*After reading the article, make sure you vote in the polls (two open polls right now)*

Also see:  How to Score BIG with Women: a Psychological and Islamic approach for Men

As women, we desire to have a deep emotional bond with our spouse.  We want to be loved and adored.  Our inner core is filled with contentment and happiness when we feel understood and appreciated. Making a wish list of traits we want our husband to have is effortless, but bringing out the best in him takes a lot of nurturing.

We need to nourish our spouse daily with love, support and understanding.    As a therapist, I have seen numerous men who are disappointed in their marriages. Many are frustrated and confused.   Here are some suggestions on improving your marriage.

Men's Top 6 Requests of Their Wives

  1. Be his friend
  2. Show him respect
  3. Fulfill his physical needs
  4. Make him feel desired
  5. Make him feel appreciated
  6. Create variety

Be a Friend

The most important aspect of a marriage is friendship.  When there is friendship, any obstacle can be overcome.  In the Qur'an, Allah refers to a man's wife as his girlfriend in Surah Abasa 80:36 which reveals the type of relationship we need to have with our spouse.

John Gottman, a psychologist who specializes in marriage stability in the States, did a study on married couples and found the one element which determines whether or not couples stay together is friendship. Look at the beautiful examples of Khadija raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and how they showered the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) with love, providing him with true companionship.  Think about your best friend and how he or she became so special in your life.  It probably had a lot to do with the amount of time and effort he or she made to get to know you and spend time with you.  When was the last time you and your spouse had quality time together where the focus was just on having fun and sharing?  An easy way to get started is:

  1. Set a date night with your spouse and stick to it
  2. Share likes, dislikes, dreams etc.

Your friends are people who accept you and make you feel happy.  How accepting are you of your spouse?  Are you always trying to change or nag him?  These behaviors push a man away and doesn't create positive associations to you.  Try to hold off a bit before plunging into a long list of complaints about the kids and house chores right when he arrives.

In order to create or strengthen friendship in marriage, try doing the following:

  1. Listen, listen, listen to him – I mean really listen without being distracted, without making lists in your mind as he talks and without watching T.V. Remember what he shares with you about his work, about his goals, etc.
  2. Share the highlights of the day & be supportive and understanding,
  3. Find out what his area of interests are, read about them and be prepared to discuss,
  4. Always say please and thank you, no matter how long you have been married,
  5. Eat at least 1 meal a day together,
  6. Be forgiving – overlook his mistakes and flaws and train yourself to remember his positive traits ( everyone has some – you just have to focus on them),
  7. Plan activities together (be it traveling together, playing tennis, walking, eating out,  going out for movie nights – anything you both enjoy doing together),
  8. Laugh together – don't take your relationship so seriously all the time.  Couples that can laugh together, stay together,
  9. Have time to cuddle – being in close contact, hugging & caressing melts away the barriers, anger & frustrations.  We all feel better after a nice, big hug,
  10. Say nice things to each other – If you spoke to your friend the way you speak to your spouse would they remain your friend? Be honest with the answer,
  11. Always make up before you sleep, and sleep at the same time.  Don't lead separate lives.

Show Respect

The need for men to be respected is so strong that when they are given ample respect, they flourish like a plant that has just been watered.  When they are deprived of the respect, they wilt and harbor feelings of sadness and resentment.  Many times women put a lot of time and effort in keeping the house clean, taking care of the kids and fulfilling all the “duties”, but because they fall short in showing their husbands respect, the husbands will shut down and not show appreciation for all that she has done.  It is critical to be sensitive towards men and their feelings.  Even though men may not be as expressive, they can and do get hurt and it is much harder for them to recover from hurt feelings.

Here are some ways to show respect:

  1. Always speak with kindness and politeness, regardless of how long you have been married.  Show the same (if not more) graciousness to your husband than you show your guests,
  2. Never shout,  call him names or use profanity,
  3. Don't be sarcastic with sensitive issues – if he has any weaknesses or shortcomings don't crack a joke about it.  Even if he doesn't get mad, he may feel hurt inside,
  4. Listen to his opinion and honor his requests – you will be rewarded in this world with a happy home and in the akhira insha'Allah,
  5. Don't have a power struggle with him.  When women are demanding and aggressive it makes the men be harsh and rigid.  If you show respect for the role that Allah has chosen for him he is more likely to be accommodating,
  6. Show love and respect to his family and be a unifying force.  Don't be known in his family as the person who took him,
  7. Respect his “alone time”, and allow him to unwind,
  8. Ask his opinions and value them.

Fulfill His Physical Needs

Intimacy brings about a whole lot of mixed emotions.  Some sisters are not interested at all, some can never get enough and others seem to use it as a way to manipulate their husbands.  There really needs to be some frank talk about this subject because I have seen many marriages suffer and fall apart due to problems of intimacy.

Sisters, if you withhold sex from your spouse as either a way to get back at him or to control him, you are making a HUGE MISTAKE.  Sex is not meant to be a manipulative tool; rather it is a way to bring a necessary fulfillment to you and your spouse.  I have had therapy sessions with numerous men who are addicted to porn because their wives show no interest in them or in sex.  Men will feel the urge to fulfill their physical needs and if their wife is never available or interested, then some men will be tempted to either get a second wife or pursue haram  (forbidden) avenues.  That is why it's of paramount importance for women to learn how to satisfy their husbands and to be available for them.

Here are some suggestions to improve your intimate relations:

  1. Talk about sex together – the majority of couples have never spoken about it so how can they possibly know what the other person's likes or dislikes are?
  2. Only encourage with loving words when intimate – never criticize or judge,
  3. Never laugh at your spouse when they are vulnerable and baring it all,
  4. Don't put pressure on him to perform – a large majority of men have performance anxiety.  The more you help him relax,  the less stressed he will be, the better he will be able to perform,
  5. Don't make sex about having a baby – it will happen if it's meant to be insha'Allah.  None of this, “Quick, I'm ovulating” business. The more relaxed you both are, the more enjoyable it will be, which will increase the frequency and the likelihood of getting pregnant,
  6. Ask about each other's fantasies and as long as they are halal (permissible), then go for it – be accepting and non-judgmental when hearing each other's fantasies

Your wives are a tilth for you so go to your tilth, Surah Baqara 223. Meaning that you can have sexual relations in any way you want with your spouse as long as it's halal.

  1. Initiate intimacy – don't wait for your spouse to make the first move every time.  Be proactive!
  2. Be engaging during sex – don't make him feel like you are doing him a favor,
  3. Never fake your enjoyment or else he will never learn how to please you,
  4. Communicate during intimacy sharing your likes, dislikes and give gentle directions.

Make Him Feel Appreciated

When a man gets married he enjoys being the center of his wife's life.  He loves all the attention, the special meals and having his wife exclusively to himself.  Once children appear in the picture, everything changes for the man.  Not only is he not center stage – he is not even on stage!   He sees his wife completely absorbed with the new baby and as much as he loves and adores the child, he simply doesn't want to be replaced by him.

There are so many times that men are made to feel neglected.  Whether it's because of the newborn baby, her demanding job or her never ending list of errands and voluntarism, men are being overlooked and pushed aside. Each man is craving his wife's attention.  The woman that knows how to shower her man with attention and appreciation will win his heart.  In my practice, working with couples, I have discovered that most people either have no idea how to show appreciation or they mistakenly show it the way they would like to receive it.

So here are some practical and easy ways to show appreciation to your husband:

  1. Greet him with a hug and a kiss when he arrives home. Men have a need to feel important,
  2. Make him feel that you are glad that he is home- this will create a positive association to being home; therefore he will WANT to spend more time at home,
  3. Get off the phone before he arrives,
  4. Make sure the place is presentable,
  5. Have a sumptuous dinner ready,
  6. Verbalize that you appreciate his hard work and all that he provides,
  7. Be happy – nothing shows appreciation like a content smile,
  8. Be understanding when he has to stay late or has to travel,
  9. Listen to him without multitasking – I know it's hard for us sisters to sit still and just simply listen, but it's so critical to make  a man feel heard,
  10. *LOOK ATTRACTIVE*

You can lounge around in your sweats all day long chillin', but before your hubby gets home take 10 minutes to wear something attractive (depending on what he likes – some prefer jeans and a cute top, others prefer short skirts or dresses – find out what he enjoys) and dab some lipstick and mascara on.

Men are exposed to so many attractive women at work, at school, in the malls, on billboards, magazines and T.V. so in order to strengthen them to lower their gaze they need to have something worthwhile to come home to at night.  You don't have to be a supermodel to look presentable to your husband.  Just spend a few minutes to fix your hair and accentuate your best assets. Keep in mind sisters, that many times when husbands come home from a long day at work they may not immediatly notice your effort to dress up for him, so gently draw his attention to your new dress, haircut or makeup and let him know you did it just for him.

Make Him Feel Desired

When was the last time you gave a compliment to your husband? And I'm not referring to compliments on how well he fixed the leaky faucet. I mean a compliment on his looks or personality that will bring on a genuine smile.  It seems that the more comfortable we are with someone, the less polite and gracious we become.  Does that make any sense?  Each person desires attention and wants to feel attractive.  The need to feel attractive increases as men age, they require more assurance that they are still desirable and worthwhile.  There are two ways to make a man feel attractive: either tell him by giving him a compliment or show him that you are attracted to him.  Here are some ways to show your attraction to your husband:

  1. Take the time to look at him – deep in his eyes and have your eyes lock. There usually isn't enough time to make eye contact and since everyone always has to be careful to lower their gaze in public, here is the chance to stare and be rewarded!
  2. Smile affectionately,
  3. Be generous in giving compliments – it's amazing how a person will light up with kind words.
  4. Be playful, flirt and make him feel like the most attractive person

Create Variety

Variety is always desirable.  We enjoy an array of meals, an assortment of clothes and a selection of entertainment.  This yearning for variety can be fulfilled even in marriage.

Here are some simple measures you can take to add a little zest and variety to yourself.

  1. Get different hairstyles and change the shade of your hair color – make sure it is something he will like.  Don't go for shocking – always choose styles and colors that suit you the best.  Don't all of sudden choose jet black if you are blonde for the sake of creating variety – just go a few shades darker or lighter or get highlights.
  2. Have a nice wardrobe for the house.  ”What, dress up at home?” YES!  You don't need to be all decked out, but you need to have casual, nice clothes for around the house.  Don't just hang out in sweats, pajamas or tacky clothes at home and look your best when you go out.
  3. Get monthly maintenance at the salon.  You know the drill: waxing, bleaching, trimming.
    Don't just wait for a lady's get-together or wedding to get these things done.  Make him feel valued by looking well groomed at home for him.
  4. Invest in nice lingerie – it's not just for the honeymoon.  If you want your honeymoon to last a lifetime have a selection of lingerie that you wear regularly.  Select items that he would enjoy. Make sure that it looks flattering on you.  Not everything that is seductive will look flattering so choose ones that enhance your best features.  The secret is to look hot at home!
  5. Try to create variety by getting intimate in different rooms (make sure you will not be unpleasantly surprised by a little visitor), alter the time of day that you get intimate (it doesn't always have to be in the evenings) and try to be a little adventurous.
  6. From time to time, go for an overnight stay anywhere without the kids- you will be amazed how a different setting will improve your love life.

As you strive to create a strong bond with your husband by being a true friend, you will become closer and more intimate.  This intimacy will lead to a more satisfying and relaxed sexual relationship. With an ego that is showered with compliments, attention and appreciation, men will naturally feel more attractive and desired.  As they start feeling debonair, they will be more intrigued by you and your versatility.  You will create the variety which will break the monotony and have sparks flying. By investing the necessary time and effort into your marriage, you will be pleasantly rewarded with a more satisfied spouse and you will WIN HIS HEART!

246 Responses

  1. Ayesha

    valuable tips!
    another side tip to go with the “look attractive”….
    >perfume yourselves…smell nice and elegant!!(ofcource only in the presence of your mahram)

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    • Haleh

      Alhamdulillah, glad you liked! Good tip to put on perfume.
      Let’s hear tips from everyone- come on sisters share your secrets!

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  2. BM

    I believe mothers should also read this. Mothers also need to be careful about the way they treat their sons. I have an overprotective mom, I obey her every command, yet it never happened that she ever respected a single decision made by me. It enormously hurts. So, mothers! If you want your son to flourish into a confident personality, learn to appreciate them, compliment them and always tell them that they can do it.

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      • Haleh

        You bring up an excellent point! Mothers are responsible to teach their sons how to be a good husband by not only teaching confidence, but by encouraging open communication, and teaching gentleness. A mother who does this will have a daughter- in-law that will pray for her. Imagine the reward you could acquire!

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      • Haleh

        I also want to add that I have 2 boys ages 8 and 11 and I am constantly teaching them what they should do to take care of their wives and how to make them happy. I tell them that they need to give lots of compliments, be understanding and surprise her with acts of thoughtfulness.

        I also tell my 5 year old daughter how she needs to prepare for her husband and how she will be the lady of the house.

        It’s never too early to start training our kids to have characteristics that will help them to have a more harmonious and happy life in their marriage.

        It’s critical that we start praying for their future spouse from now because it will have such a grave impact on their lives.

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      • sabirah

        do you mean age 8 and 11 and 5? I think that’s a bit early indeed. it’s maybe not wrong to mention how married life is at that age, but constantly teaching is a bit too much for them?

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      • Kamilah

        I like the idea of teaching young, maybe not directly but definitely by giving chores and setting example. children should know what is expected of them and look forward to their life ahead. When we stay at hotel (with a tv, since I don’t have it at home) I watch the Duggars on TLC and I am always so impressed how well trained all of her 19 children are. The oldest son married young and was prepped well to be a good Christian husband. This is their story: http://www.ja20.com/ourstory.html

        They follow many similar laws as the Muslims, and get just about the same criticism. One funny thing that they practice is teaching the young boys to lower their gaze by saying “Nike” when an immodestly dressed female approaches, then the boys will look at their tennis shoe. A great way to reinforce self control.

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    • SA

      I will be using some of the advise on my brother. He never likes to be home with the family maybe its because of how my mom and I are treating him.

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  3. Kamilah

    Some of these things are pretty superficial and buy into American Consumerism, I would hate to think if Khadijah had to do all these things to keep our Blessed Rasool’s attention.

    Otherwise a great article and much needed.

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      • Kamilah

        Walaikum Salaam waRamatulahi wa Barakatuhu Sister,
        I would say pretty much the whole Create Variety section. But that is not the meat of the article, the first 5 sections are great!

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      • Umm Reem

        true but let’s not forget that we dont’ know the exact details of their intimacy either…perhaps she did all that she knew would have pleased her husband in bed.

        having said that, keep in mind that the sexuality and vulgarity in our times is at its rise…we are the products of our environment, our minds and actions are affected by what he see/hear…so what happens in intimacy is also a reflection of our environment

        these tips are very helpful not only for the husband but even for the wife herself. That is one of the major problems in our muslim marriages that many wives do not actively and excitingly participate in intimacy.

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      • a tired mom

        Speaking only for myself, pre-children our sex life was fine. He has high needs but I could deal with it.

        After children no concessions were made. If a woman starts her day at 5am – spends the whole day cleaning, cooking, nurturing, dealing with messy demanding children and spouse. Finally, at 9pm the children are asleep and your dearest husband expects a 15 minute turn around to become super sexy vixen to rock his world not once, but twice a night every single day of the week. I know that I am not the only woman for whom sex becomes another item on the to do list along with laundry and taking out the trash.

        Men don’t get that women need time to feel sexy and also women need time to themselves to rejuvenate. For men who use this fatigue on the part of their women to claim they should get another wife – perhaps they should see thier role beyond working 8 hours a day. I work double that if not more every day of my life. Of course, I will be inclined to become resentful if my spouse thinks his duty is solely to work 8 hours a day and that is all.

        So perhaps this is one reason wives don’t live up to hubby’s sexual aspirtions.

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    • africana

      salams,

      i agree with you khadijah,somewhat.

      i hate to see women leting themselves go without a good reason- i honestly feel sorry for the men to whom they are married… BUT i don’t think it’s appropriate for mothers to dress in short skirts in front of their children as it would be to uncover the awrah in front of one not permitted to view it.

      some men, also, will not allow heir wives to purchase makeup, accesories.

      i think more than anything tidiness, remaining in a state of wudu, the prayer itself should be viewed as beauty essential, removing the necessary hair, as per hadiths, the use of henna.

      a good relationship should in no way be dependent on the acquisition on victorias secret and comfort inn.

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      • ukhti

        So a woman expects a man to stay loyal to her for 30, 40 , 50 years. To work to provide for her and any children a home, healthcare, clothing, vehicles. All while working a job that he may hate, but he knows has to take of his family. He is also supposed to love his wife even after she has kids and her looks fade and the weight comes on. But he is not supposed to look at other women, complain. And you as a wife can’t just make his life a little better by trying to be attractive to him, feeding him good food(within your budget) making him feel taking care of. Ok….

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      • africana

        let’s not allow porn culture to dictate how we, ss muslims act/ behave/what we wear.
        seriously, if your husbands love lies a lady on a billboard, no amount of dabbing on lipstick is going to help the situation.

        keep clean, keep tidy, look pleasing ‘cos it’s the right thing to do and most of all appreciate and value your beauty, as per islam, not to compete with an airbrushed female chauvinist on a billboard.

        in other words, “don’t sell out”.

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      • Kamilah

        Thank you Africana, you articulated the last part very well. My husband and I will celebrate our 12 year anniversary this weekend, InshaAllah. . . and he is happy with me.

        And I am happy with him, he’s my superhero! But a big part of it, is we don’t watch tv or movies too much. So we don’t have all that extra stimulant or a need to compete. We don’t play into overconsumption of stuff, I rather my money go to travel, helping others, and investing in my kids future.

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      • Mari

        You know I don’t think it’s about competing with what’s on the billboard…it’s about… winning your husband’s heart! It’s not about what is ok or not ok with you because your husband may or may not agree with you based on his desires or needs. It’s about what will help your husband strengthen his attraction to you instead of the women at work, for example… it’s about how to help him lower his gaze and stay away from Haraam.

        So if you’re not a big fan of makeup or nice lingerie, what if that’s what your husband likes?

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      • africana

        i’m sorry that i referred to you as khadijah by mistake.

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      • Kamilah

        @ Arif,

        My husband said the same thing.
        He said he questions the sexual orientation of a man who wants his wife to wear makeup like a drag queen and has the body of teenage boy. I am not as vulgar as my husband, that is a man’s point of view commenting on Western society in general . . .

