Like pillars to a building

I thought I’d share my main takeaways from the marriage preparation course as well:

  1. Start your marriage with a clean slate.
    You ended up marrying each other, so forget your spouse’s history with Mr X or Miss X. Also try to erase prior negative perceptions or stereotypes you may have had about husbands or wives in general.

    Now this second point is going to be a challenge for me. I’ve seen women suffer at the hands of oppressive husbands, and as a result I’ve become very defensive, swearing never to let myself be bullied in my own marriage in future. No one can deny that this is an excellent principle to hold, but the inadvertent problem with being prepared is that you’re expecting it to happen, even if just a little. And this will affect the way you act in your marriage.

    Will I allow myself to do things (e.g. cooking or cleaning) for my husband out of sheer love, if at the back of my mind I’m constantly worrying that he will eventually identify with my acts of generosity and kindness as an obligation on my part?

    This is an area in which I have to moderate myself. I have to establish boundaries, yet I cannot let my defensiveness be a hindrance to doing good for my husband because as we all know, marriage is an edifice of rewards. I need to let him prove himself first as opposed to going into the marriage with my stereotypes and punishing him with them, because not only will it be unfair to him, he may also turn out to be absolutely nothing like them.

  2. Protect your marriage like a fortress.
    How? Stay away from anything that might jeopardise or weaken it. And on top of that, fortify it by doing the things that keep each other happy.

  3. It takes work to make a marriage/family work.
    This may seem like the stupidest thing to say because everyone knows that. But why is it then that couples stop working once they get off from work? The work has to continue, even at home! It’s an irony, really. When asked who, in essence, they’re working for, they answer “Family”. But isn’t it ironic that they reach home understandably tired but in a foul mood, firing at the very people they work for to provide a comfortable living — the ones they supposedly love?

    Where’s the “work” in that? 

  4. Method is just as, if not more important than outcome.
    Naturally we want the best for our families — the best in values and morals, and a spot in Jannah. But sometimes we’re so focused on the outcome that we neglect the method. Our thoughts are only as good as our actions. So if our intentions are noble, our methods should also be noble. 

    If we impose caustic methods to fulfill a noble intention, isn’t our purpose defeated?

The Certificate of Entitlement

So thrilled that we now have in our hands an important marriage pre-requisite document: the mandatory marriage preparation course certificate!

We attended the course recently (19 & 20 Jan) and I had this post written just a few days after….but as usual the pitfalls of being a perfectionist prevents me from ever publishing a timely post. It’s a long shot, but I’ll try to get Faz to blog about it as well to provide a guy’s perspective of the course as well as document the thoughts that went through his mind during the course.

We didn’t do a comparison between the different course providers, but since we came across good reviews about one in particular, SuChi Success, we decided to just go with them.

What I think of the course

On the whole, I’m really glad the course is made mandatory for Muslim couples to attend before marriage because it is indeed useful. The general theory aspect of the course may be quite blah for those of us who already know it, but I suppose it’s better to err on the side of caution to cater to those who don’t know, and those who think they know.

Fortunately our trainers who were tasked with these potentially mundane sections, Mr Mohd Khair and his wife Mdm Suriati, did a commendable job in making them more enjoyable by injecting humour into their presentations. However I found myself listening the most intently to the religious sections covered by Ustaz Abdul Jalil, because it’s an area I’m lacking in. He was entertaining as well, which helped a great deal!

All three trainers, having an abundance of experience in their respective areas of profession (Ustaz Abdul Jalil is a divorce mediator at the Syar’iah Court), gave lots of case examples for participants to relate to.

However what I think couples enjoyed the most (myself included) and found useful were the note exchanges between them. In between topics, each of us was made to list our thoughts, expectations and aspirations pertaining to those topics. We were then made to exchange them with our partner, who would in return pen their comments.

It was a process of discovery. There were a good number of things I discovered about Faz!

For example, we were on the topic ‘The Language of Love’ and were asked to write down what we thought was our partner’s preferred mode of affection. Feeling quite confident, I penned my answer. It turned out that he values words of affirmation the most! Who would’ve known?

How many of us actually do ask our partners how they would like to be loved? Most of the time we just make assumptions about it based on the obvious but sometimes it’s really the unspoken that has more bearing. If we weren’t forced to come face-to-face with this grey area, I probably wouldn’t have known that about Faz at all. And this is after close to 10 years of knowing each other!

