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Marital Life: Expectations vs. Reality

Most of us girls have dreamt of the big day; we have all imagined ourselves as brides, dressed in a fluffy white dress, surrounded by flowers, and having our cheeks burning red from the hundreds of eyes following our steps.

YES! It’s the wedding day. Watching Disney movies when we were younger, most of us happily sobbed at how the prince and princess overcame all the hardships and evils, to be with one another on the lifelong journey of marriage.

But, what happened next? Did we watch how Cinderella was able to manage her arguments with the prince on how to set the sofa in front of the TV? Or how Belle would be able to balance between her work and her home if she decided to pursue a career? What about Snow White’s cooking skills, and if her prince charming enjoyed her food?

Unfortunately, the princess movies didn’t prepare us for what came after the white dress.

Being married for 3 months now, I obviously can’t say I am an expert on the subject, but I can confidently say I have learnt some of the perks and hardships of marriage that I’d like to share with you.

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Marital Life: Expectations vs. Reality - About Islam

Art of Cooking

Yes, I could boil an egg, and make a cup of tea, and all the “essential” stuff that we thought could easily get us through our roles as a chef in our new home. But, the ugly truth is: those “essentials” are definitely not enough.

Don’t wait until you’re standing in front of the stove in your new home, wondering what cooked meat should look like. Or, if maybe this gooey thing, supposed to be rice, maybe needed much less water to cook properly.

I truly advice you to kickstart your cooking lessons BEFORE you get married. Stand with your mother, sister, or anyone you enjoy their cooking and take notes. Yes, as in get yourself to a stationery store and buy a little notebook, mark it “cooking recipes” and make it your best friend.

Have it with you every time you are invited over to dinner at someone’s house, and if you really like one of the dishes, don’t be embarrassed to ask for the recipe. It will really come in handy when you’re married, more than you know!

“But what if I feel he doesn’t like my cooking?”

Then ASK him! Some husbands don’t wait for you to ask and blurt out their opinion, which could be a negative one.

But don’t take it too personally and use it as constructive criticism, instead of crying about in the middle of the night.

Don’t be hard on yourself, you are still learning, and it will take a while until you comprehend all his preferences. So ask him what he thought of today’s dinner, and what he would have liked better. You would be surprised, but he could have some good recommendations.

“Ahh, I just cut my finger!”

That’s OK. It happens, alongside some burns and possible bruises. On my first day of cooking, I ended up with two cuts on each of my thumbs, and I had my husband finish off the cooking while I guided him verbally.

But, since then, I have been safe and sound, for most of the time, with great cooking results, also most of time. So don’t give up on yourself or undermine your abilities if you end up with some minor wounds in the beginning.

Where Are You From? - When Dinner Pleasantries Turn Into Microaggressions

Home vs. Career

I am not here to discuss your choice of deciding to work or not, because that is a judgment you make on your own in consultation with your husband.

However, some of us might already have careers, or decide to start working after getting married. It’s a great thing for you to add value to the society and pursue your dreams, but don’t forget that Allah (swt) has set obligations for you as a wife regarding caring for your husband and home.

Just as Allah (swt) has set obligations for your husband in return, with regards to providing food, shelter, and clothing for you. So it’s important to always keep in mind that neither of you should fall behind in the roles that Allah (swt) has set for each of you.

In the beginning of marriage, it can be quite difficult if you decide to work a nine-hour full time job, and at the same time attend to the house needs.

If you weren’t used to laundry, cooking and cleaning, you will realize it can get quite tiresome. But by time, or so the tale goes, it gets easier as these tasks become habitual.

However, until that happens, my advice is: if you decide to work in the first couple of months, or years of marriage, try to find a job with suitable working hours to have a balanced life between your duties as wife and your career life.

You Have a New Roommate

It seems strange that after a lifetime with your family, you are now going to live with a new person.

It’s exciting, and a bit scary, but most importantly it’s different. Your partner has also lived a certain lifestyle for his share in life, and you’re about to witness it full time. Some of things might seem odd, frustrating, or annoying, but you have to understand that it’s the same thing for him.

You might have different sleeping habits, or preferences on how you like the room to be organized, or how early you like to have your breakfast. But, should that mean you panicking and declaring an independent room in the house? No. Breathe, talk and compromise.

Jabir reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about Iblees:

“The nearest to him are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done such-and-such. Iblees says: You have done nothing. Another one says: I did not leave so-and-so until I caused discord between him and his wife. Iblees says: You have done well.” (Muslim 2813)

So, don’t let the shaytaan disrupt your relationship with your husband about trivial matters. It is in those situations that the shaytaan tries to intrude and cause fights about things that could have been solved by logical and calm discussions.

A Happy Marriage

You will not be able to change all of your husband’s old manners, or always find a common ground, but the situation is vice versa for him. So, you should both learn to embrace each other habits, as long as one of you isn’t causing harm to the other..

I think one of the most important keys to a healthy and happy marriage is to be considerate of each other’s feeling.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) instructed us to love for others what one would love for himself. And so should be the case when treating your husband. Try not to nag, and understand that when he is tired, or frustrated, it’s not the right time to tell him you accidentally broke the new microwave, and need a new one.

Expect that he will not always be in a good mood. I know that’s not what we see on movies and read in novels, so I am sorry to burst your bubble, but marriage isn’t always going to be rainbows and butterflies. You have to learn to love your spouse unconditionally in the sake of Allah, and help each other through this duniah to reach Jannah in the hereafter.

First published: March 2014

About Sarah N. Saad
Sarah N. Saad from Egypt is a Communication and Media Arts senior at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She is currently the vice president of Help Club, a leading community service club at AUC. She is interested in media research and advertising. She was born and raised in Sweden but is now residing in Egypt.