Saturday, 6 June 2009

Redressing The Balance

The Virtues of Marrying Older Sisters and Other Points of Benefit.

By Anonymous

Due lack of Islamic resources/education, etc in the 80s/90s, a lot of us sisters grew up mainly with a secular model, only until we were at late stages of college/uni when we re-established our relationship with Islam. By this stage we have chosen our career/academic path...and were happily bobbing along, until we realised we had unwittingly become less and less sought after in the marital field....and slowly got labelled as 'ambitious', 'career-type', 'too independent', ' too fussy', 'too clever', 'can only read..but can't cook'.

So as the rejections pour in, what do we not to let our grey matter shrivel...we hit the books some more...get a few more qualifications in the bag and make ourselves a new social order 'the unmarriagables'.

Joking aside, think of how many decent sisters you know, who are not married. I have watched this space steadily increase, as the years go by.

I don't think enough has been done/said to promote the virtues of this breed of sisters. So here is my little redress the balance.

-The maternal desire is no less in these sisters, in fact for many it is stronger, as they have waited longer than most.

-They have the wisdom of years, have achieved a lot for themselves, so are ready to sacrifice for their husband and kids, and due to more life opportunities and experiences have a lot to offer.

-Can be a companion for husband on an intellectual level, so he does not have to escape nappy talk to be with his educated friends, but rather appreciate his wife's company.

-Just because they have a career now, does not mean that they would not drop it (or modify it) to put their family first. Please ask, before you make assumptions based on their job title/qualifications. Most sisters in this situation that I know, are yearning to be a wife/mother, and realise this is where fulfillment is.

-Usually are less clingy, allowing their husband the breathing space he needs, and with some financial independence, put less pressure on him as the sole provider. He can feel confident that his children are in capable hands, should anything happen to him..n'authoo billah.

-Also ambitious women, become ambitious mothers for their kids, so rather than a negative trait, it is a driving force for the ummah. Educated women, promoting the next what we need for a respected, strong ummah.

-Motherhood in the 30s, can be less stressful, due to having more patience. And having the experience of others around us, so are more mentally prepared and willing for this new role!

These are generalisations, and do not ring true to all individuals, but is food for thought....with a credit crunch and ageing population looming, we may become popular once more.

Please dont get me wrong, I am not saying don't marry young...please do...
rather this is just a plea on behalf of our sisters who have been written off unnecessarily, they need to be considered as they have a lot to offer.

2. The Art Of Rejection.

Let's face it, most of us will face the prospect of being rejected/ or being the rejector at some point in our journey of finding a spouse.

This needs to be done with tact, and many do not know how. How many bros have been invited to a dinner to meet a prospective, and when he realised she wasn't his cuppa chai....he/his family failed to call to pass on this vital information. In the meanwhile, the sis is choosing baby names that will suit his surname.....heartbreaking stuff (us sisters can get carried away)!

So please, let people know in a reasonable amount of time in a reasonable way.
i.e. after about 1 week (so at least you seem like you have deliberated), and on the lines of ' it was lovely meeting your family, thankyou for the meal, I don't think they are a suitable match, however we will keep your daughter/son in mind if we come across anyone more suitable...jazakAllah khair.' easy, job done, relations in tact. This saves awkwardness/bitterness at next social gathering.

Just to illustrate the problem...consider this.

Sister A: age 30,
Profession - Medical Doctor
Height - tall
born- -UK

Brother A: age 30
Profession - Medical Doctor
Height -tall
born - UK

So the only variable is gender, yet due to society norms...look at the difference in possible potentials. Generally speaking...

Sister A could only consider someone older, taller, with a similar/higher education, someone also born/raised in UK, to understand her attitudes/role (we were raised in a different atmosphere which has moulded us, compared to our sisters in the sub-continent).

Brother B could consider someone up to 10 yrs younger perhaps, even someone older, someone significantly shorter or perhaps taller, someone less educated or perhaps same level, and someone from 'back home' as they make apparently more submissive/homely wives or they can choose from here.

As you can see, it's a boys market.


-Educating the parents, at a community level, pre-marital education, etiquettes in searching for a suitable spouse.

-Start looking earlier.

-Marital events for over 30s./ Professionals.