And trust me, there are so many other grey areas that need to be addressed in order to manage each other’s expectations in terms of finances, family, kids, jobs, duties, etc. This course really helped to do just that.

Aww moments

Aside from discoveries, there’ll also be a lot of “AWWW” moments as you retrieve your notebooks from your partners and read their comments.

It was endearing to see all the husbands-to-be taking the exercises seriously. Once in a while I’d steal a glance at Faz and see him penning away, engrossed in his thoughts.

There was this part that was quite cute as well. Ustaz Jalil was going through the motions of the nikah process, starting right from the groom’s house. When it got to the akad part, I stole a glance at the guys and my god, were their faces ever so cuak! It was hilarious!

At the end of the course you’ll also be penning a love note for each other. This is the part of the course that’s infamous for making people cry.

I didn’t really know what to expect from him because 1) he doesn’t like writing 2) anything sweet he tries to come up with faces a risk of sounding cheesy 3) there’s also a risk of him plagiarising content from songs 4) even then he always messes up the lyrics!

But all my worries were put to rest because his note was the sincerest piece of literature I’d ever received from him. I had already felt like crying when I was crafting my own note, so imagine how I felt when I read his!

My review of SuChi Success

I would recommend for anyone to attend their marriage preparation course. As I’ve said, the trainers are experienced and their delivery, engaging. Course content is relevant, although I think they could’ve just skimmed through briefly some of the points which we could’ve read on our own.

But there were several shortcomings as well. We attended the course at their training centre but I think it may be wise for anyone who hasn’t registered yet to attend the course at a participating mosque instead because their facilities are not that great. The chairs in our room were not ergonomic at all, considering the fact that participants were going to spend two full days there (9am – 6pm). They were rigid, and there were no desks attached, forcing us to hunch forward to write in our notebooks.

And the aircon wasn’t fully working those two days! It got really stuffy, which affected my concentration. Participants were seen fanning themselves.

Lastly, improvement also needs to be made to the administration process and customer service. Poor Faz — I don’t know why but in our wedding planning, he almost always gets tasked with liaising with people who end up making his blood boil.

We had already paid for the course via internet banking and sent the transaction reference number to them via email. No response although we had indicated a preference of an acknowledgement of receipt. After a while, I ask Faz to follow-up with them regarding this. They said they would check and get back to us. A week passes and still no response. Faz calls again. Same response. Faz waits a couple more days and calls again. SAME RESPONSE! Faz runs out of patience and expresses his disappointment in their inefficiency. They finally scramble to their feet and get back to him the same day.

A week or two afterwards, the SAME PERSON calls him again….to ask him to send over proof of payment if we’ve already made payment!

#BADMOVE #FACEPALM #TAKTAHUAPANAKCAKAPLAGI

One of our couple friends who attended the course the same day we did also faced the same thing, although others we checked with didn’t face any such problems.

So in conclusion, yes, I would recommend SuChi Success based on course content and delivery but they don’t fare so well in the facilities and admin areas. It’s indeed an overwhelming two-day course but if you go with an open mind and a sincerity to learn then you’ll get a lot out of it, for sure!

Some friends have suggested that it’s better to attend the course nearer to your wedding day so that you’ll remember the du’as and it apparently will be “lagi feel”. But from a practical point of view, you’ll be busy tying up the loose ends nearing the day. Plus, if you really wanted to memorise the du’as, you can always just whip out your notebook and refresh your memory a few days prior to your nikah. But to each his own, I suppose.

Anyway good luck to you couples who will be attending the course soon!


December Mantra

With Christmas sales all around, it’s hard not get all frenzied. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but occasionally I’m still a hazard to myself when I’m on my own.

So this is a lil’ mantra I’ve been chanting to myself:

Keep calm and save your bonus

This year, Alhamdullilah, both Faz and I benefited from the pay review for public healthcare professionals, intended to make the industry — that’s catering to the demands of an ageing population — more attractive. This couldn’t have come at a better time, when we’re saving for marriage!


The countdown begins.

On this date next year, I will be married! It feels so unreal.

Also, we turn 9 today!

This means we have exactly ONE year to get our act together to put together the wedding of a lifetime.

STRESS.

Us_261012.jpg


Little Miss Anal(ytical)

My company sends us for developmental courses (I work in marketing communications) every now and then and recently, I attended my second communications course. Both had us participants fill out a bunch of multiple choice questions, choosing answers that would best describe us in the scenarios given.

