Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 16: The Musings of a Former Super-Wife

"Here, let me grab that one too," Asif offered, as he unloads another grocery bag from my hands and muscles it towards the elevator. I look down at the one grocery bag I'm carrying and think to myself, I can carry more!

But I'm learning that I don't need to prove to myself that I can.

One of the greatest lessons I've had to learn since getting married is to allow my husband to help with the more physically demanding tasks of domestic life. This has been challenging since prior to getting married, I did it all myself. I mean, I had to! Even though I lived at home, I was quite independent and self-sufficient. If I needed something heavy hauled into my car or into the house, I'd do it. If my car needed something or other done, it would get done. In other words, I was my own provider and I was quite content with this state of affairs.

Then marriage hit and I realized that this doesn't work anymore.

When I placed myself into Asif's shoes, I realized that being a super-wife can be somewhat puzzling to him. Why is she putting such physical demands on herself when I'm here? What am I good for then? And you know what, I agree with this! While Asif values the fact that I am independent and self-sufficient, I know he also cherishes when I lean on him and need him, since it shows that I value his strength, but also that I see our marriage as a partnership. I don't need to "do it all" anymore.

Now, I am not saying that I play damsel in distress and call upon my husband to help me carry up a 4 L jug of milk. Not at all. However, there comes a balance between pushing myself physically and reaching out for help, which I know makes him feel good. In a way, if I haul all 4 heavy bags of groceries up to our apartment myself, I've taken away the need for him to play an active role in this part of our marriage. But if I text him upon arriving and we split up the work, then I've created an opportunity for Asif to not only participate, but feel good about doing what he wants to do: to watch out for me.

It can be hard for us independent women to give this up when we transition into married life. However, I think it's important for a husband's sense of self if he's able to do things that protects his wife. I think, to a certain extent, that a wife is vulnerable in situations that can be too demanding for her, and while many of us headstrong women would take these tasks on without an issue, I wonder if we start to push our husbands away by doing this? I've certainly seen this happen with couples where the woman wears the pants and then some more in the relationship. The guy gets reduced to nothing.

Very early on in our communication, I told Asif that I am a do-er, and that I need to slow myself down. I see a situation that needs addressing and I jump into it, sometimes a little too fast. It takes a lot of conscious effort for me to realize that I need to stop and ask for help. One example is with my car. I used to take it in for everything, from oil changes to maintenance appointments. But with Asif's love of cars and him telling me he'd like to oversee the care of my car, I've had to change my philosophy. My front brakes are getting changed today and rather than spend $500 on letting the mechanic provide the materials and labour, Asif and I purchased our own parts so that we only pay the cost of labour. As a result, we'll save over $200. Would I have known this if I had just arranged for the mechanic to do everything for us? Nope. But did I also sit at home and let my husband take care of the manly car thing? Nope. We did it together. So it's not about women playing the vulnerable card, her husband jumping in for the rescue, and her taking a back seat...it's about collaborating in situations that we may otherwise spring forward into independently and head on.

And so, while I'm all for blurring the lines in terms of gender roles, I think it's also important that couples ensure they are fulfilling their spouse's emotional needs. For Asif and I, it balances out. If he's wanting to cook and hasn't worked with an ingredient before and asks me about it, it makes me feel good. It shows me that he's open to reaching out, is comfortable doing so, and that we have one more thing added to the list that we can do together. The same is true for domestic tasks. Since I have a running list in my head of the daily or weekly things around our apartment that needs to be done, I could easily just storm ahead and do everything myself. However, Asif asks me time and again if there's anything he can do to help out. I know that he likes it when I ask for help. So rather than be super-wife and do everything myself, I do reach out to him and it takes off an immense load. In marriage, it feels good to be needed, as long as it's balanced with each person having a certain level of independence as well. 

So for all of those headstrong and independent sisters out there who are seeking a spouse, perhaps consider the above in your search. I think it's important to show men that we are capable and independent, and aren't seeking a husband so that he can preside over us day and night. However, it's also critical to show that we aren't going to steamroll into matters where our husbands can be involved, just to prove to ourselves that we can do something. It's ok to reach out for help and support without pulling the "woe is me" card. Because marriage itself is a compromise and is much better when both parties are fully involved.

And Allah knows best. 


  1. You're a very wise woman, hon, mashaAllah! :-)
    May Allah continue to bless you and Asif every step of the way, inshaAllah.


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