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Maria’s Marriage Advice

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    Maria s Marriage Advice February 6, 2009 http://mariahussain.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/marias-marriage-advice/ A friend of mine is planning on writing a book on
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      Maria's Marriage Advice
      February 6, 2009
      http://mariahussain.wordpress.com/2009/02/06/marias-marriage-advice/


      A friend of mine is planning on writing a book on marriage from the
      Islamic perspective so I put my 2 cents in:

      Christians tend to fall in love and get married. They usually have a
      wonderful first year of marriage, and then it goes downhill. So, in
      order to rescue a marriage they have to remember why they fell in
      love in the first place, and practice having good manners and
      communication skills.

      But for Muslims, the problem is that they tend to marry someone they
      hardly know. The first year of marriage is usually very hard. There
      is no period of happiness to look back on. Marriage is almost like a
      job. It's worse than a job. The main focus seems to be
      on "tolerating" each other. Our approach should be to help Muslim
      couples learn to like each other hopefully before they get married.

      I think also one of the hardest things in the Muslim world is because
      a lot of people are emotionally damaged from witnessing acts of
      violence or some emotional family trauma from the past. This can
      cause people to shut down and not really view others as human. So the
      wife becomes "that irritating woman" - the man is just a "dick with a
      wallet." Once you label a person, then anything they do is seen
      through this distorted lens.

      Probably a good approach would be to emphasize marriage as a path to
      spiritual awakening (half the faith), which leads to joy and more
      importantly, the emotional maturation process that comes from
      gradually learning to detach from your ego.

      Many people think it's enough to just be married. You don't have to
      learn how to love with your heart, or how to keep on giving and being
      just even when you don't feel like loving. Muslim men often think
      that love and true friendship is not a requirement of marriage, as
      long as they are paying the bills. They just shut down, and submit to
      an unhappy existence, trapped together due to societal expectations.

      Marriage should be emphasized as a spiritual practice for learning to
      reduce ego attachment, a form of meditation and seeking God [dhikr].
      When the relationship has problems, it is a mirror to help you
      discover your own inner self, your reactions and motivations.

      In Catholic churches, when they do pre-marital and marital
      counseling, what they do is ask questions that give you topics to
      discuss that help you understand each others' feelings.

      For me, the questions I would advise my kids to think about first and
      foremost before marriage:

      Do you enjoy each others' company? Do you laugh together? Does
      conversation come easily or with difficulty? Are you attracted to
      each other? When you are apart, can you feel the other thinking about
      you? Do you share the same plans, dreams and goals in life? Do you
      like talking about the same topics? Are there any activities that you
      both enjoy? Do you have the same expectations of the requirements of
      the wedding, marriage and family? Do you feel strongly about the
      other person's bad habits? Does the other person admire or feel
      alienated by your strongest qualities? Are you hoping the other
      person is going to change after marriage or can you take them as they
      are? Will you still enjoy their company after they lost their good
      looks? When you are with them, do you find yourself toning down your
      true personality in order to seem more pleasing?

      Other factors include language, culture and social class differences.
      Is the extended family going to give your spouse a hard time? If so -
      is it fair to expose them to this type of long term emotional abuse?

      It's important to find out ahead of time: Is he or she the kind of
      person that says everything they think as they are thinking it, or do
      they hold back information? Do they ask for their needs or wait for
      you to notice?

      When I decided to leave my husband it was because he told me "I love
      you but I don't like you." I felt that if he couldn't find anything
      about me to like after 5 years, we cannot stay together because there
      is nothing more insulting than someone just staying with you `for the
      sake of the kids'. I believe the dislike came from his tendency to
      label me negatively if he didn't understand a behavior, rather than
      try to understand where I'm coming from. I was always just his "white
      lady." He didn't know how I am different from other white women. His
      main concern was that I should fit in with the other Muslim women. It
      turned out that I was holding him back from what he wanted to do with
      his life, namely fit in with the group, and he was holding me back
      from fulfilling my goals and dreams, which involved forging ahead of
      the group in order to solve the problems of the world.

      In the end I realized that he did love me but the bottom line was he
      really just wanted to have sex with me. He didn't actually have the
      strength to incorporate me into his life full time. He should have
      just made a private marriage with me if he was smart. It was the
      involvement of the family and community that destroyed the
      relationship. They told him that because he married me, that he had
      betrayed his people, and that kind of thing. He was filled with guilt
      and shame that people thought it was a "love marriage." The truth was
      that I was not even attracted to him. I married him for religion.

      I believe that in a successful marriage, "I" and "You" become "We."
      The couple thinks as a team and feels as a team. There are probably
      some spiritual exercises that can help this happen. It's really
      important to put "We" before the rest of the world. Otherwise every
      time you go out, the spouse becomes embarrassed of you. I remember my
      husband always judging me after a social occasion on the way
      home. "You talk too much, it's humiliating." or "Why didn't you talk?
      You embarrass me." Clearly he was determined to view me negatively no
      matter what I did.

      If we had done a temporary marriage first, or if we simply had gone
      out for dinner like normal Americans, we may not even have had a
      second date. The truth was we didn't have much to talk about. I would
      have found him too boring and he would have found me too wild, and
      that would be the end. It was because we were trying to be so Islamic
      that we married a near stranger and went through so much pain
      learning that not everyone is compatible.

      He finally took the time to take me out for fun somewhere finally,
      when I was threatening to divorce him - and it was really
      enlightening and almost amusing to realize how little he understood
      about me and how little he cared to share. After five years of
      marriage, we had no idea what to talk about other than politics or
      Dajjal. We just didn't find each other that interesting.

      Before I was Muslim, I briefly dated an Indian Hindu man. What
      happened was he took me out to dinner a few times and he always sat
      like 5 feet away from me. He was very modest. I found him nice but I
      had no attraction to him. He had an experience though, which my
      husband unfortunately only had after I left him. When the Hindu man
      was visiting my home, which I shared with a friend, he saw my room.
      It was just a mattress on the floor, a rug for prayer and meditation,
      a brick that I used for a table that had some dried flower petals,
      and a small bookshelf. Something about glimpsing my private space
      made him tell me, "All the other people at work always say bad things
      about you but the truth is, you are the nicest person I have ever met
      in my life."

      He seemed like a sweet child who liked to give me presents. His
      mother found out he was seeing me, had a fit, and forced him to break
      up with me. I didn't even consider him my boyfriend, to me he was
      like a friend. He came over crying and saying he couldn't marry me. I
      was surprised because I had no idea he wanted to marry me. Truthfully
      if he had asked me, I would have gently but certainly told him no! I
      had no attraction to him whatsoever. True, I could have grown to love
      him because he was so nice, but I was not heartbroken - not even a
      little - that he couldn't marry me. In fact I found the strange
      situation slightly funny though sad that he suffered for me. He
      actually quit his job where I also worked, because it was too painful
      for him to see me anymore.

      I believe that with my first husband, had we gone out to dinner a few
      times before marriage, probably by the second date I really would
      have been clear that I didn't want to marry him. OR, we might have
      had a chance to become good friends and got some inner glimpse of
      each others' true selves, before trying to start a family. In which
      case the marriage would have had more team spirit because it would be
      based on admiration and respect for the inner person.

      My ex-husband told me, after he got married to another woman, now he
      realizes what a kind and forgiving person I was. However, his sisters
      like her so I guess that's what matters most in their culture. And
      people call Islam a patriarchal society?

      *********************************************************************

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