Why do we gain weight after marriage?

There could be a multitude of varying reasons but I think I can attribute my obscene weight gain to the misguided pressure I put on myself to be able to fit in with the husband’s family.

See, food is a HUGE part of the husband’s family culture. Every now and then there’ll be a big breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner where we gather to celebrate someone’s birthday — or actually for no reason at all sometimes. So I eat to fit in. And while I’m not exactly a foodie who will travel for food, once good food is in front of me, I find it really hard to resist!

I’m now also eating more times a day than I used to. For most of my adult life, I’ve only been eating two meals a day. But when I’m over at his place, I’m eating three meals and the household stock of sweets and junk food in between! Doesn’t help that I have a sweet tooth.

And that’s really a stark contrast from the food culture at my parents’. You’d be hard pressed to find food because my mother works on weekdays and doesn’t cook. Most of the time you’re responsible for your own stomach — if you’re hungry you go whip up something or find your own food. But sometimes we’d be too lazy to do anything about it, and so we’d go without food till someone is about to drop dead.

We share food a lot. If there are 5 people at home, we usually only buy 3 or 4 packs of food. Also, half the household is trying to lose weight so we’re constantly surrounded by weight-related comments, whether it’s going onto the weighing scale and then wailing about the number, or telling someone they shouldn’t eat because it’s already late at night — things like that that deter us from junk food or over-eating. We do indulge in unhealthy food from time to time but there are more people in my household so it’s not that bad once the calories’ve been divided.

So that’s the story.

I won’t say how much I’ve gained but it is OBSCENE, considering it’s only been 5 months since the wedding. I’ve still been running and going to the gym but at one time input grossly outweighed output, so I wasn’t losing any weight whatsoever. Now that I feel more or less accepted in the family, I’ve started to eat less. Lesser need to seek approval equals lesser need to plonk more rice onto my plate to please my father-in-law. In actuality, no one ever said I had to eat to be a part of the family, so I don’t know why I put myself through all those dreadful nights of bloatedness and feeling like a pig. I guess I was over-eager to integrate and simply didn’t want to come off as a wet blanket who didn’t like to eat and be merry.

Anyway, to further help with the weight loss, I recently bought a mountain bike for myself. After seeing my brother’s tummy go down shortly after he took up cycling, I couldn’t possibly not get a bike myself! I thought it would take a bit of work to convince Faz to get one as well, but I was pleasantly surprised when he said he’d been wanting one. He ended up with a road bike. Last weekend we went for our first spin together with my brother (he owns a road bike as well) and they totally outran me. Road bikes are lighter and faster, but the structure of a road bike puts the weight of your body on your hands holding the handlebar, which just didn’t work for my arthritic wrists. I also found that I was very scared of going too fast! Somehow as we get older we tend to be more afraid of things, I think.

We’re cycling again this weekend from Woodlands to Sungei Buloh and back. So happy to be incorporating something new into my exercise regime. I haven’t been this excited about exercise in a long time!

Hope to see some results soon!


2014: The most exciting year yet!

2014 is going to be a really exciting year for Faz and I!

Apart from forging closer knit relationships with each other and our families, we’re going to be planning for our first home, which is the next big project for us. We’re expecting to receive our keys somewhere in Q3 2014, but whether we’ll get them earlier is really anyone’s guess.

I know I should have already moved on to “house” mode, but I’m still stuck in “wedding” mode. I feel like I need to be done with all wedding-related matters like publishing all wedding- and honeymoon-related entries and getting our wedding photos printed before I can open a new chapter, y’know what I mean?

Some of the other things I’m looking forward to in 2014:

  • Whipping myself (and Faz) back into good shape! The rate at which we’ve ballooned these two months post-wedding is ALARMING, and it’s got to STOP. Time to participate in some races!
  • Spending our first Ramadhan and Eid as husband and wife.
  • A wedding in the family.
  • Parenting classes. I’ve no desire for kids at the moment, but I think we should be prepared for when it happens. And besides, it’ll give us something interesting to do instead of our usual movie and dinner dates.
  • Travelling. I don’t know how much travelling we can do with the house coming along but I’m hoping for at least ONE destination — not too much to ask, is it?
  • I really let myself loose these two months, but it’s now time to save like there’s no tomorrow.
  • Starting a daily gratitude blog to record the things I feel happy or grateful for as they come so that I can look back in life and remember only the good things. Case in point: I can only remember two things in 2013 — our wedding and the stress of wedding planning.
  • Work on my spirituality.

