Friday's Five: Things Every Wife Should Know

It’s not Friday but another Kolena Laila post.  Marriage is tricky business.  Even the most compatible couples have their issues but smart couples know how to deal with them.

You will fight

You probably fought before you got married right?  If you didn’t then consider yourself extremely lucky.  Your first fight as a married couple is usually freaky.  You are shocked and hurt not just because you had a fight but because you had a fight even after you went through all of the hassle of getting married.  Take a deep breath and get over yourself.  Disagreeing is normal.  We all fight with our siblings and parents and these are the people who have known you your whole life.  It is normal, just remember to stay civilized and learn when to compromise and let go.  Unless of course the fight includes abuse of any kind you should learn to let go and once you have made up forget about it.

Stop yourself from nagging

No body likes a nagging wife.  Nagging does not work.  The more you nag the better your husband will learn to resist.  If nagging worked, a wife would nag once and would never need to nag again (convinced right?).  Gretchen Ruben (The Happiness Project) has some really great 14 tips to stop nagging.

Appreciate the little things

Your husband throws his socks on the floor and it is really annoying.  But he also remembers to do little things your love, like call you in the middle of the day just to say hi or buys you flowers for no reason.  Whatever the little things are make sure that you appreciate and enjoy them.

Create habits

Whether it is a Wednesday movie night, Friday barbecue or Saturday bowling find an activity you both love to do and make it a habit.  Some people might argue that this is boring and routine.  I think it just adds some structure to an already hectic life.  It is also couple time when you can do something together as a team.  My husband and I make pizza every (well almost) Thursday.  I make the dough and he makes the sauce and adds the toppings.  I make fun of him because he’s really obsessed about slicing mushrooms as thin as possible and makes sure they are all the same thickness and he makes fun of me because I move around too much in the kitchen and get in his way all the time.  It was originally a healthier alternative to ordering pizza but it turned into a fun activity.  We have learned how to act like a team.  I learned not to interfere with his slicing skills and he has stopped nagging me to make the crust thinner.

Be true to yourself

There are many times when you will have to compromise or do something you don’t really want to but this can’t be a permanent thing.  You have to stay true to yourself or your marriage will not work.  Period.

There are so many other things wives should know but these are just the first five off the top of my head.

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Turn your marriage into a fairy tale

Shake That Brain have created an amazing photo storybook based on Fairy Tales Can Come True (Just Not Every Day!), with interesting tips on marriage.  They have used sixties style stock photos which make the tips so much more interesting.

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What about after the divorce?

Recently a couple of girls I know had to go through the really horrible experience of divorce. I am not going into the details of the divorces or why the marriages failed, but my real question is what do they do next? Divorce is a traumatizing experience. With any traumatic experience the divorcee needs plenty of support and help after the experience, but in our Middle Eastern culture seldom does she get it. Therapy or psychological help is still frowned upon in our communities which is a very sad and bad thing. Carrying emotional baggage like that is frightening and must be very heavy on the girls. I wonder why there are no centers or support groups to help women handle it. A woman needs legal advice first to set her affairs in order. If she has kids she needs to figure out how she will support them and how she will get the financial settlement in order too. Even after all of that where does she go to deal with her own issues and then her children. Marriage is becoming increasingly difficult in our countries especially Egypt, parents are pressuring their daughters to settle for any marriage that comes along, so they are even harder on their daughters who want out and are usually even harder on them when they do get divorces.  Some women even stay in bad marriages longer than they should because of that parental and social pressure.  In a religious society like ours what role does the mosque or the imam play in such cases, nearly non-existent.  In the past imams did play a role in these issues because they also usually used to be judges and they new the rules really well.  What can we do to help?  I have been thinking about this for a long time and I think we need the following:

  • A change in mentality.  It is ok to get out of a bad marriage.  I chose “bad” because I think bad starts from an unhappy marriage to the extreme of an abusive relationship, with everything in between.  Understanding what a bad marriage is important.  Many women will accept husbands who cheat and will turn a blind eye to it just because they do not want to carry the stigma of a divorced women.  I think, if, as a community we stopped looking at the woman as the wrong doer or even trying to point a finger at who the guilty party is and focused more on fixing the situation it would be better to all of us.  We should stop judging and trying to analyze why someone’s marriage failed and instead help the person move on.
  • Educating women.  I have always thought that our basic education should include a “Marriage 101″ course.  From the process of accepting a marriage proposal, making a marriage work, knowing what your rights and your obligations are and how and when to get out of a bad marriage if God forbid you were unlucky to get into one.  Since our educational system is not that sophisticated, parents should educate themselves and their sons and daughters.  Where are our writers and journalists?  Why isn’t there a “Marriage for Dummies in the Arab World” book, anything to help guide our generations in the right direction.  The rules in the non-Arab world are different, we need our own rules and we need to teach them to our daughters.
  • Support.  There is nothing wrong with seeking proffessional help.  Sometimes just talking to someone who is not involved in the situation enables us to move forward because a non-judgemental, honest and caring opinion can help clear what we saw as muddled or jumbled up.  Does your local mosque have an educated and caring Imam?  He should be playing his part in society, try and get him involved.  Are you part of a club or social scene where you can set up sessions and talks to the younger generation, then why are you not doing that? D is for Divorced, not for Dead, is a great blog offering advice, written by two ladies who went through it.  I wish more women had the guts and courage to do the same.  It is nothing to be ashamed of, what really is shameful is that we make an already bad situation worse.

Marriage in movies – Le3bet el 7ob (The game of love)

I am not a romantic movie fan in general, I find them soppy, sappy and boring and it usuall has an unbelievably happy ending.  That said I watched Le3bet el 7ob, starring Khaled Abou El-Naga and Hend Sabry a couple of days ago and I liked it.  Since I am not going to spoil it for you I’m not going to tell you what happens, but I did like how they depicted marriage for the new age Egyptian couple.

In one scene Khaled Abo El-Naga goes home turns on the lights and throws his jacket on the chair in the hallway, his wife immedeatly calls out to him telling him (in a very annoyed voice) to switch off the lights and not to leave his jacket on the chair because that’s not where it should be.

It was one of those “Aha” moments as Oprah calls them.  This kind of behavior is what gets you in marriage rut.  In every marriage there are those annoying things that each spouse does and it gets on the other person’s nerves.  I know firsthand because we have that same “turn off the light” conversation most days, my husband likes the lights really bright and I don’t.  There’s also “why can’t you pick up your dirty clothes” talk everyday.  A few months back I decided to totally drop these little nags and just do the things myself without feeling angry or petty.  The interesting thing was that the pesky socks eventually learned to find their way to the laundry basket on their own and the lights are at medium brightness most of the time.

Along the way we forget what brought us together and remember only the small annoying little things, we stop looking at our spouse as a partner, a friend, a confidant and an amazing person and we see a husband and a father.  I think that is what turns many marriages sour.  If there are things that bug you, talk to your other or should I say better half nicely, explain why this thing bothers you and tell him clearly what you would prefer he or she do without being accusatory or aggressive, then drop it.  If this thing is one of those little things don’t nag, eventually it will fix itself.

Nagging just annoys the person being nagged, they feel belittled and usually get on the defensive or passive aggressive side.  For every bad habit your partner has thing of 2 good ones and you will definitely realize that they are just great and your need to nag will go away, so will your feeling of martyrdom too.

Enjoy your relationship instead of focusing on the flaws and it will all work itself out.