I don’t like the word ‘izin’

Note: I am on medical leave today because I’m sick and tired and I had a long week without much rest over the weekend because I had a 2-day marriage-related course to attend. Seriously, the government should cover all bases if they really want people to get married and start families. Since it’s compulsory for couples to go for marriage preparatory course before they get married, the government should grant them pre-marriage leave to go for it, instead of them having to sacrifice their weekend / off day to attend. This would also prove that the government genuinely wants to help increase citizen population.

That being said, here’s the post I started writing yesterday and finished today while I waited for the medication to take effect and bring me to lala land.

This shall be a short post, or at least I’ll try to keep it that way.

It’s a wrap up post for a wedding-themed weekend.

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The mister and I are now certified ready for marriage. We attended Suchi Success’ Kasih Sejati Marriage Preparatory Course, which practically took up our whole Saturday and Sunday (starting at 9am and ending at 6.30pm).

The choice of course provider was mine. The mister had something else in mind: a short, few hours, personal session with an Indian Muslim marriage counsellor; the same one his brother and then fiancée had seen before they got married. I didn’t want the fast route just for the sake of getting the certificate; I was looking for something more comprehensive and structured rather than (what I perceived to be) informal. After reading positive reviews from a few BTB blogs, I told him I’d like to attend the course by Suchi Success. He went along to keep me quiet happy (awwww sweet right) but I suspect he agreed because it happened that at least one of his friends (with fiancée) was also going for the same course.

The verdict: Mixed. While it was indeed a comprehensive and structured course that covered many relevant marriage-related topics such as finances, dealing with in-laws and marital conflict, intimacy, fulfilling each others’ emotional needs, etc, it made me irritated with its espousing of the conservative view  of the 3Rs (rights, responsibilities and roles) of husbands and wives. I can safely say now that I don’t believe in distinct and separate 3Rs for husbands and wives. The only thing that can be distinct is their biological roles; only the wife can bear children and breastfeed them. All else should be shared (responsibilities), apply equally to both (rights) and be negotiable (roles).

I was hoping I could speak up and ‘rock the boat’ by asking critical questions, but firstly it seemed like I was the only one frowning away when such conservative views were mentioned by the speakers, secondly nobody else seemed to have questions (yes I’m cowardly when it comes to coming forward to be the first and perhaps only one to ask), and thirdly there just wasn’t enough time to ask anything. I ended up just letting out some of the frustration by sending a Whatsapp message to the mister, telling him how I dislike the word ‘izin’ (to permit; to give permission) and imagining how I would write all my objections in this blog. Which I would, in another post. But I swear, one more time I hear anyone say that it’s ‘easy’ for a woman who’s a wife to enter heaven, I am going to.. I don’t know.. roll my eyes out of my sockets? Snap at the person who says it? Give off some sarcastic remark like: Really? God told you this? You’ve been to a wife-filled heaven and back that you can say with total confidence that this is absolutely true? Bullshit. (Oh dear, see, now I’m swearing and saying God in the same blog breath. You bad, bad, conservatives.)

Anyway, after Day 1 of the course ended, I went with my sister to Charisma Wedding Showcase to check out their food.

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Verdict: For what should be an all-out effort to sell their new venue and existing catering service (besides their bridal service), the food quality was disappointing. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t outstanding. If you can’t cook superb food for 50-odd people, what makes you think we are going to be convinced you can cook good food for 500 or more people?

So that meant the $50 I paid for 2 tickets to attend the showcase got ‘burnt’, as I was not going to take up their catering service and thus can’t offset $50 from the catering price. Oh wells, I’ll consider it as just a dinner treat for my sister and myself, and pretend we ate at Swensen’s (although the food is not comparable).

We walked out of the indoor section of the place before the showcase ended proper and zoomed in to the Card Maison’s ‘booth’ (it really was just a table or two out of a row of tables which seated other vendors). I immediately gave away that I knew the owner – virtually that is – by calling her by name. (Hi Dyan! *waves*). She of course caught on, and as much as I’m actually shy about identifying myself as the writer of pengantinpelik to strangers offline, her friendly and no-airs nature made it easy for me to admit that firstly I read her blog and secondly, I am that said writer.

