A little while back, my best friend and I were doing a little self-introspecting and goal setting over chai- made by me of course. Truth is, I don’t really like chai that anyone else makes. Whenever I’m at a friend’s dinner party I usually offer to make chai, not because I’m a nice person- I just like my chai the way I like my chai. I dedicated a whole post (here) to the recipe people! Why don’t you read it??
Okay..now that you’ve seen my crazy side, it’s a perfect segue back to my goal setting session on being a better person. Along with several career and active life style goals, we both wanted to work on our roles as wives. Each of us had called the other one too many times recently, complaining about marital problems that could have been prevented. Alhamdulillah our problems were essentially petty things that sometimes manifested into bigger issues. Regardless, they still affected us, our children and the overall well-being of the family. Though bickering had become a norm for us, we still had faith that it isn’t the status quo.. that there are couples out there that don’t harp on each other’s every mistake and go weeks without fighting. This was not going to be a husband bashing session, we were going to take responsibility for our faults and constructively criticize each other for the sake of achieving our goals.
The true mark of a good friend is that she tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. We needed to a) identify the problem b) determine the solution and c) map realistic and measurable goals towards solving that problem. Our solution to the problem can only begin with us. You can’t change people but you can change yourself.
Disclaimer: this post is not referring to abusive relationships. There is no excuse for abuse, it is not your fault and you should get professional help.
At the end of the day, both of us had to admit we had pretty fantastic hubbies (Alhamdulilah, Masha’Allah, Masha’Allah..as if saying it many times secures a nazr/evil-eye free zone?)…we just seemed to be at odds with each other all the time. The slightest annoying thing he does takes me from average law-abiding citizen to raging lunatic. One tiny action has years and years of built up resentment and meaning packed inside it (all you newlyweds are probably vowing to never end up like this as you slowly back away from the screen).
It never used to be that way. We used to be so head over heels or infatuated with our husbands that we a) focused on their happiness and b) turned a blind eye to their flaws. Those days were marital bliss.
But realistically , in the beginning we barely had anything to do but prioritize our husbands and focus on making them happy. Now a days there are kids, bills, health issues, aging parents- real life. It’s not realistic for me to focus on this cranky man’s needs and happiness 24/7 while trying to manage tons of other tasks and responsibilities. That perfect demure wife, relentlessly focused on pleasing her husband while exercising great patience towards his shortcomings got left behind in the 60’s when Valium was a housewife’s best friend. She doesn’t exist.
Oh well, too bad, so sad. We tried to solve this problem didn’t we? And it’s our intentions that count right?
Problem: constant bickering and fighting with spouse over petty things
Solution: Be the Perfect Wife
Realistic goals to Solution: Not possible, perfect wife doesn’t exist.
Does the Perfect Wife Exist?
Still, neither of us could ignore those rare examples of women we’ve come across that really are the perfect wives. The ones who are always calm and collected at the very moment that you’re losing it.
You’ve probably seen her at a wedding, patiently feeding all three of her kids as her husband socializes with his buddies. Though you’ve also been abandoned, you are far from patient. You are fed up with your husband for ignoring your 12th call to help you feed at least one of the kids before they clear away dinner. He promised not to let the typical scenario repeat itself. You would actually get to eat dinner while it was warm this time. Actually, you’re not even hungry anymore; you’ve already had 3 servings of rage, 1 cup of ‘why me?’ and you need to save room for the whole stack of ‘wait till we get home’ you’ve planned. It’s not just about needing help to feed the kids. It’s another example of how selfish he can be: WE JUST SPOKE ABOUT THIS AN HOUR AGO!!!
As you wonder if she’s born with flawless skin or a master with the make-up brushes you suddenly regret not making that waxing appointment. Hopefully the dim lighting will hide your peach fuzz! Your self-conscious thoughts are interrupted by your daughter’s shrieks as your bangles get caught in her hair for the fifth time that evening. That gets your husbands attention as he rushes to save his offspring from his incompetent wife. Simultaneously both of you unleash your criticisms; he goes on and on about how many times does he have to remind you about comfort before fashion and you go off about how he’s the most unreliable and selfish husband ever.
The Perfect Wife politely acts like she doesn’t notice the public display of your dysfunctional marriage as her husband returns to the table, apologizes for losing track of time and guess what? He made her a plate of food so she wouldn’t have to wait in the buffet line.
Your anger towards your ever forgetful – yet lovable -husband shifts towards yourself. You could have handled this better. Both of your husbands ditched you at dinner time to socialize while you looked after feeding the kids by yourselves. She stayed calm and is being served by an apologetic husband, while you are still huffing and puffing from another typical spat- not to mention still hungry! Your husband is far from apologetic; he cleverly found a reason to fight with you to deflect from the typical lecture he was anticipating from you.
How did both of you go from being in the same boat to her sailing away in a gondola while you ended up on a broken raft?
What’s her secret?
After accepting that the Perfect Wife exists, the next step is to figure out HOW IS IT POSSIBLE??
It’s easy to be ‘Perfect’ when things are going right, you’re well rested, not stressed to the limits and your husband is being his loving self. But what about on your bad days? The days when nothing is going right, you’re being pulled in a million different directions and your husband is just as cranky as you. How can these wives be so perfect then?
The WHY is of utmost importance for me. Not just because I want peace and happiness in my home, but because my Akhira (Hereafter) is so closely linked to it:
Umm Salamah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.”
Ummm..kinda important right?
I am not a Perfect Wife
I think I’m a good wife. I work hard to make my husband happy and love him to bits but I lack patience which manifests into disrespect. I can be that perfect wife for like 11 hours but when I don’t get the response I expected or if my efforts go unappreciated I am quick to abort mission.
Also, I used to convince myself that I don’t know if it’s realistic for me to aspire to be a Perfect Wife..I think my husband enjoys my neurotic tendencies-and the fact that everyday’s unpredictable- he never knows what he’s in for. I keep things exciting! My husband would miss my adorable tantrums just way too much.
However I think I’m going to change a lot about the way I ‘wife’. Researching for this post made me realize just how important it is to respect your husband and how my definition of respect is flawed.
Referring back to the hadith about how if a woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, she attains Jannah- I should take my role of a wife a lot more seriously. The way I treat him should not be an expression of my love or if ‘he deserves it’, it should be like my road map to Jannah.
How will I turn my knowledge into action? Islam is Ilm (knowledge) and Amal (action) after all.
So I did some further digging into some Perfect Wives I know to discover how they manage to be so Perfect all the time.
Stay tuned for a second serving of chai discussing the Perfect Wife !