know beforehand if he is going to listen and agree, or listen, agree, and then still do what he wanted to do in the first place. Usually it’s about 50/50. Overall, I really appreciate the fact that he respects my opinion and trusts me. That’s a big deal when you’re married to an Arab. He solicits my advice on everything from what to wear to whether or not to buy a particular plot of land. He sometimes takes my advice, sometimes not, but he never dismisses me out of hand. I know so many women who have no idea of what their husbands are thinking. They don’t know how much money they have, if he has land back in the old country, even if he is sending money back for family. The wife just takes what he gives her for groceries and clothes for the kids, and never asks about it. I could never live like that. As much stress as I get from having to pay bills and balance the checkbook every month, I’d rather know than not have a clue. Even though I’m now a full-time stay at home mom, it’s my money, too. I am the one who cooks and cleans and (rarely) irons his galabiyyah, teaches the children everything from their ABC’s to the periodic table of the elements. And yes, I, the American convert to Islam, teach them Arabic, too, since Daddy hardly ever speaks Arabic to them (and that’s a whole ‘nother rant). I do keep the household running smoothly, more or less, so I darn sure better have some input into how the money is spent. Good thing my husband agrees.
The reason he is so reasonable is that he knows what the job of homemaker entails. He watches the three smaller kids when I take our oldest to Tae Kwan Do or Qur’an class. He changes dirty diapers and intervenes when a battle for toys gets out of hand. He can manage snack time if all he has to do is take a wrapper off a cereal bar, but more than that he cannot do, and he graciously cedes all authority where household stuff is concerned. He knows what it takes and he’s not a bit interested in doing all that stuff.
Well, I guess that’s all the marital musing I have in me today. Good thing, too, because this pile of laundry is not going to fold itself, and I have to get a move on before the baby wakes from her nap. Hubby has been at work all day getting the warehouse ready, and we were there too so I could help. The kids were pretty well behaved and it meant I didn’t have to cook since we were out of the house all day. Now I’m home and he’s going back into battle, this time at the masjid. The community meeting is tonight and you could not pay me enough money to get into the middle of that. Ugh.
G’night everyone. Remember ladies; if you have the kind of husband who actually talks to you about important stuff, give him the respect of listening, and then give your honest input. He may not agree with you, but the fact that he talked to you about it means he respects your point of view.
Fi Aman Allah,