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.


Our wedding in motion.

Aaaaand here are the videos!

The Nikah

The Orchidville Reception

So much love! <3


A tragedy.

Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

Conversations with a chauvinist pig 1

I hope women and men alike can identify the issue here. Because if not, we are doomed. This, among other things, is why many 20- to 30-year marriages go down the drain.

This conversation took place on my facebook news feed. I was fuming when I read it. Of course I had to say something.

Conversations with a chauvinist pig 2

His reply below, I swear, was the most tak bersalah reply ever. In my head it triggered a trail of possible replies, mostly consisting profanities. I surprise myself how I managed to sound the least bit civil.

Conversations with a chauvinist pig 3

The bugger apparently just did not know when to drop it and said dunia dah terbalik. Yeah? Well, indeed. Because the last time I checked, our beloved Prophet didn’t banish any of his wives to a lifetime of housework.

Conversations with a chauvinist pig 4

And as if one male chauvinist pig wasn’t enough, along came another — and was even “Liked” twice. Total facepalm.

It is my personal opinion that many Muslims (in Asia, at least) are gravely mistaken about the roles of the husband and wife. Looking back, perhaps I was too quick to blow my top. Perhaps he too, like me — and many others — were brought up in the typical Asian home environment in which our fathers were the sole breadwinners and our mothers would stay at home to tend to the children. Inevitably, staying at home also meant that they had to cook and clean — and they did so out of their own free will.

Until.

Until our fathers got a little too comfortable with the arrangement, and henceforth deemed it an OBLIGATION. They developed an expectation to come home to food laid out on the table, in a house that’s in tip-top condition — or incur their displeasure, and therefore God’s displeasure.

And people think: So this is Islam.

But this is NOT Islam, as I’ve learned. I’m ashamed to say it took me 25 years to learn this but I’m grateful to know now that this is not religious. This is cultural.

Sure, incurring the husband’s displeasure is incurring God’s displeasure. But Islam does not make it difficult for the wife by setting household chores as a requisite for entrance to heaven. It is the husband who burdens the wife and makes it difficult for her. So husbands, if you claim you love your wife, enlighten her duties. Why make her journey to Jannah difficult over something as worldly as household chores? If she requests help and if you have the resources, hire a helper. If you don’t have the resources, what’s wrong with rolling up your own sleeves to help her? What, too lowly of a job? Indeed, in Islam it is the husband’s honourable responsibility to lead and provide for the family. But some husbands think that it’s the ONLY responsibility — they forget about the house, home and and children.

I must clarify that I’m not campaigning for wives to shirk housework. What I’m campaigning is for husbands to change their attitudes and mindsets.

Every other chore that the wife does around the house apart from caring for you, nurturing your children, and protecting the good name of the family, is not her obligation, but an extension of her goodwill to you. So thank her and show appreciation for her help. Of course, it indeed is a bonus for her as well if she chooses to help you because the pleasure of her husband is next to the pleasure of God. But again, in no way is it an obligation.

Husbands, please also realise that her job as a wife is no less important than the one you hold. Safeguarding your good name and nurturing the very children that will grow up and continue your bloodline are also huge and honourable tasks. So treat her with the respect and honour she deserves. If you need her help, ask nicely. Anyone would be a little more willing to help instead of cursing you under their breath.

To put it simply, your wife is not your maid. Wives, know your role and know that it is not to be a servant to your husband.

For most of my life, I thought that being a good wife in Islam meant, well, carrying out household tasks well and dutifully carrying out what your husband tells you. But to be honest, the idea never really settled within me. Apart from being brought up with this thinking, I think the type of Islamic education that we get here in Singapore also shares the blame. I’ve attended my fair share of religious programmes growing up, and I’ve always had the impression that the man had the upper hand. This was of course never explicitly mentioned because it is not an Islamic principle to begin with, but my impression could probably be attributed to the fact that there was a lack of focus on the rights of the wife. It was always about the duties of the wife towards the husband, and not so much the reverse, apart from provision for the family.

Watching Islamic programmes from elsewhere around the world online made me realise how different Islam is preached outside of Asia. In this post, I shared a video of Sheikh Khalid Yasin talking about the roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife. I have never EVER heard any of our religious figures in Singapore say (or tried to say) what he did with such straightforwardness and clarity.

But I think the situation in Singapore is much better now, with the younger next generation of religious educators being more open-minded and objective, and less conformant to cultural expectations.

