Dear newlyweds, betrothed and all other categories. This is for you. I know there are tons of advice columns and articles on marriage out there these days. I wish they had been as readily available before I got married. My two-cents really is two-cents. Mainly, it’s advice I have for myself, if and when I get remarried, inshAllah. And it’s advice for my daughter. And maybe, just maybe, it can be advice for you too.
1) Don’t lose focus on who you are and who you aspire to become. I feel like many of us get caught in the realm of wifehood and motherhood that we forget what we want to do with our lives. Our goals and hobbies are put on hold and sometimes, they are forgotten. I’m not saying always put your priorities first but don’t let “putting off” things till the kids are older get in the way of you accomplishing your goals. I don’t know about you but the longer I put off doing something, the harder it is for me to find the motivation to do it when the opportunity re-presents itself. Some of us have career aspirations. Some of us have educational aspirations. Some of us have hobbies we want to master. Some of us have religious aspirations. Whatever it is you want to do, keep at it. You’ll eventually get there.
2) Don’t become so attached that you are afraid to show your love. This advice is more for a future me, inshaAllah, than anyone else. I was so attached to Rubayet during the early years of our marriage that I was constantly afraid to lose him. I didn’t want to live a life without him and so I thought that if I kept my heart just a little guarded, I wouldn’t experience much pain just in case I did lose him. Anytime I thought about how much I cared about him, especially at the beginning of our marriage, I felt a pang in my heart. What will I do with all these feelings once he’s gone? (He was incredibly healthy the first year or so of our marriage, by the way.) But after his cancer began to spread, I opened up my heart a lot more. Obviously, death was on my mind a lot more. But it made more sense to me to be open about my feelings and love him as if it were our last day together.
3) Do things for yourself. I feel that in some cultures of the world, daughters are raised to only become dutiful wives. Dress nice for your husband. Cook well for your husband. Take care of yourself for your husband. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing things for your husband or being a dutiful wife. But do things for yourself to. You may find yourself actually enjoying the things that you do. After Rubayet passed away, I felt that it was pointless to do nice things for myself, whether it be dress up or learn how to cook something new. But slowly, I realized that my outlook was unhealthy. Doing something for yourself makes you feel good about who you are. Nowadays, I enjoy going to the gym and having a rigorous workout. I enjoy putting on a little bit of makeup and dressing up from time to time when I go out. I enjoy life. Its the little things that make a difference in your day.
4) Have a life of your own. Whether it is having your own friends or your own goals. Rubayet and I did everything together. We went everywhere together. We ran all errands together. We ate the same things.We shopped at the same places.We had the same group of friends. Whenever we went out to eat with other people, we ordered food that the other one would enjoy just in case there were leftovers. And it was very sweet but it was really hard to keep going whenever he had to be hospitalized or was too sick to do anything. I eventually learned to have a life of my own. I took Islamic classes that intensified my deen. I began to blog. I began to focus on other things—things that kept the issues at hand out of my mind. I have to say that the forced transition was a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, I would be at a complete loss of what I want to do with my life.
5) Don’t lose your connection to Allah (SWT). This is an understatement. They say you haven’t lost anything if you haven’t lost Him. And it is so true. My connection to Him gives me a reason to smile and to go on. We will all lose someone important in our lives. Many of us already have. But you won’t be lost if you hold on to Him. I realized this as Rubayet got sicker. I began to have conversations with Allah (SWT) where I simply just talked about what I was going through, without asking for anything. That connection kept me and still keeps me going. Before your parents even saw you on the ultrasound, Allah (SWT) blew his love and mercy onto you. He created you in a way unique to yourself. He (SWT) was there for you before anyone else was. And if you let him, He’ll be there for you when no one else is. Call out to Him. He’s undoubtedly listening and waiting for you to call out some more.