        I think some of the Sisters made some excellent points, husbands should please their wives and wives should please their husbands.
        However, not by damaging ourselves in the long run. I worry about the health of tired mom, if something was to happen to her, her husband would loose in the long run and so will her kids. I worry about women and cancer, we still do not have the answers to cancer . . . and the effects of makeup, bleach, perms, and all the toxins we deliberately put into our skin. And why do most of these women who wear all of this, by age 40 look like they are 60. Part of loving your husband is loving yourself, being wise to beautify yourself. I am a proponent that natural is best . . .

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      • NAS

        beauty changes with the time sister. I doubt any muslim guy that lives in the west (AKA america) is gonna be like, “oh my wife is so beautiful look at her henna.”

        Today, the idea of what is beautiful is different, and it’s not based on “porn culture,” it’s based on american culture (where we live btw…not in villages in the middle east…btw major cities in the middle east have similar beauty standards that conform with american culture). We need to be realistic of what is beautiful in mens eyes today, otherwise, we will be delusional and our men will not be attracted to us.

        There is no shuyukh, even of the most strict opinion that say there is anything wrong with wearing makeup, short skirts, looking like an american (or even a big city middle easterner) in front of your husband when NO ONE is around. In fact, most say this is fard to look beautiful (by his definition), and you get good deeds for doing so.

        If your case is different, then just to let you know, you are the exception. Let’s give our sisters proper advice that will help there marriage, it seems you are making some social argument about how are society has changed.

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      • africana

        well, if we’re talking about western ideals of beauty, then we are talking tall, blonde haired and blued eyed ladies, then. how are those of us who don’t fit that mould going to achieve that look?

        and , there’s a many a lady, of such flaxen hue, who has suffered the ignominy of being cheated on by her husband, is there not? just look at tiger wood’s missus.

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      • chemaatah

        I agree with a lot of these points, but on the other end of the spectrum there are a lot of women out there doing a lot crazy stuff that the fashion world, etc. dictates they must do in order to be seen as attractive. Women and girls starve themselves, develop deeply rooted mental illnesses related to food, mutilate themselves through plastic surgery–all because they’ve somehow been persuaded that this is what men want, and this is what they have to look like in order to be physically attractive, and so they therefore must do it.

        I know you are not condoning this, but the pendulum has swung really far in this direction, and it’s increasingly difficult for women to get beyond it, and just be allowed to look like normal women, and have that be accepted. There has to be a proper balance. Look your best, and be healthy and groomed, but at the same time don’t sell out to the idea that you have to be 6 feet tall and 110 lbs, starving yourself, in order for your husband to find you attractive. Because that’s utterly ridiculous, and abusive, and no man has any right whatsoever to hold that over a woman. And it’s complete rubbish to believe that if you don’t somehow meet that standard, then it’s completely inevitable that he’s going to want to be with other women, and it’s all his wife’s fault for being such a stupid, ignorant cow. At least that’s what I got from what some of these ladies were saying.

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      • chemaatah

        I don’t think NAS is saying that women have to conform to “tall, blonde haired and blue eyed ladies” in order to be seen as beautiful in the US or Europe, etc. There are plenty of beautiful women around who don’t look like that at all. But it is ok to go beyond the traditional “kohl and henna” looks common in the east. It’s ok to wear M.A.C. glitter eyeshadow and purple lipstick at home if you and your husband fancy that sort of thing, or wear the newest Gucci parfum or cologne instead of traditional Arabian oud or something if you’re not into those kinds of scents.

        I think your last point about Tiger Woods’ wife is really important though. Physical appearances and other factors are not limits to who will or will not be unfaithful to their spouse, and who will have loving, faithful marriages. There is soooo much more going on there.

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      • Arif

        I am surprised on how a muslim man can subscribe such definition of beauty. I am a guy and I would never want my wife to behave in the ways you mentioned. In fact, this will be a turn off for me … So, Sisters.. please don’t jump into such behavior mindlessly..

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      • a sis

        @Kamilah,

        I’m kinda hurt by the teenage boy body comment. I know a lot of these comments are based on sisters ‘letting themselves go’ but we should also remember that some sisters naturally have the ‘teenage boy’ body, it’s in their genes. These sisters also go through self-esteem issues because they are thin and do not have the ‘curves’ that men look for. So i’m sure they would be more than happy to marry someone who is fine with their body.

        I know you did not mean to put these sisters down but I just wanted to simply remind you that the skinny girls don’t have it easy either.

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      • Kamilah

        Salaams a Sis.

        I totally agree with you. I wasn’t a size 1, but I was size 3 when we married and it wasn’t until after kids that I gained a body that I love.

        I don’t agree with my husband jokes as I mentioned above, it was definitely a vulgar guy joke. However, I don’t think he was talking about women who are naturally built like that. . . It was more geared to husbands who want their wives to unnaturally do things to make their bodies like that, like starving themselves, diet, have other women carry their baby, etc, etc.

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      • NAS

        I don’t think anyone, including the author, is inferring to conform to western “ideals.” The author even states, “You don’t have to be a supermodel to look presentable to your husband.” Furthermore, I believe that western ideals don’t fit the description you gave above, but that argument is for a different time.

        The point that I believe is trying to be made is to look good the way your husband believes you will look good and at the same time make sure that look is flattering to your own personal look. The reality is the majority of attractive americans, don’t conform to western “ideals” either, but there is a certain way to look attractive regardless of your descent. This means hair kept/styled, skin that appears to be flawless (if you are not naturally given this, then foundation, concealer, etc.), color in the face (may it be through a little blush..lipstick), some eye definition (mascara/eyeliner). A women should attempt to control her weight and be toned, so her body type is the way it should be (btw, it’s not about being thin, but no excess fat; this is the american standard, not ideal, but the standard that is conformed to by most american women), dressed in cute clothes.

        This is simply the american standard, if followed, usually this will result in a woman looking attractive, and obviously amend it to your husband’s preferences. Keep in mind majority of american women dress and look this way, therefore, by default, this is what our muslim men are used to seeing. Muslim men aren’t used to interacting with “ideal” western beauty, but with these basic standards. Following the advice in the article, will bring women closer to looking attractive in their husband’s eyes.

        I think sometimes we forget that it’s about what our husband’s desire, not what we believe is beautiful.

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      • africana

        the points made in the article are insulting. marriage, as long as your husband is not a pathological narcissist, is a simple matter of doing as you would be done by. do all that you can. emapthisise, be merciful but (at least in my view) don’t compromise your principles.

        what if we would prefer to stay in a state of wudu? what if we have objections to make-up on the basis that it distorts our sense of self and encourages a view of ourselves as inadequate? what if we prefere not to throw our money into the coffers of trhose enamoured of the israeli kllling machine?

        and if western beauty ideals required something else of us, would we acede to that, too?

        i hear that in lebanon nose jobs are very on trend, these days. sadly.

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      • Haleh

        It’s all about moderation – we can take care of our bodies, eat right and look good without becoming obsessed with beauty. It’s about being your very best – pushing yourself and aspiring to be a complete woman in every aspect.

        I have seen both extremes in my practice. There are some sisters that have completely let themselves go because they have (very admirably) given up many vices and now their only indulgence is eating. They wear the elastic waistband, put on the jilbab and forget completely about their wt. or looks. My motto is “SAY NO TO ELASTIC WAISTBAND!” because you don’t feel it when you gain weight.

        I have also seen individuals who are tiny – a size 0 and starving themselves. I do need to point out that anorexia is a psycological disorder and it has to do with body dysmorphia. It is actually one the most challenging disorders to help overcome.

        If we focus on being moderate about taking care of oursleves we will not fall into either one of these extremes insha’Allah.

        Haleh

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      • oum

        I agree with looking natural, being clean & tidy, and smelling good when he’s at home. We muslim living and working in the USA have our hands full with waking up at Fajr and sleeping late after tidying up our homes. Alot of Arab women, especially living in the Gulf, have MANY maids/servants, and therefore have the LUXURY of looking good all the time. Furthermore, it is a luxury if one has the money and the time to buy makeup (poison for our skin), hair dye (another carcinogenic) and lingerie. Alot of women living in the Mid East don’t know what “hard work is” or what it means to “work hard.” We are striving here in America with our deen, our families, raising the youngin’s, etc… Many of us can’t go to the salon b/c that money that could be spent on buying milk for our babies. So basically this article does NOT give practicle advice to the modern day muslimah living in the west.

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      • Um Mariam

        Asalamu alaikum,

        I fully appreciate that life in the West is different to life in the Middle East as I have lived in both environments. I spent most of my life in the UK.
        It is no different in the M.E. in that we have to wake up to pray fajr and send our kids to school and cook and clean. Yes, some people do have live in maids, which are actually very expensive and a huge responsibilty islamically.
        But we also go to bed late as the work hours are different due to midday break. I have to wait up late for my husband to come back from work even though I have been up with the children since fajr. And then he needs to eat dinner and we chat and then bedtime for me is around 11+pm. Take from that if you will time for intimacy and then time for ghusul and then kids/baby waking me up at night and you don’t get much rest at all.

        Alot of arab women DO know what hard work is and we too strive with our deen, families and young ones. Societies all over the world (unfortunatley so) are becoming more Westernised and shaytaan is everywhere!
        Just being Arab does not make you rich or mean you have the luxuries of maids or time to spend in the beauty salon.

        Being a mum and raising your kids islamically is a hard job anywhere in the world. May Allah help all muslim mothers and fathers and bring husbands and wives hearts together. Ameen.

        I just wanted to clarify that we as muslim sisters should have support for each other. We should look at those less fortunate than us and say Alhamdulilah, not compare ourselves to those who have more. Otherwise you will never be happy as there is always someone seemingly better off than you.

        Personally, I enjoyed the article and each woman is intelligent enough to take from it what she needs. If your husband would like you to wear make up then why not? Mine doesn’t and it’s a blessing. I don’t like to put it on just to take it off moments later for wudu :op

        wa salaam,
        um Mariam

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      • Khadijah

        MashAllah, I enjoyed your post dear ukhti Oum. You made some very valid points. May Allah bless you and all sisters striving to please Allah S.W.T. and be good wives and mothers. It’s so important that both husband and wife feel appreciated, loved and respected.

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      • Erica

        Good morning,
        A very interesting discussion.
        Since one year I am involved with Islam. Me too I struggle, being western, being raised here, to deal with all these issues at the same time. I wake up at night to do the first morning prayer at 4.20 am, then sometimes cannot get back sleeping, because I am right awake, but I am very content that I do this. Spiritually I feel very good. Fysically I am doing not so good lately. I am 50 years old, paint my hair since some years, and have developed a very severe allergy to hair dye, so that means that I am not allowed to paint my hair anymore, with the result that gray hair is coming through slowly, slowly, and this will increase over the next year. I have also lived in the Middle-East, and yes many muslim women there look beautiful, because yes, they have maids etc etc and don’t have to do the hard work that muslim and also non-muslim women have to do in Europe or the US. Besides that it is much harder being a muslim here, because we are a minority. I come in contact with muslim men even that compromise enormously, telling me to date men, to have fun in life, because I only live once, while I try to keep a straight path, and prepare myself for a solid, loving true relationship, not based on “just having fun because we live only once”. So, I am different, and people find that very hard to understand. I feel insecure sometimes, because of all this, yes, it would be the easy way out to ‘just have some fun” with a men, and not go by the islam, but I choose not to even so. To keep being sane and normal, and self appreciative, yes, I think we should not be lured into competition with the billboards, because we cannot be all Naomi Campbell, or Claudia Schiffer ! The older we get, the more defects we get, we are not going to look any better, but worse, and that is reality !! If men are not supportive and loving for who we are, with our defects, they are not worth us. There is something that is called wisdom and character, and love, true friendship and loyalty that goes beyond the terrible superficiality of this world !! That should make the difference between a muslim and a non muslim. If a man does not have the character to remain faithful to his wife, because his colleagues are so pretty, well, sorry, what kind of man is that. That to me is not a man !!! Of course we should take care of ourselves, also for our own sake, and love ourself. But not out of fear we loose a man. It is a thing that should come natural to a woman, taking care of yourself, looking as good as you can because we are Gods’ creation. If you look at it like this, you won’t be living in fear for your spouse’s possibile unfaithfullness, because you are rooted in God, that is where our security should derive from. Otherwise there is no sense being a muslim in my opinion, because we would be just the same as non muslims. The islam is supposed to give something extra to our lifes, and that is called inner strength !!
        Hope this is useful for people.
        Have a wonderful day everyone,
        Erica

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      • Umm Zayn

        Where did the author say to wear short skirts in front of your children? Obviously if you are living with anyone other than your husband [kids, inlaws, others etc], then even in your attempts to dress nice, your awrah must be covered. But the bedroom is your bedroom and what you chose to wear in your place and time of privacy is between you and your husband. Victoria’s Secret and Comfort Inn alone cant fix a broken marriage, but the author is offering a variety suggestions that can help keep your marriage healthy and happy. Take what you find good and beneficial. Remember there are also hadith of Aisha beautyfying herself for her husband -Rasul Allah- by tying a beautiful scarf and wearing perfume. The key is to know your spouse, know what pleases them and do your best

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      • Haleh

        Dear Tired Mom,
        I feel for you. We’ve all been there….cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, making dinner. It is a very demanding schedule and when you are exhausted it’s hard to even think about intimacy.

        I suggest you get a helping hand. Either get your family members to pitch in for a couple of hours a week or take turns with your friends to take care of the kids while one of you takes a break. It is so essential for moms to take care of themselves so that they can be a more patient and effective mom. Use that time to take a nap, exercise, read a book or simply veg – whatever it takes to rejuvinate.

        I hope you can find a system that will help you in your demanding schedule. By the way, if your not exaggerating about getting intimate 2X each night then it seems excessive. Maybe your husband can help you so you have the chance to shower, relax and then be more responsive.

        Haleh

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      • Brian

        I agree. Your husband ought to pitch in and help out. Otherwise he’s simply being selfish.

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      • a tired mom

        Salaaam Haleh,

        The libido is no exagerration and in the early days I could keep up. But you listed 10 points I think that create a lessened interest in sex from women and in my 5 yr marriage I hit 7/10 of them. From the early years when he hd a huge amount of stress that made him angry and critical – I call it abuse – he calls it being too stressed out. From there to starting to have sex too soon after C-sections which was painful and he didn’t listen to me becuase he didn’t want to wait and so on. It is since the recovery from the first child – sex is a to do for me. The mutual respect was no longer there and I try to forgive and move on but it is hard.

        So there are reasons. We do talk about it, and go back and forth. He laughed and laughed when I told him Americans who have sex 3-4 times a week consider that healthy. It seems like so much of his manliness is tied up in having sex often. Maybe a cultual thing. But I have lobbied for a night where he puts the kids to bed, so I can soak my feet or other treatment. Things like that. We still struggle with it. Also, as someone else mentioned not everyone is 20 and rich. We are both in our 30′s living on student stipend. When school is finished for him, the children will be in school and insh’Allah it will be better and have more resources.

        I just get so frustrated when suggested I should shut up and work harder (you did not say this I know)- it isn’t about my needs – if I take care of him he will reciprocate. Unfortunately for some, they will just take. Thank you though for responding.

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      • africana

        i agree with brian that your husband should lend a hand, although i know that with some characters, especially those given to throwing the blame on others rather than at themselves, this is easier said than done.

        when dealing at close quarters those with low levels of empathy you really have to look out for yourself. don’t expect them to be merciful or intuitive, so if you need a hand (as you so clearly do), ask for it.

        perhaps emphasise that you can’t be everything to everyone and that if his physical needs are his top priority then he has to acccept either a little less in other departments (like cooking /cleaning) or pull his weight.

        In sha Allah, he will mellow with time and things will improve.

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      • A Brother

        May b ur husband physical needs r different… There r some men for whom once a week in good & for some once a months is good. And there r some with high libodo who need to sex everyday… it’s not showing who’s the man but his biology.

        Most ppl in the community blame for being selfish but he has needs too & he wants to fufull them the halaal way. While he didn’t want a divorce, that was the only way around it.

        One of my friend recently got divorced bcoz his needs were not being met, they were getting intimate every couple of months and he asked his wife of he can get a 2nd wife if she doesn’t like getting intimate. Well the answer was negative & he didn’t want to live rest of his life being a celibate after all he’s only 24.

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    • Khadijah

      These seem to be mainly fashion tips and advice to keep your man’s eyes on you and don’t seem Islamically based at all to me. How unfortunate! I can almost hear “I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world” ringing in my head — eek!

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  4. kishwar

    a nice article…well written …enjoyed it!!!
    just that i dont agree with that …….going together planning for movie nights.!!!

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      • chemaatah

        So don’t go to a movie then. Do something else. “be it traveling together, playing tennis, walking, eating out, going out for movie nights – anything you both enjoy doing together)” The author pretty much covered it all, already. And it’s pretty obvious a discussion on cinema is not the author’s intent or objective in writing the article. What purpose is trying to be served mentioning this here, anyways? Just out of curiosity.

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  5. ukhti

    Thank you Sister Haleh!!! Wish you were still here in TX! Great job!!! I really need to print these out as reminders. We Muslim women DO NOT APPRECIATE our husbands, men! I hear complaints constantly, we look at taking care of them as a chore or burden. Its not and we need to be reminded of that.

    Sis. Kamilah, you are wrong about the variety section. Read some books about how men really are, not how feminists want you to believe they are. Men like variety, its why its hard for them to not look at other women. If we realize that and ha ve variety at home, their attention will be at home. Its doesn’t have to be expensive, these are things you can do with home cooking and shopping at the discount store. So I don’t see you point.

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    • Kamilah

      AsSalaamu Alaikum Ukhti,
      Would you talk to me like this in person? I hope not, we can disagree, I see many who disagree but we should remember our adab, especially behind the safety of cyber space, hmmm.

      I didn’t really want this to be a back and forth, or to take away from the sisters article. Alhumdulilah, I am grateful she addressed a much needed topic. I am not a feminist and I speak up against feminism, as it destroys our relationships and our family. You may add me as a friend on facebook: Kamilah Munirah Sayyidi to verify this. I believe humans, both men and women like different visual stimulants. We are a people of beauty and it is Sunnah to beautify yourself for your spouse. So my issue was not with variety, but the “Superficial and Over-consumerism” part of American culture. Americans culture does not have the monopoly on relationships, actually the divorce, fornication, adultery, & STD’s statistics will show you the opposite. Muslim American divorce statistics are becoming comparable. That is why this article is important, but also why I am concern about the emphasis on consumerism in the 6th point.

