For Men & Women
Out with the old?
Let’s face it: our lives are not like those of our parents and we need a new template that defines a successful marriage. My father, may Allah protect him and grant him health (say Ameen, please), had his own clothing factory, and worked hard-labour 6 days a week and came home at 9 pm – sometimes even later. My mum, may Allah reward her and grant her life and health (say Ameen, please!) didn’t drive, took us places of the bus, worked as a youth worker on weekend and ran a madrassa after school. They were busy parents, we didn’t spend much time with them. My mum sent my younger siblings to grammar schools and sent them to tutors to prep for the eleven plus. We didn’t go to any after school clubs. We lived alone and were alone most of the time.
Fast forward 30 years – my husband Jawad works 5 days a week at his desk and on-site property development, and comes home around 7 pm. I’m a marriage coach and homeschool my 9-year-old daughter.
I prepped my three boys myself for the eleven plus (tuition is way too expensive now) and all three of them went to schools an hour away. I drive, do the shopping, did the school and afterschool drop-offs (until I nearly dropped off myself! – each time it got to much, and it did get too much, I would pull them out of those clubs). I hit my car a lot when my kids were young. I remember watching the drama ER once when my kids were young. When the doctor Abbey had a baby – her baby was crying in the back of the car and she kept looking at the rearview mirror, worried and frantic and drove her car straight into the car in front. I remember crying my eyes out, feeling that pain of that mother. I live with my in-laws and mashaAllah its a full house. Too full sometimes. That was then, and this is now: my three little boys are older now, and no longer the little dinos they were. MashaAllah.
Why am I sharing this? I have always been looking for a template I can use – I am known for asking all the aunties ‘how did you do it? what do I do now? How does your daughter do it?’
Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children and no theories.
(Someone famous – I think it was John Wilmot)
The best thing couples can do is do it their way – that’s how our parents did it!
As May is the month of embracing our guardianship roles, in this article let’s look out how we can cultivate a marriage where both the husband and wife are strong leaders in their domains and create a home of love and fairness; and how they can hold their hands, gaze into each other’s eyes and love each other while doing that! Inshallah, Ya Rabb!
Work, Home, Children
See what works for you and how you and your spouse can make life work for you. How can you be a team and support each other?
- Does one of you need evenings to relax? Does one of you need extra help in the evenings? Perhaps you can relax first and help out later?
- Can one of you do school drop-offs and the other pick up?
- Can some after school activities be scheduled for the weekend, keeping weekdays calmer?
- Can you share the cooking? Now that things are a bit ‘normal’ (hah!) in our home, mashaAllah my husband cooks every Sunday. He cooks curries – which is something I gave up a long time ago – I stick with KISS dishes (keep it simple, stupid!).
- Can you share/delegate/outsource the grocery shopping?
- Perhaps the wife’s role is a bit more stable and she doesn’t work outside the home, in which case can she do those things during the week so the family can relax on the weekend?
- Can you get external help? A cleaner? A cook?
- Can you lower your standards to get the important things done? I remember after my eldest son sat his eleven plus exam, I noticed cobwebs all over the wall – where did they come from?!
Do you have a flight plan?
Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, spoke about the importance of having a flight plan and a destination. What is your destination? If it is Allah, then what route will you take to get there? Decide as a couple how you want to raise your children, what sort of exposure are you both happy with – and remember, it may have to be a compromise if you don’t both agree on the same things – me and Jawad didn’t agree on a lot of things for many years and now we have come to a healthy (our kids won’t agree!) medium.
Assign Task To Talent
Use your strengths to excel in your home. Don’t downplay your skills and gifts if you have them. If you are good at DIY then go do your thing. I put window leading on our front windows once. I was up on a ladder at the front of the house, sticking lead on my bedroom windows, I feared my life that day and couldn’t look down at the admiring neighbours. But hey, I made it and can write about it today! If clearing up is your thing, then go ahead! Just remember to do it with a smile so you get the reward for charity at the same time. In my house, my husband has taught our kids to manage their own finances, pay for and assemble their own IKEA furniture and I have taught them to cook and do their own laundry.
Carve out time for each other
You are doing one of the most important jobs in the world – trying to creating a happy home. Endeavour to make time for each other. Pre-COVID-19 lockdown, Me and Jawad would try to go out for dinner every week, keeping it cheap and cheerful. A friend of mine has regular breakfast dates with her husband mashaAllah while the kids are at school and before he goes to work. Do what works for you.
Take time to discuss the big stuff
In a busy home, you will almost definitely have issues coming up – and it’s so important to discuss them. Create opportunities to have these important discussions and no matter how busy you get, try not to put them off. If both of you keep missing one another due to your commitments, make appointments! I once rang Jawad at his office when the kids were young, asked to speak to Mr Malik, and asked him when he would be available for an appointment. 🙂
Make sure you connect intimately
With all the hustle and bustle of work, home and children, don’t forget to connect intimately as a couple. If your life is all about schedules and appointments, then add the intimate appointment in there, too!
- 8 am husband/drop off kids to school
- 3pm wife/pick up from school
- 4pm mother/kids dinner
- 5pm mother& child/swimming
- 7 pm couple/unwind with tea/coffee/grape juice
- 7:30 pm kids/homework and quran practice
- 8 pm father/discuss how the school meeting went with teacher re: son who deliberately wrote the wrong answers for his exam
- 9:00 pm husband/clear up
- 10:00 pm couple/make sure you pray Isha so that you can…
- 10:30 pm couple/go upstairs and light the candles
Enjoy each other’s company – give priority to your life partner. Buy each other gifts, get the tea/coffee/juice you know they like. Go for walks and pop into a takeaway for a burger. Book a hotel for a night and get away. Invest in yourselves and celebrate your union. It may not be the way that your parents did it, but you can.
May Allah give you the ability to bond beautifully as you embrace your guardianship roles!