Basically at the end based on your answers, you will find out which of these profiles are your dominant ones: The Analytical, The Driver, The Amiable or The Expressive (we are in fact all four).

Lo and behold — both times I took the test, I scored the highest for the Analytical profile, which makes it my dominant profile. My supporting profile was Amiable, followed by Driver and lastly, Expressive.

Can you tell, judging from my blog entries?

I think it’s fairly easy to tell, isn’t it? I am not quick to commit to a vendor (I size up the pros and cons, and want to be able to compare against another), I take forever to publish a blog entry (because I go over it 91472937642692 times to make sure it’s perfect, and I don’t just stop there — I routinely go over my published posts and make edits, too!), I go into the nitty gritty (I live for details, which is why you will rarely find a short entry in this blog — though much effort has been made in moderating the length of my entries). Perhaps you may even have picked up other analytical traits.

These brief tests I took are not to be taken conclusively though. For example, being analytical doesn’t mean I must be good at maths. For the record, I can’t do maths to save my life. If you’re interested, there are even more extensive tests around that will tell you in depth about your profiles under different circumstances.

Anyway the objective of attending such communications or profiling courses is that you will be more aware of your own profile, be able to identify other people’s profiles, and then be able to tailor your communication to fit the person you are in contact with.

I think it would be so very beneficial for to-be-married couples to undergo this so that you have an even better understanding of one another…..even if you think you’re already doing well in the communications department.

This is because at present you only see your other half….what, at most thrice a week? If you currently think your partner is just a little annoying, well — imagine if you have to see him everyday. Tell me that annoying trait is not going to be magnified nth-fold!

Another notable takeaway I thought I’d share is: There is no one profile that is better than the other. Maybe we already know this, but a little reminder wouldn’t hurt — especially because as human beings we tend to judge people. What I lack, you might have and vice versa, so ideally we should position each other’s strengths such that we complement, not oppose.

It’s not enough for one party to undergo such a course, though (I’m thinking to do one with the boyfriend). As we all know, for a relationship to work, both parties need to pour in effort. Plus, the journey to re-discovering each other might actually be quite fun!

I’d say this is pretty useful knowledge to have because it’s also basically universal knowledge you can apply to pretty much every single person you come into contact with, so that it’ll help you get heard and get the outcomes you want.


Taking resolutions to a whole new level.

Old habits really die hard, huh. I intended for this post to go out before 2012, but no prizes for guessing what happened along the way. Don’t worry, I’ve stopped listing “Stop procrastinating” on my list of resolutions a long time ago.

Now on to the post.

In retrospect, it’s a little sad that in my 25 years of life, this is the first time that I’ve felt really rooted in my resolutions for the new year. Better late than never, you say?

Maybe this had to with the type of frivolous resolutions I’d made in the past. Or maybe it was because there weren’t any serious repercussions if I didn’t actually follow them through.

This hard-hitting realisation came one day when I was sitting down, just starting to make resolutions for the new year like how I always do. Immediately I recognised that something just felt different. The process felt so much weightier, unlike in the past, where it was always…flighty.  Some of the resolutions I made then were even made just for the sake of it!

This time, as soon as the thought of resolutions popped into my head, it was like a gatling cannon firing away. I had thought about a lot of these things prior, and I already knew what had to be done. Some of these resolutions were also past years’ resolutions – the difference now is that there WILL be repercussions if I don’t follow them through.

In a nutshell, these are the four most important ones:

  1. Stay healthy by being conscientious with taking my meds, which will allow me to run again, which in turn will allow me to lose weight. I definitely do NOT want to look fat on my wedding day. Interjections of “…but you’re not fat!” will not be entertained. As long as I think I am, I am.
  2. Think far and exercise frugality to the highest degree possible. I’ve been doing quite well in this department but I think I can do better if I can fully avoid windowshopping.
  3. Education. By equipping ourselves with knowledge on how to tread the waters ahead of us, we’ll have a better shot at a lasting marriage. This includes getting spiritually in tune.
  4. Book important vendors by June. We’re still shortlisting – it’s so hard to choose! Especially when the ones that we want are out of our budget. My brain is still working hard to persuade my heart to embrace the concept of settling. It’s just not in my nature, with things that are especially important to me. :(

So, there. It’s really do or die this time.

Now being able to say “I’m getting married next year” freaks me out, so at least that’ll help!