I must also thank the recent Obedient Wives Club (with a name like this, you can replace ‘Wives’ with ‘Dogs’ and it will make little difference) furor for casting the role of the wife under the spotlight, opening doors to discussion, and inadvertently creating awareness on the true role of the wife in a marriage (read Ustaz Haniff Hassan’s commentary with regards to the OWC’s infamous book about “sex in Islam” here).

Discussing this issue always gets me all riled up because it’s one I feel very passionate about. I feel like I owe it to myself and other women and men who might not be in the know to dig deeper into this.

My key takeaways from the video and commentary I spoke about:

  • A successful marriage does not depend solely on the wife carrying out her responsibilities.
  • Men are not the commanders of women — they have a responsibility to them.
  • Men and women are equals but because men have this added responsibility, they are granted respect one level up. And fairly so.
  • But before commanding respect, a husband must be worthy of that respect.

A first for everything!

On Wednesday, the 25th of January, I was the happiest girl alive.

After 8 years of being in a relationship, the boyfriend finally cooked for me!

If he hadn’t bragged about a “power” curry dish he’d cooked years ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought to ask him to cook for me. I wanted so much to taste this “power” curry, but he said he’d lost the recipe. Nevermind, I assured him. Cook me something else! 

He’s the nicest guy around and I love him to death, but if there is one bad thing I can tell you about him, it has got to be that he can be so damn paranoid. I admit, sometimes it’s cute to see him so silly breaking a sweat over small the stuff, but other times it can be plain annoying!

Prawn Aglio Olio

Introducing Fazli's special Prawn Aglio Olio

Initially, he didn’t even want to bring his dish because according to him, it was a total failure. These were some of the things he said, just to give you an idea of the degree of failure that was his dish: 

“I tasted a bit and I felt like puking.”

“….too many mushrooms….affected the taste.”

“….accidentally put too much basil.”

“I threw everything away and tried again.”

“….what’s the name of this dish? I name it “Disaster”!”

“….cooking’s just not for me….never ever going to cook again after this.”

Yes, he threw his first batch. And apparently even his second batch was again a failure that he wanted to trash it, too. But I was adamant that he brought some for me. So he did, and threw the rest away. He even planned to bring chocolates just in case I wanted to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth.

Listening to all this, I was expecting the worst. Who wouldn’t, after all that was said? But I still wanted to taste it for myself.

When I opened the food container, it actually smelled good! I took a spoonful to my mouth and nervously chewed, waiting for that wave of nausea to overcome me, for the moment where I’d have to spit out everything to make way for the regurgitation of noon’s lunch.

But guess what.

IT NEVER CAME!

Instead, I felt myself wanting to take another spoonful. And another spoonful, and then another, quickening my pace with every bite.

The sheepish look on his face turned incredulous as he shook his head in disbelief. How could I ever in a million years think it was good….or any good at all, for that matter?

That, my dear friends, is the extent of my boyfriend’s paranoia. At the end of my fabulous meal, whilst still high on cloud nine because my boyfriend had put in so much effort to cook a meal for me, I couldn’t help but feel sore that he threw the rest of it away when it could’ve ended up in a much better place….my stomach.

What a waste!

A teeny tiny reason why I wanted him to cook for me (besides wanting to consume food lovingly prepared by him) was so that he would know firsthand that cooking isn’t so simple. Of course when I say this, I don’t mean from a passionate cooking expert’s point of view. Put yourself in the shoes of a cooking noob (me), who probably isn’t that interested in cooking in the first place. So after experiencing himself how laborious it can be, I’m hoping he’ll realise that it would be unreasonable (verging on cruel, if I’m allowed to exaggerate) if I were expected to do the cooking alone in future. He hasn’t asked me to do anything of the sort, but I’m sending the message across anyway.

Even though the concept of “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” may outwardly sound passé in this day and age, don’t be surprised if that seemingly modern man you’ve just met still believes in this. Women have done things for men for so long — that’s not going to change any time soon.

But I shan’t have any part in it. I’m more interested in building a love kitchen, where we will bond over cooking. Who knows, with the heaps of fun we will have, I might even start to enjoy cooking!

My colleague gave me the splendid idea of signing up for a couples cooking class. Now if only I can find a halal facility….


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!


Birth order and compatibility

I wonder if anyone really uses the study on birth orders and personality traits as the definitive guide before making a decision to marry someone. I highly doubt it though, because when love comes a-knockin’, even the ugly duckling is hailed as a swan.

Mother and I got talking about birth order and compatibility some time back – I think it was when I needed an outlet to vent my anger after something the fiancé (referred to hereon as “the boyfriend”) did — something that led us to ponder upon birth order traits. It was an interesting conversation we had, so I looked the subject matter up.

