So i was always taught to speak about my thoughts and be honest about them, especially being in a relationship where it involves two people, two minds, two hearts. My mother always say, the only way to make anything work is communication and a good manner. So i know, if i want or need something, i should say it, in a kind and polite way. Now allow me to go back in time to when my husband asked me to marry him. After 2 years of us dating on and off, i started a conversation where i pour my heart out about my dreams, about how i visualised a marriage life would be, and that it is my ultimate dream to have a partner and not just a husband. I told him, if he let me work, let me grow, if he can let me chase my dreams, give me personal space to allow myself have my own precious time, and especially if he can change diapers, feeds and put a baby to sleep, don't mind waking up in the middle of the night to attend a crying baby without being asked, cooks and clean together, then i would be considering his proposition. I was very firmed, if he can promise me that we will contribute equally based on our capacity and grow together, i would agree to marry him.
Was this too much to asked? of course not. I was being logical. I knew i didn't want a man to just sweep me of my feet and save me because i didn't need to be saved, i needed a partner-in-crime, i wanted a best friend. I always believed the power of mind and have envisioned what i wanted my whole life so if i didn't speak my heart and mind about it, i would miss out a whole lifetime of happiness. Now i know you would probably wonder "how would you know for sure that he will keep his promises because people can change?", believe me i wondered the same thing four years ago, but i knew that a real man always keeps his words and if the universe conspires for us to marry, hopefully he is the man for me.
I know some people will bring up religious norms, how in Islam that wives main duties is to be obedient, to respect and follow the husband and all that sort of stuff, now that concept somehow never quite get to me. Why has it rarely discussed about the other way around? why every time we talk about marriage in islam, the word "respect" always refers only to the husband? Are we really that small?. I was even clear about this from the start with my husband that if he only wish for me to be completely obedient to him giving no space for intellectual discussions or if he want me to do all the cooking cleaning raising the kids myself, then he can look somewhere else because i can't be that woman.
I don't believe my religion that is based on 'love and peace' is actually telling me to do nothing when my husband is doing something wrong, i don't believe my religion is teaching me to accept my destiny if life tries to bring me down, i don't believe my religion is trying to devalued women, i never believed my religion is allowing men to use the term "respect" as their permission to oppress women's rights to feel equally appreciated, to abuse physically in order to "educate women" and what's most worst a permission to do polygamy. It seems that what most people understand is my religion makes it okay if a woman feels small and insecure. It's not okay. it's never okay. I'm sorry but i don't believe all that.
I must say i am probably a few of the lucky ones that my parents taught about my worth. What i am worth of; I am worthy of love, affection, respect and freedom. I grew up knowing my worth and that's why looking back, i started that pre-marital conversation with my husband, because i always knew my worth and i am worthy of the highest bargaining position. If you are thinking that this post is also about feminism? damn right you are.
So based on that conversation we had before the wedding, we decided to write a vow for each other that we would read aloud in front of the audience on our wedding day. I know, at that time, it was not something regular in any islamic wedding run-downs, but it was my wedding and i will do it in anyway i pleased. After the ijab-kabul, before we exchanged our rings, we both stood up facing each other and read aloud our vows with tears in our eyes (sorry for getting sentimental here). After we exchanged our rings, as usual the headman of the wedding would 'command' the bride to kiss the groom's hand, in which earlier i firmly requested to my wedding organizer to skip this part, but he may have slipped and i almost flipped!, before making a weird scene so i put aside my ego, follow the lead and kiss my husband's hand. And to my surprise, he kissed mine back, so lovingly. He achieved to impress all the guest since you wouldn't see that kind of scene on any regular traditional weddings, so he managed to make me feel like a queen and my dream wedding came very true.
My childhood = my future
Maybe i should share a little bit of my background and why i always had all this critical thinking. My mother came from a rich and respected family, while my father came from a very modest family his father was a teacher. When my mother married my father, he practically had nothing but a small deposit in bank and a new job, while my rich grand father was ready to offer them a new house, a new car and everything my dad couldn't afford. My parents the newlyweds at that time, refused to take that tantalising offer and my mother decided to start a whole new life, the life that her husband could afford. So he rented a small house. In that house, me and my brother was born, we came home to that house.
What my mother taught from that sacrifice, was grace. She chose my father because she believed in him and he gave my mother the freedom to grow. Both my parents worked very hard from the beginning of their marriage, and they both grew together as they grew us. A few years later my father had the opportunity to receive an MBA scholarship to Virginia, US. So we all left Jakarta and happily lived in the states for 3,5 consecutive years. Obviously we had no maid, no helper. I was only 3 years old and my brother was practically a baby. Although i was only very little and had very little consciousness but apparently it implanted in my head the everyday scene of our life, how amazing of a team my parents were. My father in the midst of his endless projects and assignments, he still made time to do most of the hard cleaning of the house, like scrubbing the bathroom floor, scrubbing the kitchen, washing the car to polishing the shoes we would use to school. My mother would do most of the cooking, prepping up our lunch boxes and without a doubt, my father would wash the dishes. It's as if he knew his main role, as what every man in the house should be like.
They always split chores and get us kids to help them, at that time we already learned that house chores is part of our daily routine. That's how we learned about responsibility. My mother always put us to bed at 8pm every night without fail, at 6.30pm after dinner, we would go to the bathroom, wash ourselves, drink our milk, brush our teeth, slip in our pyjamas, say good night and get inside our room. When we sleep at night, that's the time my father would focus on his papers, my mother would continue to clean up or help my father to have an intellectual discussion, mostly a time of their own as a couple. These routine taught us balance and discipline. My mother always told us since little, evenings are for adult. Now I continue this ritual with my own husband.
Thank's to my parents, I had a beautiful memorable childhood. But most of all, it shaped me. Every little things that my parents did together stuck in my head, it grew in me until i entered my youth, until i figured out that life is not perfect but i knew what was ideal for me. I clearly remembered how well my father served my mother as well as my mother served him. And without a doubt, behind all my father's success and glory there's an amazing woman next to him, let me repeat, not behind but next to him. They both have an amazing inspiring career. They were each others wing-man and still is until today, may God always bless these beautiful souls with long happy meaningful lives. I wanted what my parents had, i wanted that kind of relationship. I dreamed to be like them, a power couple.
My parents were the reason i started that conversation, a conversation i still continue to have with my husband until today. The mind is a powerful tool, but our actions also determines our future. It's not just about being lucky, it's more like a powerful attraction. If you share a positive energy you will eventually find that same level of energy in another person. To put it simpler, you get what you truly deserve. I guess that's how soulmate meets. Now how do i know if we will stay together forever and ever? how do i know if we won't fall out of love? how do i know if we will stay faithful to each other? my answer is, i don't know. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and life can't guarantee me anything. But one thing i know, our marriage will always be a work in progress and with God's will we both are willing to work very hard to make it work. It is ever changing, ever moving, ever growing. No matter what life brings, we are ready to go through our highs and lows. Together we will conquer the world.
Ruben & Kania, 23 July 2011.
This blogpost is dedicated to mama & papah.