-Friends who are married should play an active role in thinking of their unmarried bros/sister, and play the works....Nafeesa (ra)was a shining example, helping a twice-widowed older friend (our beloved mother Khadeejah-ra) marry our Nabi (saw).

-Maybe bros should consider a sister a few years older than him.

-If you are still not married in you late 20s/30s..then don't be shy/reserved, let people know, so they can look out for you...we are a caring ummah, no stigmas allowed!


Anonymous said...

I'm really curious...I'd be open to marrying a sister like this, but I wonder- I get the impression that intelligent and educated sisters are very cold, and wouldn't make very affectionate wives. Would you say this is true? And from what I understand, they are more swelfish, and less ready to compromise or be patient than younger women. Is there any truth to any of this?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps older educated practising sisters appear that way because they have to have a certain air about them to survive in the male dominated work arena and they often hav to defend themselves against the "how come you are not married yet?" "you are too modern and career-minded" "you are not home/family oriented".

I don't blame brothers for wanting a wife who is more financially dependent on him but women in good jobs still have emotional and physical needs.

BintKhalil said...

With respect to the line in the second comment above, "I don't blame brothers for wanting a wife who is more financially dependent on him", I would think that, were I a man, I would want a wife who wants to be marry me for me and not because she has no choice (when it comes to financial support). I suppose it has more to do with the man's insecurities than any aspect of the woman's.

Anonymous said...

Brothers don't want to marry other brothers- we need women.

If I were to approach such a sister for marriage- should I make my concerns clear?

Anonymous said...

As salamau alaykum dear sis,

Sorry this hasnt anything to do with the post (although I do find it very interesting having 'been there and done that ...')

This is simply to say a heartfelt salaam to you dear sis, and ask how you and your family are.

I hope all is well with you insha'Allah.
Much love Umm Raqeeb - Roze

Anonymous said...

Much of what you said is true, and it happens all over not just the UK. But one issue I would like to bring up; For instance a sister like this would be perfect for me but she would the second or the third or fourth, since I am already married. And now she is the one that is not down with it. We all know the benefits of marrying more than one wife and it would be of benefit to send out some advice to these same sisters to not Knock it till they try it, or at least open thier minds and not assume things, in the same vein you are advising the bros and families.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 2nd wife thing, i guess some sisters see it as settling for less. Like just because im older does it mean i'm only worthy of being a 2nd/3rd wife and not the 1st.

Also, maybe its the parents who will never accept their daughter to be a 2nd wife. Myself, having been through rough marriages, would opt to be a 2nd wife, it would suit my life style just fine. But i know my parents would be mortified.

I know so many of these older sisters, some of them are the most beautiful people i have met. So much wisdom and you know they would make a man very happy, given half the chance.

Anon number 1. Don't wonder about it, approach a sis like this if you know of one! I can point you to a couple myself. You would not regret it. They are not the least bit cold or stand offish. Yes maybe highly educated, but most of the time it is to bide time rather than doing nothing whilst waiting, as mentioned. Otherwise they would just waste away, a slow death. Being educated doesn't make you a snob or big headed.

I do agree that they are more established as characters and in themselves and therefore less likely to compromise compared to a younger girl. But as for selfish, totally untrue. I think you would find younger girls much more selfish and demanding. The older ones because of their mature outlook and experiences will be more understanding and can even help in many ways. Take the example of Khadija(RA) with the prophet(salallahu alayhi wassallam).

Marrying both the young and the older have its advantages and disadvantages. It's about not writing them off. The men in this ummah have a duty to them aswell.

??? said...

why is a divorced sister only worth half of a man's time and love? is a divored woman only worth sharing her husband?

Anonymous said...

Highly educated is fine, I intend to go all the way (insha Allah) myself. I wouldn't mind the occasional mental sparring =)

I'm confused though- you say they're less willing to compromise, but at the same time they're less does that work out?

And what about reverse? How willing are these women to marry men 3/4/5/6/7 years younger than them?

How old are thee sisters you're talking about...? And what do you mean by beautiful? Since the emotional dynamic in a friendship is different from can we trust this kind of recommendation from friends? What do you mean by 'wisdom'? Etc.

Anonymous said...