Just some background information to share — I am the eldest of three children. My brother is the second sibling and my sister, the third. The boyfriend on the other hand is the youngest, also of three children. His eldest sibling is a brother and the second, a sister.

Our relationship is a firstborn-youngest relationship. What do the studies say about this combination?

Generally, our birth orders make us a good match for each other. In a rather loose summary, this is because the firstborn can keep the youngest in check, whereas the latter can teach the former how to let loose and have fun.

And if you want to go beyond birth orders for the best match, gender also plays a part. According to Dr Kevin Leman in his book  Birth Order Connection, a female firstborn and a male youngest who has elder sisters make the absolute best. This combination totally describes us, by the way.

What he says of this relationship:

The last born with older sisters is going to be the sort of person who brings out the maternal instinct in women, and the oldest sister is likely to have great maternal urges. The young man has grown up with girls who have doted on him, cared for him, and generally treated him like one of their cuddly toys. This is the same sort of treatment he seeks in a wife, and the best place he’ll find it is with an oldest sister. The match works both ways. The first-born needs someone to show her pleasures of sunsets, rainbows, and to remind her that it can be fun to let her mind wander and do something crazy or different. The last-born needs someone to show him that while having fun is a wonderful thing, it takes hard work and perseverance to turn those daydreams into reality.

Let’s see what holds true for us, and what doesn’t.

True, I am the serious, authoritative half and he’s the humorous, good-natured half. I like to set the direction most of the time, and he usually lets me, except when he doesn’t agree with me. One might be led to think that I’m the type who always knows what I want, but that’s not entirely true. While he can be indecisive (even more than I can be at times), he’s always been clear about certain things for instance, his career path. I fail miserably in this aspect, drawing grand ideas in my head that I’m still struggling to materialise. I’m a dreamer. He’s a realist. This is where he keeps me in check.

Other firstborn traits he embodies (some of which are shamefully absent from my existence as a firstborn myself): neat, organised, responsible.

I’m not too sure about being the maternal type, though. Being the eldest, I naturally am protective of my siblings — just not in a doting way. I prefer that they learn to fend for themselves, than having to depend on me all the time. In this area I follow in the footsteps of my father, who doesn’t tend to show much affection.

This is the way I think I show care in my relationship as well. I am protective (read: not possessive) of my other half, but don’t expect me to show love in a way that requires me to do his laundry and iron his clothes. In fact, having come from a place back in time where my parents expected me to do things for my siblings, I now yearn to be pampered because I never was back then.

I don’t know how this will fit in with the supposed characteristic of the youngest male who seeks from his wife the same doting treatment he’s received from his older sister. Being the youngest, naturally he’s depended a lot on his other family members to do certain chores. But he also adapts well, so I believe he has the capability to be independent when the need arises. I dread to think otherwise!

So far though, I’m mighty pleased to report that he does in fact pamper me. A lot. I think I can even consider myself spoilt (not in the bratty way, I hope!). And I do hope this wonderful treatment will continue throughout marriage.

While all this birth order stuff is interesting, I think it’s important not to take this definitively and go, “Oh firstborns are dominating. That’s just how we are.” or “We lastborns are naturally lighthearted. We just can’t be serious.”. My take on marriage is that it takes mutual understanding and a lot of compromise to make it work. Getting out of your comfort zone can also pay off. I may not like cooking but if my husband likes it, sure, I’ll whip up something nice once in a while. If my wife doesn’t like cooking, sure, I’ll eat out once in a while. Everyone’s happy.

No matter what your birth order is or what your personality traits are like, everyone has a shot at successful relationships if they educate themselves. My mother is a huge advocate of this. She just cannot keep stressing the importance of education enough. She’s always asking us to read books or go for classes. An excellent yardstick to know if you’re doing things right is to ask yourself — is this what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would do? But firstly, in order to know him and the way he lived his life, one has to educate himself.

I couldn’t agree more.


Decisions, decisions.

As much as I am excited about getting married, it’s a bit overwhelming to think that there will be so many decisions to be made over the next two years. And then some. Oh boy, and then some.

It’s as if life is just finally beginning. Marriage makes the past 25 years feel like preparation. It’s so surreal. The decisions that lie ahead, when compared to the decisions I’ve had to make, makes the latter seem so minuscule, so microscopic.

With marriage, every decision I make is a responsibility toward my husband. And if we decide to have children, the decisions we make are responsibilities toward them, so that they, in turn can make responsible decisions for themselves and then their children, and so on.

Every decision just gets weightier, in that it contributes bit by bit to the bigger picture. Every decision is lesser and lesser about me as an individual.

A humbling thought.