A question that I have to field lately by my co-workers when we get into social conversation is “where did you meet your wife?” or “how did you meet your wife?” While trying to be truthful but also present it in a positive light, I stumble through my words and give an answer. It’s not a surprise to see the shock and awe when they hear for someone grown up and living in the West, that it was an arranged marriage. Whether it be innocent non-desis (South Asians) or our grown/growing children they can’t believe that we (my wife and I), by God’s infinite mercy are happily married since almost the stone age, we’re madly in love and continue to explore and grow in our love and yet our lives started as two total strangers.
Photo by Azlan DuPree available under Creative Commons Attribution License.
Even in the present, Perfectly Arranged Marriages have a place in society. Note, I am not talking about “Forced marriages” or examples of arranged marriages gone horribly wrong. It’s unfair to take outliers and use them to demonize a norm of society. After all arranged marriages were the norm in pretty much all Western and Eastern societies until the Renaissance in the West changed to a “market model” associated with love. As a disclaimer, I will be the first to say that arranged marriages of the past do NOT have a place for children of immigrants where this was the cultural norm.
Below are,10 Reasons to have a Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
- Your parents pay for the wedding (usually but not always).
- You have a whole lifetime of discovering each other.
- With parents as filters your social and family compatibility is almost guaranteed.
- There are no matchmaker fees as the Aunties just love to make introductions.
- You hopefully only emotionally invest in one person, so so there is no dating game and heartbreaks.
- You will be the happiest couple when you agree to share your parents guidance over only your decision.
- Stress Free Parental Introduction. Yes that’s right, you don’t need to worry what the parents are going to think about your choice because well, they have the inside scoop.
- The honeymoon lasts about 2 years instead of a week, as you are two total strangers getting to know each other.
- Free childcare. When your parents are bought-in to the idea of your marriage and now that you’re married and you both want to go on vacation or to the movies what better way for your child to bond than with their grandparents.
- Less chance of being accidentally left out of your parents will and living trust if you get their buy-in before the wedding.
- Bonus. There are no blind dates, as Mom, Pops, Auty Ji, and the whole extended family is with you on the date.
- Bonus+Bonus. You will have a Hollywood or Bollywood Happily ever ending, you just now have to fill in your love story, and work hard on it, be patient,committed and pray, that’s all.
Even when you are married and or have kids it is great to have do activities to reinforce your marriage.Here are some ideas to get the communication and hopefully passion going.
Photo by Moyan Brenn available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
- Take a walk around the block or on nature trail.
- Go grocery shopping to Costco at lunch time and try out the free samples
- Take a drive or public transport and hang out in the city
- Take turns and give each other massages.
- Visit a museum or comedy show or go to the beach if it is not too far
- Go to the park, take a walk around a lake or reservoir
- Take a class together (cooking, photography, pottery, or other arts) and act like teenagers
- Get a movie from the library or if you have Netflix or other streaming watch it on the sofa and pop some popcorn
- Go to a yoga or zumba or an aerobics class together
- Visit the library or a bookstore
- One spouse give the other VIP treatment with breakfast in bed or make lunch or dinner or do it together
- Check out your local farmers market and give your spouse a purse full of small bills and change
- Go to the flea market and bargain away
- Go to the theater and check out a play or see a concert or a drive in-movie
- Visit a botanical gardens or just admire the gardens of a nice neighborhood
- Play board games and change the rules
- Visit your favorite bakery
- Take a scenic drive
- Volunteer at a foodbank or other cause you both believe in
We all know Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese form that creates harmony in the environment. There are many things we can take from it and adapt to our beliefs and values. Here are 10 Feng Shui Tips to Spice Up Your Love Life and Bedroom, both things to avoid and do.
Photo by Justin Leonard available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
- Take out all clutter. Over time we accumulate a lot of things. Whatever the “things” are from clothes, perfumes, trinkets, simplify your life by keeping only the best of the best. The rest only gather dust and deplete good energy.
- Remove all electronics. This includes Laptop, tablet, smartphone, Television and any other devices that are not essential to sleeping and enjoying your spouse.
