muslimah-at-sunset2Alhamdulillah at the end of last month I have been married for 10 years. When I try to imagine a woman who has been married for 10 years, I think of someone matronly and responsible, someone serious and sensible. But in reality, although my responsibilities have grown, I don’t feel very different to that girl of 20 who said “I accept” at the nikaah (marriage vows). Ten years have gone by in a blur and so much has changed: pregnancy, children, house moves, job changes, deaths and pilgrimage. I look back at those years and I am amazed at the way time slipped past so quickly. What I have left after those 10 years is what I have learnt from marriage:

1. A marriage has its stages and its ebbs and flows, you can’t maintain the honeymoon period forever, but something as good or better, will replace it. So the first year my feet didn’t touch the ground and the second year we fought often because we were living alone for the first time and getting used to each other. In the following years we worked as a team as our children came into the world and we became more aware of our responsibilities to our wider families. Now at the end of our tenth year, alhamdulillah as our children get older, it feels like we are almost getting to know each other again.

2. Don’t assume what the other is thinking. I have sat there stewing on many occasions thinking my other half is annoyed with me, that he disagrees with something and isn’t saying or thinks badly about me for something I have said or done. On finally asking him, I have found that he is thinking about whether he should change the tires on the car and has no clue on what I am fretting about. I have no idea why we make ourselves suffer in this way.

3. Each day, in every moment we are in, we have the opportunity to forgive and move on. It’s our own choice whether we are willing to let go of our ego and false pride and be big enough to stop apportioning blame or want to hold on to petty things and keep on hurting ourselves and each other.

4. A little bit of kindness and sympathy goes so much further than a pretty face, nice gifts or outings. I realised after a while that a sympathetic word meant so much more to my husband than wearing something pretty. I also know how much a thoughtful word or asking me how I am means when I need it most.

Perhaps after another 10 years I will look back and have a new set of new things that I learned, but who's promised tomorrow.