So in the end we got acquainted pretty fast, and I made the fastest wedding-related decision thus far, in a record 20 minutes or so: I decided to get my wedding invites done by the Card Maison! This was in view of the fact that she was having a 20% discount for those who signed up with her that night. Although the savings aren’t much (mine being a small affair and hence the small number of invitation cards), being the budget-conscious BTB, every dollar counts. Plus, I love Card Maison’s colourful and modern designs, (I can choose from existing ones or get her to design a customised one for me), and it would be so much more convenient than going back and forth to JB just to get quotations, send the design for printing and collect the cards. Not to mention racking my head for card designs.

Ok, I’ll admit that I didn’t want to leave that place not having scored any wedding-related item. I wanted to feel like the effort I made to go all the way there and the money I paid was worth it. Next thing to do is just to break the news to my mom. (Drama seh, setakat kad jemputan pun nak kena break the news.)

Anyway, it seemed the mister and I ‘took turns’ to be unwell. On Day 1 of the course, he had stomach upset (diarrhoea) and we actually took a cab back to his place, which was a 10-to-15-minute drive away, during the lunch break so that he could go do his business comfortably, then took a cab back, being the star karat couple to walk in late at close to 3pm. And during the afternoon tea break he disappeared for a while (it turns out he found an empty, clean and nice toilet one floor below), and was the last to come back to the training room.

On Day 2 of the course, it was my turn to be unwell. I was afflicted with prolonged sinus – dripping nose and constant sneezing, in multiples (like 5 sneezes in 10 seconds, or less). He gave me his handkerchief (yes, he’s an old school gentleman) during the lunch break, since I don’t have an endless supply of tissue paper, which I later – during the afternoon session – absentmindedly dropped (or maybe it fell out of my open bag). He was the one who noticed it on the speaker’s table under a mug (how on earth it got there I have no idea – I was sitting right in the first row facing the table, though) and quickly took it back, relaying to me later how embarrassed he was to find his damp (with my liquids haha) handkerchief on the speaker’s table. Sorry dear. All that liquid must have blocked oxygen from getting to my brain and diluted my sense of awareness. And I really have no idea why anyone would pick up a random, obviously-used, handkerchief and use it as a coaster! (On another note, this gives me an idea for a hantaran gift for him.)

After Suchi succesfully ‘graduating’ from the course and acquiring the certificate, this was his parting comment to me:

You know at what point during the course that made me sure you’re definitely the one for me?

I didn’t exactly have high hopes for him to say anything particularly touching or thoughtful or romantic, or to derive his certainty from any part of the course content, because I just know how and who he is. Plus I was just tired out and wanted to collapse in bed. So I simply asked what it was without holding any breath in anticipation.

He replied:

When it was at the part near the end where the guys and girls were coming forward to write what frustrates them about the way their partners communicate, and it became chaotic because the guys were dissing the girls and vice versa, with loud agreements and laughter at examples, and some girls displaying mock anger and ‘warning’ their partners that they’d ‘get it from them’ after the course for daring to surface their bad points, and I turned to look at you and saw that you weren’t really interested and were basically nonchalant about the whole exercise; that’s when I knew you were the one for me because I felt the same way and don’t really get the whole hoo-ha either.

Hahahaha.

See, I told you it wasn’t going to be really anything insightful. But it’s real; HE’S real. And I’m glad all the same that we have the same outlook towards things. Truth be told, I was just so tired of sneezing and blowing my nose throughout the day, so I just couldn’t wait for the course to be over and I found the coming forward one-by-one (each row sent a representative, and there were 6 rows each for guys and girls) to be a waste of time. Plus, it turned into a girls versus boys thing, which surfaced generalisations, which I hate. Every single person, man or woman, has his or her own unique set of weaknesses when it comes to communication and they’re not gender specific. For example, I think the mister can be more emo (i.e. get upset easily and subsequently display sulking behaviour) than me, which the group supposedly listed as a girl thing. On the other hand, I think that the weakness of thinking and insisting that one is right all the time, listed by the group as a guy thing, applies more to me than the mister.

