By Sahra Bashir
Dear Somali Brother:
I hope that in reading this, you find points you can take away and apply to your marriage. Perhaps there are a few things on this list that you may already be doing and some that you may need to work/improve on. Hopefully, you become more aware of your role as a husband.
In my eyes, my beloved father’s generation, Somali men in their late 50’s and early 60’s, did an immaculate job at being a husband to the Somali woman. Every adeer I meet from this age group is such a gentleman mashAllah. If your aabo or adeer are alive, try to speak to him and get tips on how to treat your wife as well.
These tips are in no order!
1. Understand your responsibility
Let us start with the basics. In order to be a good husband, you must first understand what you are doing and what you are accountable for. In marriage… you, the husband, play such an important role in guiding the future Muslim Ummah. It is your job to protect your family: your wife – the mother of your children. You are responsible for her. You are responsible for your children. You are responsible for your family. You are responsible for the entire household. Therefore, it is really critical for you to comprehend and be proud of that fact. Always have this in your mind and hold yourself accountable.
Finances come solely under you. IF your wife works, her income should not be included in the “household” income. You need to fulfil your duty as a husband and breadwinner for the family. A lot of hooyooyin work nowadays and they also provide for their families. But this responsibility should not fall on her. Waa in aad fahanto in adiga mas’uuliyadda reerkaagu ku kor taallo. Also, do not be stingy. There is nothing more unattractive in a woman’s eyes than a stingy man. Ha gacan adkaan. Now, I am not telling you to live beyond your means laakiin at the same time, do not be too tightfisted.
2. Pray together
A husband and wife should always pray together. 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. Every chance that you get, when the both of you are home, initiate the prayer of Salat together. Remember, you are the man of the house!
3. Be helpful
From what I have been told by various individuals, back in the day, you didn’t just live with your wife & children. Instead, you had extended family from both sides visiting and staying with you throughout the year.
This often created a lot of help for the wives/mothers because there was always someone to help her with the kids and chores around the house; not to mention the fact that there were maids. But that was then, and this is now. Like the famous saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans”, you have to learn how to adapt to the environment we are in.
Women are so strong. We can be superwomen and do it all, but some times even super hero needs help. That’s why it is really nice for you to pull your weight around the house and help out. Because life in the West is so different, we really need your help around the house. Do some cleaning. Do the dishes from time to time! Learn how to cook the easy meals. You can even help your wife prep some meals. Sometimes even just offering your help and asking if she needs you to do something can be enough.
If you are a father, you have to be good to your children. Some Somali dads tend not to be present fathers. They tend to focus on other unimportant things. Do not be one of those fathers. Be different. Be a present father. Do not neglect your children just because your wife does an awesome job taking care of them and all their needs. Try to have your own fatherly activities with them. Don’t be so bombarded with life and “getting money.” Children really value the time that you give them. Spend as much time with your children as you can especially while they are young. This will also give your wife a break from the children to do something for herself.
4. Love & Romance
Fact: women love romantic men. What being romantic means or what it actually is, is really up to the individual. See, romance can’t be defined into one category because to each is his own.
Haddii runta laga hadlo, this isn’t something that we, as Somalis, tend to practice. But truth is women like for men to be initiators when it comes to being romantic. Doing something special for your wife will never let you down. Only YOU can know what your wife likes—whether it is surprises, gifts, walking together—try to be a bit romantic and initiate this, like the saying goes bro, “Put the MAN back in romance.”
Another way to try to keep the romance alive while married is to continue to date her. Just like the “sheeko & shukaansi” stage, this will help keep your marriage very spontaneous and very fresh. Spontaneity is awesome!
Yet another suggestion can be going away on a weekend getaway. Just the two of you. If anything, being romantic is actually a positive thing for your marriage. You just need to be a little creative and do something totally unexpected for your wife. Hint: add candles to any atmosphere for that romantic touch.
She knows you love her. She knows you care about her. But she loves to hear that all the time. Tell your wife you love her often. Remind her that you made the best choice by marrying her. Sometimes being told something that you already know puts a smile on your face. It makes one feel better inside. Wives and moms often forget about themselves and focus so much on their families. Always tell her how much she means to you and make it a habit to say “I love you” each day.
5. Respect her
In order to have a healthy marriage, mutual respect is a must.
Just like you want to be respected, we also want and value respect. This is something that goes both ways. In order to have a healthy marriage, mutual respect is a must. You need to make sure she knows that you respect her feelings and opinions. In respecting her, make her part of the decision making of your family. Moving on…
6. Better yourself
Women like men who have a plan. Because we have invested in the future together, it is really important that you have a plan for your family. Whether it is religious or academic, I really strongly advise you to push yourself to become better. Push yourself to become a better leader of your household. By doing so, mustaqbal wanaagsan baad u dhisaysaa reerkaaga iyo carruurtaada.
7. Pay attention to her
Your wife needs your undivided attention when she is talking to you. Period. Please listen. Do not think that what she is telling you or talking about is trivial and unimportant. Just having you listen to her and give her your attention is good.
Learn ways to be an “active listener.” Recently, I went to a training for work that taught my coworkers and I about active listening.
