This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
In this article series, Part 1 covered a few examples of some of the more minor common marital conflicts that can occur when people of two different cultures marry, while one of them is a revert.
This part will go to the problems that are a bit more intense issues, and Part 3 will touch on the more major causes of marital conflicts.
In this part of the series, I will cover the more intense types of clashes, including clashes about gender roles, a woman’s independent mentality, isolation, and opposite sex friendships.
That’s Woman’s Work!
Victoria, an English revert, had married an Egyptian man, and one year later moved to Egypt.
After moving to Egypt, she discovered a drastic change in her husband. In England he was the ideal husband, but in Egypt, he started behaving more like his friends.
In Egypt, he developed an attitude that Victoria found to be like that of what we would call a ‘male chauvinist’. He went from helping washing dishes and cooking to refusing to even pick up his dishes after he ate to take them to the kitchen.
He went from washing and folding laundry, to not even putting his dirty clothes in the hamper. He refused to even prepare his own cup of tea when he was the only one wanting to drink tea. Victoria was at her wit’s end.
If Victoria dared to ask him to get her something from the fridge, or to make her a cup of tea, he would raise his voice and refuse saying “that is your job!”
Victoria was at the end of her rope, because she was holding down a job, just like her husband, working the same hours, to help support the home financially. Then at home, she was expected to wait on him hand and foot. Who was going to do things for her?
His mother supported his argument because she does those things for her husband and Victoria was looked at as a “bad wife” by her mother-in-law and her husband because she felt it wasn’t.
Spouses should be helpers to one another, and if the wife is giving of herself to help out the family home by working, the least the husband can do to show appreciation for her efforts, which is a charity by the way on her part, is to help out at home to relieve her of some of those burdens. When asked about how the Prophet Muhammad used to live in his house, the Prophet’s wife, `Aisha, said that:
“He used to repair his own shoes, sew his clothes and carry out all such household chores done without complaint or want for more.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
Every Superwoman Needs a Superman!
The majority of western women are raised to be strong independent women, taught that they do not need a man for anything.
There is a misconception here that Muslim women are not able to care for themselves. Yes, they can, but – Islam has given man responsibilities to care and provide for his wife to unload pressures on her so that she can focus on things that are in her interest and to keep her safe. Why not let the men do their jobs? It doesn’t mean that you are any less independent or weak!
Many conflicts break out in inter-cultural marriages over this issue. It is prevalent primarily only when the couple moves to live in a predominantly Islamic country. Society norms are very different, and men handle matters instead of women due to various reasons that most western women refuse to try to comprehend. Western mentality will get you nowhere fast in such complex societies.
Whether it is Islamically correct or not, doesn’t dismiss that societies in such countries can be very different from what you understand to be normal and acceptable. You typically find only men holding jobs in restaurants, and stores where they have to tend to the public frequently. This is not a male chauvinist concept. It is simply a fact that in some of these societies, that there are many men that don’t respect women like they should. It is incorrect, and a shame for the Muslims, but it is the reality.
Sure, you can go out and do the shopping and errands on your own, and don’t need a babysitter, but when you are in a foreign land, you will automatically stand out, and attention will be drawn to you. There are many men that would take this opportunity to take advantage of a woman out on her own. You may be sexually harassed, or robbed, or worse! They see that there is not a man there to protect you. You can say, “Oh, well I would just call the police, or scream for help, etc.”
However, in some countries, the police simply don’t care, or there is so much corruption, that police can be bribed easily. There are many things that a newcomer will take time to understand and accept, regardless of if you like it or not. Let the men take care of these things, or at least let them accompany you to protect you.
Remember to just accept the fact that you are not in Kansas anymore! Your respect and well being is not worth the arrogance. Let your husband be your protector! He will love that responsibility, so let him have it. Every superwoman needs a superman.
I’m So Alone!
It is a must for all those who marry a revert to respect the fact that their revert spouse has lost most of their family and friends due to their accepting of Islam. This means that they don’t have anyone to confide in about their worries and problems. A person should turn to and trust Allah in all these matters, but that does not mean that a person doesn’t need friends to share their joys and sorrows with.
I can’t count the times I hear of new Muslim sisters being isolated from the outside world by their husbands. Whatever his reasons are, it simply cannot be justified. It is a form of oppression against women. So many new Muslim sisters try their utmost to be a good wife to their husband and respect his wishes, that they allow him to erase their entire sense of self-worth.
Many don’t allow their wives to make friends, or even spend time with friends, even if the friends are good Muslims. Typically the men that do this, have major control issues, and want to control every aspect of their wife’s life to the point that she starts to resent him, and lose love and affection for him. This will spiral downhill fast, and always ends in a divorce.
Do not prevent your wives from having friends and family in their lives. If you want your wife to love and respect you and your family and friends, you must be able to do the same. This does not mean that you allow her to be friends with just anyone, but if they have no faults that would influence your wife to do anything wrong, then allow her to have friends.
How would you feel if someone else controlled you, and didn’t allow you to spend time with or talk to your friends and family?
For the sisters in this situation, don’t allow your husband to diminish your self-worth and your self-respect to the point that you have no one to help you if there was an emergency. Realize this is a form of abuse. Although not physical, it is emotional and mental abuse!
If you are so isolated that you have no one else but your husband, ask Allah to make it easy to remove yourself from such situations, and do something about it. Don’t sit back and tolerate abuse and oppression! If you are not willing to help yourself, then no one else will bother! Trust in Allah, but tie your camel. This is not a healthy relationship, much less an Islamic one.