Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlah all,
I apologise in advance for the length of this post, but I think it's worth starting off by also stating I agree with pretty much almost everything Amatullah
had to say... but I do want to address specific things too.
Al Qamar, I had to laugh about you expecting to be waited on hand and foot. There isn't a man alive who doesn't try that in the beginning, at least for a minute.
There is something very crucial to mention here which is that I wasn't actually trying it on (as in, testing the water to see how much I could get away with). Don't get me wrong, I can completely see how it appears like that, but the minds of men and women are very very different, and this is probably something one only appreciates after marriage. You can learn and study about it all you like, but it's only when you're thrown in the deep end of marriage (we Muslims don't date, after all) that you actually learn about it.
I'm not going to explain the psyche of how men thing, because Mark Gungor has a brilliant video about this:Points...
Now, please bear in mind, this is a general rule. I know there are exceptions everywhere, but if we dealt in exceptions, we'd never get anything done. And, speaking as a man, I have to say 100% that what he's saying is completely accurate. That's just how we think. You could argue whether it's right or wrong to think that, but what's the point? It doesn't change the reality that that is how we think, and if all the men think this way... it's not because we had a mass meeting and decided to do that, it's because Allah (swt) created us that way. Just as women were created like bent ribs, we're created in this way. Rather than complain about it, learn to recognise and deal with it.
Now, the other thing that you have to realise is, for asian men specifically, we've been raised in households where we've seen our mother's doing the housework. We've seen our sisters do the housework. The men are pretty much left alone and waited on. Whether it's right or wrong is not the issue, that's the reality... The problem is, the man doesn't realise anything is out of place, this is his reality... he comes home and expects to be fed, etc. If the wife complains, he automatically assumes there's something wrong with her, he's not doing anything different.
Basically, what I want to get across is that, when men do this... it's not to try and make a 'slave' out of their wives. It's just their reality, it's the only way they know how to think and they genuinely don't see what the issue is. My first wife complained to me all the time, and I never got it. I'm sure had we had counselling, I'd have realised, but she wanted to go to a secular counseller and I wanted to go to an Islamic/Muslim one who understood the rights of men/women in Islam (I was trying to move to the position of I'll be the bread-winner, she can be the bread-baker...).
After the divorce, I spoke to many different people about marriage, many professionals, attended many courses, listened to many lectures, and it's only after all of that that I now realise the mistakes I made.
Bear in mind, I'm only talking about myself. My wife made mistakes too, but I'm not going to highlight those just yet because that's not the point I wanted to make. My points are:
- When we come home and sit in front of the TV, we're not deliberately trying to annoy you... it's just how we are
- Divorcee's are usually more aware of the dynamics between spouses having been through it, than people who have never been married and are thus naive to the difficulties
A woman teaches her husband how to be a good husband and father. She teaches him how to be a good leader to his family. That doesn't mean, she is smarter or runs the show. Men and women just have their gifts and strengths in different areas and it really does work well together. We aren't equal. We are just pieces of a whole. Some parts bigger, some smaller.
I could not agree with this more. Men are generally quite stupid with regards to relationships (we don't do the whole emotional thing), whereas women are stronger in this regard. It's much easier for them to train/trick their men into doing what they want, than it is for men to do it to them. This is the way we've been made (men and women).
I am not saying that a brothers character doesn't hold weight especially when you ask for references. However, I just feel that no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. So you can get all the references you want, but no one can really tell you what kind of husband he was, apart from his previous wife. But then there's the prospect she could be malicious and make up negative comments about him. So for me, I just would prefer not to take the chance.
OK, I'll give you specific examples with regards to me, and you can make up your own mind. Sure, my first wife and I had our problems, but ultimately that didn't lead to divorce. Every marriage has problems, you can't avoid that. But, if you were to ask people in my community about me, they would tell you that whilst I was going through my divorce, and afterwards, I was pretty much in the masjid all the time... or at charity events... or at lectures... and during Ramadhan I practically lived in the masjid. If you asked them about my wife, they'd tell you she was seen in the clubs and bars, during Ramadhan, with various different men.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out which one strayed... and this is not me saying it. You could ask the people who witnessed this with their own eyes.
