As a young girl, I always dreamed of my perfect wedding day – the non-traditional big white dress, the pretty flowers, the carefully co-ordinated cake, background drapes and bridesmaids, but most importantly, I dreamed of the day where I would feel like a queen with all eyes on me!
Throughout my teenage years right to my early 20s my fantasy evolved, and with each wedding I attended, be it a cousin’s, friend’s or a complete random stranger’s, my plans solidified, and I had put together the exact blueprints for my big day. All I needed now was a husband in order to execute my dream wedding.
And when the time came for marriage, try as I might, no matter how hard I tried to prevent myself from getting completely engrossed with wedding preparations, all I could think about was that one day, those few hours sitting on a stage in my white dress and my long-anticipated fantasy turning into a reality.
It’s only now, six months into marriage, that I realise how easily sidetracked I had become with all the wedding preparations.
With the honeymoon haze slowly dissolving, the true reality of sharing your life and personal space with someone who, to your dismay, is not as like-minded as you thought and habitually leaves his clothes on the floor to your sheer horror, can be all a little disheartening. I remember feeling betrayed the first time we disagreed, resulting in a mini strop where I refused to speak to him in an effort to shut him out.
To give my husband credit, mashaAllah he is a loving and gentle soul, but his irritating habits will drive me around the bend, making me overlook every single one of his good qualities!
I always assumed that the fairytale wedding resulted in the fairytale marriage. But no marriage is without trials, tribulations and most importantly, good old compromise. Even before one reaches the ripe age for marriage, mothers are overzealous in informing their offspring how compromise is the recipe for a successful marriage. For us women, marriage automatically equates compromise. I had given up my home, family, friends, town, routine and in doing so, I felt like there was nothing else left to give, resulting in a very much one-sided relationship.
I realised you can either kill yourself trying to change him, or sit back, relax and try to enjoy the ride!
I imagined my spouse would seamlessly slot his life into mine, though he had led a completely different life to me in the first few decades of his life. I had my expectations, but reality presented something else. No amount of tactful persuasion or raised eyebrows could stop the Mr from doing what he wanted, and it would be unfair to assume otherwise. So I can scream till I’m blue in the face, but he’ll still only wear the one pair of work trousers for a whole month, leave his shoes in every corner of the house, or refuse to eat green beans. I was forcing a puzzle piece into the wrong space, and not matter how tactful I was in getting it to fit, it wasn’t going to happen. I realised you can either kill yourself trying to change him, or sit back, relax and try to enjoy the ride!
I always thought of myself as a relatively patient person, but along came marriage, dissolving all level-headedness and leaving an impatient, slightly deranged young woman behind. I remember when I was cooking dinner one day for the whole family, including the in-laws, when the Mr bought the wrong meat from the meat shop and, how in a fit of disbelief, my tongue took charge, uttering all sorts of nonsense, including how I refused to cook and how he could cook dinner instead.
It’s in that spur of the moment that always lets you down – the initial reaction after a crisis strikes when it’s about as easy to control the tongue as is it to walk across ice without slipping. But the dangers of a loose tongue cannot be revoked. Once something is said, it cannot be unsaid, and in the early days of marriage, this can either break or, with utmost discipline and retrain, make your marriage.
Whoever said completing half of your deen was meant to be easy? The quest for paradise is enduring hardship and patience, and it is this pathway do we find the greatest rewards. Unfortunately, I had embarked on this quest with minimum preparation for the road ahead. It’s not that I didn’t put any thought into the actual marriage or do my research into rights and responsibilities, but it was about prioritising. In organising the picture perfect wedding, I had prioritised something short term over a long term commitment and in doing so I had done a disservice to myself.
A friend once told me that the key to her successful marriage was having low expectations. But with expectations so high in my wedding, it was inevitable that I would adopt high expectations within my marriage, and when these standards are not met, heartbreak follows.
And so, how does one avoid this pitfall prior to marriage?
In avoiding getting sucked into all things wedding related, it is crucial to start mentally preparing yourself for life beyond the gorgeous princess gown or bedazzled lengha! Think about how you would deal with challenging situations and keep track of your behaviour when these moments arise. With all the wedding prep, chances are you won’t need to look far for those high pressure environments, providing numerous opportunities to help develop your patience, making it easier to get through those eyebrow-raising, eyeball-popping, blood pressure-increasing moments in the early days of your marriage!
Although maintaining realistic expectations of one’s spouse is key to any marriage, appreciating the true purpose of a wedding in line with marriage also helps to keep things in perspective.
A wedding is simply a means of unifying two people for the sake of Allah (SWT) and fulfilling the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I had turned a ‘means’ into a ‘goal’ and in wrongfully doing so, I entered into one of life’s greatest tests without practicing the key principles – perseverance, forbearance, humbleness and patience.
“There is no gift that is better and more comprehensive than patience.” Sahih Bukhari 1400
Marriage, being half of our faith, promotes personal growth, allowing us to better ourselves as individuals as we’re provided with countless of situations, be it dirty socks on the floor or uneaten green vegetables in the plate, which require us to suppress our nafs (inner-self), bite our tongues and tackle the diseases of the heart such as anger, arrogance and antipathy.
If it weren’t for those hair-wrenching moments with the Mr, then when else would I come to appreciate the need for self-development?
No one can truly anticipate what Allah has in store for each and every one of us, and nothing can really prepare you for the trials that lie ahead, especially within marriage, but by opening your mind to the realities of life and practising patience and prayer, it can help assist in overcoming the difficult patches, and allow you to deal with things in the best manner possible.
Without love, respect, peace and care deposited into the marriage, the relationship will suffer, resulting in misery and conflict that cannot be salvaged by the most lavish of celebrations. It’s so easy to get swept up in the aesthetics of marriage – the wedding celebrations, but the perfect wedding does not equate a perfect marriage. There is no such thing as perfection. The wedding marks only the beginning of this journey, and it requires continual effort from both husband and wife to make it a success and turn it into that long-anticipated fairytale. Something that I’m working towards!