- Transfer all non-essential furniture and exercise equipment like treadmills to another room or garage.
- Remove all photos and statutes of living beings, including family photos.
- Clear all artificial artifacts including silk plants.
- Get a bed that is neither too high or too low. Get a new mattress whose firmness matches both of your needs. Leave space on both sides of the bed to create space and easy access with a wall behind the headboard. Avoid facing the bed directly towards a door. The bed should be not too small (that you feel one of you may fall off) or too large (that you get lost in it). Full and queen size provide space and intimacy
- Use natural high thread cotton sheets that provide a silky smooth but non-slippery feel. Wash them frequently at least once a month.
- Paint your walls with earth tone colors. It’s ok to have red, pink or purple to accent the room but they are bold passionate colors that should be used sparingly.
- Use balance as a criteria to place things on either side of the bed so that they are in pairs. eg two night stands, two lamps.
- Make your bedroom Sensual, Serene, Spiritual, and a Sanctuary. Do not discuss or even think about life’s problems in the bedroom. Leave all anger and resentment outside and best of all just forgive.
- Ok This is a bonus one. Go to bed together, use nice scent, candles, mood lighting, cushy but firm pillows (more than what you sleep with), make your bed in the morning, every morning, and start and end your day with gratitude to God and then your spouse.
Let’s start off with the fact that mistakes will happen. However, with careful planning at least common ones can be avoided. Plan, Pray, and hope you have a great wedding.
Photo by zzclef available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
- Running Late
Desi Time, Arab Time, Muslim Time: It comes in many names. There is nothing more annoying than seeing on the invite for Nikkah and Reception (Please be on time) and then the host, bride, groom(or whoever) are running totally late. If you expect your guests to be on time, you as host have to set a good example.
- Boring Wedding Speeches by the whole entourage
For you as a bride or groom, it may be very sentimental to have all your siblings or all your close friends give a speech. Especially when the speeches precede dinner, there is nothing more frustrating than having hungry guests bored out of their minds listening to endless speeches which are only of interest to the bride or groom. If you still insist on having them at least overlap them with dinner.
- No Agenda
Both for Muslim guests and Non-Muslim ones it creates anxiety when they don’t know what is coming up and when. Besides a printed agenda, it is the job of the M.C. to follow the adage, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.
- Unprepared Father of the Bride or Groom Speeches
For an event that is so important for their son or daughter it is surprising how many fathers or family members will go in saying, “I was just told I have to give a speech”, “I didn’t have time to prepare.” Really? Consider how much time and money you will invest into the wedding. If you’re not a toastmaster and or comfortable in public speaking, it doesn’t cost much to get help with your wedding speech.
- No Wedding Rehearsal
Although wedding rehearsals are common in American weddings, they are less so in Muslim weddings. We’re not advocating having a Nikah rehearsal. At least the receptions main entrance and farewell should be thought about. In one particular wedding, the bride and then the grooms families made the entrance, the bride and groom were announced about to enter, and in comes an elderly uncle with a walking stand (true story). Yes stuff happens but with just a little coordination, major gaffs can be avoided.
- Cutting Corners and Cost on Catering
Every Parent and host wants to offer truly amazing food on their son or daughters wedding. However, not every wedding’s food is that great. Why the gap? When you meet with a caterer, you will request certain dishes and possibly do a tasting. Unfortunately, when food is prepared en-mass it is not always to the same level. If you start to negotiate with a caterer, the caterer may cut corners. Eg including less meat in a dish or rather than using boneless meat, just using bony meat which doesn’t sit well with guests. If you are working on a budget, it is better to cut on another area (eg number of guests) rather than on the menu.
- Free for all Food Lines
In a large wedding, there is nothing worst than when finally it is time to eat, everyone is told “dinner is available.” Guests get stuck in long buffet lines. Manage the lines by announcing one table at a time.
