When Looking for a potential spouse there is much to consider especially if you are a single mum, but one thing I never thought I would have to think about was asking a man if he could think as a father rather than as an individual. Call me naive, but I automatically assumed that he would have thought about the sacrifices he would have to make as a father and also would have carefully thought things through. Maybe it’s just in my experience, but it seems men are somewhat clueless as to the degree of responsibility they face if they choose to marry a single mum. When they go to such intimate lengths to do their research on a car, check it out, make sure its worthy enough to own and don’t judge it on appearance alone, I dare say I had hoped they would apply the same formula for marriage; obviously not. They see someone they like and try to squash them into a Stepford Wife mould; they want their wife to wrap her and her children’s lives around them instead of doing it the other way around. Is this fair? Is this what we have to expect now as single mums?
I am all for doing things in the correct Islamic manner, but I’ll admit I’m a bit fuzzy on where it is stated that a woman should be happy to shift her children into a situation where they will be worse off just because the guy got a job in Saudi and decided he had no problem living in a studio flat. Studio flat? with two kids, one a girl who is on the verge of puberty?! The man still thinks of his own desires and aspirations and not of the needs of the children. It’s true, money isn’t everything and rizq IS already written, but who willingly puts themselves into a worse financial situation if they can help it in the hope that it will get better? Perhaps it is my eeman that is low but I would have trouble doing this; call me selfish, but my children have already lost so much and I simply cannot do that to them, is that really a wrong thing to do? Many brothers mashallah, have this desire to get to the Middle East no matter what, they forget that it isn’t going to be easy. They forget that you wont necessarily get the same creature comforts guaranteed as you do here, they forget you have to pay for medical care and school fees and that some foods like fish (in Dubai) is super expensive. I have lived in Dubai, I know a little of what life can be like there if you aren’t one of the rich ones. Thinking its all cushty just because your job as an ESL teacher provides you with accommodation, is naive. Those jobs are paid less than others and the accommodation will reflect this; top schools which pay the best, demand the best. You may be putting in greater hours over there, and if you are used to luxuries here, going without them for less money may not make you as happy as you once were just because you are in Saudi. If men say that this is NOT the case then every woman has the right to expect her man to never moan or complain! The brothers tell you that you have no faith and should leave it up to Allah swt, but couldn’t we say the same back to them? “Let’s stay here and raise our kids to be the best Muslims we can be and leave it up to Allah”??
My point is, I wonder if these men would say the same if it was their own children’s lives they were talking about. Is it just because the children are ours and not theirs that they don’t really care if the children have to suffer somewhat? I know many people will say “no way!” but let’s face it, you have to build up the love and many men don’t know if they will be able to love a woman’s children like their own. This saddens me because I think that subhanallah this is just ANOTHER one of the sacrifices that single mums have to make as divorced/widowed mums. Many women would refuse a suitor like this but some would consider him, maybe because they are told no-one else will want them so they should take whatever they can get. The point is though, it would be a tough decision to make and one that would hurt me a lot as a mother; take away from the kids to gain a husband and father for them?
It shouldn’t have to be this way, but it is. In Islam we are told to look at a person’s character and deen and to marry for that rather than for other things. It’s true, attraction is important, but whereas us single mums are told that we can’t have pick of the bunch so we should grab any decent guy regardless of looks; men still think that attraction = trying to get the ‘America’s next top model’ hijabi. Quite a few brothers have told me that they met really pious sisters but turned them down as they weren’t ‘feeling her’ in favour of a gobby hijabi whose eeman and deen is worse with a pretty face. Come on brothers – do the math! It’s not fair on anyone to expect this sister to suddenly fix up and change when you say so! Women are told not to try and change the man they married so why do men?? Encouraging someone to better their character for the sake of Allah swt is one thing, but having a go at her for not being the perfect Muslimah when that didn’t bother you when you married her- is wrong. We should take people as they stand now, if you can handle them and are happy with their character then so be it, but if your are not happy then move on. Where is your faith now brothers, don’t you think you will find another pretty sister with all the right characteristics?!! It’s NOT enough of a justification saying men are weak because sometimes it ends up becoming an excuse!
It’s amazing the amount of brothers I have spoken to that had no clue whatsoever what it meant to be a dad. Granted, they wont know it all but if you tell a guy you don’t have anyone to leave your children with, why do they hold it against you when you say you can’t dump your kids somewhere to go on a honeymoon?! Some men think that they can still lead the same lives they had before, they don’t understand that kids don’t get that they wont be loved straight away; if they are craving a father figure they may latch onto the guy immediately. They wont know that their step-dad needs time; HE needs to be sensitive to this. You can’t just have couple time to be intimate whenever you want during the day if you have kids, you can’t expect the kids to watch a movie whilst you get jiggy with it and you can’t expect to swan off for dinner alone whenever you want if you have no babysitter!! It’s funny, as soon as you tell a man these things his expression drops! They are in it for the reward of marrying a divorcee/widow but they forget that nothing comes easy and we are all tested. I think some brothers honestly think being a step-dad only means financially providing for the kids and taking them to the Masjid. What about being a role model and showing kids by example how to behave? What about giving up those bad habits and watching what you say? What about playing with them and doing ‘dad stuff’ ? What about remembering that the kids had a life before you and a routine and that if anything its YOU coming into THEIR family and therefore it’s YOU who somewhat has to adjust? It’s hard for children to adjust to a new dad especially if they still maintain ties with their old one, how are YOU going to tackle that? Why should it be the woman’s responsibility to fix everything just because the kids are hers? You don’t work as a manager for a company and expect the CEO to handle everything do you, or else what’s the point of there being a manager?!
Some men just assume their mothers will watch their step-kids automatically from day 1. Do these men not understand how delicate the relationship will be in the beginning for everyone - finding their feet? Do they not understand that this is one of the biggest fears a single mother has? Do they really think she will be happy to leave her children with strangers just because they are now her in-laws? You have to build the trust and love and respect, you can’t demand it straight away.
A few home truths for the brothers out there:
- Single mums are pickier than single women
- we may have ‘baggage’ but we also have experience, wisdom and maturity that not many single women will have
- you may say it’s easier for you to remarry than us but it is ALLAH who decides so watch your arrogance!
- we understand sacrifice better than any other single woman
- we may be ‘second-hand’ but if we had to choose between a man and our kids, our kids would ALWAYS come first
- we may want marriage, but NOT at the expense of making our childrens’ lives worse
- don’t mention faith to us because it is faith ALONE that has got us as far as we have come!
- And to all the ignorant brothers who say it is easy to sit at home on the dole and be ‘taken care of’ by the government, don’t forget: we cook, we clean, we take our kids to school/dr’s appointments/activities, we carry heavy shopping ,we pay our bills and manage our finances, we do basic DIY, we parent our kids