Monthly Archives: December 2011

Yes, I am a ‘Fascinating Womanhood’ fan…

Salams all,

I wanted to speak about something which I’ve noticed has come up quite a few times now in the small but masha’Allah very active ‘wives of Saudi men’ community. For anyone who is/was involved with a Saudi, you will know that it’s rarely simple or easy to maintain such a relationship. Marriage is never easy, and marriage to a Saudi has its own additional, very unique challenges. There are times for all of us when we go searching for some sort of guidance on how to improve our marriage.

However, I actually began searching for this not long before I married. I knew as a Muslim wife there are high standards for me and it is very important that I fulfil them to the best of my ability but honestly I had no idea how.  For instance, I knew that I had to obey my husband in all that is halal but I had no idea how to go about this and I couldn’t seem to find any Islamic resources outlining how this works on a practical level. The only ‘wisdom’ I possessed in regards to marriage was what I had learnt from the Western society I live in.  That was not helpful at all and obviously hadn’t been much help to others within this society if contemporary divorce rates are any indication of marital success.

So, one day I fell upon a comment on a blog post I was reading, in which someone mentioned a book called ‘Fascinating Womanhood’ by Helen Andelin. In the crudest terms it is basically a vintage 1950s housewife-esque guide to pleasing your husband and having an awesome married life. I’d always been curious about this generation of wives simply because, unlike the current generation, their marriages tended to last and their dedication to homemaking (whilst looking a little bit fabulous) also had its allure. And yes, I have heard all of the arguments saying that ‘yeah the marriages lasted but doesn’t mean they were happy, they only stayed because they were too dependent to leave’. I’m sure that was true for some women but certainly not all.

So, I came to this book with an open mind and it has become one of my favourites. It goes against almost everything we are taught to think about our husbands and marriage in Western society but it all makes complete sense and with a couple of exceptions, it is in line with Islamic teachings and the most fabulous of all is that I can personally testify to its effectiveness. After reading this, I was horrified to realise how badly I had treated my husband in the past and how I must have hurt and disrespected him without even realising, because in mainstream Western society, what I did was acceptable and normal. I was always trying to prove that I was just as good and capable as him if not better. I had some serious feminine pride issues which I think I share with most other women raised in this society.

All in all, this book has motivated me to be the best wife and insha’Allah one day the best mother I can be and to cherish those roles rather than seeing them as something to run away from or put up with. Applying even just some of the principles has greatly increased my love and respect for my husband and motivated me to improve myself both inside and outside. It has even lead to me becoming more feminine to the point that my husband even commented on how masculine I now make him feel. Alhamdulilah. And knowing how important that is to a man now, I consider that a real achievement.

So, I would like to humbly recommend this book to those of you out there who, like me are married to a Saudi. I pinpoint this particular nationality because, as one of the sisters said, Saudi men tend to be especially masculine and in my opinion they expect their wife to take on a more traditional feminine role to some extent. Most Saudi’s have grown up in an environment where traditional gender roles are observed, so naturally, they expect something similar from their own wife and marriage as a whole. I don’t think it is often said aloud, and to be fair, they may not be conscious of the fact that they expect their wife to be like this and only realise they had those expectations when their wife does not fulfil that role.

I’m certain that this happens often, and like I mentioned earlier I had experienced it previously (even if I wasn’t aware of it at the time!) because Western ideas of marriage and gender relations are heavily influenced by modern, Western feminist thought which assumes that men and women are equal and as such have interchangeable roles. The concepts of masculinity and femininity and gender roles are completely diluted to the point they are now considered largely outdated. And needless to say, from where I stand it seems that traditional gender roles are very much the norm in KSA and are re-enforced by Islamic teachings. When a woman chooses to be a housewife in a Western country, people think she is absolutely mad, especially if she has no children because they see it as her being lazy and expect that she will be bored and wasting her talents etc. In KSA, again this is only judging from what my husband has told me and what i’ve gathered from others living there etc, being a housewife is viewed as your right and a legitimate choice (when it is indeed a personal choice).

So, for those of you interested in reading ‘Fascinating Womanhood’ but can’t find it the book shop here is an e book which is based on the book and shares most of the main concepts through a narrative. It’s written in a bit of a cheesy way but it gets the message across!

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The virgin post

Assalam aleikum everybody,

I hate firsts, so let’s just get this over and done with so we can all move on with our lives.

So, icebreaker. Hi everyone, I love life. Alhamdulilah.

Considering the trials my husband and I are facing in our efforts to do what is so easy for most- to simply live and start our lives together, some might think that it’s odd that I say that. But at this moment, I’m content with what Allah has decreed for me.

SubhanAllah it’s really amazing how as humans we adapt to situations, no matter how challenging or painful they may be. True, at first there is a period of resistance and you let your pain and suffering reign free. It’s a pity party at your house 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – why me? But then you realise, this situation is not likely to disappear for quite a long time and this behaviour will do nothing but destroy you. So gradually, you settle into these new, unwelcome circumstances and make peace with them.

I have made peace with the fact that insha’Allah until we are able to apply for marriage permission from his government and have it granted, my husband and I will be on 2 very different continents, with 8 hours time difference between us.

I have made peace with the fact it may take years.

I have made peace with the fact that his family and friends have no idea we are married and we can’t tell them until the government gives us the approval.

I have made peace with the fact that I will only be able to have a 2 minute conversation with him while he is at work, 5 days a week at most and that it will only be enough time to exchange pleasantries.

But alhamdulilah I have also made peace with the fact that on the day and a half that he has off work, we can speak on skype for a couple of, sometimes even a few hours. And his smile makes me forget how neglected I feel during the rest of the week.

And alhamdulilah I have made peace with the fact that although I have to wait another 6 months or so until I see him again, when I do see him insha’Allah it will be amazing. It will be in a country which is new to both of us and together we can explore and create happy memories.

I have made peace with the fact that once we get the approval, insha’Allah we will live in KSA indefinetly. I will leave all my friends, family and my country behind but insha’Allah I will take my Islam with me.  And at the end of the day, that’s all I really ask for.

“The one who has found Allah has found everything and the one who has lost Allah has lost everything.”

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