And what's the dynamic like in such realtionships? How does the man keep his wife's respect?

lol, and how do we tell our parents- mum dad, I've decided to marry xyz older woman...?

A man - Married said...

In truth you should choose a woman because of her deen.The best woman is a woman of taqwa.
My wife has asked me to marry a second because she understands and follows the deen, it doesn't mean there wouldn't be jealousy but fear of Allah in all your affairs should be paramount.
There are huge weaknesses in the umma and not marrying other than the same race is one.

Umm Maymoonah said...

AssalamuAlaikum WaRahmatullah

Umm Raqeeb - Lovely to hear from you! Could you please email me your new email address?

Umm Hannah - Jazakillah khair & InshaAllah I will get back to you asap.

All the anonymouses - It would really help if you weren't all anonymous. Like perhaps have a number or initial so it's easier to differentiate between you.

I would ideally like to go into more detail with this but I'm restricted for time at the moment.

The article really is talking about sisters who are older and have not been married before, although yes - the same points of benefit would apply for widows and divorcees.

Brother anonymous 1 - my quick answer to you would be to consider the fact that these are virgin sisters who have been waiting a long time to get married.

They have kept themselves chaste and pure for their husbands and have been unable to express their love and emotions so far.

So imagine how much love and affection is waiting to pour out of these sisters for their husbands and how much love and affection and gratitude they will have when they finally have children that will make them want to be the best mother for their children inshaAllah.

As for patience I don't think the younger you are the more patient you are? Patience is acquired and learned - and these sisters have been patiently waiting without losing hope or trust in Allah, fearing him, keeeping themselves pure and chaste in a society where temptations lurk on every corner. How's that for patience(!)?

As for the financial aspect it may not always be the case that the sisters want to continue working after marriage, many sisters are only working while waiting to get married - you should clarify this with any prospective.

Yes make your concerns clear but really how would you approach this concern and how do you expect her to respond? "I'd like an affectionate wife." ..... "Yes, I'm an affectionate person." (!)

Brother Anonymous 5 Re: Polygamy (polygyny) yes of course this would be an option for some of the sisters (not all). But really we do need to see some positive examples of polygynous marriages around us. Out of the 4 polygynous marriage that I know of (I am close to both wives in 2 of them) only one of the marriages out of the four seems to be working well. So although many sisters know of the advantages and benefits of polygyny you cannot really blame them for being wary of being a second wife.

One sister who is close to me (she is divorced) said she doesn't fear the actual being the second wife but how the Muslim Community will see her as the home breaker.

So perhaps we need to break the stereotypes and perhaps I will write more about it or actually feel in a position to encourage it more when I have a co-wife InshaAllah.

How old is older? Hmm. Older is what you feel to be older I guess! For a 23 year old 27 would be older and for me at the moment when I speak of older sisters in terms of marriage I mean 30 plus although others may disagree with me.

zainab said...

I think a lot of us who are approaching marriage make the mistake of having assumptions basde on too little information and stereotyping. At the end of the day everyone is an individual with individual backgrounds and life experience. One hat does not fit all. Another mistake we make is having a strict criteria for a spouse - e.g. at least x-ft y-in tall, x shade of skin colour only, educated to at least x level etc etc and we waste much time dillydallying to attain the impossible and eventually we have to compromise. The fact is many of us don't have a clear idea of what we want in a spouse. Are you sure a sister of a darker complexion will not be attractive before you write of all such sisters? Are you sure only a brother who knows arabic will be the best husband before you decide you cannot settle for less? Are you sure a sister who is older than you will be too domineering and insolent? Are you sure a brother who does not have a degree is not intelligent? We need to have a broader criteria of what we seek in a spouse.

Umm Maymoonah said...

The important thing to remember is to take every one as an individual and don't write them off unneccesarily. Also be prepared to broaden your criteria. I wanted to marry somebody up to 2 years younger than me or 10 years older, my husband is 16 years older than me alhamdulillah and I've never regretted marrying him.

Umm Zaidah Nusaybah said...

I think one the reasons why a lot sisters AND brothers are getting older but remain unmarried is because they all want a perfect spouse. brothers (or their families)are seeking a practising sister, has to be very tall, slim, fair, attractive, with a degree, good in the kitchen etc. And sisters want someone practising with an excellent job, tall, handsome, educated etc and if any of these conditions are not met then they will refuse the proposal, sometimes even without meeting the person.