      The reality is if a man is going to lower his gaze, he is going to do it out of obedience to his Lord. A man could have a beautiful wife at home, such as the case of Tiger Woods, and still do what he is going to do if he does not live by a higher moral standard. As Muslim we should set the example for the West, not follow in their bad habits, i.e. Maher Zain’s song: Awaken.

      My concern is how far will we go to keep up with the American standard of beauty. Do we dye our hair blond and destroy our naturally beautiful black hair against the author’s advise. Once the years of age and/or makeup takes its affect to our skin, do we copy the rest of Americans to get botox, liposuction, or some other form of plastic surgery. Do we wear color contacts or use harmful bleach on our skin? How much money are we spending on lingerie that stays on a good 30 seconds? Or by 45 do we settle on that we can no longer fit this standard of beauty and allow him to take on a younger wife?
      The Sunnah is that a man marries for many reasons, and piety is the best because it last beyond beauty and the Sunnah is applicable for all times.

      However, this is just my concern, please do whatever is necessary to keep your marriage a happy and successful one, habibti.

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      • africana

        assalamu alaikum,

        i didn’t want this to be a back and forth either. i thought we both madfe reasonable points that anyone would appreciate so i’ve been somewhat sucked into this debate.

        at the risk of sounding like one of those dreadful blog cheerleaders, i would like to comend you, kamilah, on the above comment. like the comment about polygamy being the obvious next step n this comtinuum.

        out of interest, does the writer of the article have chilren herself? some of her recommendations are, to me, quite suggestive of class privilege as are many of the comments…in fact i wonder how many of the people leaving comments on here are actually married. i get the impression that many of you are fairly young, say, early 20′s , unmarried and in the upper middle class bracket. i could be wrong, of course.

        for example, the article assumes that readers have homes that comprise multiple rooms, that we have supportive family on hand to take care of the children whilst we are ensconsed at our overnight stays or on our date nights (more like deglet nour).

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      • Haleh

        Assalamo alaikom sisters,
        It’s great to hear from you all! To answer your question I’m 39, I have been married for over 15 years alhamdulillah and have 3 masha’Allah precious kids ages 5,8 and 11. Once we got married we were away from family and had to manage everything on our own.

        What I am trying to emphasize is that we have to make our relationship a priority. When it is, then you can find a way. I suggested to another sister that friends can help each other out and take turns taking care of the kids to make date night possible. We can come up with a 100 excuses, but who will take the challenge to implement those things that will benefit her marriage?

        You don’t have to have a huge budget to look good and I never mentioned any brand names. Just simply find out what your husband enjoys seeing you in and do it. Many times women are more interested in what’s practical or comfortable. A little effort goes a long way.

        Haleh

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      • Umm Reem

        >”You don’t have to have a huge budget to look good and I never mentioned any brand names. ”

        just to give a suggestion to the sisters who maybe looking for one, a lot of VS style lingerie and other nice clothes can be found at Ross, Marshall’s, and TJ max for very cheap prices…

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      • ukhti

        I apologize if I sounded rude, Internet and all that. But yes I would say the same thing in person. I just wanted to touch on your criticism which seems to have been dealt with. The issue is do what is pleasing to your husband. Just because some women are crunchy, granola types does not mean all Muslim women are. They should not feel guilty for doing what is pleasing to THEIR husbands. So yes if your man wants you to wear contacts or likes when you use fair and lovely. Then do it. (fyi- skin bleaching is not really that harmful if you don’t have tainted products) These are things that should be sorted out before you marry.

        I just don’t like how judgmental some Muslim women are. Their advice can actually lead to disrupting another woman’s marriage. Lots of women like to look cute for their man and should not feel guilty at all about it. And its not Western, women wanting to be beautiful has existed in all cultures for thousands of years. If anything Western women are more masculine and less into the feminine arts than women in the east.

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      • someone

        Salamu Aleikum,
        Sister I am very offended by your encouragement to use fair & lovely if your husband ask for it. The existence of such products have such a historical negativity to it, that we don’t even realize how harmful and I`m talking psychologically, historically and sociologically. I feel like those creams are up there with surgical alterations. I`m in the process of writing a book, and I`m currently doing the research, and such line of thinking really urks me especially coming from muslims.

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      • ukhti

        Look I didn’t invent skin lightning, it has existed for hundreds of years, maybe not through corporations but there are many folk remedies for evening and lightning skin. And as a person who was happy with her dark skin until hyper pigmentation set in, I am glad there are products on the market to let me get back to my even skin tone. I am offended you don’t allow for individual women to make their own choices. And yes I stand by that comment. For small things, do what you husband likes.

        I’m curious about all the criticism. I just said that I love this article. The overwhelming majority of young Muslims follow current trends in clothes and makeup. If they cant wear it in front of non-mahrams, whats wrong with doing it in front of your husbands, IF he likes it. Am I saying something controversial?

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      • africana

        yes, deeply disturbing. what sort of a message does it send out to our dark skinned children if mothers are complying with idiotic requests to lighten their God given skin colour?

        not everything that went on in the past was pure and wholesome.skin lightening may have gone on for thousands of years and i would suggest that it was bad, then and it’s even worse to do so now, given the back drop against which it occurs.

        most women who use fair and lovely use it for whitening purposes not to even out hyper-pigmentation. of course, it’s marketed as being for the purpose of even out skin tone, however, it evens out the lighter patches rather than blending in the darker patches and carries the implication that one shade of skin is preferrable to the other.

        Just say NO to fair and lovely!

        besides, given the preference for staying in wudu, applying these creams and potions and then taking them off and re-applying them post-wudu is one mammoth task, if i may so.

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      • Haleh

        You have clearly misunderstood what I said – maybe I should have specified that I ONLY meant bleaching the hair on the arms NEVER the skin. I would not condone lightening the skin color because I believe that beauty comes in different sizes, shapes and color. I honestly didnt even know that the average person could lighten their skin color.No one needs to conform to a certain type of beauty.

        There is no need to become offended when suggestions are given on improving your marriage. I’m encouraging women to take care of themselves. You can take the suggestions that are beneficial and discard anything that doesn’t apply to you. As a professional I think that a person who is so easily stirred up has many unresolved issues and I recommend to overcome them because their is a lot of bitterness I sense which I am sure is affecting many of your relationships and making you a very unhappy person.

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      • chemaatah

        Salaam and thank you Haleh. I’m sorry that there are always going to be people out there looking to argue purely for the sake of arguing. I liked your article, and appreciated its straightforwardness and commonsensical approach in the tips and suggestions you provided. I’m married, very happy in my marriage, and appreciated the ideas you gave for maintaining happiness.

        Somewhere along the way it became a platform for certain people to make mountains out of molehills though. Seeking assurances from one’s husband does not mean a woman is insecure. Nor do women who choose to wear cosmetics because they like how they look in cosmetics, and their husbands like how they look in cosmetics mean they are somehow responsible for civil war in the Congo, or narco-terrorism in Mexico or the lack of worker’s rights in Mexico or anywhere else. Woman who make conscious choices to wear cosmetics, etc because they honestly like to, and want to are not sellouts. They’re making choices that are just as valid as the choice of women who decide not to wear them. To the majority of readers, common sense would dictate that if you don’t want to wear makeup, ignore that part of the article because it doesn’t apply to you and your values. There’s plenty more to be found in the article to reap benefit from. That’s what made it such a good article, it didn’t focus on just a few areas, it was wide ranging. The “emphasis” that some people claim was placed on physical appearance simply doesn’t exist. They’re projecting their hangups onto the article, and even the author, but the reality is she covered a lot of different issues couples might deal with in marriage. She talked about lots of different fun and activities couples can do together, but then some people just read it and got all tweaked out that she mentioned going out to a movie. This happens over and over with these kinds of articles. So many commentators can’t see the forest for the trees.

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      • Muslimah

        I totally agree with you!!! if the man finds dark(er) skin unattractive, he shouldn’t have married her in the first place! He should’ve married a lighter-skinned woman :)

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      • Erica

        That is true too. It is absolutely not western to look good, it is all over the world, and especially in the ancient arab culture. It is very good to look after your looks. But it should go hand in hand with the inner qualities. There should be a right balance. It is wonderful to feel and look feminine.If you feel good on the inside, spiritually too, it reflects on the outside too, happyness, contentment, serenity, you can put on tons of make-up but if you are not feeling good inside it does not help. If you feel right spiritually you will automatically look good too.

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  6. Sarah

    I agree with the points mentioned in the article!… very well written!… JazakiAllahu-Khairan!
    In the the times we live in today it is essentail that we stay on top of our game!
    all the tips were very awesome :)
    I think we sisters need to share our secrets on how to add variety and spice into our marriage, so we may learn and benefit from each other InshaAllah!

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  7. Nana

    Amazing article. Im glad that we finally have someone writing about, and addressing this issue. Thank you Haleh Banani.

    I am struggling to understand what would make a woman not want to be intimate with her husband. What would make her not want to naturally be his friend, respect him, and attract him? I do not mean she should remain in a honeymoon/starry-eyed phase for the rest of her life. I understand life is more than that, and is filled with other issues like children, in-laws, finances, etc. But just a general, overall feeling to want to be intimate with him. I would imagine that if the woman is attracted physically and emotionally to her husband, she would naturally want to please him, and take an initiative to find ways to please him, and vice versa unless there is a serious flaw in their spouse. What would make her not be interested in intimacy at all, and/or use it as a manipulative tool? Human beings are social creatures, and want to please people they admire, or so I thought.

    In many cases, I feel like women are pressured to marry men based on the dollar amount or the credentials next to their name, and men are encouraged to marry women based on the shade of their skin color or some other physical attribute. No doubt, those are very important factors. I am talking about cases where those are made the deciding factors before signing on the dotted line. Men are told physical attributes will keep them happy, women are told money and security will keep them happy. As a result the two parties are never able to connect. Men and women are human beings first; men have emotional needs just like women, and women have physical desires just like men. Whenever a woman’s physical desires, and a man’s emotional needs are underestimated, it results in both parties holding back, and not ‘wanting’ to give; hence, women hold back intimacy and are unable to respect their husbands, and men hold back emotionally and are unable to support and appreciate their wives.

    I hope that this is not too unrelated to the topic. I was struggling with this issue and wanted to ask if the author can shed some light on this issue based on your experiences in dealing with couples. Am I
    completely off the mark?

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    • Kamilah

      Wow, Nana. I think you can write another article on the subject, you definitely hit the mark in my eyes.

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    • Haleh

      There are so many reasons why a woman will not want to be intimate with her husband. Here a few reason:
      1. She is not fulfilled emotionally
      2. She is either hurt or frustrated
      3. If she is suspicious of him
      4. If he has not been able to please her in the past
      5. If she doesn’t love, respect or trust him
      6. She may have insecurities or unresolved issues
      7. If there is any form of abuse (whether verbal, physical or psychological)
      8. If there is no communication about intimacy she may feel misunderstood
      9. She may have negative associations to intimacy due to the past – possible abuse
      10. Sometimes the man may not have good hygiene

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      • Blessed

        Or the case may be that she does love and respect him and wants to be close to him, but she doesn’t enjoy intercourse because it is always painful for her.

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      • Stranger

        You mean if a husband takes care of his wife, is nice to her etc., she will be all his?

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  8. BM

    A view about this issue of a single brother:

    A young man once asked a scholar, “O Sheikh! Why cannot I love my wife?” The scholar said:

    “Once you taste haram, you immediately lose the taste of halal”

    The young man immediately blushed because he was indeed indulged in haram activities.

    This is precisely the reason why today husbands cannot love their wives.

    It is safe to say that 99% (and I say it with confidence without any research-derived data back up) of Muslim youth expose their eyes to haram things in their computer prior to their marriage. What happens when they see those things? They taste every possible variety of haram things though this shameful, abhorrent experience. It leads them to build an abnormal expectation about their prospective wife. Therefore when they marry, they remain happy till the honeymoon period, and then after a year or two, the husband starts looking at other females. Also because of not properly and seriously giving up and repenting from of their previous sin of porn, boredom with their wife leads them to fall back into that sin. This is how relationship falls. Once the husband falls in porn again, there is no going back. He then looks more and more into other women. Then he starts talking with his female co-workers. Then he may commit zina, which is the final stage.

    Sheikh Yasser Qadhi once said that our grand fathers and great-grand fathers could easily pick their prospective wives (just by a mere look) and could love them for their whole life because those men neither had any opportunity to get exposed to haraam, nor did they live in a society where women would go around half naked. In fact, they would not see any women expcept their mothers and sister until they get married. When Allah created man and woman, Allah knew that they would naturally attract each other. But we have destroyed this God-given natural attraction ability between males and females by adopting western principles, which promotes that nakedness is art and skimpy dresses mean modernity. We get exposed to haram things from our childhood. We see thousands and thousands of naked and semi-naked women everywhere-in school, work, in TV, in newspaper, in computer…everywhere. How do you expect the natural law of attraction to work?

    Now, there are still ways to make things work. While I really encourage women to beautify themselves without going into extreme, being a young man, I do not want to depend on others to make things work for me. I first of all judge me before I judge anyone else. I once indulged in sins of screens (I know that talking about sin is haram, but I am an anonymous person here, and I am only talking about it because so that people may learn from me). There was a time when I never practiced lower my gaze. But Alhamdulillah, I cried to Allah sincerely, sought His helped, and Allah have given me the strength to overcome it. Mashallah, by Allah’s grace, I have not fallen back into this sin. I now vehemently lower my gaze. Sometimes my heart aches when I accidentally see gorgeous skimpy dressed women. I have installed strongest possible filter in my computer. Do not browse computer alone. Even installed software to block pop-ups flash ads. Do not watch TV. Stopped listening to music. By the grace of Allah, I have cut off all possible sources. Even stopped visiting CNN website because the female presenters their are not properly dressed. Whenever I feel that is is too heavy, I just remember the prize of Allah that Allah has promised for my struggle. The promise of Shaytan is false. And about the promise of Allah, whose promise is more truer than His promise? The result is, I now strongly feel about the necessity of marriage, which I never felt before when I used to sin. And if completely lower your gaze, completely stop talking with non-mahram females, and above all do not play hide and seek with your own self (because you can only fool yourself, not Allah) in these matter, it is guaranteed that you will taste the sweetness of imaan and the sweetness of halaal. If you then marry a Muslimah, even of average beauty, she would still be a world to you because you will have no other source of pleasure except her. Dear brother, try this for just a day. Go to your office, completely a lower your gaze, only talk with female semi-naked employees only in genuinely required situations (look at their tables or at floor when you look at them), do not look into at lewd pictures at newspapers or in bill boards. Pass a signle day like this. I guarantee that when you will come to house, you will feel such an enormous yearn and a love for your woman that if you had no wife to release that love, you would die.

    So my brothers, take action. The culture that West promotes, asks man to be dogs. Yes dogs. I am serious. Why call us man when if we blame our wives for our failure to lower our gaze or looking at porn and movies? Women folks definitely need to beautify themselves for us, but if we men do our job properly, Allah will bless us with a love that we cannot imagine. Have we done our duty properly? Every brother do this self assessment.

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    • Haleh

      JazakAllah khair for sharing on such a deep and personal level. I think it’s so valuable to hear from your experience and you are 100% right that men do need to take responsibility to lower their gaze and feel accountable to their creator. It makes all the difference in the world when you adhere to Allah’s laws because will put barakat in your marriage, sakeena in your heart and complete contentment in your life.

      I have had Muslim male clients addicted to porn that watched over 5 hrs. a day. This effected their level of enjoyment with their wives completely. Alhamdulillah they were able to reduce it to an hr. a month and some even stopped completely. It is possible to stop any sin by sincerely asking Allah’s help – just like you have done masha’Allah.

      May Allah keep you strong and may your words have a strong impact on the Muslim brothers.

      Haleh

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    • Kamilah

      SubhanAllah, brother, for speaking the truth!
      Turning off the television definitely made a difference in our lives, lowering the gaze is not just against people in front of us, but people in the media as well. Somebody mentioned me being the exception, but actually my motivation to turn off the television came from a group of white Christian women as well as Sh. Hamza Yusuf.

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    • 2centsFromABrother

      MashAllah brother! You speak the truth. May Allah bless you and increase your happiness with your wife and help the brothers to lower their gaze. Ameen.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Jazak Allahu khair, brother BM!
      I couldn’t agree with you more, on everything that you have said.
      When men look at what is haram and disobey Allah and his Prophet [صلى الله عليه وسلم] by not lowering their gaze, their marriages definitely suffer.
      Most of the problems in our lives are because of the sins we commit without repenting.
      May Allah reward you for your heartfelt comment.

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    • AbuMarjaan

      أسلام عليكم
      ماشاء الله ! Excellent thoughts ..

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  9. africana

    “Or by 45 do we settle on that we can no longer fit this standard of beauty and allow him to take on a younger wife?”

    good point, ma sha Allah.

    i would suggest, also, that a lot of the procedures you mention destroy beauty. i was watching a video of the immesuarable damage that whiteners do to skin.

    i firmly believe that the regular use of make up (not the occasional use) makes a woman less likely to appreciate her beauty minus the makeup and that it creates a dependency in the user, whereby she starts to view herself, (yes, the very creation of Allah who made us in the most beautiful form) as inadequate. really, i’m all for being accomodating but when it comes to destroying self worth, then i can’t accept it.

    i’ve been rather sucked into this debate, too. i thought my first point was pretty reasonable and that there’d be no need for a back and forth.

    finally, out of interest does the writer have children herself?
    some of the suggestions are very good, ma sha Allah, however others are suggestive of class pivilege. there’s this assumption that we have homes with multiple rooms and that we have people on hand to take care of our childen whilst we are ensconsed at our night aways.
    i also gert the impression that many of the commenters on here are in their early 20′s, unmarried and in the upper middle class bracket.

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    • oum

      I agree w/you sister, alot of these folks are in the upper class bracket and young. They should spend time thanking Allah that He has bestowed upon them many bounties instead of wasting time writing nonsense as advice to others!