I guess what this boils down to is: I’m not the only pelik (odd) one in this coupling. Both of us make a pelik couple through and through.😀

12 thoughts on “I don’t like the word ‘izin’

  1. Now I know who you are!🙂 Glad to have met you babe… There were many aspects that me and my mat disagree on from the course (especially the things that ustaz say) but I didn’t write it on my blog because I only take the positive things out from the whole course experience. It all boils down on how you and your partner perceive marriage as. To me, marriage is a partnership. ( Not a leader and slave bond. )The course serves as a guideline which some aspects basically ‘masuk kanan keluar kiri’. But my biggest takeaway of it all was that I realized my partner is made for me and that we’re now even more committed to settle our differences for our future. Yang penting da dapat cert da boleh nikah! Yey!

    • Haha yes glad to have met you too! Actually if there was just the two of us, I would have identified myself to you, since I had identified you first. But ada orang lain so macam segan sikit. ; p

      Yes, there are positive takeaways from the course, and I’m sure for you those must have been magnified when compared to the shortcomings of the other course you had attended. I just feel that more than just taking the personal action of masuk telinga kanan keluar telinga kiri, there’s a need to voice out objections because if nobody speaks out, nothing gets changed. While mine might just be a personal rant, it’s a start to getting our generation to rethink things (ditto for the generation before us, they’re a lost cause – most of them anyway). In fact, even the speaker himself alluded to the fact that domestic abuse cases (mental, emotional or physical) can stem from such archaic ideas about the rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives. Ideas are powerful, and can be both empowering or damaging. So we shouldn’t just let problematic ideas be because we think they don’t apply to us – they are bound to affect others around us and I believe it’s our duty as human beings to care for other human beings.

  2. I agree that if everybody continues to stay silent, every Muslim couple will have to keep going through this kind of nonsense! And why should you, when the non-Muslim pre-marriage courses can spend that time going through communication skills, and even what to expect in your married sex life? Everyone expects dating Muslim couples to stay abstinent before marriage, and when it comes to a MARRIAGE COURSE, they hope we will only have sex for the purposes of trying for children. WHAT KIND OF ISLAM IS THIS.

    So many things frustrate me about this course, and I keep hearing from too many people how nonsensical it is. If many of us don’t see 3Rs as a realistic option for marriage, it’s time to get with the times and give us what we need. I think the #1 priority is communication skills. Merajuk and silent treatment cannot continue to be the ways that Malay wives and husbands relate to each other.

    • Sya! Haha wow this is like the first time I see you comment in a worked-up tone (like me) instead of calm and cool (but still as insightful) as you usually do. That must have been way too many negative reviews you heard from others.

      Actually the course by this vendor did cover all those things you said should be covered. There are communication skills taught (or rather tips listed for dealing with conflict, with an emphasis on discussion) and there’s mention about sex and intimacy as a way to strengthen the relationship (not just for the sake of having children, although it was explicitly encouraged for couples to try for a child within the first two years of marriage), even considered as a form of ibadah.

      The main thing I disagree with is the conservative view about the 3Rs. I hope to write a more detailed review later. Hopefully within the week while it’s still.fresh. I shall take a break from my piling work and write in 15-minute bursts every day or something. Hopefully.

  3. Ok i think mine wasn’t as bad. (though I didn’t enjoy it either hah) We just discussed what each person should do with your spouse-to-be. I just didn’t like the way he explained some concepts cause the analogy wrong.

  4. Yes, I must admit I feel strongly about this. In addition to the half-awful experience I had in my course as well. My course by APKIM also emphasised discussion, but I guess that discussion is limited between that of the leader/shepherd-of-the-family (husband) and the manager/shepherd-of-the-home (wife). But what I realised in practice, skills take practice. If a couple has only been relating to each other by merajuk/silent treatment, no amount of ‘tips for discussion’ will magically create communication skills after marriage.