Anonymous said...

As for the above comment, it's well known that this problem (30+ and in dagner of spinsterhood) is a *woman's* problem. Either brothers marry earlier, or they're less fussy.

Although...why do these sisters find themselves unmarried in their thirties? A couple of articles seem to suggest it's because they rejected the offers they received- is this true? Or did they receive none in the first place?

Not to apportion blame- this is our problem as an ummah.

Umm Maymoonah said...

Some of the possible reasons for sisters remaining unmarried for longer (with solutions):

1. There are less men in the world than women.

2. Some of these sisters or their parents perhaps left it slightly later than average to start to looking for marriage. Overlooking the fact that the looking process can also take a lot of time.

Also Parents/sisters may want to finish their studies first before even thinking of marriage. I know my mum did not even tell me about any proposals I had until after I graduated.

3. Parents and children are not close to each other, so cannot comfortably discuss these problems or even what they are looking for in a spouse.

4. The race Issue

I must say now that I have children of my own I am starting to understand some of the fears our parents may have in getting us married. And their fears are not always baseless.

Now I partly understand why some sisters would not marry Arab men because they feel that Arab men divorce their women easily.

And after reading certain books about War and it's aftermath I feel I can partly understand why the Bangladesh - Pakistan issue is taking so long for the older generation to get over, not that I agree with it, I just understand some of their fears better than I previously did.

And I certainly do understand why parents would like to be able to speak the same language as their son or daughter-in-law.

But yes the race issue is definitely contributing to the problem.

A Pakistani sister I know was looking for marriage for about 6 years and did not receive even one proposal from a Pakistani or even Asian brother! All her proposals would come from English or Caribbean or Middle Eastern men! Even when her parents saw she was clearly getting older they refused to marry her to any one of a different race.

5. Being Fussy. Obviously there will be people who are very fussy with stringent criteria.

Some possible solutions:

1. Share a husband. :-)

2. Start looking much earlier bearing in mind that the looking process can take time.

Even if you do want to continue studying you can set conditions for doing so.

Friends and family should also encourage looking early.

3. Children need to try to form closer better relationships with their parents (or the other way round) and become friends with them. It may not happen over night but they need to be patient. Sit with them more, talk to them more and slowly start to talk about more things.

4. I feel that parents will be more accepting to allowing their children to marry somebody of a different race once there are better relationships between parents and their children and they understand each other better.

Also if you can encourage them to at least meet the person in question that would be a huge step forward! The same goes for the age issue.

5. We need to encourage broadening of criteria for marriage, encourage more chaperoned face to face meetings and discourage rejections based on minor things without meeting.

Like for example he or she:

- Is a few years older or younger than you wanted or slightly taller/shorter or fairer/darker than you wanted.

- The person is a Paediatrician you wanted a GP.

- You don't like their name.

- Fiqh Issues!

- She doesn't know how to cook, (she can learn).


I did not actually want to marry somebody with children but a family friend insisted and persuaded me to have a meeting with my husband - May Allah reward her with the highest level of Jannah!

Umm Maymoonah said...

By the way I just thought I would mention that I was at a friends wedding today and I had a few older unmarried sisters at my table.

Naturally the subject of marriage came up and I mentioned this blog post to them as well as some of the comments.

I mentioned in particular: "One brother expressed concerns that sisters like you may not make affectionate wives..."

You know what? They stopped eating and their eyes grew large in disbelief and their jaws dropped slightly.

All in unison:

"Why would he think that?"
"No way?"
"I'll have you know I am waiting to be affectionate!"

We all cracked up but deep down I felt a sense of sadness for these beautiful women.

Yes, we spoke about polygyny too. One of them teased me I should want for my sister what I'd want for myself, to which I replied:

"Sure! My favourite dress is now yours!"


Anonymous said...

Ultimately, the fact of your friends' not being married is either their own fault, or that of their parents.

Women (or their parents) are too fussy- when they realise it, it's too late. They regret it the rest of their lives. Good.

iqbalwaheed said...

o k
Now go ahead ,why this universal thread has been dropped for sue..long ?