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      • Hena Zuberi

        Salaams sisters,
        MM does accept guest articles- if you have something constructive to contribute please send in a different perspective, maybe we could all learn something. Take what applies to you and leave the rest.
        info@muslimmmatters.org

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      • Algebera

        Aslamu-alaikum:
        @Hena Zuberi
        I don’t know if your offer stands for everybody. about submitting guest articles?
        I think you guys are bias against or for certain topics. I wanted to write a topic about The benefits and BLESSING of Polygamy in Islam, from a woman’s perspective” Actually i firmly believe that it is a blessing more for women than a privilege for men. Seriously that is my take on it. In any case, I didn’t get a positive response from your board. I expected the women response to be negative and condecending but I was shocked to learn that many men were intimidated by my writing about the topic as well. That was the main shocker.
        Next, when my sister came back from Ilmsummit, she had mentioned that they were in need of writers at muslimmaters.org, and suggested my daughter to write in a sample essay to Haythem. My daughter didn’t receive any response even though she wrote many times inquiring. Just to let you know that my daughter differs in my opinion about polygamy in that she would not prefer it for herself, BUT she RESPECTS my take on it, and doesn’t shy away in supporting me in that. SO to the fearful ones she wasn’t going to write anything about polygamy. Yet, she was not given that opportunity. I don’t blame Haythem, b/c i can only guess who might have been in opposition to it from the board.
        I still like muslimmatters.org b/c on the whole I like the articles, and I have the opportunity to pick and choose what i want to read and most if not all is halal.
        I would like that you guys on the board be more open to new ideas even if they don’t agree with your palette, instead of being bias according to your fears.

        @OUM
        some of your comments are very personal against the middle easterners and the rich. By the way, I have many African American or Black African Friends, so i would say I am very open and not prejudice but you seem to be very prejudice towards people of white complexion and middle easterners. I am disappointed in some of your remarks.

        @TO EVERYONE: Is it just me or do you guys smell a rat in the room as well???
        something is just amiss over here. Can’t put my finger on it but something is just not right on this particular blog.
        salam

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      • Ify Okoye

        Wa salaam alaykum Algebra,

        When did you submit those articles? I certainly don’t remember reading the polygamy one. Not sure who your daughter is or if I read anything she submitted. If you or your daughter haven’t heard back please email us at info@muslimmatters.org to follow up. Guest submissions are approved or rejected for a variety of reasons.

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      • Erica

        maybe on the blog people mentioned the ‘rich” not because they are against them. I am not against any rich, or any beautiful rich woman. Of course not.
        you may be one of them and have 4 maids in the house. That is your total right, and blessing ! There is nothing wrong with that.
        I think that some women feel we need to compete with ‘women that are more beautiful, it can be a rich or it can be a poor, it can be a woman on a billboard,, that is the issue, that some women try to point out, there might be a poor woman that looks stunning, too. I think the underlying issue, is, women that try to please their men, so he won’t look at other women, and “the rich with maids in the house”s example has been used to sort of say: hell, how can we remain looking good, when there are 4 kids running around the house, we have a job outside, and harldy any money” it says more about the situation of the woman, then that is criticism or jealousy, or anything negative about “the rich”. And besides that you can have a rich person that start looking at a beautufl poor woman, so it has nothing to with rich or poor, or being from the Middle-East ;-)) I think, when people on this blog refer to ‘rich from the Middle-East”.
        It is about how to keep your relationship or marriage worthwile, how to keep your spouse’s interest in you, discussions about personal insecurities, etc. female issues, and islam. It is a cross-cultural thing, and interesting to exchange ideas and opinions, and learn and help eachother. That is the issue. Being rich is a blessing from God. And even being rich does not mean that you don’t have to keep your husbands or wife’s attention and work on your relationship. That is for each human being on this planet.

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      • oum

        As salam alaykoum,
        I am sincerely apologizing to Sr. Haleh (and to others) for the rude comments I made. May Allah accept my repentence (insha Allah) and may Sr. Haleh forgive me.

        Oum

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      • oum

        As salam alaykoum,

        Sr. Haleh,

        I am sorry for the harsh comments I made in your article and for being rude in using the words “nonsense advice.” I feel bad for what I have written publicly and seek forgiveness from you. I hope my apologies are accepted and are a lesson to all that we should never degrade nor publicly attack anyone of our sisters (and brothers). This is wrong and i feel horrible. This is the reason why i am publicly apologizing to Haleh Banani for my grave mistakes.

        oum

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      • Haleh

        Wa alaikomos salam,
        I appreciate that you have realized your mistake. It is not easy to admit we are wrong, make amends and apologize publicly. It’s much easier to justify our actions and feel indifferent. I accept your heartfelt apology and pray for your forgiveness.

        As Muslims, we need to respect each other and be the cause for unity. Whether our identity is known to others or not, Allah witnesses our actions and knows our intentions.

        Wishing you the best in this dunya and the akhira,
        Haleh

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  10. Yara

    So where’s the other article for men? I’m sure the brothers could learn a thing or two.
    After being involved in womens counciling people need to realise that it’s not just the womans job.
    Some men need to know how to respect and not just take and think it’s the woman who has to work at it.

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  11. bz

    jazakAllahkhairan, just what i needed.
    how about an article on ho wto win the inlaws heart, women face so many inlaws problems due to culture, how should we deal with them. and the inlaws never change or are not understanding.

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  12. someone

    Salamu Aleikum,

    With all due respect (considering you are the professional and not I)

    I feel like this article is a tad bit superficial, so much of it focuses on the physical aspect of a marriage. It doesn’t seem to encourage the spouse to be more intellectually or spiritually stimulating. I feel like it only concentrates on the intimacy section as if that is the only reason men are dissatisfied with their significant other. Neither does it take into consideration the working woman, which I believe is the norm, if not maybe repatriated evenly between house wives and working women. I honestly feel like (again with all due respect) your promoting a Stepford wife image. and it makes me really uneasy that the beauty of woman takes precedence over other crucial aspects that are truly the foundation of a sound and successful marriage.
    I feel like a woman that can hold her own in a conversation and has views independent to her husbands creates harmony admist the disagreement. creating an environment of growth through fruitful conversations, especially if both can communicate passionately and respectfully.

    Salamu Aleikum
    I hope I can receive answer sister :)

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    • busy mum

      I AGREE W/YOU SISTER!! THIS ARTICLE IS SUPERFICIAL, VERY SUPERFICIAL TO SAY THE LEAST!!!!

      Unfortunately, this article and the advice given wherein is for the upper class and ONLY the upper class. How dare such an article be published?!

      Beneficial articles should be written about what the REAL problems we are facing in the West and not about what rich/upper mid class women are going through

      We are one ummah irregardless of our socio-economic status, and this article doesn’t protray it as such

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  13. Olivia

    A nice article, and true in so many respects.

    Other women seem put off by the “physical” or “superficial” aspect of the article (although I think she mentioned other worthy points that are being detracted from). Another woman mentioned that felt so tired and drained after a day with her kids, that sex become another “to-do.”

    I can see where you all are coming from in a been there done that sort of way. Men are superficial and they’re not, at the same time :) I think what needs to be mentioned is that everything we do for one another, at the end of the day, is about cultivating love. Encouraging that love to always grow between us and for us to remain passionate about our marriages. And I don’t mean passionate in an intimate way in this case, I mean it in an excited way. The author, in both her articles, I think wants couples to get excited about marriage. You can feel excited about being married to your spouse every day. You can feel excited about growing that love. And even mothers with kids can also feel excited about sex.

    I think the challenge for most women is being able to get into that excited state, because we’re always looking at marriage as a “give and take” set-up. And we worry that we’ll be taken advantage of or neglected or used. But marriage is really putting something into a mutual bank account, creating more love that both husband and wife can benefit from. Dressing up and looking sexy isn’t just “for him” nor is sex. It’s for both husband and wife. You can enjoy what you do for the marriage and then enjoy the results.

    My personal advice (and I’m not a doctor) is that we need to stop thinking about give and take. Find a way to enjoy yourself, and if you need your husband’s help, communicate with him. If you feel wasted at the end of the day, ask him for some help with the kids so you can have mutually enjoyable intimacy. I think most husbands can be agreeable if it’s win-win.

    There, that’s what I mean to say. We just need to start looking at marriage as win-win.

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    • Haleh

      Masha’Allah beautifully said! Marriage definitely needs to be win win – If you are keeping tabs then you are missing the point and missing out on the enormous reward. Everything we do should be done as way of pleasing our creator.

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  14. Stranger

    As Salaamu Alaikum,

    Nice article masha Allaah! But there is something which makes me uncomfortable. Is it that only men are dependent on women to satisfy their physical needs? What about women? Do they not feel this need?

    I have heard this over and over again. If this is true then why do women marry?

    I don’t know why, but the thought of me ASKING my wife to satisfy me, drives me against marraige itself! I would rather like her to desire it as well. I feel like saying, “O Allaah! make me independent of everyone”. And yes after being in center stage, being deprived of attention, makes me think of not having children at all!

    I sometime feel something is wrong with me psychologically. If so what should I do?
    Any comments/replys will be greatly appreciated.

    Salaam

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    • Olivia

      yes, women do desire it to too, but there is a great fluctuation amongst women as to how much or often. as the sister mentioned in her article, there are some women who can’t get enough and there are women who show very little interest. i think in most cases both parties are mutually desiring during the honeymoon phase, but as time goes on and the “newness” wheres off, it just comes down to sex-drive.

      also, women have a stronger psychological component when it comes to sex, so if a women feels angry, resentment or frustrated with her husband, she may not even be able to become aroused. so it all depends on the person and the success of the marriage as regards intimacy.

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    • Bushra

      Walaikum assalaam brother,

      As Sr. Olivia mentioned, the needs of women vary from woman to woman. The other thing that you have to bear in mind is that hormones play a huge part throughout the monthly cycle. Usually the middle of the cycle (about two weeks before their period) are when women really feel the ‘urge’ and will be most willing without the husband needing to initiate anything.

      Having said that, the psychological factor plays a huge part and if men play their cards right, they can get their wives onside more than usual.

      Don’t be ashamed of asking your wife. And most women pick up on subtle signals from their husbands anyway, but most of the time, it doesn’t require a verbal question, but appropriate and gentle affection on the man’s part.
      E.g. if she’s in the middle of washing up the dishes, instead of the husband sitting on his bum waiting for her to finish, he should help her to speed the process along and that will make her happy, which can then lead to him approaching her with affection and her responding positively.
      The situation isn’t ALWAYS that simple, as other factors such as family, hormones, housework, career, etc can be a cause of stress and sometimes men may feel they’ve been swatted away like a fly, but the atmosphere has to be built up in order for women to respond.

      Nothing is wrong with you psychologically. You just need to be sensible about your approach when your time comes, insha’Allah.

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      • Stranger

        As Salaamu Alaikum Bushra,

        Your response was sooooooo comforting :). Unfortunately, I do not know much about women; perhaps I was trying to be a good boy till now; but now I want to marry and would like to know everything before I step in!

        If you would allow me, I want to ask you something more, as this would help me in understanding the relation between husband and wife, and how to make it successful, insha Allaah.

        1) From the response of many women here, I had a feeling that women do not desire intimacy with their husbands, nor enjoy it, rather it’s a PAIN for them!

        A response I read suggested to me that woman (especially after dealing with children, lot of work etc), essentially does a kind of sacrifice, if she gets intimate with her husband. Now this idea is very uncomfortable to me.. no please.. I would not want my wife to do such sacrifice for me!

        As a guy I feel that after a stressful day, intimacy with my wife would actually bring relief, comfort and enjoyment to me; and I would like her to feel the same! Can you please shed some light on this issue?

        2) Do women also initiate it (during middle of cycle and other than that)?
        3) And does she feel good when her husband initiate it?

        Please do respond to it, may Allaah reward you.
        Jazakallaah Khair.
        Salaam

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      • Bushra

        I can only tell you that for women, it depends on their mood. It really does. If they’re tired after a long day of chores and screaming children, and then suddenly the husband comes home demanding food and intimacy, they’re only going to comply to one request – food. Like I said in my example above, it helps if the man helps out!

        Someone mentioned in the comments that for a lot of men, they think that just working 8 hours a day is their job done. It really isn’t. It’s not an obligation on women to do the grocery shopping or to drop the kids off to school. This is an actual responsibility of the husband that has been thrown on the wife.

        So really, if you want your wife to feel like it’s not a pain, spend time with her one-to-one just talking to her. Ask her if she would like you to make dinner for her one day on the weekend or look after the kids for an hour or two whilst she relaxes or even simply takes a shower (some mothers don’t get the time to do even that!) and freshens up. You have to connect with your wife on an emotional level. Once you get to that point, only then can I say that the answer to questions 2 and 3 are yes.

        Unfortunately, it really does become about housework and kids for us. And then intimacy becomes a chore, especially for a lot of women if it’s demanded on a daily basis. Let’s not forget that one also has to perform ghusl after that, which can also become very tiresome every single day.

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      • Stranger

        As Salaamu Alaikum Bushra,

        Just few more questions and insha Allaah, I will be able to connect the dots. I have three questions and an observation to share. Jazakallaah khair for bearing with me.

        1) I think I understand the mood-part. I tried to imagine myself in similar situation, and feel that even a man who is stressed out and not in a good mood, may not be able to do that; probably more so if it is being DEMANDED, rather than coming with some good and kind words like “tired, need some help?”, which would show that you are not being selfish and you understand what the person is going through. Did I hit Bull’s eye?

        2) I agree with you that grocery, shopping, dropping kids to school etc is responsibility of husband. I am kind of conservative guy and believe that primary responsibility of wife is taking care of husband and family, just as primary responsibility of husband is to earn, support and other things as you mentioned. But seeing the trend nowadays, of women working to earn and leaving their kids to nannys, I sometime say to myself, “Buddy, you are born in wrong era. Would you even find a woman subscribing to this view? :)” And just thought if wife doesn’t want to be conservative why would husband be? I know sometimes it may be due to difficult situation and other times greedy husbands as well. But in any case this will lessen the happiness in a marraige (personal view).

        What do you say about this?

        3) ” if you want your wife to feel like it’s not a pain, spend time with her one-to-one just talking to her”

        I want it not to be just painless, but also a source of comfort, relief and enjoyment. I read a hadeeth encouraging men to invest time in foreplay. Is this the answer to my question? I mean if a man talks to his wife, shares thoughts, shows kindness along with intimacy, it becomes enjoyment for her?

        4) Have you ever observed that, in our time we have
        ~more comfort than people of old times could imagine, and more complains
        ~more medicines and more disease
        ~more luxury and more misery
        ~more money and more discontent
        ~more ways to connect and more isolation than ever!

        Please do respond, may Allaah reward you.
        Jazakallaah khair for being patient.
        Salaam

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      • Stranger

        As Salaamu Alaikum Bushra,

        I am sorry if I offended you with my views; just brush them off as naive, but please for Allaah’s sake respond to genuine questions.

        Jazakallaah khair,
        Salaam

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      • Bushra

        1) Yes, you hit bullseye, but please don’t take my word for it, as every woman is different. Words and affection make a big difference though.

        2) I was speaking about the conservative marriage when it comes to shopping and dropping kids to school. Some women work and they are still maintaining the conservative role, but their husbands also pitch in with some of the housework, i.e taking the trash out. After all, didn’t the Prophet do his own housework too?

        3) It may well be the answer to your question. In fact, your answer, again, hits the bullseye.

        Basically, I think you’re getting there, masha’Allah. You’re on the right track. Our parents came from an age where communication was lacking and hence a lot of misconceptions have been created. We, alhamdulillah, are aware of that fact and therefore make an effort to understand and communicate. That’s mostly what it boils down to.

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      • Bushra

        Btw, if I don’t reply, it’s because I’m not always checking replies to my own comments, so please don’t take offence to it.

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      • Stranger

        @ Bushra,

        I promised I will not ask anything else, so I won’t :).
        Jazakallaah Khair for your response, it helped, Alhamdulillaah.
        Salaam

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  15. Umm

    MashaAllah MashaAllah, an excellent and much needed reminder. I really enjoyed reading the article and subsequent comments. These things are so easy to forget, but yet so clear when put in a coherent article with islamic and empirical proofs/support.

    Sis Haleh, my attitude towards my marriage has already changed in the 24 hours since reading this, may Allah preserve this.

    With the pressures and strains of daily life it is easy to forget our roles as spouses.

    InshaAllah, after 14 years of happy marriage and still in honeymoon phase I will generalise (without getting personal as is public forum) what has worked for me.

    With regards to how to please our husbands on a physical/aesthetic level, then it is down to personal preferences. Much of it depends on husband’s upbringing and what he is exposed to on a daily basis. If he is surrounded at work by women who dress in a certain fashion then he may become accustomed to it and it would please him if his wife dresses similarly, at home of course. He may not like coming home to a wife who is in traditional clothes with unstyled hair etc, although to another husband it may be attractive.

    A lot of it is also down to learning how to dress and style ourselves in a way that flatters us. For some women this comes naturally and for others it takes trial and error. Under no circumstances am I saying go to extremes, a few basic items in the wardrobe with flattering cuts, styles; a easy to maintain hairstyle that brings out the best of your features, a few items of makeup etc…are enough.

    I cannot emphasise enough the importance of weight control for a healthy marriage, and no it not about being stick thin. its important to be at a reasonable weight for your height and body type, this can be achieved by portion control and regular exercise, and InshaAllah will keep many illnesses at bay as we get older and also keeps the libido intact. The husband will also respect the wife if he sees her looking after herself.

    Even though the media promotes skinny women, this does not suit everyone, and many women can look very tired, aged and gaunt if they go below a certain weight even if its an acceptable bmi. The key is to have minimal fat on your body through exercise and avoiding unhealthy food (although occasional treats are healthy), you can still be on the ‘large’ side of what the media promotes but look attractive.

    I cannot see anything wrong with ‘Victorias Closet’ if that is husband’s preference, although some men may find it tacky. These things do not need to cost alot, most department stores sell at reasonable prices.

    MashaAllah after living in the middle east for past few months after having lived in the West my whole life, I am amazed how much the women look after themselves on a halal level. They wear fashionable clothes, beautiful makeup and hair, all under their hijab. I think in the West some women use the hijab as an excuse to let themselves go when this need not be the case, you can be even more adventurous and daring underneath.

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    • ukhti

      Ding Ding!! Hijab as an excuse to look frumpy. SOOOOO common. I would love some advice on how to keep hair styled and looking good at home with kids while being modest.

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      • Bushra

        My advice…keep it short! Not too short, but a stylish bob cut or, if you’re not comfy with something that short, then something just above the shoulders or shoulder-length. Not only is it easy to maintain, but will waste less shampoo, less conditioner, requires less time styling and won’t give you a headache when it’s all tied up under your hijab.

