Speaking with R (permission granted to publish this) the other day, we were discussing her presently extremely unbalanced relationship with her man. She, like me, since two months now, has been consuming images and videos of things the human mind and heart were never meant to see. Like all P@lestinians, we are splitting at the seams, placed inside of pressure cookers pretending to be okay. She is taking it out on her relationship, and I was taking it out on my physical body (but this latter has stopped).
She’s been married twice, and the third time is certainly a charm. She’s already had two weddings, and so decided that this time she would marry the Muslim way which requires merely a conversation and understanding of commitment between her and her man.
No wedding. No shared home yet, but they’ll get there. For now, due to trauma in their past relationships, they have taken things at a snail’s pace.
She asked I don’t get it. Three marriages and I feel like I still don’t know what the f*ck I want. How do you know?
But she has precisely what she wants. It’s just that in the pressure cooker of carrying the trauma and grief of P@lestine, she has lost sight and she is pushing him to take on roles that he should not have to. She is forcing him to be only a lamb, when he is both lamb and lion.
I reminded her.
Lion and lamb.
Each woman wants both. I want both. Because I am both. And I am more than your average woman; I occupy these spaces all or nothing, to the full extent of my days and abilities. I am not a little spark; I am a controlled fire, every single day.
Imagine me with an only-lamb? (I’ve never dated one, because I wouldn’t recognise them as a man to date.)
Or an only-lion? (This, the last man I was involved with.)
So what’s the balance?
Men, outside of the home. Tenacious, ambitious, driven, absolute alpha of a man. Confidence in himself, and an ability to diffuse any tense situation, but also capable of throwing a punch if needed.
Men, inside of the home. The primary decision-maker and protector. You cannot have two captains to one ship. If he’s not a clown, let him make the big decisions. If you think he’s a clown, whytf did you marry him, sis?
Also inside of the home? Sex. Sex. Sex. Islam recognizes how critical this is inside of any relationship. If we don’t have sex in three months, we are considered divorced from Islam’s standpoint.
F*ck all of the time, and have foreplay the rest of it. Cuddle and snuggle always; touch each other always.
To my sisters, hand to God leave the lioness outside of your front door. Guard your home, treasure your man by appreciating, encouraging, and trusting him; do not emasculate your man, do not belittle him or harm him. Lift, lift, lift. Elevating him elevates you as equally as belittling him belittles you. Be proud of everything he is, and wear your heart on your sleeve. Especially around other men, elevate him.
If he is not your hero, then why? Are? You? With him?
Men, outside of the home. Kind to strangers, lifting of all who work for and with him, charitable, respectable, with integrity. Open the doors, friend. Help the elderly lady with her groceries. Shovel your elderly widower’s driveway.
Men, inside of the home. Merciful. Kind. Do no harm, and apologise when you have. Be emotionally gentle with her.
That women are to be protected in Islam is not – as this part of the world seems to misinform – a reflection of our weakness, but rather it is an honouring of our softness.
Women, inside and outside of the home, always try to lead with kindness. It might not always work, but your energy should always be in this attempt. Always.
Women, inside of the home. Defer to him, because you married him and so trust him, right?
Also, love him in a way that makes him feel free. (As promised, here is the follow-up piece: The Love of An Open Hand.) I don’t think women understand how important this is to men – they are little boys eternal, seeking the outdoors and their freedom. It is why we love them. They need space, and time with other men where they will not be judged. They are, for all intents and purposes, Braveheart yelling Freedom. Respect one another’s primal needs and you will be golden. There is nothing to fear; what is yours is already in hand, my darling. His freedom does not harm you; in fact, it has nothing to do with you.
Penultimately, do not keep tally of your hurts. Men keep a different score but most forgive fast when their cup is full. But, near all of my female friends tally. It is awful. It is unnecessary drama. Throw the hurt over your shoulder and don’t look back. We will all harm unintentionally; we don’t need to be reminded of the times that we did.
Finally, men are visual. Look good. Dress for him; wear the lingerie, do your nails, line with kohl, and put on a little gloss. Allah increases us in the blessings for which we are grateful, and showing gratitude by way of action is the greatest kind of gratitude in Allah’s domain. (Fellas. Get and keep it the fk together physically. No Cheetos dust on your shirt, look as good as you wish for her to look. Simple.)
Let him come home to peace, and only peace. Your shared home needs to be as gentle as the world outside of it is not.
Lastly, to both men and women inside of the home? Once again, sex. There is a time for being so charged you can barely move clothes aside in your hunger, and then there is a time to roll like molasses for hours. You’ll know which is necessary and when. And frankly, go to bed angry; take it out on one another physically (not violently unless with consent, and a safe word and this is your jam (not mine, but I don’t judge)), and let the connection of sex take you closer to healing.
None of the above should be tracked. This isn’t a competition, and there is no scoreboard. God is abundance; be all of the above in a state of abundance always. Do not subscribe to the belief of scarcity; do not withhold, to punish. Do not withhold, to have the upper hand. Be open to every single moment, fully and completely with only curiosity. Always, do so in the interest of love. Everything, always, love. Be one of the reasons this world is a gentler place for others.
Coming full circle to R, she has swung in extremes from one all-lion, to one all-lamb, and now has finally found the balanced one. She needs this article to remind her of just that (Hi, love!). Her man is a treasure, and she needs to ensure her care for him is placed precisely where it needs to be, so that she might keep this love story which I hope sticks around for the longest time possible. InshAllah.