What Do Men Really Want?

  • What are some mistakes men make when trying to get what they want in a marriage?

They try force.

  • Is using force a male instinct?

It’s definitely a male instinct. For many men, they try to exact power over a situation, especially at work or out in the world.

But they don’t realize that they can come home and use gentle methods to convince a woman of what they want. There’s no need to beat your chest and say, “I’m the man. You need to listen to me.”

A real man does that. He understands his strength. And he understands his natural physical prowers over the female. There’s no need to harm her with this. I think a gentle reminder is the whole point of the verse about hittinh.

Even if you feel the need to do this, a miswak [a small tooth stick] is the most that should be used. The point is gentleness, even in this last resort. It’s just a reminder, a tap to gently say to her, “Hey, I’m the man here.”

  • Do you think men really imagine their wives would leave them for another man?

Well, I don’t know. But men don’t even want that possibility.

But I think the real issue is that men don’t understand a woman’s love, like women don’t understand men’s. We just don’t understand it. We see the movies, but this isn’t how life really is.

But men don’t even want that problem. They don’t want another man interested in their wife, and I think it’s because, deep down, they know how they are [as men].

  • Let’s say there’s a woman who’s doing da’wah and she has her picture online [in hijab]?

Well, for men, the first thing they think when they see a woman’s picture is she’s pretty, or not.

  • That’s true. I think even women do that to other women.

It’s different though for men. Because we can marry them [potentially].

  • But is it really that deep? I mean, to me, I think, “So what? Okay, she’s pretty, or she’s not.” You move on.

That’s true. For many men, it’s like that too.

But of course, as a man, I have a natural jealousy, especially for my wife. But for me, I look at the Qur’an and Sunnah, and if I don’t find anything there that would make her actions wrong, I don’t think of my jealousy beyond that. It’s just a natural feeling you deal with in life. The point is we shouldn’t go to extremes.

I also think of the example I saw in my father and how he treated my mother. In my upbringing, I never saw my father hold my mother back because of his jealousy.

  • So, do you think men’s being overly protective comes from women’s actions?

No, not necessarily. Because she can be totally fine and not have done anything, ever, and he is still like this. But we know that, naturally, women are somewhat vain, right?

  • Yes, definitely. If a woman chooses a picture of herself to share online, she’s going to choose the best one. She wants to look her best.

So I think men are thinking they don’t want her to have a lot of exposure and get caught up in that [i.e. her vanity].

And sometimes our protection can go overboard and become oppression. But a good man doesn’t necessarily want that. He wants to look out for what’s best. He cares about his wife’s safety and honor, and he wants to protect that.

  • Many women complain that men don’t want them to have any sort of exposure [i.e. being active in the Muslim community, working on projects, etc.] but that’s how they met.

And the men [who keep women from it] didn’t like it from the start, at least not for their wife. But they liked what they saw and went after it. And the men think, “Well, now you’re mine, so we don’t need that anymore.”

[We both laugh].

And they’re thinking, “Now other men are going to try to get you, but you’re all mine now.”

But that sort of thinking [by men] contradicts initiating the relationship.

  • What advice do you have for men and women in marriage?

Prayer. Build your life around prayer.

First published: March 2013

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About Umm Zakiyyah
Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of the If I Should Speak trilogy and the novels Realities of Submission and Hearts We Lost. To learn more about the author, visit ummzakiyyah.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.