Love and Marriage
I was one of those “lucky” ladies that found the love of my life as a teenager. Yes, I was a freshman in college when someone introduced me to this sophisticated older man who quite literally was someone I dreamed up as a child. At the time he was truly a “unicorn” from my perspective. A like-minded American Muslim “tall, dark, and handsome” lawyer whose family would literally become like my own and to add to the cheese factor because we both coincidently had the same initials “ZH”, we would decide to name our future babies with “Z” names, and walk into the sunset together. To add to the cheese factor we both literally fell in love the moment we sat down for our first cup of coffee 22 years ago. Are you super annoyed and throwing up a little in your mouth? I wouldn’t blame you if you were.
Now staying in love...that is a whole ‘nother story. If I were to start this “love” story all over again, what is the advice and or perspective I would gift that younger version of myself? What in two decades, multiple life-altering events, four amazing children, countless arguments with sleepless nights, and even more blessed moments too numerous to list have I uncovered? Marriage is HARD HARD work. There are days where it will literally feel like someone has strapped a boulder on your back and then ask you to walk up the John Hancock building. You may actually HATE your significant other so much that the sound of their breathing will cause your skin to crawl. That is OK. It is NOT the end of the world and with perseverance and perspective, you WILL make it back to the other side.
Keep your sense of self. There are two people in the marriage and though it is easy to fall into the pattern of “we are as one”, you need to keep your own individual sense of self if you want to go the long haul in any relationship. Make sure you make time to cultivate your own interests, hang out with your girlfriends, learn a new and exciting hobby like...knitting (maybe not knitting but you get my drift)! Whatever you choose to discover by yourself will have the added bonus of giving you something OUTSIDE your union or your children to hold on to when times are a bit rough.
Remember, your kids will one day leave you. As sad as this perspective is for me I am currently facing the reality of that as our oldest is a few years from flying the nest. You need to have a life as a couple, separate and apart from your children. Go out on dates, take dancing lessons together, plan out your couples trip and leave the guilt at home with Naani. Take the time to remember what brought you two together before there were any baby Z’s living in your house.
Fighting is healthy. It’s OK to have disagreements. Sometimes hashing things out heatedly allows the communication to open up even when you would otherwise want to ignore or remain silent about a particular topic. Occasionally getting angry with your significant other over ahem paper towel, for example, is really a symptom of a larger issue at play. You will never fully resolve a problem unless the lines of communication remain open and at times the only way to do that is by fighting it out.
Making up is part of the fun. GASP this is a “Muslim Mom” blog...perhaps we shouldn’t mention S-E-X. If this bothers you go ahead and skip this part. Still here? Ok, let’s talk about SEX. There are countless Hadith’s/Sunnah that mentions the importance of physical relations between husband and wife. Feel free to Google them and get educated. I can only tell you from experience that when you feel a physical and intimate connection with your husband you are more likely to forgive some of his more annoying qualities. I know you are tired, I know that you have that important meeting in the morning, I know you are thinking of excuses as you read this. Stop. Make time for it. Trust me you’ll thank me later.
Never give up. Please note, this is NOT for those of my sisters who are in relationships beyond repair, please seek whatever support or help is needed to move on with your life! This is for those of us who because the busyness of every day decides not to prioritize a relationship that is in the middle of the dark side of a “love cycle”. Or whose kids sports schedule get in the way of maintaining a connection. Or whose new baby kept them up all night so that your eyes are seeing double and you can’t imagine your life ever be the same. Don’t give up. Know that this sucks but it too shall pass and if you need help remembering why you fell in love with that “tall dark and handsome” lawyer in the first place, seek counseling. There is NO shame in putting on a life jacket if you can’t remember how to swim.
Our love story is still being written. There are sentences within the story that are so frenzied with strife, hurt, anger and disappointment that moving on to the next chapter seems almost improbable. But then again there are words that turn to sentences that transform into paragraphs that evolve into chapters that are filled with light, love, family, and hope. It’s a story that I have decided to continue writing.
Until Next Time,