Choosing Home over Office
In today’s world when people go bonkers over women empowerment aka (for most of the people out there) giving women the RIGHT to be educated, work and what not – it is almost unacceptable for someone to NOT WANT to study/work. Take my example, for starters: ever since I left university at the brink of graduation to go live with my husband in Bahrain I have constantly been the target of raised eyebrows and the much-detested-by-me-question – “So when do you plan on finishing your degree?”
And only because it would rub off on people the wrong way, I simply cannot bring myself to say (rather, shout) a stubborn “NEVER!” in their faces. But truly, that is exactly what I feel. After all, just because I started a degree and was almost about to finish it, does not mean I actually finished it or even intended to in the first place!
Anyway my rebellious history aside, I am one of those who have chosen to become a stay-at-home wife. After I entered business school three years ago, I realized how much of a rat-race that aspect of the world was and found myself casually throwing all ambitions, attached to it, away. Soon, I had found myself “the one” and I was dolling myself up for “the big day”. The “big day” happened in a rush – considering “the one” had to leave for another country due to a job transfer and since I had no intentions of being left behind, I suggested that the wedding take place as soon as possible, even though the nikah had happened a year ago. (The wedding in this case meant an official “going-away” to live with him.)
Bahrain, the new country, was warm, friendly and welcomed us, newly married birds, with open arms – minus the brief socio-political rebellion that happened a month after we arrived. And I found myself blissfully settling into the life of a typical house wife. Of course, I had to stay home all day while “the one” went to work and cook, clean, sweep like a Cinderella of sorts. But never once did I regret the decision of leaving my last semester at college to build a home.
For many, I appear to be a complete idiot for leaving a life of good education behind – even if just for six months – but for me this apparently rash action lay in my desire to establish a strong foundation for a good marriage.
As a Muslim woman an integral element of being married relates to being at home to perform wifely duties: giving time to those in your family who need it – your husband, your children and possibly your in-laws. Working women are generally not able to give their spouses and offspring the kind of time and attention they deserve. After being out most of the day they return home tired and withdrawn. Such work holism on the part of the woman is what causes most men and children frustration. After all, no one can stand any form of neglect from the woman of the house. Even as we associate our lives with those of the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) we will find that they too preferred being at home to take care of their duties within the confines of their homes. Hazrat Khadija, his first wife, despite being a famous trader never went out for work either and had employees handling her work!
Yet another aspect of marriage, I personally have always realized and placed immense importance on is physical closeness to maintain a good relationship. Long distance, especially in the beginning of a marriage, and even later, always causes misunderstandings and makes petty issues appear bigger. More often than not, it must be the woman who should compromise to narrow the physical distance.
Now even though my use of the term “female” and “compromise” in one sentence could possibly infuriate many feminists, doing so is not my intention. I believe that people have diverse interests and passions. What I may be heavily passionate about may be something another thoroughly despises. But the underlying fact is: that where marriage is concerned some passions must be put aside and compromises must be struck from both ends. A man compromises when he puts aside laziness and selfishness to go out and earn for the family – because at the end of the day it is his responsibility to provide for them. The woman’s work life is an entirely different story, though. Unless of course, fate deprives her of a man providing steady income, she works to build upon her own ambitions. She is never answerable and by the law of Islam is not answerable where finances are concerned.
What she is responsible for, is how she builds her home: the love and warmth she inculcates, the values she engrains in her family and how she shields it from anything unpleasant that comes its way. And at the end of the day this is the woman who sleeps a good sleep and knows that she accomplished. Even if her accomplishment did not mean a pay raise or a promotion. And even if it all it meant was a meal well appreciated and her six year old finally learning to tie his shoe laces.
Kanwal Anes Ahmed
Kanwal is an almost-graduate of a bachelor’s in Business Degree from one of Pakistan’s most-esteemed business schools. She has left her education to become a house-wife and currently resides in Bahrain with her husband. She is an aspiring journalist and blogs on http://kanwalful.blogspot.com