- Mixing up Cuisines
Although it is tempting to accommodate guests from different backgrounds, it is better to stick to one theme. Most caterers have one specialty. Imagine going to a restaurant where they serve Afghan, Pakistani, Nepalese and Chinese food? An exaggeration but hope we make the point of having a focus.
- Too many desert choices
Choice is nice, but too much choice actually works against you as a host. We have experienced this at multiple weddings where the hosts have generously offered eg multiple types of cupcakes, mini-deserts etc. Rather than picking just one, not knowing which one they are going to like, guests fill their plates. They end up eating possibly one, wasting the rest, and worst of all leaving no desert for the guests at the tail end of the line. Keep it simple and avoid too many choices within a category. For example cupcakes and fruit is fine as they are two different categories.
- Not Acknowledging Guests and Hosts
It is human nature that we like to be acknowledged. For hosts it is important that as guests walk in they are greeted. Once the reception is in full play it is a nice gesture if the bride and groom walk around the tables and thank the guests. The alternative is for the parents to do it. Similarly there is a lot of work the bride and or grooms family puts into the planning of the wedding. It only behooves us as guests to thank the hosts and recognize somethings you really like about the wedding, eg the decor, food, venue, speeches.
It is not easy bringing our heaven and earth together. Unless you are a scholar or a student of deen, it is sometimes very challenging to connect our faith to every day life. In the last post we covered Retox.
Photo by livnir available under a Creative Commons Attribution-license
In this one we would like to share some of the highlights from The Guru in You: A Personalized Program for Rejuvenating Your Body and Soul by Cameron Alborzian.
It is an amazing book, we do not know the authors faith, but many of the questions he asks and the spiritual path he shares overlap with Islam and the Prophetic way. Below is most of the table of contents, can you make a connection?
- We become attached to the material world. First step towards happiness is intention (niyah)
- The practice of nonviolence, kindness towards ourselves and others.
- The practice of detachment, allowing what nature intends for us.
- Letting go of excess, knowing when enough is enough for the perfect amount.
- Posture, practice, and the pursuit of inner beauty.
Here are some of the highlights that we got from browsing the book.
Questions to ask ourselves
- Do you fill your life with constant chatter and entertainment?
- Am I constantly eating or drinking (even if its soda)?
- Do I constantly watch TV or films?
- Am I always in front of a computer or phone?
- Am I constantly watching everything that passes by on the street?
- Am I constantly listening to music or talking on the phone?
To detox the author says we don’t need products, just drink hot water for several days. Here are some more nuggets.
- With the above examples, when our senses our stimulated our breath goes out of balance.
- Our stimulated senses induce attachments and desire.
- We love our opinions, we love having them. Learn to listen to difference of opinion.
- Detachment. eg when watching a a game, rather than hoping one side wins, just enjoy the game. You will be less drained from the experience.
- Enjoy friends company. You don’t have to fill silent gaps with meaningless chatter. It is good to have silent moments.
- The author shares a great example of attachment. We apply for a job. We see that we have a perfect fit.. We see ourselves in that role. We are attached to it, and then crushed when we don’t get it. Detachment means telling ourselves that experience may not pan out as we would like, another one is around the corner, nature (God) didn’t intend it for us.
- If we are attached to getting an object (maybe a car or whatever) detachment from goods and objects when you don’t get them means there may be a better time to get that object or it may be beneficial to not have it all.
- A great example he share which we can put into practice, is going to a bakery where you love the smell and are tempted to try out the pastries. Instead we go, take in the aroma, but control ourselves. The next time we go again we can up the ante, but each time you are in control. The key takeaway is we don’t need instant physical gratification.
- What happens when we become fearful of not getting something. Fear leads to desperation (not inspiration).
- We need spiritual freedom, a fully realized state, beyond material, mental, and emotional limits.
- Practice non-violence towards self and others. In self talk this means avoiding ‘I’m not smart enough, I won’t ever find success, I’ll never get married.”
- Cultivate sexual energy. The practice of guarding and cultivating our sexual energy and finding that balance of extremes of frustration (not having sex) versus excess.
It is hard to encapsulate a wonderful book like this, bu hopefully it gives you a flavor.