        This has worked for several sisters I know and it makes their life much, much easier.

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  16. Remember

    Salaam alaykum,
    After reading the article (which I’m happy was written as it is necessary) and comments (so many perspectives), I was somewhat astounded to see that the subject of self esteem was not mentioned.
    So, allow me to add mine :)
    Remember on your wedding day when you were the apple of his eye and nothing could remove the attention of your husband towards his radiant, glowing, beautiful, queen of hooris? Do you remember how you also felt -whether you were weighted down in garments heavy with beads and embroidery, or light with simple clothing? Whether your face was lit with blended colors or just the glow of happiness? There was something that day gave you (and him) -a knowledge that you were charming, desired and fit to be loved. It didn’t matter what you wore, though surely if you wore your preference it helped.
    You had knowledge of who you were and could always be that moment.
    This is my second marriage. I remember the first, and who I was, and how it didn’t work. I didn’t have confidence in myself, the wedding and its decor faded in my memory and I could not grab it back.
    This is 10 years into my real marriage.
    Though I think I am a handsome woman (Alhamdulillah, may He make my insides moreso), I have seen over and over again a plain faced woman with a glittering eye and alluring and charming conversation, a heavy set woman with a sweet smell and lovely smile, a woman with noticeably unflawless skin but welcoming personality, be the apple of an eye -because she KNEW she could.
    I married a man whose beauty standards in some ways are the opposite of what I’ve been given by nature. See? I still think I’m a knockout, and it it’s totally in my head -that’s good! After years of ups and downs, I realized after a time that what my husband fell madly in love (yes, madly!!) with was the confidence I have now, but have not always had in my life.
    A beautiful woman who thinks she is ugly and is always struggling with herself will convince those around her of the same. Before and after embracing Islam, I continue to observe the fact that the opposite is also true. A woman who is effortlessly beautiful, regardless of how pretty she physically is, will allow her true beauty to overwhelm physical defects.
    As the author said, a lady who is welcoming to her husband, clean and knows how to use her charm and wit will be able to win his heart -I’d like to add ‘without permanently altering herself or selling her confidence in the process.’
    (@Stranger: Try to do more ibadah (until you are happily married with beautiful children) so that your worries do not overwhelm you… Good outcomes happen, too.)
    wa salaam to all.

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    • africana

      excellent point, Ma sha Allah. don’t let anyone sell you the lie that you’re not beautiful and yes, the belief that your skin is not flawless is to belive that. it’s what the beauty industry is built on.

      love yourself in your uniqueness for it would be an affront to Allah to do otherwise. seriously try to avoid the use of expressions like “cover your imperfections”for this is in itself to sugest that Allah’s creation is imperfect.don’t agaonise over your body shape for,as long as you don’t over indulge, it is the perfect shape for you. don’t let the beauty industries and its devotess convince you that you’re anything other than beautiful, for Allah created us all in the most beautiful forms.

      inner confidence,not pride (for pride results from a belief that your beauty is something of your own making) is something that the sudanese queens of the desert, though they might not fit the beauty ideal of the west had in plentiful amounts whereas the “fly me, i’m mandy’s” and others gracing the front pages of celeb gossip rags are ravaged by self doubt and self- hatred, arkwardness and the need for constant reassurance. take that reassurance from Allah, not from another created being.

      wudu,the prayer and the use of miswak are not to be sniffed at as they lead the way to beauty.

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      • oum

        sis africana

        I, too am an African American, and I agrre with your posts. Allah created me beautiful without the use of makeup, hairdyes and other carcinogens. Also Allah has given me intelligence, so it is better for us not to waste our money on luxury items, but to use that blessing in buying milk, food, clothes, etc…for our children. IF I were blessed (as I feel some of these writers/readers are) with money, then I wouldn’t waste my time and Nai’mah at Victoria Secret or at the malls. I’d help the needy and still look beautiful (naturally) for my hubby. He love me just the way I am and alhamdulillah.

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    • Stranger

      Jazakallah Khair for advice. I have been caught up in a struggle between my thoughts and beliefs and what I see in reality. Unfortunately, I am unable to reconcile between the two and it is weakening my Faith and reduced my Ibaadah to just kind of formality… I cannot focus on reading Qur’an or offering Salaah etc.. any good words?

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      • Remember

        Brother, so many feel the same way and also go through the rituals as a formality, but how many admit to themselves this is an issue that should be dealt with?
        That takes sincerity.
        Perhaps you should use that same sincerity to beg Allah ta’ala for his mercy and kindness to never cease flowing to you, and that He guide you. If you are indulging in haram, I have no idea, but when people give that up they become more receptive to Allah ta’ala’s guidance.
        He is your Creator who made you. Forget about the people and what they do or don’t do. Just ask with that sincerity you have and the Rabbul ‘Aalameen always fulfills his promise.
        Just ask.
        wa salaam

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      • Stranger

        You did brought me to tears. I have been struggling for years now hoping that one day I will recover.. but I coudn’t. I don’t know how people do it, I wish it was easy. This disease is now overpowering me and killing me from inside.

        It’s difficult, when someone says lower your gaze… How do I do that; they are everywhere.

        My failure to come out of it has made the vision of pure person just a thought and what I am living in, a reality. I strove to make the vision a reality; but I could not get there. Perhaps I am weaker than others or in a more complex situation. I don’t know.

        <>
        How do people give that up?

        I do know that it is eating me up, and has made my self-esteem and confidence very low. I do want to give it up. When I feel like it’s not possible I think may be marraige is the only solution. But to be frank I am scared to marry while still having this disease.

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      • africana

        have you looked up the definition of ocd and, specifically, obsessive thoughts?

        salam

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      • Stranger

        @africana:

        I looked up the definition of OCD and obsessive thoughts, after you mentioned it.
        I am not sure if this is what I suffer from. But I do know that at the heart of this disease is a thought, which is triggered quite often and it makes me crazy (and yes anxiety is definitely accompanied with it).

        Longest I could avoid this thought and associated haram actions was for a month. What I did during this month is that whenever this thought would come to my mind, I would start watching a romantic movie and that would drive my mind away from it and into the movie, say for a day.

        Are you a pschycologist? Can you help me with this?

        Jazakallaah Khair
        Salaam

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      • Stranger

        @ Kamilah:

        I completed that survey. But is there anything else to it?

        Salaam

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  17. Haleh

    Thank you for bringing up self-esteem. Having confidence and high self-esteem (without being proud) effects every area of our lives. I truly believe that low self-esteem is the root cause of so many perplexing problems in our society. We really need to work on it and instill a positive dose in our children as well.

    Haleh

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    • Remember

      My thanks to you, Haleh, for the article. We need these discussions. Is child raising next?

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  18. 2centsFromABrother

    A woman should not ruin her physical image in front of her husband through her words ESPECIALLY in the beginning of a marriage. Be confident!

    This affects the man and his perception of his wife. She should be confident and create that perception that she wants her husband to see.

    I recall hearing a hadith of the Prophet SAW that a woman should not do two things: Do not talk about the beauty of another woman in front of him and do not talk bad about your own beauty in front of him.

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  19. Wife and mother

    Jazakallah khair for the tips.

    My husband makes it very clear what he wants from me and I do my best to achieve that. I remember when I first got married and I didn’t have lots of clothes that looked especially attractive. My husband solved that problem by going out and buying me dresses/clothes/etc that looked nice and we figured out what looked best on me alhamdulillah.

    I am not a fan of dressing up by ANY means and before marriage I was a sweatshirt girl and I rarely brushed my hair and did not know how to put on make up cuz I never wore it.

    Now I do put on nice clothes and make up every once in awhile, and husband really does appreciate it just like I appreciate him looking nice for me. If he comes home unexpectedly and I am in my house work clothes still, I just use my smile and that usually makes him more happy than all the make up and jewelry and dresses.

    Also number 1 thing husband loves is when the house is clean and food is ready. I would say that is the most important lol.

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  20. africana

    @ukhti,

    assalamu alaikum,
    ” Ding Ding!! Hijab as an excuse to look frumpy. SOOOOO common”

    i have been reading through some of your comments and, quite frankly, some of your cooments are really quite judgemental-i’m putting it down to youthful exuberance.

    sure, there are some women who let themselves go (as do some men) but let’s not gloat in order to give ourselves metaphorical pats on the back.

    i have yet to meet a woman whose reason for putting on hijab was in order to let herself go. there are myriad reasons why this might have happened and to suggest that there’s no reason beyond a conscious decision to use hijab as an excuse is, at best, insensitive.

    .” Just because some women are crunchy, granola types does not mean all Muslim women are. They should not feel guilty for doing what is pleasing to THEIR husbands. So yes if your man wants you to wear contacts or likes when you use fair and lovely. Then do it. (fyi- skin bleaching is not really that harmful if you don’t have tainted products)”

    that someone objects to skin whiteners (and the obvious message such products send out about dark skin), make-up made with gold from congolese gold mines does make one a crunchy granola type.

    wa salam

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    • mini

      Salam africana,

      I thought her comment made a lot of sense. Obviously someone does not start wearing hijab because they’re too lazy to dress-up. What the sister meant was it’s easy to become lazy and not dress-up if you’re covering yourself up most of the time. For example, even if our hair is covered, that doesn’t mean it should not be nicely combed.

      With all respect, I’m finding that ‘some of your cooments are really quite judgemental’
      Please don’t read into people’s comments. Relax sister :)

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      • africana

        i’m actually seriously harbouring suspicions that ukhti is some sort of troll. yes, as a human beings one naturally makes judgements but it’s one thing to make value judgements based on a person’s dress/ body and and quite another to judge as unfair that a man’s supposed desires for a frilly, decorative ornament of a wife trump those of her own principles that views make-up/sex bottery as inherently wrong/harmful.

        the amish ladies are closer to the islamic ideal than many muslim women these days with their mad clamouring for “beauty” in a bottle or a g-string.

        ya Allah, grant hidaya to the amish.

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      • ukhti

        No I am not a troll. I do stay anonymous because women can’t take criticism or anyone disagreeing with their opinions. If I said my true opinions in real life I would be put out of the “sisterhood”, mainly because I have a bias toward men. I have been married for over 10 years and have seen a lot of divorces and difficult marriages. These are young people and the number one reason was that Muslims get married based on fantasy, not real life. I used to be like you and Kamilah, judgmental about everything until I realized there are serious problems with our families and you have to meet people where they are.

        If you find skin lightning abhorrent, please do not marry a man who prefers light skin, you are just asking for problems. I am familiar with the hadith that it is preferable to marry for deen. But I have seen marriages where men went against their preferences and only looking at deen and they do not work. The women are depressed because she knows her husband isn’t attracted to her and the man is frustrated because he can help what he is attracted to. I advocate living in the real world, while of course making deen important, the other qualities also matter.

        Women know what their husbands like, so just give him what he likes. I don’t think we quite get how good most Muslim husbands are, especially the ones in the west. They work hard for their families, they are largely chaste and loyal to their wives and children. Yes there are exceptions but go to many Non-muslim communities, the men cheat left and right, won’t want to spend time with their families, don’t respect In-laws etc. If you have a good husband be thankful and treat him right, spoil him. Its truly a blessing to have a good husband in these times. Anything I said right is first and foremost a reminder to myself as well as anyone else who benefits.

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      • africana

        if you read any of those relationship columns on which non-muslims comment you’ll find the chief complaint amongst non-muslims is that their wives refuse them sexual relations.

        the desire for sex is stronger even than that for for food, so acceding to a husband’s demand for sexual relations (uncomplainingly) is what will ensure spousal fidelity. this is what the dowry is for and a husband’s spending on his wife is for. this is what islam requires and is not beyond the scope of any woman.

        it is has been my observation that those women most given to excessive beauty measures are amongst those most likley to actively detest the sexaul act. it comes as no surprise therefore to hear that such and such a footballer/matador/pop star has cheated on his perfectly maincured, fake tanned. model wife.

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      • Kamilah

        Ukhti,
        Did I call you a troll? Please keep my name out of anymore discussions. I have said my piece, I really don’t want to keep coming back to defend myself. Like I said, do what makes you happy.

        Peace.

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      • Siraaj

        Great comment – my experience in the marriage advice world has been the people who have been married successfully for years on end have a good handle on both the reality of themselves as well as the opposite gender.

        Siraaj

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      • Stranger

        “I don’t think we quite get how good most Muslim husbands are, especially the ones in the west. They work hard for their families, they are largely chaste and loyal to their wives and children.”

        You have no idea how good it felt when I read these words, Masha Allaah!
        Unfortunately, muslim women, in our time, have also been affected by the feminism nonsense and more often than not they try to single out men (that too in general), for all problems.

        We hear it in media, over and over again, and then we hear it again from our own sisters and even mothers (especially during conflicts as taunts).. men are like this, like that!!

        What you end up doing, by this generalization, is lowering the self-esteem of your own brother, father and husband.

        Mothers, Sisters and especially Wives, watch out! Perhaps you have no idea, how deep it hurts! Being a man, I suppose that if you say such things to your husband or any other male relative, he will not respond back and will not tell you how it felt inside; but it will definitely, strain your relations and lessen his love for you. Say it twice or thrice and he will run from you. There is hadeeth as well regarding this situation, but I don’t know exact wordings and references. You may ask someone knowledgable, insha Allaah.

        What I felt when I heard these things, was “If we plan to marry you, we work hard enough, and try our best to make you comfortable when you step in our life and provide with all necessities (of course with Allaah’s permission); and this is what we get in return?”

        This is a deeply disturbing emotion I have gone through. As a result of which, I started hating girls/women (and counter blaming). It was not untill, I started practising Islaam and read the sayings of Prophet (sallallaahu Alayhi wa sallam) that he loved women, be gentle to them etc, that I changed my views. May Allaah protect my brothers and sisters from anything like that.

        Among other things, I feel is necessary in order to rectify our situation,
        1) we need to appreciate the roles and responsibilties of our loved ones in our lives and understand their needs.
        2) Identify ourself with him/her in one unit (remember Allaah created Adam and from him his wife), rather than dividing along gender-lines.

        wallaahu a’lam
        Salaam

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      • Bushra

        it is has been my observation that those women most given to excessive beauty measures are amongst those most likley to actively detest the sexaul ac

        africana, why would you make such an observation? Are you there in the bedroom when the husband and wife are about engage in intimacy?

        Women who dress up and make themselves look good will feel good and confident about themselves and will therefore be more willing to give themselves to their husbands.

        Excessive beauty measures is a subjective term. If a woman wishes to dress in nice clothes, lingerie, with good hair and makeup, that might be classed as excessive. In my eyes, excessive is one who is willing to go under the knife.

        In Islam, few women will be excessive with their beauty because they can deal with going without makeup outside the home, but will make the effort to look absolutely gorgeous at home. That, in my opinion, is not excessive. And if these women look good, they’ll feel good. It’s natural. Why do non-Muslim women show off their bodies? Because they like to be appreciated for their beauty, but that also makes them appear to be easy. Islamically, women can receive such gratification from their husbands without seeming to be easy…simply because they’re not. They are showing their beauty to their husbands who deserve such beauty and some of them will dress up to initiate intimacy with them. So why does excessive beauty seem like a bad thing?

        I understood what ukhti said and it’s important not to take comments to an extreme. I am not just referring to you alone, africana, but all others who have made comments against beautification or dressing up. The article gives suggestions. Take from it whatever you want. No-one is forcing you to buy nice lingerie, but it would be nicer if men could occasionally see their wives dressed up. After all, they see it everywhere they go and have to lower their gaze. Give them a chance to see it and take it in as much as they want so that thirst remains quenched whilst they are out and that they look forward to coming home to their wives as opposed to going off to hang out with their friends after work because the wife has never bothered making an effort. Not even once.

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      • Stranger

        @ Bushra

        Can you reply to my questions please? I won’t ask anything after that, promise :).

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      • oum

        I too agree w/sis Africana….the Amish are beautiful!! We should all learn from them!! It’s a shame that muslim women spend their time,energy, and money shopping at malls and call that a “necessity.” And alot of them have maids at homes and treat them like dogs….just look at the way Emiraties, Saudi’s, Kuwaities treat their servants, i.e. slaves!!! Shame on them!

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      • Erica

        Lets not generalize, there are some case, but not all of them. There are also Saudi women and women from the Gulf that are not at all like that :-)

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  21. Blessed

    I’ve found that complimenting each other is one thing that really increases the love between husband and wife. Newlyweds in their honeymoon period are usually so into each other and talk about how deeply they love each other…but as the years go on, this slowly dies down. This is when we take each other for granted. Small words of appreciation can go a long way though.

    So if a wife puts in some effort to dress up for her husband for when he arrives home, the husband should tell her she looks pretty. This will make her want to put more of an effort in looking good for him. If the husband stops appreciating what she is doing then what incentive will she have to please him? Husbands, thank your wives from time to time for cooking, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, making the bed, taking care of the kids, anything random, and it will inshaAllah go a long way in increasing her love for you! It’s that simple.

    Same goes for the wife. If your husband has done some chore of the house, tell him “aww, you threw out the trash! thanks love! :)” .Or if he’s taking you out somewhere then tell him how fun it is for you and you’re having a great time spending your day/evening with him. Tell him he’s considerate for doing such things. Again, these little sentences only increase the love and mercy between two hearts.

    Complimenting each other for little things is one thing that I find useful in our marriage (of 2 and a half years), because we feel that our efforts are not going to waste. There’s someone who appreciates us. And who better than our one and only love. :)

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    • Umm Reem

      “Blessed” u’ve just hit the nail on the head!

      Compliments, praise and appreciation can make a hell of a difference in a marriage and realtionship.

      Husbands should realize that for Muslim women, especially those who cover, their husbands are the ONLY outlet for them to get praise and appreciation for their looks, figure, and beauty. Remember, women love praise and attention from the opposite gender…indeed that makes men a big fitnah for women :)

      So when the wife is dressed (as she should everyday) husband only needs to take 1-2 minute to praise her, which will not only put her in a very good mood, take away her tiredness of the day and will boost her energy for the next day.

      At the same time, if there are days when a husband is tired or stressed from work and didn’t praise, the wife can simply ask in a soft polite voice, ‘do i not look nice?!’. POint being, there is nothing wrong with wives asking for praise either…

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      • Blessed

        I would agree with you until the last point! If my husband is stressed out or tired I wouldn’t ask him how I look. It would then be my duty to take care of him, as he is the one who needs to be listened to or “pampered”. If I ask him to praise me instead, I would think that his comments are not sincere if I have to force it out of him. It would mean that I’m expecting him to compliment me every time he sees me, and that’s not what I’d want. To force him.