May this year be even better than the last for you, me and everybody! <3


How it feels to be married.

Faz and I have been married for two months now, can you believe it? It feels like our wedding was just like, last weekend or something. At the rate time is passing us by, we’ll be old and wrinkly in the blink of an eye!

Back when I was still a singleton, something annoying I’d admittedly ask my newly-wed friends despite knowing they probably get asked this a million times is: “How does it feel to be married?”

Now that I’m married, I finally get to answer my own question and I’m going to start off by saying IT FEELS GREAT!

I hope it’s not just the honeymoon period talking, but there’s just so much love!

And the love is just different. The moment our nikah was pronounced sah, I could already feel that it was different. It felt so much bigger and pure, now that we were bound Islamically. And that love gives you a kind of joy you’ve never experienced.

We’re still getting used to the new status, or rather, to being labelled “husband and wife”, though. Just the other day when we were buying food, a friendly makcik next to us in the queue asked if we were “suami isteri” and guess what….for a moment we were dumbfounded! It was only after two seconds that I managed to grasp her question and tell her, albeit shyly, that we were indeed “suami isteri”!

I’m quite amused though — prior to marriage, no one ever thought we were a married couple. Was the makcik just being random? Did she have some sort of sixth sense? Or was she just observant enough to notice the fading henna on my fingernails? (Beli makan pun sempat tengok kuku orang, eh makcik…..)

Anyway.

Our living arrangement has worked perfectly so far — it’s allowed us to explore and understand each other’s deeper idiosyncrasies and family culture, as well as transition into our new roles as husband and wife at our own comfortable pace. Nothing feels forced, and I think perhaps that’s one of the main reasons why we’re enjoying it so much.

At first it was pretty troublesome, having to lug big bags of clothes and toiletries to each others’ places, but we now have the necessities and extra clothing in place to survive a spontaneous sleepover (there is no schedule because Faz works shifts and has a new roster every two weeks). Once I went to work in new clothes from head to toe — which I of course didn’t mind the slightest bit — just because of this spontaneous decision!

I know it sounds cliché, but one of the things I really enjoy since entering marriage is waking up to find him next to me. Anyone who knows me knows I’m really not the mushy type — and in fact as someone who values her personal space, at first I was even worried that I’d find it stifling to share my bed with another person! But I’ve come to discover that it is the most comforting feeling to be unconscious the entire night and then in the morning opening your eyes to find that the person you love is still there, right by your side. And it gives you sort of a zest to start off your day — something I definitely didn’t get waking up alone.

I also love that we’re delving deeper into each other, discovering things we wouldn’t have otherwise known about each other if we hadn’t gotten married. I look forward even to the less desirable discoveries (like bad habits, which I shamefully have more of as it turns out, by the way) because all these discoveries, whether positive or negative, will help us manage each others’ expectations prior to moving in together.

Speaking of bad habits, the pressure of having “someone new” in the house has managed to eliminate some of them — permanently, I hope! Although I say nothing feels forced, there’s still a natural pressure that will make you think twice before committing the crime. It’s the same pressure you get when inviting someone over for the first time — you want to make a good impression and give them an experience.

Usually the governing thought for me would be “Do you want him to regret marrying you?” and then if I feel it’s not worth him leaving me, I’ll try not to do it. LOL. But really, I’m just trying to make a conscious effort to keep him happy.

And I think realising this may be making me a better daughter as well. How, you ask?

Well, my conscience starts questioning me why I haven’t made the same efforts to please my parents, whom I also love dearly. I’ve strived to become a better daughter many times in my life, but nothing has given me the quite the same perspective on this as my new experience as a wife has, and I hope it’s more effective as well! It’s probably still not apparent to them yet, but I do find myself trying to please them more (by doing little things like helping out more around the house or by simply keeping bad habits in check).