When most people are fighting or arguing about something, most people aren’t listening to what the other is saying. Both people do not really listen and are only waiting to have their turn to speak to say what they were formulated in their minds that whole, entire time. Think about it; that is so true.
More specifically, some men just brush her their wives off or do not pay close attention to what they say. She may know you don’t mean any harm by it and that is just how you are, but please learn how to be an active listener to her. It will help you avoid misunderstanding her. Chances are that you two will better communicate better. SHOW her that you are interested in her and pay very close attention to all her clues and words.
When most people are fighting or arguing about something, they aren’t listening to what the other is saying. In fact, they are only waiting to have their turn so they can say what was formulated in their minds that whole, entire time.
8. Be kind and supportive
Be your wife’s biggest fan. Be her support system. When she wants to do something, support her wholeheartedly. When you married your wife, more likely than not, you took her from a very supportive environment. From a family who pushed her to do whatever she wanted and wanted nothing more for her than her success. You need to continue to push her toward her dreams and aspirations in life. Support her in all of her endeavors – her good and bad choices. Try to guide your wife and give her advice. Be her counselor. Reaffirm what she already knows. Her confidence will grow, not to mention, how sweet it will be to be her biggest fan!
Show appreciation for all that she does – practice giving her small tokens of appreciation. Be good to her. Get her that unexpected gift she has been hinting for you to get. Spoil her from time to time. Make her a priority. Give her a compliment or two often. When she makes you good, be appreciative and thankful. Waa in aad u ducaysaa xaaskaaga. If she has children for you, thank her for all that she does and commend her for the awesome mom she is. She needs to feel appreciated and know that you are and would never take her for granted. Never address your wife as “naayaa”. Never. Ever.
BE HER FRIEND
Everyone loves companionship. Make your wife your friend. You need to honor all the promises you may have made of being friends. Being her husband is a given, but try to be her friend. The best marriages are marriages between friends. You will learn to grow with one another and continue to love each other deeply.
9. Be cautious of who you befriend
You can not have friends that your wife is uncomfortable with including men and especially women. Now, understand that this is no way, shape or form being irrational. Your marriage is more important; it should be more significant than any other relationship or friendship. If your wife is uncomfortable with someone in your life, find ways to prioritize between your wife and the individual. I am not saying to completely ditch that person, but you may have to do that if it comes down to it. Try to understand the reasons why your wife may not want you around this specific person and find a solution to the issue.
You should not associate this with her having any insecurities. This also has nothing to do with her trusting you. Don’t take it as her trying to be controlling in her own way. If your wife is able to explain why it is that she doesn’t want you to be around this person, hear her out. Marriage is truly about sacrifices and sometimes those sacrifices are hard to make. In the end, you want to make sure that you prioritize between what is important and what is not important.
10. Do not expect her to be your “hooyo”
I know your hooyo is awesome! She is amazing, Masha’Allah I know! BUT your wife is not your hooyo. Do not expect her to be hooyo macaan. She is your wife. She was a stranger a while ago and you cannot expect her to do the things that your mother did for you. She is your wife, treat her as such and have a realistic expectation for her as your wife!
11. Be understanding
Sometimes your wife will be feeling down. It could be that time of the month. Perhaps she is pregnant. Be understanding. Especially during pregnancy and right after the birth of a child, a woman is extremely sensitive and emotional. Her body goes through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth. You simply cannot fathom how hard it is to be in her situation, but it would help greatly if you are considerate and thoughtful. Try your best to go the extra mile for her.
SOMETIMES WE DON’T MEAN WHAT WE SAY
There are certain words/phrases in Somali that Somalis sisters throw at you, such as:
- i fur(divorce me)
- iga tag(get out)
- kuma rabo(I don’t want you)
- i daa(leave me alone)
- warqaddaydi i sii(give me my papers “divorce”)
Sometimes when your wife says this, she is angry with you. Perhaps she is disappointed at the moment. Try to calm her down. Be understanding. If an argument or a fight gets too heated and you sense that it will lead you into this zone, step away from it and do not continue. If you hear these words, just give her some space and let her cool down. Do not make the situation worse by adding fuel to the fire.
“Nin rag ah haweenaydiisaa ka adag, doqonna isagaa ka adag” — which roughly translates to a wife controls her man while a fool controls his wife. If you really think about that, it would be foolish for you to control your wife. The best of men are those that have strong women behind them supporting them. You have the ultimate obligation to make sure that your family’s needs are always met.
Nin rag ah haweenaydiisaa ka adag, doqonna isagaa ka adag.
Look, as long as your wife is happy, she will stick by you. Her happiness should be your top priority. Some may think that women are all after money and as long as you are providing for her financially, that that is sufficient. But I can tell you that as long as you give your woman time and love, she will stick by you through it all. There are so many who have everything money can buy, but still are so unhappy. By showing her you love her and giving her your time, she will love you more.
When you are wrong, just apologize and move on. I know sometimes it is hard to apologize and admit you were wrong, but it could change some outcomes. Clearly, communication is key here. You need to learn how to talk to your wife and know what pushes her buttons. But most of all, you should be the best husband you can be to her.
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I leave you with love,
Aspiring writer, photographer and blogger. Traveler. Enjoying life & all the joy it brings. Somali-American.