وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا
And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves… quran, 30:21
By Sahra Bashir
The following list is what has been taught to me to be the essential ways to thrive in a matrimony as a wife. This is solely intended for the Somali walaashay (sister) and what to do for the Somali walaalkay (brother) that they are married to. More specifically, it is for the generation of Somalis I am a part of. The 20 some-year-olds who are getting married, but are divorcing faster than the speed of light. Ok, that is just an exaggeration, but you get the drift here.
From my awesome mother, my wonderful edooyin (aunts) and other remarkable Somali women who’ve had lifelong and successful marriages, if you do the following, your marriage will succeed. Clearly this isn’t the perfect recipe for a marriage, but the following are some main ingredients that can be helpful to have a healthy, long lasting marriage. The rest, well, is up to you.
Shall we begin? Ok, first up…
- Pray together
A husband and wife should always pray together. By doing so, you two will bring so many blessings into your marriage. Praying together makes you two closer to each other and to Allah. By praying together, you two are building your Iman and helping one another remember Allah.
Praying together makes it easier to make Du’a with one another. Overall, praying will help remind the both of you of your purpose. Every chance that you get, when the both of you are home, pray together. If you have children, you’ll notice that they will also join and mimic you.
Respect your husband. Respect his decisions. Respect his views. Respect his judgments. Just respect him. Simple as that. Trust me, your marriage will thrive. When you show him respect, you are also showing him that you value and cherish him. We all want to feel respected and valued, who is better to show that to than the man you choose to standby for the rest of your life.
Love him. Always remember quruxda guur waa jaceyl (the beauty of marriage is love). Tell him you love him constantly. Remember that we all express love in different ways. Recently, I discovered, The 5 Love Languages concept where you can find out what love language you and your significant other speak. Find out what your husband’s love language is and try showing him you love him through his “love language.”
Always remember quruxda guur waa jaceyl (the beauty of marriage is love).
Every man wants his woman to listen to him. Every man wants his woman to do what he says. Because of our very defined cultural identities, this is even more important for the Somali brothers. We, Somali women, grew up in an environment where most of the men (father, brother, etc.) in our lives are our decision makers; even when we are getting married, these men are the ones who give us away. Thus, most Somali men have grown up in a household where they are listened to and laga dambeeyo. Maxa yeelay wuxu ku soo koray guri aabihii uu hoggaan u yahay oo laga dambeeyo marka isagiina wuxuu doonayaa sidii oo kale. Therefore, listening and being an obedient wife is important. Now, that’s not to say that in being obedient, your feelings and/or expectations are completely denied.
I don’t really need to go into detail. This is important. Super important. This part of marriage is what makes or breaks a lot of marriages, not to mention this is a primary need for men. It is not only the physical aspect of intimacy that connects two individuals in marriage, but it also strengthens their emotional ties with one another. So, go on and get your groove sista girl…
Communicate with each other—obviously one of the most important keys to any successful relationship. More so, in marriage! Good communication helps sustain a marriage.
Learn how to communicate better and how to tell your spouse how you really feel about things. Good, healthy communications make marriage easier. Make sure you are able to openly discusses issues – good or bad. Side-Note: Please understand that this communication I speak of does not include:
- Yelling, shouting or making a scene.
- Being rude.
- Having a demanding tone when you are speaking.
Good communication leads to less fights, less arguments and less silent-treatments. When saying something to your husband, be soft spoken. Try using nice and kind words to get your points across. Learning how to best communicate with your husband will definitely make your marriage blissful and successful. Check out my “Communication is Key” post for more tips.
- Educate yourself
I personally just talk to my mother. Alhamdulilah, she is so real with me and doesn’t sugar code anything.
We live in a time where so much educational information is free and so easily accessible. Get books and read books about Muslim marriages. Take a class at your local Masjid. Go to lectures and listen to some on Youtube. Learn how to become a good wife from an elder. I personally just talk to my mother. Alhamdulilah, she is so real with me and doesn’t sugar code anything. I ask her about her marriage with my beloved father and she tells me what she use to do for him and why their marriage was so successful, Masha’Allaah. I love, LOVE speaking to other elders about marriage too. Whether it be your cool adeer or edo, it’s just nice to have a conversation with them. They educate your mind and pour out tons of wisdom. So, whether you read, you watch videos, listen to lectures, talk to elders or others, educate yourself about marriage. Here is an amazing video I love to tell everyone who is married to watch – Sheikh Ahmed Jowhari – “Five Steps To Make Marriage Successful”.
- The double C: Cook & Clean
*** Cooking: Homemade and hot meals preferred! ***
Ladies, lets face it! Most Somali guys do not go to culinary school and become chefs. For the few lucky abaayos who do have men who can cook, you’ve found yourself a rare Somali man. However, for the rest of us who aren’t so fortunate—haha—let’s get to cooking. Be aware that a lot of Somali men do not know how to cook. You see, their mothers pampered them and spoon fed them until they married you. So do not let this become a problem in your marriage. Step your laxoox & hilib adhi game up walaashay macaan. Get your apron on baan ku idhi!