And I hope to keep this up because I realise I’ll have increasingly lesser opportunities to please them after I leave the nest.


Finding the perfect dress.

A huge part of my stress and anxiety, besides venue, was our outfits.

We went for our outfit selection two weeks ago, and no one could’ve expected (except me — but I’ll explain later) that I’d leave the boutique feeling…

…INCREDIBLY UPSET!

FM’s dresses, as gorgeous as they were, just weren’t ME.

Now I kind of expected this since I’d stalked their facebook page enough to know that their house style wasn’t quite what I had in mind. For instance, I’d always wanted to wear the classic songket, but I knew their style was more lacy. I had also established very early into my research that I’d have to tailor-make my evening dress because I knew I was going to have a hard time finding more covered-up options in their collection. What I had in mind for this was more red carpet glam than fairytale princessy. In all fairness I already had specific visions of what I wanted, so it made the selection all the more difficult. And my vision was this: a non-white, non-lace and non-poofy sheath dress (hand me the best shapewear please — I’ll need it) that covers my shoulders and upper arms. Non-lace because I don’t want to have to wear an opaque bodysuit underneath the lace just to cover-up because that would just look awful, unless you’re going to be wearing a hijab with it.

I knew there were going to be limitations. Yet I still took the plunge because I adore FM’s make-up. I just had to pray that somehow something will magically appear for me.

But unfortunately, as far as our first visit proved, no magic was conjured. I reserved the outfits I tried on, but believe me, I was not at all happy with my picks.

I had two options: settle, or tailor-make an extra outfit (this was going to be either the nikah dress or the songket — I can’t afford both), on top of the evening dress that I already knew from the beginning I had to tailor-make.

By now I think it’s pretty darn obvious how much I hate the idea of settling, but I did seriously consider going down that path because I didn’t want to spend any more money. Faz was already giving me grief, saying I was “spiralling out of control“.

It annoys me to no end when I excitedly tell him an idea and he immediately kills it, responding with “How much?”. I was merely telling him we ought to just make an appointment with Fatimah herself to discuss the dresses, but he was already starting to give me grief about the costs. What are you talking about? We don’t even know how much it’s going to cost, and that’s precisely what the appointment is for. I think I’m fairly reasonable — if it’s beyond what we’d be willing to pay, I’d decline. But what if it’s actually affordable and we missed the opportunity just because we thought it was more expensive and didn’t bother to find out?

Well, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me, so we made that darned appointment.

I obviously know cost is important, but couldn’t he have been a little more empathetic, try to see it from my perspective first, then get to the cost part later? I mean, it’s the saddest thing when everything else is in place except the dress on your own body — and you’re the bride!

So I took half-day leave yesterday, and we went down to the boutique for the second time. The difference this time was that I left the boutique ALL SMILES, WAY OVER THE MOON.

Alhamdulillah God granted me my (paltry — yes, I realise) wishes because Kak Fatimah brought out a couple of new dresses we hadn’t seen during our first visit, and I fell in love with them instantly!

So there — I’ve got my nikah and songket outfits settled, and as per status quo, I’ll only be tailoring my evening dress. No extra money spent!

As we were leaving the boutique, Faz remarked that this “trial” was a blessing in disguise so that we could come again and be met by these gorgeous new dresses. I can’t agree more, but also the moral of this story is to:

LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE!

I’m using this phrase a lot these days in place of “I told you so“. It’s become sort of a joke now, because he recently realised after almost ten years — would you believe it — that I actually give useful advice! Geez.

Anyway, after that we made a long-awaited trip down to Iris Tailor to make his medium grey three-piece suit. He kept putting it off at one time because he wanted to “tunggu second or third week bulan puasa ah, mana tahu dah slim sikit“. Err, not sure that was actually the case yesterday when they took his measurements, but we’re very excited to see how his suit’ll turn out because we’ve seen a lot of good reviews about this Iris Tailor!

Since this huge chunk of my worries are solved now, I’m feeling sooo much better, and ready to take on other tasks!

Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah. Ya Allah, please let things pan out even better.


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!


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.

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