Chances are if you mention the origins of Valentine’s Day being entirely dark and pagan, evolving to commercial, it doesn’t retain much leverage among a young ummah hungry for love. In an age where biology and following the base desire is hard to defy, it would serve us better if we diverted our attention to making halal love redeemable and lasting, writes Radio Islam’s umm Abdillah. [2014-02-11]
How do I love thee, let me count the fear
Once the courting, wedding and romancing stage passes, and a marriage does due mileage over all four seasons, marriage counsellours alert us to the Top Five Fears of Marriage:
· The fear of divorce
· The fear of cheating on each other
· The fear of emulating your parents’ marriage (distance, fighting, loveless marriage)
· The fear of falling out of love
· The fear of the unknown (What will marriage be like? Will everything change after we get married? Is it going to be like this forever?)
According to Sheryl Paul, [International counsellour for anxiety & author of The Conscious Bride] if you take a look at this list you’ll see that they actually simmer down to one fear: the fear of loss. Most people harbour an unconscious message that says love equals loss, and unless this belief is brought to the surface and worked with consciously, it will determine negative consequences.
For example, it is said that men possess two great fears:
– The fear of being found inadequate
– The fear of being controlled by a woman.
According to Faith-worker, Priscilla Shirer: “Men aren’t delusional. He knows he’s flawed, even if he’s not quick to admit it out loud. But just like you and I, he is not to be defined by his imperfections. He has been divinely wired to be a leader, father, and provider for your family. And the last thing he needs or wants is a wife who doesn’t believe it, who’s always correcting him, unwilling to either recognise or support these qualities in him.”
“Our cutting, nagging comments can wound them deeply, especially when the disapproval builds up over time. What we think of as no more than a little jab about a specific incident becomes a stabbing wound that leaves a hole in their manhood.”
“Also, when your husband feels like he’s being controlled, he will eventually shut down completely, relegating his role of leadership to you, since “you seem to be doing such a good job at it anyway.” The result is a shadow of the man you once knew and loved—a deflated, disinterested slacker who makes few decisions and shows little initiative. Then, in the vicious cycle created by this marital dynamic, you become increasingly overwhelmed, frustrated, and upset because you feel like you’re bearing the burden he should be carrying—when in actuality, it’s the very burden you snatched away from him because you didn’t like how he was doing it.”
As for women, the pressures are manifold. “Fear attacks by pulling us into a dark and catastrophic drama where we become so panicked and terrified that we can’t ignore the fear any longer. For example, perhaps a woman has a deep fear about being isolated and lonely. When this fear hits her periodically, she keeps it inside, trying to push it away. Eventually, the fear fights back, spinning a tragic story that features her husband as the ‘losing interest’ spouse who will eventually leave. Her mind, now controlled by fear, gathers bits and pieces of information that confirm and support this story.”
What’s more, on a minute-by-minute basis, women are bombarded with the pressure to conform to the monoculture – be sexier, slimmer, fitter, prettier and younger ‘or else their husbands will leave them’. Muslim woman note they have more to fear. “Hijabi in the streets and Barbie in the sheets” – television and especially pornography have rewired men’s desires, to the extent that especially ‘religious’ men threaten to leave their wives or procure a second if their loving, beautiful, committed wives don’t concede to disliked actions or sexual savagery. Further, Muslim women dare not complain of their husband’s inadequacies in this regard. It is well documented that a woman grows in repulsion for the spouse who selfishly shows no interest in satisfying her sexual needs.
“Women experience this level of disappointment not because they are incapable of having fulfilling sexual experiences, rather it is because some men are detached emotionally from their wives and not fulfilling their needs outside the bedroom which prevents women from opening up in the bedroom. Other men have corrupted themselves through over exposure to pornography and seductive pictures of surgically enhanced, air-brushed women which as a result causes them to be overly critical of their wives who in turn feel inadequate and unattractive. When women don’t feel attractive or confident they will not allow themselves to be vulnerable and perform sexually. When men take the time to bond with their wives, nurture their relationship and familiarise themselves with sexual needs of their wives, they can be successful in fulfilling them on a regular basis.” [Muslim Matters]
Fighting Fear 101
1. Name the underlying fear. Some examples are: Fear of falling apart, fear of rejection, fear of not being understood, fear of being judged, fear of being alone, fear of loss, fear of change, fear of aging, fear of being overwhelmed, fear of your needs being ignored, fear of boredom, fear of lack of control, fear of failure, and fear of helplessness.
2. Tell your partner that you have some fear arising inside of you, and share those fears. Own your fears instead of blaming your partner. For example, say ‘I am feeling afraid of a loss of control of our finances’ instead of ‘You always have to be the boss with our money.’
3. Listen to your partner’s fears. Do not try to minimise, negate or ‘fix’ the fears. Do not try to bully your partner’s fear into submission. Do not belittle, humiliate, shame, and threaten the fear. Do not make snide remarks such as ‘Oh, you are always afraid of something,’ or ‘Why can’t you just relax and be happy for once?’
4. Recognise that your partner’s fears are likely to trigger your own fears. For example, if your partner voices a fear of boredom, you may interpret this to mean that he or she is judging you as not being interesting enough, and you may feel a deep fear of rejection. It is important that you do not take over the whole discussion with your reaction-fear, and leave no space for your partner’s fear. On the other hand, it is also important that you make some room for your own fear, letting your partner know how you feel.
5. Focus on the fear and do not get detoured into specific details of the relationship. For example, don’t let ‘I feel fear of loss of control of our finances’ turn into ‘Why can’t you stop spending money on golf?’ Plan to discuss concrete and practical relationship issues at another time, when fear is not running the show.
6. Remember to contain the fears within boundaries. Recognise that these ‘fear’ talks will occur regularly throughout the course of the relationship, but keep each discussion within a reasonable time limit, such as 10 to 20 minutes. [Source]
May Allah bless our ummah with marriages of taqwa. Ameen.