    Case in point: myself. I grew up only knowing the merajuk/silent treatment method (as seen in my family), while my husband is more rational and discusses things with no loaded meanings (i.e. he says what he means). It was so hard for me to admit that I’m wrong in some situations, or to apologise! I really had to model after his skills and learn from him how to do it. Now things are better.

    During the course, when it came to conflict resolution we always agreed to discuss issues when they came up in the future. In practice, some topics are very painful to discuss. What do you do then? Strategies!

    The sex/intimacy part is also a huge bother to me. Telling us it’s an ibadah, great. Telling us we must have children, whatever. Telling us to recite doas so that Satan will not harm your baby (in the form of birth defects) is not only assigning partnership to God, but also insulting all disabled children everywhere! Slyly inserting the ‘angels’ curse’ hadith into the booklet: downright revolting. Telling wives that your nafkah depends on giving ‘sexual access at all lawful times’: encouraging marital rape and discord.

    On a side note: “The only thing that can be distinct is their biological roles; only the wife can bear children and breastfeed them. All else should be shared (responsibilities), apply equally to both (rights) and be negotiable (roles).” –> This should totally be in your marriage contract. haha!

    • The analogy used during the course I attended was communication between chairman / director (husband) and chief executive officer (wife). The former sets the direction, the latter executes it. Sounds like just a grand euphemism for a master-servant relationship, if you ask me.

      As for the sex and intimacy part, there were doas taught too! Only for this course, the doas were more for dispelling the devil from interfering with the union, so that the resultant offspring would be good, soleh / solehah ones. There was a disclaimer though, for us not to look upon those with unruly children as having resulted from a devil-interfered union. I think that when a disclaimer is needed, then the idea or concept is problematic.

      There wasn’t any explicit mention of avoiding birth defects in children, although the part about having ‘perfect’, normal, well-behaved children could be in some ways be seen as avoiding and hence insulting to children with special needs like autism, ADHD, behavioural and mental disorders, etc. Could you elaborate on what you said about assigning partners to God? Because I don’t quite grasp the connection between such devil-dispelling doas for sexual intercourse and assigning partners to God.

      This is quite a good discussion we’ve got here, definitely good material for my review post!🙂

    • And yes, there was mention of the revolting ‘angels’ curse’ hadith too! What an enabler for misogynist views about wives as sexual objects for their husbands!

      The espousing of these kind of views makes me embarrassed of being Muslim sometimes… like why such hedonism when Islam is supposed to be for the soul and the beloved Prophet (PBUH) is supposed to be a ‘light for all mankind’? Yet such hadiths are taken lock, stock and barrel without question.

      I bet even by my saying this, my faith would be put to question as I supposedly do not believe in the Prophet’s words and some would call me arrogant for wanting to dismiss hadith when I’m far from being an expert at it.I don’t, I just feel like the only words that are guaranteed true til the end of time are words from the Quran. Hadith, by its very nature can be questionable because they are retellings of the Prophet’s words and actions, observed by companions, told and retold countless times from one narrator to another, so how can we be absolutely sure that they didn’t get distorted along the way? I prefer to believe that my Prophet is a much more compassionate and empathetic man.

      As for the marriage contract, the one you sent me is a pretty long read. I’ve only managed to skim through it. Shall print it out and find time to sit down and read it properly, and hopefully get to sit down with my mister to get him to read and discuss about it. Thanks!

  5. Glad I wasn’t the only one who disagreed about how “easy” it is for “wifes” to go to heaven & about some of his examples like how the wife has to always ask for permission. Feels more like a “leader-slave” relationship to me. Idk, just my two cents.

  6. Hello babe!!!!

    It was so nice to meet you the other day! heehee.
    and sorry i know im supposed to sms u my acct no but i was so so busy last week with some launch thingy at work, i completely forgot! lol

    • Haha I was wondering whether I wrote down the wrong number and you messaged me but I just didn’t receive it, and I was afraid I’d lose the discount since I haven’t transferred the deposit, and I kept telling myself to dig up your namecard and message you, but I got busy too! Hahah. Now you know where to find me even if you haven’t got my number!

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