        The only reason I would ever start encouraging him to praise or compliment me is if he NEVER did so, because he doesn’t know that he’s supposed to or whatever. Then I’d ask him how I looked or something. Because it IS something important in marriage. You’re right about how men who compliment women are a fitnah for them because that’s what they love to hear, lol.

        But again, if he’s stressed out it would not be a good time to pester him about my dress or hairstyle. He would appreciate this.

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      • Bushra

        Blessed, I agree with Umm Reem, you truly hit the nail on the head, masha’Allah. That’s exactly how I feel about these situations.

        After all, it is a two-way street!

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  22. Baheera

    Nice article! And I do agree with the whole looking good for you hubby thing. I think it’s pretty vital to being married and whatnot.

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  23. africana

    http://earwicga.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/apparently-there-are-people-who-do-not-know-this/

    “Apparently there are people who do not know this

    Mining for the gold and minerals used by us in the west for cosmetics and mobile phones = rape of hundreds of thousands of children, women and increasingly men as well.

    For the hard of understanding, for those who wish to stay stress free within their own little lives, this picture is of a Congolese girl who has had her lips, nose and ears cut off by a rapist.”

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    • oum

      nobody cares about them b/c they are black, poor and unheard in our world…it’s all about the money sister

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  24. Kamilah

    AsSalaamu Alaikum A Tired Mom,

    I am sorry that you are going through this. I am also sorry that their are not more Halehs in every town. ~ Ya Allah, please we need Muslim therapist all over the US and/or we need Imams trained in this area. Ya Allah please guide our hearts and our community, and please soften her husband’s heart. Amin. ~ I am making duas for you, and I know you are tired, but you have to wake up in the middle of the night and beg your Lord for this also. Then know Allah can change any situation.

    The second part is sometimes people need to be made to do things, and I highly recommend you talk to your Imam. It’s true some will just take. So until he learns empathy, an Imam can give him some guidelines to follow. If he won’t talk to an Imam, it may be beneficial for you talk to the Imam on your own. If this is out of the Imam scope of knowledge, then talk to a PRACTICING Christian therapist. I can’t emphasize “practicing” enough, someone who is highly knowledgeable in Old Testament laws that has been to Seminary school.

    Allah is first, go to Him, then Imam is second (or if you have a Muslim therapist in your area, by all means try that), then a practicing Christian therapist is third. InshaAllah, this will help.

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  25. Uthman

    While preparing for a khutbah tonight I came across this beautiful story from The Ideal Muslimah.

    “It is narrated that the qaadi and faqeeh, Shurayh married a woman from Bani Handhalah. One their wedding night, each of them prayed two raka’hs and asked Allah to bless them. Then the bride turned to Shurayh and said, ” I am a strange, and I do not know much about you. Tell me what you like, and I will do it, and tell me what you do not like so that I may avoid it.” Shurayh said, “she stayed with me for twenty years, and I never had to tell her off for anything, except on one occasion, and I was in the wrong then.”

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  26. Umm Reem

    Dear Tired Mom,
    May Allah ease your situation and soften your husband’s heart to see what is happening to his wife and bless your marriage with understanding and love.

    I didn’t have time to go through all the comments so maybe someone may have already given you this suggestion:

    1. Please try to communicate with your husband. sometimes we, as wives, assume that our husbands would know or expect them to “just understand” (not to say that you are one of them). But men normally don’t “get it” unless it is spelled out to them…

    2. Sometimes talking face to face backfires, perhaps try writing him a letter or sending him an email.
    And word it nicely and wisely…instead of saying that “you don’t do such and such”, say, ” *I* am feeling such and such”
    initially to open up the communication, it is wise to take the blames upon oneself than pointing out the weaknesses of the other party…

    3. If none of that works, try getting a third person involved. But be very careful who you get involved. there are many peopel out there who seem quite sympathetic but in the end not only they are not “secretive” enough but they don’t offer concrete advice either.

    4. Islam teaches a woman, wife, to be patient but it doesn’t ask a wife to “drag” her marriage without happiness and love.
    Although I do not believe that a marriage should run upon ” my rights and his rights”, I also do not believe that a marriage should solely run upon “compromises”, being dragged by one or both parties without inner peace and especially love.

    5. If there are resentments in a marriage, there is a problem. And if a wife keeps holding an issue in her heart, without addressing it or resolving it, then the anger starts to channel out in other areas of life too.
    Do something about it. Because as time passes along, it will only create more problems. and the longer a problem persists, the harder it becomes to solve.

    In the end, inshaAllah these steps are to improve the condition of the marriage and REGAIN the love and comfort that once existed, and not to ruin the marrige any further, isnahAllah.

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    • Algebera

      Aslamu-alaikum:
      Umm Reem:
      THANK YOU for giving a BALANCED VIEW of things. I especially like this comment of yours
      4. Islam teaches a woman, wife, to be patient but it doesn’t ask a wife to “drag” her marriage without happiness and love.
      Although I do not believe that a marriage should run upon ” my rights and his rights”, I also do not believe that a marriage should solely run upon “compromises”, being dragged by one or both parties without inner peace and especially love.”

      I have been trying to read the comments on this post but had not commented…….. just observing…….
      and I was waiting for someone to give the sister balanced advice(solutions) practical ones that were according to islamic guidelines instead of the customary ones that are thrown at women. Its like they expect her to be stoic and continue….. in any case your advice gave her a balanced view Mash’Allah.

      You must have read extensively on the PROPHET’s(PBUH) life and marital life. Just assuming here because your response was a HEALTHY RESPONSE.

      If we look at the Prophet”(PBUH) wives we will find that Aisha RA would ask the Prohphet(PBUH) very regularly something to the affect that “is your love for me as a tight as a rope” and the Prophet (pbuh) would response in affirmative. This is the example Aisha RA, one Mother of the Believers. So it is NATURAL for us as women to NEED that AFFIRMATION or SECURITY. SHE ASKED.
      I will more inshAllah later…….
      salam

      P.S. Oh Umm Reem, my sister saw you ilm summit and she had many good things to say about you and Haythem’s wife.

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  27. africana

    “At the same time, if there are days when a husband is tired or stressed from work and didn’t praise, the wife can simply ask in a soft polite voice, ‘do i not look nice?!’. POint being, there is nothing wrong with wives asking for praise either”

    still, i think we should draw thaat reassurance from Allah first and foremost.

    women who seek compliments in this way, and rely on their husband’s opinion of them as a source of self-esteem will run into difficulties A)when they get older- and the attractiveness has faded somewhat B) if they’re unfortunate to have a husband given to emotional abuse (not such a rare find, either).an emotional abusive husband, on perceiving a weakness in his wife for compliments, will devestate her entirely if, perhaps when she least expects, turns to her and tells her that “you’re f***ing horrible”.

    know that Allah created you in the most beautiful of forms and see in yourself not imperfection,but your uniquesness.

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    • chemaatah

      Agreed that there is nothing like the feeling of contentment during and after prayer and during remembrance of Allah. It’s unparalleled to any source of comfort and assurance from any fellow human being.

      But I think you’re being a bit overzealous in dismissing the role marriage and approval from one’s spouse can play in a man or woman’s self-confidence. The way I’ve always seen it, the reason my husband is my husband is because I trust him more than other person on this planet. I married him because I had absolute trust, faith, and confidence that for the entire duration of our lives, even when we get older and don’t look the same as we do now, that he’s my shield against all of the things you say we should be worried about receiving from our husbands. Why would anyone want to be or remain married to someone they are worried will emotionally abuse them if they seek occasional reassurances from them? I find the whole idea of that preposterous. Humans are hard-wired to seek assurances and support from those they are in close, intimate relationships with. It starts in infancy, and continues throughout adulthood. People weren’t created to go it alone, they were created to have people along the way that care for and respond to them positively.

      I think what you’re trying to present as some kind of a norm is actually abnormal, and abhorrent. Knowing my husband, I have never worried that in the future he won’t find me as attractive to him because I am older. (BTW, he’ll be older too, and won’t look the same either) I have every confidence that he’ll deliver the same sweet words, compliments and assurances that he loves and adores me. That’s the normal trajectory of a marriage. Not fear and dread that he’s gonna find me ugly because i’ve gotten older, therefore I can’t rely on him to make me feel good about myself. It’s true that self-reliance and self-confidence are crucial. But the social nature of people and how they form relationships with each other shows that they need support and uplifting from the people close to them too.

      It’s abnormal as well to worry about your very human needs for assurance being used as a weapon against you by your spouse. If someone has that fear, or has been exposed to that kind of treatment, there’s something really, really wrong there, that needs to be fixed, not avoided. That’s an underlying issue that can’t be ignored.

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      • africana

        what i find primarily objectionable about the article is that it idealises certain states of being which are only partially attainable by the very young, and even then not universaly so.

        the command that one looks “hot” being a prime example. the author appears to be implying that this is necessary to keep a man from looking at other women. the obvious logical conclusion being that where a wife no longer exudes “hotness”/sex appeal (and, let’s face it, how many 45 year olds feature in those dreary sexisest women of the year type articles?) then his eyes are certainly going to stry into forbidden territories and that the acquisition of a hot new model (perhaps from an impoverished overseas background) will need to take place.

        it’s just classic victim blaming bakwas!

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      • Kamilah

        Chemaatah,

        What you just wrote reminds me of something my friend always says. “Your husband is someone, you should feel comfortable to walk around bear naked with no judgments”

        This also hits on the self-esteem issue, there should be people that love you unconditionally. . . . someone you feel comfortable being yourself with. Someone who finds you attractive for you, not because you make yourself up to look like a celebrity or supermodel. Or wants you to take on a look foreign to your natural look. You shouldn’t fear that your spouse will leave you because of his under-dressed, highly made up co-worker.

        In a marriage you should not have to live in that sort of fear and superficiality. This is not to say don’t beautify yourself, but what beautify means to me is enhancing your features, not changing them.

        When you start down that road of changing yourself, how far do you go? Then, we have to be concerned why women have more cancer than men. We eat the same foods, we exercise the same, we have similar stress levels (men may have more), then what’s the determining factor?
        The beauty industry, with all the chemicals has to be. So not only does this deal with having a lasting marriage that’s built on unconditional love, but about the health of women in this mass consumerism Western society.

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      • africana

        i have always found it odd that, in wider society, companies will justify the requirement that women wear make-up on the basis that men are required to shave- as though the two actions were in some way equal.

        oral contraceptive use is another difference, too..in fact this is something else which i feel unecessarily burdens the very people who are the least inclined, in partnerships, towards physical intimacy…of course, the whole feminist argument for the pill equalling liberation is that women are into sex just as much as men-which i think is a lot of nonsense.

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      • Stranger

        Salaam africana;

        “oral contraceptive use is another difference, too..in fact this is something else which i feel unecessarily burdens the very people who are the least inclined, in partnerships, towards physical intimacy”

        Can you explain this?

        Salaam

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      • chemaatah

        Women do not have higher rates of cancer than men. They are also less likely to die from cancer than men are.
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8097639.stm

        I agree with your other points though. It’s kind and compassionate to go extra steps for your spouse to make them happy, pleased and comfortable. But no one wants to be blackmailed by fear and insecurity in their marriage, or forced to conform to unhealthy, unattainable ideals from each other. That’s abnormal and unhealthy, and unfair. Personal grooming isn’t really an area where I feel like it’s a matter of sacrifice or work to be pleasing, but for some couples it is. With me it’s housework. I can’t stand doing it, my husband knows I don’t like it, so he’s extra nice and complimentary when I do it because he understands that it’s not something I take to easily. But I don’t get paranoid that he’s going to want a divorce or something if he comes home and there’s still dishes in the sink. That’s not harmonious. But it wouldn’t be fair to make him live in a messy house all the time when I know he doesn’t like it, and appreciates some tidying up as much as I can. It’s not unhealthy for me to change this part of myself for him, it’s not like I’m not being true to my real self by doing housework, lol. I think the same can apply with little tweaks here and there one can do with their personal appearance, if it’s something that they don’t normally take a big interest in, but their spouse would appreciate.

        But it should absolutely not be something disrespectful, or harmful to that person. Women’s value as human beings should never be measured by their physical appearance, in marriage or anything else.

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    • oum

      if these sisters realized that Allah has created us in the most beautiful form, then there wouldn’t be a need for this article…it presents useless advice

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      • oum

        As salam alaykoum,

        I sincerely apologize for the comment I made, “useless advice.” I apologize to Sr. Haleh for using such harsh words and for discrediting her profession in public. May Allah-Insha Allah- accept my rpentence.

        Oum

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  28. africana

    @stranger, salam alaikum,

    no, i’m not a psychologist-i’ve just had reason to read up on a few psychological disorders.

    if your problem is to do with thoughts/ideas that are deeply dsturbing to you on a moral level, you should know that this is quite a common problem and recurrent disturbing sexual thoughts or those to do with violence are quite run of the mill type problems for those working in mental health.

    you might really benefit from discussing the issue with a professional.

    i think that until then, you should try to remember that the thoughts are not a reflection of who you are and that they are just thoughts. the fact that you don’t like the thoughts is a reasion enough not to think of yourself as a bad person for having them.

    sometimes our own bodies can make us question whether we really like the thoughts we are experiencing as ther is a phenomenon known as the groinal response whereby a tingling sensation of a sexual nature might be felt in the sensitive regions whilst experiencing these thoughts. this is not the same as sexual arousal, though and is merely a biological response to the fact that you’re having a sexual thought.

    a vicious cycle of thought-groinal rsponse-panic/anxiety is then created.

    from what i’ve read psychologists view the best course of action to be, just trying to allow the thoughs to come but to take no action to neutralise them, such as what you have been doing. it will be difficult at first but eventually you’ll realise you’re not in anydanger of acting on the thoughts and the anxiety will reduce.

    in sha Allah.

    salam

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    • Stranger

      @africana: wa alaikum as salaam,

      I don’t think I have tried anyting of that sort. Can you explain it in more detail? I do want to do it. May Allaah reward you for each letter you type and increase it multiple folds. Ameen.

      Jazakallaah khair for good and encouraging words.

      Salaam

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      • africana

        salam alaikum, stranger,

        i’m sorry for not responding earlier.

        i thought you might like to take a look at this website. here in the uk, it’s considerd by those in the medical profession to be a good source of accurate information on different mental health issues.

        http://rcpsych.ac.uk/default.aspx
        http://rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall.aspx

        should you seek help with what’s troubling you in your home country (i’m guessing you’re indian? am i right?) it might help you in your discussions.

        one must however never lose sight of the fact that Allah is the true source of healing.waking at night to pray tahajjud and seek his help in overcoming your problem should be a primary course of action.

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      • Stranger

        wa alaikum as salaam africana,

        Jazakallaah khair for responding. I don’t think I will seek professional help. I have seen some steps on the website you mentioned regarding this, I am planning to try those, insha Allaah.

        This is for the first time I have ever discussed this matter with anyone, though disguised, and it felt good that people are so supportive and willing to help, Alhamdulillaah!

        But I have some more disturbing feelings, which I could not share with anyone, but I do want to; because I feel it would help, insha Allaah. Can I talk to you over email about these? I am not going to share any dirty thoughts, lest it would you also. These are just feelings and events, which continue to haunt me even now.

        You do not have to share your personal email address, you can create a dummy account and redirect emails from me to your personal email account. This way I can not bug you; and you can block me anytime or even delete the account itself.

        Let me know if you can you help me with this? If YES then my dummy email address is: InStrangeWorld@gmail.com
        If NO, then don’t worry about it; you have already done much for which I am very greatful; just make dua for me.

        I am curious as to what made you feel I am Indian?

        Jazakallaah Khair,
        As Salaamu Alaikum

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  29. africana

    “One of my friend recently got divorced bcoz his needs were not being met, they were getting intimate every couple of months and he asked his wife of he can get a 2nd wife if she doesn’t like getting intimate. Well the answer was negative & he didn’t want to live rest of his life being a celibate after all he’s only 24″.

    since marriage is supposed to be about safe guarding one’s chastity, i do think that fulfilling his sexual needs and vice versa has to take priority. the husband has to accept less in other departments, like lavish meals etc..

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  30. Siraaj

    If I may, I believe most marriage advice can be implemented if both men and women focus themselves on being the best people they can be for the sake of Allah, and the natural consequence is that others will not only be attracted to that person, but they will be positively affected by them.

    I think one of the problems we face is not that we’re bad at marriage – we just have a lot of issues that never had to be dealt with until someone else had to deal with and react to them, kind of like when you move in with one of your best friends as a college roommate, and then find out that hanging out someone is very different from living with them. If they have great manners, hygiene, and respect for you and your time, you’ll love ‘em, and if not, that friendship may break.

    I think marriage simply magnifies characters flaws (and virtues too). I think marital success can be found in setting personal improvement and character goals for the simple sake of being a better person (not for the spouse), and regardless of their treatment of you (unless emotionally or physically abusive) will provide better lifelong satisfaction that isn’t dependent upon the good will of others, but in living life on one’s own terms.

    Siraaj

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  31. Hena Zuberi

    Sister Haleh: MashaAllah great advice and loved how its simply laid out!

    Many of us we were never taught about intimacy or ever discussed it- we learnt about it from trashy novels, 7th grade bio or from friends. In a quest for modesty, our parents sometimes made this very natural act- something that is ‘haraam’ and dirty. And the times we live in don’t help- sex is debased and used to sell stuff. We start thinking anyone who wants this is dirty.

    My ephiphany was: this is how men show their love- its weird for women to understand that because we show our love differently. We want him to talk or cuddle or to bring us a flower. But they think differently. He wants you, YOU, not just the sex.

    Ask yourself are you being his girlfriend? How do you talk to him? We often think we are not in the mood- we often just need to make ourselves get into it.

    Addressing this to the younger more exhausted sisters who have young kids especially those of us who carry the cultural baggage. A majority of us are having babies, nursing in our mid twenties. Ladies there light at the end of the tunnel!!! it is a phase in life and inshaAllah the babies will eventually sleep thru the night and the toddlers will become 9 year olds who can help with the dishes – I never understood why they said people in Jannah will be in the 30s ( youth in our times always is like 16-18 years old- 30 is considered OLD). Hitting my thirties, I get it. Finally at this stage, we are comfortable with our bodies, stretch marks and all- we get to the point where its ok to have fun, that we need it too. “prime of youth” :)

    To get ‘through the night’ during the tougher years of marriage:
    We need to remind ourselves that it is sadaqa, an act of worship and make it so- that by doing it we are pleasing Allah (SWT)- it changes the whole scenario. That is what changed it for me: I ask myself- would I whine or consider it a burden, or say I have a headache before fasting on Thursdays- no why? because we do it to get closer to Allah, so do this to get closer to Allah.