In addition, make sure your home is clean at all times. It is really important to be clean and make your home beautiful. Not only is it pleasing to the eye, but it is also less work for you when guests come over. Meaning if a guest comes knocking on your door—because as Somalis we do not call 2-3 days ahead and let you know that we’ll be visiting on Saturday, (and actually show up on Sunday)— your home better be “guest-ready” always.
- Looking good
Just because you two are married now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress as nice as you use to during the “shukaansi & sheeko” stage. Look hot. Obviously you had to be physically attracted to each other in the beginning. Physical beauty is important especially to us women. But men also like to look at beautiful things. Go ahead and dress up in all those nice lingerie and duruuc you got as gifts. (Note: this, however, does not mean you should not be loyal to your baati ladies. May the baati force be with you.)
Yes, everyone respects their in-laws and wants to have a good relationship with them. But as the wife, it doesn’t hurt to be good friends with your hubby’s mom… call her “hooyo” and call his dad “aabo”. Be genuine when you are with them and speak to them kindly. Call them often and treat them like your own parents.
Side note – Be especially close to your sodoh (mother-in-law). She is the one who gave birth to this man you love and she is also the one who knows him the most. Try to establish and maintain a good relationship with her. Do not put up a front. Just be yourself. Alhamdulilah, I am so grateful to Allah for giving me a wonderful mother-in-law who is so sweet and open. I try my hardest to call her often although she is in another country, but it is really important to me that she and I have a good connection. So I constantly work on it too.
Sabar. Sabar. Sabar. I can’t stress how vital this is. Patience is needed so much in marriage. Without it, marriage will be hard, very hard. Our Deen teaches us so much about patience; soooooooooo much! As women, we should be even more patient because Allah blessed us in this area Alhamdulilah. When fighting with your spouse, know that this is someone you love dearly. Forgive your spouse for the small things he does that may get under your skin. Be patient. Patience is perseverance . Patience is virtue. When you feel like you wanna give up and just let it all go, remember to be patient. You can do it and you won’t regret it. I am working on my patience myself. I can honestly tell you that being patient really makes you a better person. Alhamdulilah, I have learned that being patient is so rewarding at the end. Your spouse will notice that and of course, Allah will reward you. During difficult times, be patient with your husband. Just like you would be patient with a child — lol.
- Do NOT invite others in
This is one thing that I wish I can tell everyone who is married or in a relationship. There will be enough to fight about and this should never be one of them because if there is ever one thing that can be poisonous to your marriage, this is it! The start of a disaster is inviting others to tell you something about your spouse. No one and I mean NO one should be able to tell you or feel comfortable to tell you something about your spouse. Ever. And if there is such a person, as soon as they speak.. make sure you let them know to take several seats. Marriage is between you and your spouse. It should be that way and remain that way. As soon as you invite others to tell you anything about your bae, your mind will gradually grow to think different and starting believing their BS. THEY are the enemy. THEY don’t wanna see you happy. Remember that.
Other crucial ingredients to this guide include spending quality time with each other. Don’t just go out to a movie. What’s the point? You guys can watch a movie at home… Hello!!! Netflix, Hulu or RedBox saaxiib. Instead go out and have a nice dinner where you two can talk face to face. Just the two of you. Away from kids and everyone else. Re-connect and re-evaluate yourselves. This give you a chance to let your thoughts out and tell him what you’ve been worried about or whatever it is you’d like to discuss.
Also, when it comes to fighting, be smart. Choose your battles wisely. Ask yourself first, is this worth my time and energy? Will this matter after 5 minutes? Remember: just because you are fighting, does not mean that the marriage is over. Calm down. Take a deep breathe. You are just disagreeing with one another. Do not even look at — what I call — the “divorce door.”
What can you concede to? Try to find some balance between what you want and need and what your marriage wants and needs
Ask yourself this everyday: What is my role as his wife? This question isn’t asked by some women and is probably one of the main reason why a lot of marriages are on the rocks.. If you do not know your role as his wife, what exactly are you going by? Think about what you can compromise? What can you concede to? Try to find some balance between what you want and need and what your marriage wants and needs. Let all the small stuff go and concern yourself with the bigger issues. Like Beyonce says, “…stop making a big deal out of the little things…”
I leave you with this: we, women, really have the ultimate power!!! We really, really do. More specifically, Somali women have been through a lot. Our mothers were the ones oo dhexda xidhay when the civil war broke out. They were (and still are) the backbones of our families; they were our source of survival and our strength in all our struggles to become who we are today. Think about it, they have seen so much. Despite facing the ultimate odds of war—hunger, financial instability, suffering—most of our parents’ generation are still married till this day. My parents, like yours, have modeled a very wonderful and healthy marriage for me, Maasha Allah. How amazing is that? Seriously. If their marriage was able to survive all that, I believe our marriages can thrive with all of our 21st-century problems. Be vigilant in protecting your marriage. And it all starts with you. It starts with YOU.