With regards to my second marriage... again, they'd tell you the same. When I was going through everything, I was still attending the masjid every day. I still spent the entirety of Ramadhan in the masjid. I was going to even more lectures and events, and involving myself with even more Islamic activities. If you ask them about my second wife, they'd tell you that immediately after leaving my house (we're talking within a couple of days) she was associating herself with old flames (who are now married to others), and even went on holiday with one to Paris... whilst she was still in nikah with me, and we hadn't been married long enough to go anywhere!
Even the non-Muslims are not that disgusting! Again, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out which one strayed, and which one stayed on the straight path.
I agree, my examples are extreme, and alhumdulillah I'm happy for that because it only shows clearly where the fault lay. In general, you won't have such clear cases, but as Amatullah says, you can't tell what kind of a person someone will be before marriage either. In many cases, even they don't know!
I can tell you this. The person I was before marriage is not the same as I was after marriage. I used to go clubbing in my youth, that's why my first wife married me. I stopped because I refused for her to be there (hypocritical, I know, but I gave up something haraam for halal reasons)... but she desired it to the point she destroyed the marriage for it.
The person I was after my first divorce was not the same as I was during the marriage. I understood a lot more what it takes to make a household run, since I had to run it myself now. I learned a lot more about marriage, how relationships work. And I became much closer to Allah (swt) because my free time permitted me to learn more about Islam. I started to attend the masjid more, and go on courses.
The person I was in my second marriage was different again too. I was completely romantic, coming home with flowers, and gifts, and cards. It was like a fairy-tale, I'd never been so happy. Nothing else in the world mattered (except my deen of course... my sheikhs said to me on my nikah night that they don't expect to see me in the masjid for fajr, and I simply asked them how is it appropriate for me to thank my Lord for giving me a second chance by not praying to Him as I was before... I was there for fajr!)
After she left, and did the things she did, I changed again. The reality of easy-come-easy-go became painfully obvious. To be in the height of the 'honey-moon phase' of a relationship and have it snatched away, and then shared with others, that hurt more than any worldly weapon could sting... but again I used it to come closer to Allah (swt). For my salah I was making wudhu with my tears through sheer quantity of them, I stayed in prostration to my Lord for longer than I can remember, and I begged for things to change... and you probably won't believe me, but Allah (swt) showed me some miracles to keep me strong. In the same manner as Ibrahim (as) asked to be shown how ressurection would happen (the story of the birds), I asked for similar... and they were granted every time. That alone made it all worth it.
My point is, these experiences change a person! You can't predict what someone is going to be like, so fearing someone because they've been tested is pointless. What you can see is a pattern/path though, you can see where someone was, and where they're going, and you can use that to predict. My first wife was outwardly very pious, but slowly everything slipped away until she lost it all. I was completely jahil in my youth, but I kept coming closer to Islam to the point now where others now look to me for advice and knowledge. Insha'Allah, I'm not about to slip.
And I say this not in self-praise, but to prevent you from making a mistake in case a decent brother comes to you, but he's been tested by His Lord.
If he is to get married again, I honestly can't see him telling some potential prospective wife why & who was responsible for the failure of our marriage. Of course he'll probably blame me, and say I was the bad one, who didn't fulfil my responsibilities as a wife. He ain't gonna tell the truth, otherwise, no one else'd have him were they to learn the truth.
To be honest, I'm a little skeptical. It usually takes two for a marriage to break down. Even in my case with the first wife, even though it's clear where the break came from... still I could have been better at communicating with her, and she with me. Ultimately she broke the marriage, but the faults lay with both of us.
For you to deny any part at all strikes me as a little odd. It could be completely true, I don't deny that, nor do I need to know the details. But there's no such thing as the perfect spouse, and for you to suggest that you were is a warning flag for me, and I daresay for others too.
You might want to rethink what happened, maybe you did some mistakes but you're not aware of them. If you continue to think that you were right about everything, you'll never see your own faults and your next marriage might suffer because of it too. You need to be really critical with yourself.
References are good measure but friends can only know us so well, and so that is why there is hesitation.
That's why, after you perform istishara (making enquiries), perform istikhara (seek guidance from Allah). No-one but your Creator knows your future and what is best for you. Even someone who appears to be the perfect spouse, they may turn out to be a nightmare later... as what happened with me. You really cannot tell, so put your trust in the One who knows