    Marriage is half your deen. There has to be much more to it than just intimacy. Make your niyyah solely for the sake of Allah, it doesn’t matter what kind of people you are- you work together to help each other make it to the other side where the real ‘pleasure’ lies.

    salaams

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    • Stranger

      Salaam,

      @Hena Zuberi

      I don’t understand this.. why would the desires in a woman be less than man? would that not be an imbalance in nature?

      I would not like my wife to make such sacrifice for me… no please.. that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I would love if after a tiring day with children etc, she actually finds relief, comfort and enjoyment in intimacy with me. Is this not possible?

      Please do reply.
      Jazakallaah khair,
      Salaam

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      • um noor

        Sorry, not Sr. Hena replying, but did wish to respond to your question.

        Definitely wives can have as strong and sometimes stronger desire than their husbands. Physical intimacy is very important to wives, and a needed source of relief, comfort and enjoyment as you say.

        There is a phenomenon in new mothers (of 0 – 3 yrs old children primarily) especially that is very hard to describe. I’ve heard it called being “touched out” — where you literally have been physically in contact with others too much and where you are giving, giving, giving to the point of emotional exhaustion. New moms are physically on-call all day and night and responding to urgent neediness virtually nonstop (nursing, changing diapers, bathing, feeding, carrying, playing, pushing strollers, holding sick kids, etc) and have been physically drained. You come to the point when you have some downtime and do not want to be touched at all. Touching — especially needy touching from others — becomes draining, and not replenishing.

        So this is a delicate time. This is not to make husbands shy of their own physical needs. It is just to give them a heads-up that during these years the approach might have to be different. But it is really simple and manageable if the husband does not get defensive, and is proactive in understanding and acting on some simple guidelines. Remember, you are a team.

        some tips:
        – give wife some physical alone time. A 1/2 hour shower alone can do wonders for her. Give her the room and space to relax, and prepare/ beautify herself for you.
        – If you can afford to give your wife some housework support, then go for it. Do not make her feel guilty for this. It is for your benefit as well.
        – give wife 30 minutes of pure listening time. Listen to her rant about her lousy day, cry, get it all out without getting defensive, hurt, or reacting to criticism — just listen like you would a friend. then just say some supportive things, like you know she is working hard and she’s doing a great job, say you love her and really appreciate her efforts, then ask if she’d like a hug.
        – use words — say to her with a smile that you find her beautiful, you love her, and would like to be intimate. Whenever’s she’s ready you are really looking forward to it. In other words, let her know the door is open, and let her walk in when she is ready. But definitely let her know you need her physical attention as well and that it is important to you. It is not something you two can afford to let slide because it is so important between husbands and wives.
        – The best aphrodisiac is to spend some time with her, listen to her, make her laugh, tell her she’s beautiful, sit on the sofa and cuddle. women are really simple – they want the time and positive attention of their husbands.
        – Husbands don’t be angry or demanding or threatening at this time. You will sound like another one of the kids. It is very off-putting and kills feelings of sexual intimacy.
        – She needs her man to be a man — calm, patient, mature, loving, securely confident, protective. This will warm her heart and the physical intimacy will blossom.

        think of any waiting or delay in a positive way — as anticipation, as spicing things up, as a challenge you will be rewarded for.

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      • Stranger

        Excellent points, masha Allaah!
        Jazakallaah Khair for responding.
        Salaam

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  32. christinej

    Very fascinating article. I am not married (nor intending to either but as a non-Muslim that is fine for me) so here goes an entirely unexperienced point of view! From what I have observed (I have three sisters and nine nephews and nieces) that if a man can make his wife happy then the marriage is happy.

    That said, and this is just my own point of view with no experience – I wonder how much it is fair to rely on someone else entirely to make you happy. I notice that my friends and family who seem most happy in their marriages also have other sources, such as friends and family members that they can talk to and “lean” on as well as their husbands so the burden of emotional input isn’t entirely on that one person.

    And again, I think having a love of God and a relationship with God gives an ENORMOUS sense of strength to a person, which could only be a benefit in a marriage.

    And perhaps some of it, the looking good part etc., you also have to do for yourself. I, myself, can’t live in a messy environment it drives me nuts so my house is very tidy and clean – because I do that for me. It pleases me. I suspect that when you have small children and a husband, there isn’t much time for “you” but it might be a better investment than you would imagine, squirreling away a little you time, mightn’t it? It would keep you interested and interesting and motivated and inspired and enjoying life… and is that not an attractive and noticeable thing about a person? I think it is, a person who seems very alive and happy.

    Perhaps time constraints are too much. I love to see happy marriages. There are two couples I know who are just SO lovely, one is the Richardsons and they are 83 and 85 respectively and they are both still so well-dressed, so taking care of themselves and yet so connected. I notice the way the wife has got a little more shaky and he so delicately and subtly makes sure he supports her with a hand on her elbow or around her back. Another couple are somewhat younger (and originally I thought they were late forties or maybe fifty) but in fact they are both over sixty! but they interact, it seems to me, exactly the same way as they must have done when they were in their teens. I love to see them.

    It is funny, I think, and my mother’s close friend was celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary the other day, she has known me since I was a child, and I was asking and chatting with her – she married aged just twenty and she was saying (but laughing) that she couldn’t imagine how her husband put up with her, she was so naive and didn’t know anything at all and they just sort of dived in at the deep end! They have three amazingly successful children, really off-the-scale levels of success (!) – with eight grandchildren and all children happily married too, so they obviously managed to do something right… who knows.

    In the end, I think it is the man who makes the marriage happy and that is why it is very important to choose a decent man! I think if you choose a selfish or cruel man, you can try a million different things but you won’t change it.

    Still that is the advice from someone who knows nothing about the subject!

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    • Stranger

      From your words I understand that you are very observant and surely intelligent.

      Look forward to more participation from you in these forums.

      Salaam (peace)

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  33. Haleh

    Hello Christine, welcome to the website :) it’s great to hear your perspective and even though you are not married or have experience you have a lot of wisdom! You are absolutely right about looking good for ourselves and investing in a little me time. It makes such a difference in person’s mood, energy level and overall perspective. Of course it goes without saying that looks by itself is superficial and a well rounded person will invest in 4 crucial relationships which lead to happiness:
    relationship with God which is the only way to nourish the soul,
    relationship with yourself which entails accepting yourself and living with purpose ( finding your God given gift to find purpose which fulfills your ultimate purpose which is to please God, relationship with others( family and friends) like you said they provide support and strength, and relationship with the community which refers to giving your time, money, talents for the improvement wherever you are.

    I love the examples you used of the older couples. It’s always heart warming to see individuals who truly exemplify the spirit a harmonious marriage.

    Hope you continue to share your thoughts with us.

    Haleh as in ha-lleluja :)

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  34. africana

    Christinej,

    thanks so much for your response. i really agree with your take on matters., esp. this part:

    “I wonder how much it is fair to rely on someone else entirely to make you happy. I notice that my friends and family who seem most happy in their marriages also have other sources, such as friends and family members that they can talk to and “lean” on as well as their husbands so the burden of emotional input isn’t entirely on that one person.

    And again, I think having a love of God and a relationship with God gives an ENORMOUS sense of strength to a person, which could only be a benefit in a marriage.

    And perhaps some of it, the looking good part etc., you also have to do for yourself. I, myself, can’t live in a messy environment it drives me nuts so my house is very tidy and clean – because I do that for me. It pleases me. I suspect that when you have small children and a husband, there isn’t much time for “you” but it might be a better investment than you would imagine, squirreling away a little you time, mightn’t it?”

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  35. MuslimahS

    JazakAllah khair sis Haleh,
    Awesome article and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments and queries too.

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  36. africana

    “Cosmetics firm MAC has apologised and is to rename a range of makeup, in response to the outrage caused by its decision to seek inspiration from Cuidad Juárez in Mexico, where an estimated 400 young women have been violently murdered since 1993.

    The fact that Ciudad Juarez has been named the most dangerous city in the world seems to have been lost on the designers, who told reporters that their Fall/Winter ready-to-wear collection (unveiled in February 2010) was influenced by the lines of women workers they’d see on their way to factory jobs in the middle of the night. Compounding the offense is the marketing campaign surrounding the makeup line, which features ghostly pale women who look as if they have been raised from the dead. Even the blush compact is streaked with ribbons of red that look like blood.”

    http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2010/07/mac_apologises

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  37. africana

    http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=beauty_myths

    “New flaws are constantly being discovered on women’s bodies. Female genital cosmetic surgery appeared in 1998 and has grown steadily. “The surgeons argued that women attend to genital appearance because of skimpy bikinis, thong underwear, Brazilian waxing, laser hair removal, oral sex, provocative fashion advertising, and internet pornography,” Leonore Tiefer, a New York University psychiatry professor, wrote in a journal article last year. The Food and Drug Administration only approved Botox for use on wrinkles in 2002; it’s now a cultural staple that has vastly changed our expectations about what a middle-aged woman’s face should look like.

    This year, we were introduced to “cankles,” a derisive term for insufficiently tapered ankles. (Naturally, there’s a surgical cure.) Last Thursday, a New York Times Style section article about eyebrows described teenagers seeking professional plucking, waxing and threading at 12 and 13. Older women, it said, are increasingly having hair surgically transplanted to their eyebrows in order to fill them out: 3,484 such procedures were done in 2008.

    Of course, you probably know a lot of this already — we all do. It’s become so exhausting and repetitive to complain about insane beauty standards that many of us have stopped, even though they keep getting worse. There’s something embarrassing about letting it get to you — what should a women with a life care about body-snarking bloggers or US Weekly? But opting out of a culture and its obsessions isn’t easy to do, and so appearance anxiety, and a sense of constant unloving judgment, eats up many women’s mental energy.”

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  38. Umm

    Assalaam Alaykum, despite everything said and the wonderful and practical advice give in the article and comments, there are times when the only way to win your husband’s heart is to be a complete bi**ch. I apologise for the language used but I cannot think of another word to adequately describe.

    How many can relate to this?

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    • Umm Musayb

      wa ‘alaykumasalaam wa rahmatullah,

      Forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean?

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      • Umm Musayb

        Sorry, it’s cuz that doesn’t make sense to me!

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    • oum

      don’t apologize sister, u r only being truthful and there’s nothing wrong w/that. IF others have a problem, then it’s their problem and not yours. Just be true and be yourself…..can’t go wrong w/that!

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  39. africana

    well, this is exactly what i mean about not compromising our standards to attain another human being’s approval.
    what you advocate, umm, is the ultimate in selling out and i, for one, am quite offended by that.

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  40. africana

    @stranger,

    salams, i’m really sorry but i won’t be able to contact you via the email address provided. i prefer to keep correspondence with men in the public domain.

    perhaps a brother might be willing to do so, though.

    and do feel free to post to the forum-there seem to be quite a few knowledgable people on here, mashAllah.

    anyway, take care.

    wa salam

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    • Stranger

      Salaam africana,

      I understand and it’s good. I shouldn’t have asked that, my bad.

      Jazakallaahu Khairan Katheera
      As Salaamu Alaikum

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  41. africana

    “I ONLY meant bleaching the hair on the arms NEVER the skin”

    well, that’s alright, then.
    *shakes head in dismay*

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    • oum

      I think that these so called “psychologists” here on this page, have a hard time understanding you.

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      • oum

        As salam alayoum,

        I am apologizing to Sr. Haleh for using the baseless terms “so called psychologists” in my comment. I will never write nor say words that degrade my sisters ever again, insha Allah, Allah will accept my tauba and Haleh, too. Again, very sorry for all the negative comments I made on her articles, her profession and personaly against her.

        Oum

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  42. chemaatah

    Attempting to draw parallels between arm hair bleaching and skin whitening/bleaching is a massive FAIL. There are a myriad of reasons why women may want to make their arm hair less visible, and most don’t involve enslavement to the white, “western” beauty ideal. Not every woman who waxes their legs or bleaches their arm hair, or threads their upper lip is oppressed and self-hating.

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  43. Kamilah

    AsSalaamu Alaikum Haleh & Chemaatah,

    I am fasting, so I am trying to remain as civil as possible, Insha’Allah.

    Many times I was going to leave the discussion because it seemed fruitless. However, I always felt the need to defend my comments, now more than ever. I feel responsible for beginning the conversation on the article being a little superficial. I originally thought it was a great article with a few things that turned me off, especially at the end. Obviously, I was not the only one to take the article for superficial because people who wrote in defense for the article became my case in point. The defense was more superficial than the article itself, from sisters expressing their fear of there husband’s coworkers, wearing harmful make-up, bleaching skin, victoria secrets, etc, etc. The criticism began to be more directed towards other comments, but Haleh obviously took it personally because her last comment was tasteless and un “professional”.

    I have already gave my facebook account info, anyone is welcome to add me as a friend. I mentioned that I just celebrated my 12th anniversary this weekend, those pictures are on there and many more. This was never a personal argument, I actually added the article to my facebook page. I am concerned about the Muslim community at large, especially in the US and our high divorce rate. I am also concerned with the superficiality of our communities and the money we spend as I said with Maher Zain’s song Awakening. I am also concerned with Cancer especially and other disease that affect women due to the lies(BBC article) published by pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies. I rarely read news owned by the same corporations that are selling the products. I also was not concerned with lung or pancreas cancer that “shouldn’t” be a problem within the Muslim community or skin cancer caused by damage from the sun. You’ll have to read medical journals by people who promote natural health and have no association with the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

    To be concerned about social issues, in no way dictates bitterness or problems within our relationship. In fact it is the opposite, I have so much love in my relationship, I want for others that I want for myself and I want to give back.

    Some of the things that have made my husband feel loved:
    1) First and foremost Prayer. Praying the night prayer for your husband is the best thing you can do for him and your relationship. As a Pious women is the best of wives, also pray for Allah to purify your heart.
    2) Guarding his money, spending his money wisely. Since money problems is one of the main reasons people get divorce, this will protect your marriage from divorce and it’s Sunnah.
    3) Appreciate him, all the time no matter what he does and be his biggest encourager. Help him find his sense of purpose in his career, and encourage him to achieve it. Like Haleh said be his best friend and do it with sincerity because you are really interested.
    4) Allow sex to come first. Never withhold it out of anger or disappointment, sometime sex can help these feelings. Beautify yourself and your house, maintain yourself and your house naturally and frugally. Drink alot of fluids and eat alot of fruit.

    There is a beautiful quote that I love to read from Richard Bach on soulmates, according to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf to look at your spouse as your soulmate is supported by the Quran.

    “A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise.”

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    • africana

      jazak Allahu khairan.

      although i have been characterised as arguing for sport by a couple of folks on here, i never intended to be involved in this discussion other than than to agree with your first comment regarding american consumerism.

      i really found myself being drawn into the discussion because some of the comments left on here were, inmy view too potentially damaging to an individual’s semse of worrth, to be left unchalleneged.

      thanks for the discussion everyone.

      i may look you up on facebook (that bastion of american consumerism), kamilla.

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  44. shereen

    . Great Article… same should be applied by Husbands to wives too. It needs to come rom BOTH sides or else one will feel like serving the King or Queen as a subservient. Marriage problems usually start five or seven years into it- THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH & tired mothers who do it all alone in Nuclear Family Western culture.
    Have seen many women care for working husbands in Western countries while holding their own jobs & full time care provider for Muslim children. Some are putting self through college as well- if immigrant.

    The real issue we have heard as community DV volunteers is that Western husbands are neglecting wives for fantasy pornographic satisfactions. A grave issue. Need to ask that question point blank without flinching an eyelash & will be surprised to find out how prevalent the Pornography conflict is and the viewing habits of Western Male is contributing to his own unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
    It is time to be deeply honest & fearless. Let all come out of the closet and Take this issue up to end the problem. If anyone can do it then it will be the Muslim Ummah backed by Al Qur’an, Hadith and moral Muslim women

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  45. Algebera

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    WOW, a lot of interesting activity going on in this forum!!!!! I am purposely staying away till the Ten days of Dul-Hijjah and Eid is over, don’t want to get caught up in the occasional tornadoes:):)
    salam

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  46. africana

    @bushra and others,

    one doesn’t need be at close quarters with another to make the observation that those women who make a living from their bodies/faces are often disinclined towards physical intimacy. if you were to make the acquaintance of professional models and were party to their conversations you’d make this observation, too.

    i disagree with your last comment but i’m not going to rehash what has already gone before.i feel that coming on here is a fruitless exercise as opinions are so entrenched and that there is far too much misrepresentation of opinions going on.

    i think the points about dressing up in the article completely overshadowed what should have been a fairly innocuous read. the ensuing nastiness (sister, after all our husbands do for us, you can’t bother yourself just once to make the effort) on the part of some of the commenters towards non-conformist women certainly reminded me of that old adge about women themselves being the real enforcers of patriarchal norms.

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    • Bushra

      i think the points about dressing up in the article completely overshadowed what should have been a fairly innocuous read. the ensuing nastiness (sister, after all our husbands do for us, you can’t bother yourself just once to make the effort) on the part of some of the commenters towards non-conformist women certainly reminded me of that old adge about women themselves being the real enforcers of patriarchal norms.

      africana, I think the last part of your paragraph is pretty true.

      But, the reason sisters say what they say is because good husbands are not only difficult to come by, but also because Allah(swt) has given them a responsibility over us. When they are our mahrams and our main providers, then we should fulfil our responsibilities too by at least TRYING to keep them happy and by fulfilling our duties. That in itself can grant us reward. Neither the Qur’an nor the Sunnah prescribed the wives of the Prophet(saw) to dress up in a specific manner, but A’isha(ra) once wore a clothing smelling of saffron to attract her husband. Why saffron? Because that was the culture and the norm at the time. What is the culture and the norm now? It is totally upto you. But now, in times of complete exposure, we can at least try to catch up where it’s halal to dress up and make an effort.

      I don’t believe for a second that there should be a divide of conformist/non-conformist. If anything, Muslim women are non-conformists to society anyway.

      What I am completely failing to understand is that why is there an opposition to dressing up, wearing makeup and generally trying to make yourself look good for your husband??

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  47. africana

    i came across this article regarding sexual repression. i think it’s relevant as there is alot of prescriptiveness, in the comments, about the way women should express their sexuality.

    “But, second, she can also repress herself by expressing a sexuality that is not genuinely hers — say in this case by adopting a masochistic sexuality to compliment her partner’s sadistic sexuality.

    The important thing to note is that, despite the superficial differences between the two ways of repression, she would in both cases be repressing her true sexuality. So far as I know, the emotional and psychological consequences are the same regardless of whether one represses themselves by limiting their sexuality or represses themselves by adopting a sexuality that is not natural to them.

    So, I think it’s safe to say that repression occurs when we are not being true to ourselves”
    http://cafephilos.wordpress.com/2008/07/06/a-thought-or-two-on-sexual-repression/.

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  48. africana

    “What is the culture and the norm now?”

    lingerie was once fetish wear an i think it actually expresses a very right wing conservative view of sexuality, whereby women are harlots in the bedroom and honorable ladies outwith.

    the lingerie companies, like m and s, are keen to promote the idea that self-esteem (that watch word of the current age) and sexiness can only be attained by feeling m+s silk whatsits beneath their office wear..which is hardly surprising considering they’re flogging the stuff. muslims and conservative christians (with their new found sex positivty) have latched onto this idea as though it were gospel.

    i’m actually of the view that in spite of the plethora of sexual imagery, society remains as repressed sexually as it ever was and i really want nothing to do with the commodification of sex appeal. that is not to say that i’m against adornment-it is a human tendency.. but to suggest that a piece of clothing once the preserve of hookers is the natural progression of what Aisha RA did, seems totally wrong headed.

    20 years from now (supposing the world hasn’t ended) will these perfect wife columns be churning out advise about spicing up our marriages not with fluffy islamicised oprah inspired date nights with the latest in dominatrix wear?

    to me, lingerie just sceams “please like me and think i’m hot.”

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  49. chemaatah

    Are you saying that “like me and think i’m hot” doesn’t have any time or place in a marriage? While it’s certainly no basis for a marriage, it’s definitely got its place in the proper context.

    And what is the historical basis for asserting that pretty undergarments have in the past strictly been the domain of prostitutes? Are we then supposed to deduce that women who wear them are emulating prostitutes? I’m pretty sure a lot of prostitutes out there probably own hairbrushes. I own hairbrushes too-does that mean myself and anyone else who own hairbrushes are also emulating prostitutes?

    Believe it or not, some women just like pretty undergarments for the sake of liking how they look and feel. There’s no hidden meaning in it, no self-loathing in it, no clamoring desperately for sexiness or glamor in it-they just like them. And plenty of people’s husbands like the way their wife looks wearing them because they already love her, it looks attractive on her, and it’s aesthetically pleasing to him. There’s nothing demeaning to be found there, and neither of them are selling out to anyone. No one’s commodified their sexuality in this instance, they’re just doing what works for them. What works for them might not work or be comfortable for others. But that doesn’t give others the right to diminish their choices, or accuse them of being stupid, ignorant sheep who have fallen for a ruse.

    It’s not about lingerie, or where it might or might not have come from. It’s about the intent. If your intent is to look like a prostitute, that’s icky. If you need pretty undergarments because you have no self-worth or feel unattractive without it, that’s sad. But there’s nothing wrong with wearing those things around one’s husband because you both feel that you look attractive in them. And there’s nothing wrongheaded about that being your chosen progression of making yourself attractive and pleasing to your husband in the 21st century, if a particular 7th century practice doesn’t do anything for you as a couple.

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  50. africana

    a woman who is required, or pressurised, into dressing in highly sexualised clothing inside the home for no other reason than to satisfy her husband is, i’m afraid, being treated as a sexual object.

    i thought one of the key criticisms we, as muslims,make of western society is that it objectifies women and girls and is sold to them as empowerment.

    demanding that your wife dress as a sexy dancer, as per this article, strikes might as a little like the pot calling the kettle black… or are we saying that dehumanisation is acceptable as long as it goes on behind closed doors?

    there is a line of thinking that the defining feature of a woman, albeit hidden in muslim women, is her eroticism. i find this an incredibly patronising way to look at the twin half of humanity and i certainly don’t wish to pander to it by impose that idea on myself or others.

    sexy lingerie is inextricably linked to the reduction of women to sexual objects, thus i don’t think they’re to be toyed with. would you, for example, wear a leather jacket daubed with a swastika just because of its aesthetical value?

    the below article is relevant to this, here are some key quotes (all of which state in more explicit and disturbing terms what some of the commenters have been pointing to):

    “A Muslim woman works hard to ensure she is attractive. But she keeps her eroticism for her husband. She may be limited in personal liberties outside the home, but inside anything goes.”

    “A belly-dancing outfit has become a must for young brides, Amal says as she picks out a gold-sequinned version for the blushing bride-to-be”.

    “Muslim wives must be desirable and pleasure their husbands so they don’t stray,” she adds with a large grin”.

    “A woman can buy whatever she desires, even a dancer’s outfit for when she wants to give pleasure to her husband,” Habash adds. “This is not only her right, it’s an obligation.”

    http://www.modernghana.com/lifestylep/814/16/pagenum2/muslim-women-value-sexy.html#continue

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    • Blessed

      So what suggestions do you have of how to spice up one’s intimate life with their husband? And are you married?

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    • Kiki

      For gods sake dont u think the husband will like it if his wife dressed up once in a while just for him????? It doesnt hAve to be anything expensive. And it is not the husbands choice it is the wifes choice if she wants to wear or not. It s just some advice to make the intimate relationship stronger.

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  51. africana

    i mean, seriously, pass the sick bucket. the above is not what islam is about.

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    • oum

      For women who are blessed to be taken care of their husbands, going to buy bellying dancing outfits is a “must have” in their wardrobe along w/the 100 pairs of shoes, purses that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars, along w/the drawerful of lingerie. I have seen muslima women sporting in handbags that cost $2,000 and think that they are self righteous by going to the masjids on Fridays, giving a few religious classes, and throwing a few coins in the donation box….please!!! This is not ISLAM but greed and ignorance. Just remember, only the poor will enter Jannah first!!!

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  52. Kamilah

    PORNOGRAPHY- “Dear Shaykh, I’m Struggling With Pornography…”
    With Sh Faraz Rabbani & Zeyad Ramadan is happening tonight, Sorry for the late notice.

    You can register for it here:
    http://www.purifyyourgaze.com/webinar/seekersguidance

    “Many Muslims, both male and female, single AND married are struggling with pornography addiction. While caught up in this vicious cycle, they are often sincerely looking for help on none other than Islamic fatwa websites.

    Unfortunately, fatwa websites aren’t equipped to help individuals with addictions, something more is needed…

    Join Sh Faraz Rabbani with Director of PurifyYourGaze Zeyad Ramadan on December 8th where they will both share the Islamic path to addiction recovery– and what to do about it exactly!”

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  53. Algebera

    @Ify Okoye
    Aslamu-alaikum:
    I just sent you an e-mail
    thank you for your response.
    salam

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  54. opinion matters

    Comment: One is allowed to express his/her own true opinion on literature published publicly on the net. Freedom of speech is a right in which one has every right to indulge in, not worrying about what others think. If publishers,writers,critics, etc have a (truly) open mind, then any publsihed opinion should be judged as a lesson to learn from. If publishers, writers, and critics cannot accept or don’t beleive in the content of certain opinions, then such people need to work on themselves.

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  55. A brother

    The writer is a privileged well to do individual that is out of touch with reality. Her advises are not meant for the general population but for the few that Allah have blessed them with excess in life. She paint a picture of our society that far from the truth. She does not see, or do not want to see or pretending that our nation does not live in turmoil, challenging and difficult times.

    The majority of Muslim are poor, unemployed struggling to feed, clean and maintain themselves. Can she tell these advises to the wives living in the tents in Pakistan and Palestine? Would she walked to the slums of Cairo, and pass these thoughts to the poor who lives in shacks with no running water or electricity and no food or clothes?

    Would the messenger advise us to spend our money on such things as worthless items? How can any one justify wasting money on makeup and lingerie While we have millions of our Muslim starving every day.

    It is amazing that someone spent time and effort to write such a detailed article about such a trivial issue. What is even more astonishing, that the person in charge of reviewing and publishing found this article worthy of
    posting.

    As for all the sisters who waste time reading and commenting on this article, I have the following advise for you

    If your husband does not love you for who you are and what is in your heart, you have married the wrong person and no amount of makeup or type of clothes will change that fact.

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      • Ainul

        I will have to disagree with you, A brother. Yes, there are so many Muslims who are suffering and their pain is much more than ours. But we can always make dua for them, donate our wealth for them, and do some voluntary work to improve their situation. And I understand your pain, but chaos at home will only lead to more chaos. And peace starts at home.

        Although this article is written for an average Muslim, the poor can still derive benefits. They can take all that they are capable of doing (like speaking kind words, etc.) and leave the rest. The author never meant to say that make up and lingerie are the most important things.

        And although to you this article may be of no importance, every person is given a different trail. And I know so many sisters who suffer because they do not know what they are supposed to do to gain their husband’s love! This article clears some of their problems.

        i understand that you love and care for the ummah so much that you feel their pain and feel like this article does not understand that pain. But the best thing would be to not criticize and think what you can do spread awareness. Start with your family, neighbors, the masjid you go to, etc. Collect donations, get people more involved, etc.

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    • Blessed

      “The majority of Muslim are poor, unemployed struggling to feed, clean and maintain themselves. Can she tell these advises to the wives living in the tents in Pakistan and Palestine? Would she walked to the slums of Cairo, and pass these thoughts to the poor who lives in shacks with no running water or electricity and no food or clothes?”

      I don’t think the audience of this article was supposed to be women who live in tents in Pakistan or in the slums of Cairo. Do you really think that they would go on the internet to read MuslimMatters? This article was directed towards the women who are most likely to read MM, and I think most of the stuff written here is beneficial for a healthy marital relationship. Believe it or not, looking attractive IS an important part of marriage. For both men and women.

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    • Khadijah

      Shukran Brother…you spoke volumes in a few paragraphs and I sincerely appreciate the points you made. I actually found myself caught up in this article and agreeing with a lot of the suggestions the writer made but then when I read your reply, I had to re-evaluate my thinking. And I realized you are so right! The more I think about it, the more I think some of the suggestions in the article are degrading to females. It’s placing far too much importance and emphasis on physical appearance. Not to say a person shouldn’t take pride in their appearance. Common sense says we should attend to basic grooming and hygiene but as you pointed out, even just basics are difficult to maintain for very poor people and going to the salon for French manicures and Brazilian waxes, etc. is totally out of the question when you struggle just to meet the basic needs of your family.

      I am presently engaged to be married soon inshaAllah and I am aware of my imperfections and sometimes worry that I am not adequate because I have flaws and imperfections but he assures me that he loves me and accepts me in every condition and that his main focus is on my character and heart. The more I think of all this, the more annoyed I feel by the suggestions of the writer of this article. and this hadith keeps resonating in my mind:

      “Narrated Abû Hurairah : Allah’s Messenger said, “Allah looks not at your figures, nor at your outward appearance but He looks at your hearts and deeds.”(Muslim).

      I think that’s all that needs to be said regarding this matter. But of course, I always welcome any responses, replies or comments anyone may have.

      Wa’Salam

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      • The Truth Seeker

        I am so sad and disillusioned after reading comments by A bother

        This is absolutely rubbish that you said that physical beauty is not important . Do you want your husband to look at porn and do haraam acts … My God , ” A bother ” seriously lacks maturity .

        I think you are not aware of ground realities . I know it’s important to help muslim who are poor but that doesn’t mean that you stop living your life .

        I think you wrote this post in emotion . If you are so determined to help muslims then don’t marry ever , live your life as a celibacy , sell all your stuff and go help muslims .

        What a unrealistic talk that you made . I could go on ranting but I think it is absolute waste of time talking to ignorant people like you .

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    • rookey2

      1. the less fortunate majority that you are clamoring do not have an access to read this piece (if they can read at all)

      2. the messenger (saw) specifically instructed wives to beautify themselves for their husbands… go and brush up your reading of the hadith

      3. issues of marital bliss is not trivial… the family is the bedrock of the ummah and the pivot of the family is a happy marriage (no wonder muslims are in serious disarray)

      4. if you are so concerned about our poor brothers and sisters, sell off your house, laptop, pda, mobile phone, car or any other worthless piece of material to assist

      5. finally, how can someone love you for who you are if he doesnt know you and that is the real point of this article if you have really read it…

      may Allah reward the sister who wrote this abundantly… and forgive those of us who like shooting down the sincere efforts of others without putting up anything better

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  56. mo

    i have just been sent this to read and have to say i had the laugh of my life. (just what i needed.) my husband and I have been together for 11 years with 2 young children 3 an 1.
    we have swapped roles in our house I go to work and he is a stay at home dad. as much as we would like to change the situation the truth is I earn 5/6 time the amount he used to and childcare wasnt an option.
    i work hard often bringing work home so we can spend time together. the truth is, is doesnt have to be all the time otherwise it will become fake.
    i do appretiate everything he does an vise versea i dont have the time to go to the salon 1ce every 6mths never mind monthly!
    we have family time usually weekends, an that time is spent with each other an building a relationship as a family we go out, have fun an laugh an joke. we also have our time everyday where we have time to relax an not worry about work, kids, each other, cleaning, school runs, home work, play dates etc etc etc.

    if your not happy in yourself then nothing else will make you happy.

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  57. Muhammad

    How do you get a partner to know this information without having them feel like they are being inadequate with you. That’s something I’ve wanted to know for a long time, how you can offer such detailed information without feeling pushy or demanding or unsatisfied.

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    • Ainul

      Maybe you could get yourself another article that talks about pleasing the wife and then give this article to her making sure that she knows you are reading an article about pleasing her, and insha Allah this way, it she would feel like you are interested in improving the marriage rather than making her feel like “you are not doing your job”

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  58. Tahseensufi

    assalamualaikum, haleh mam i am really very get inspired by ur article and learned a lot from it n inshaaallah i vll practice and stick to it. and another is that i am a student of psychology and pursuing M.A. from distance education in psychology, but i dont have enough basic knowledge about it
    as all my studies from XI to up to now are done after my marriage alhamdulillah. but before marriage i was interested in medicine but unpredictably i got married and allah has blessed me with two lovely girls.   and my future plan is to become a lecturer or a psychologist and for that i should have a very good knowledge and command on my subject. i request you to please guide me in this account and suggest me what should i read to be capable of having broad knowledge about it. hope u reply soon .thank q.

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  59. Jose Hafsaoui-lamers

    asalamalaikoem Haleh sister in deen,
    my compliments for you,re message,it,s verry good,it,s just like it is.
    i,am a hollandia muslim and marry now for twenty years,i have 2 children a boy and a girl.

    lot,s of love,you,re sister in deen zahra

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  60. hope

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I am a western woman and have recently learnt that when I am more kind, patient, consider my man’s feelings more and don’t try to get my own way, we get on so much better, he is happier and then he is nicer too, which of course makes me much happier also.

    I always used to get upset and try to defend myself when he would bring up the past, about old arguments we had a long time ago. I felt like he wasn’t being fair and I wanted to stick up for myself.

    Somewhere along the line I was praying one day, and I felt like God was telling me to try a new approach. And so ever since then I have been really trying to not defend myself, but instead to consider his feelings, to apologise for hurting him, even if it was a long time ago and he hurt me too. After all he wouldn’t be bringing it up if it didn’t still hurt him, so I should be more caring.

    The results have been amazing, As I have been more loving he has also become gentler and more considerate – and would you believe he has finally started to apologise for some of the things he did to me!

    I’ve realised that popular western culture and relationship advice just doesn’t work. It only leads to BOTH people being upset and hurt and never feeling appreciated.

    Reading your article, it is so wise: if more western women would take these principles on board then I think they would probably find themselves a lot happier in their relationships too. I just wish I’d woken up sooner.

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  61. zokk

    Hi, Thanks but, how about men who never changes after doing all these…? I’m married and I always do the things you said…but my man is more into his business and friends. He is sharing many things with his cousins and uncles. I know if someone hears this they will blame me that it’s because of my mistake that my hubby behaves like this. And when we realise that they will never change, we lose our love and respect for them day by day. I don’t know this wedding business anymore..!!

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  62. joann

    Hello,

    I would like to ask you some questions, I really need any advice on my issue.
    I am in love with a Muslim man. I am Christian. I want to be his wife, the mother of his children, I really love him and want to spend the rest of my life with this person.
    The problem is that he stronly believes that it would not work between us because of our different cultures and of course reliegen. With his strong opinion he made me loose my hope but I don’t want to give up because I LOVE this Muslim man. And I am ready to do anything for him in order to believe that my love is true and that I can stand beside him as a Muslim woman may. But he doesn’t give me the chance.
    Is there anything I could do to see my truth about him, anything…

    Thank you

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    • letho

      Its her body, so yes, she should be able to say no. Unless you can become pregnant yourself, be at fear of loosing job or even(at worst) your life, you should let her decide.
      Because its her body and you have no right whatsoever to decide what she does with her body.

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  63. Kiki

    I think this is a gret post mashaalah. It has great advice espicially on intimacy. Most woman think their husband has to make the first move or intercourse is only to have a baby. I also like that u have to be a best friend to ur husband as well and not just his wife. Mashallah some realy good advice. God bless u!

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  64. Slimane Benslimane

    I am a muslim man who was married for 20 years and quiet frankly, my wife made me regret marrying a women from my culture. The way muslim women were brought up is to have the wrong attitude towards sex. They see it as a dirty, animal act because their mothers told them so. In 20 years I have never been welcomed home with a kiss from my wife even after a long business travel, it is what I bring that matters not how I feel. I am not a bad looking guy, I look after my appearance, and I don’t smell because I wear expensive men perfumes and have a shower every day. Still only find rejection from my wife.
    I blame this culture of muslim women getting married for financial reasons and not for love and happiness. I guess I was used as a bank account rather than a husband and now if I divorce her she makes sure that I will be penniless for the rest of my life. Is that fair in Islam ?
    Frankly, if I ever remarry, I will go for a women from the western culture who would marry me not my wallet .
    In this day and age women claim the same rights as men, why do they still rely on men to provide everything and use men as a bank account. Equal rights means equal duties.

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