I met my husband when he was 24 and I was 18. I just graduated and was about to start studying at the university in Berlin while he was in the mid of getting his master’s and already working as a teacher since some time. It wasn’t a fairytale kind of thing. We met simply over Facebook and wrote for a year before my first visit to Morocco, the country I would later not only fall in love with but also call my home already way before living there.
We were both young and 4 years later we or rather I am still. Looking back, it’s amazing how much we both grew, personality and looks wise – who thought he could look even better-. While my mom after being sure he won’t kill me – he was in the end just a stranger I met on the internet – and seeing how happy we both are, was always very supportive and even loved the rings we got – we engraved each other’s name in them and use them now as wedding bands-. A lot were skeptical and I would eventually learn not just the imbalance feminism brought to Germany but also the hypocrisy, ending up hating both.
My then-boyfriend introduced me always as either his fiancée or wife to show how serious our relationship was, since otherwise people would’ve thought I am just there for sex and that’s it – Western women are often seen as sluts here, there are prejudices on both sides- but he wanted me to be respected – well as respected as a Westerner can be for some-. To express that we got those engraved rings and while I rather saw them as promise ring – because who doesn’t want a nice engagement ring plus he didn’t even propose yet – they meant so much more. We saw in each other our partner for life, husband and wife – I know first and young love and blah, but you don’t have to understand it and I honestly don’t give a fuck – and that’s what those rings meant and still mean. I still called him my boyfriend in Germany since it seemed more natural but at some point, we started to talk about marriage in a different way and I started to talk with people about it in a different way. While I can understand that a lot of people underestimate me, because of my age and even more because of my looks – still looking like I’m about to graduate from high school…it’s a blessing and a curse – it started to not only annoy but partly hurt me to hear the comments I got from fellow students or other adults when talking about marriage as something we do not only plan to do at some point but soon. It made me angry to be seen as someone who’s just overly in love at this point and too young to understand what love is and especially too young to “throw my life away”.
It is sad that our society changed in a way marriage is seen as a prison, a chain meant to keep you right where you are and not as a band of love, the water that will make you grow, the roots that will nurture your tree of life. There was not one person understanding that there is a reason to see marriage as something beautiful.
While I’m a big feminist myself I think that society goes from one extreme to another. Instead of the woman staying at home she is expected to pursue a career in a respected field but of course not too successful, because the highest positions are still reserved for men since women are too emotional and incapable of successfully taking over higher positions. Plus, she still needs to have time for her children she has to get at 30 something maybe even 40, because who cares about the health risks and let’s better not start talking about some awareness that surprisingly a lot of children like me with one or even both parents being older suffer from chronical illnesses. Oh, and the woman is of course not allowed to earn more than the husband and while she is supposed to master that career, she also has to take care of the home and the children, because no men should do that, that would be ridiculous, right? I guess you get what I want to say. If you’re interested in more though, you can find my whole take why we need feminism here.
The “problem” is that I am the least career woman you can find on this planet, simply because I don’t care about a lot of money or a great career. Don’t understand me wrong, to have money is great and certainly takes a lot of worries away but there are more important things to me, so I don’t care about status symbols, which makes me completely fine with working part-time online and otherwise be a housewife and later a stay-at-home-mom. I love cooking, not talking about my passion for baking, I love the thought that I will be able -have the privilege- to stay at home with our children at one point instead of having to put them in a kindergarten with not even one year old, because I won’t get paid maternity leave or would lose my job otherwise. If you would give me a million dollars and leave me in the kitchenware department that would be my paradise. I am literally the nightmare of every feminazi – still, love that word – and I am okay with that. I think that I as a woman have as much right to like to stay at home as a man should but right now it feels neither of us staying home is accepted even though for women it is more acceptable as for men. If I want to pursue a career or not, want to marry or not, want to have children or not should not only be my own and completely private decision but should also not be decided by which sex I have.
A society torn between tradition and modernization, old and new, trying to figure out where to go and what to believe, should learn that not all “old” values are bad. My generation is the generation of divorce children and a lot of us went back to wishing for what our grandparents had, a marriage of a lifetime but at the same time we learned how awful marriage is, that it won’t work, can’t work and that women should be entirely independent, not letting anyone even come close to directing our life in certain ways. It is probably why people think children should be independent and not “rule your life” but different topic.
Every time I talked about marriage I heard the same things “Why? You are so young! A university student in Berlin! Live your life! Party! Have fun!”. Those people can’t grasp that there are people like me, who don’t like partying or drinking and that I do live my life and actually have fun. It was impossible for those people to understand that this was not just young love but that we got lucky to feel a love so deep and natural it sometimes still surprises myself. In the Qur’an, it says, “I created you from one soul, and from the soul, I created its mate so that you may live in harmony and love.” (7:189) and that’s what I believe in – and not just because I’m a hopeless romantic -. If you are honest and look around then you’ll realize there are a lot of people way older than we are who married irresponsibly, and it was just a matter of time until they divorce again, a 20-year-old can be sometimes more responsible than a 50-year-old and a 50-year-old can sometimes still be not grown-up.
The only thing I wish my generation would understand is that instead of trying to have a bigger and better wedding than Ashley or (insert any random name of a girl you don’t like), they should invest into a marriage. How does it help to have a big, fancy wedding, if you start your marriage with debts – besides all those of us that suffer from student debts – or give up as soon as there is a pebble in your way? A marriage is hard work. Every. Single. Day. The most fitting way to describe it would be that you don’t buy a new house just because a light bulb won’t work. You want to know how your grandparents got to be married for 60+ years? Simple. They just didn’t get divorced. If you think it was smooth sailing than you should seriously talk to them, if still possible. Back then you just didn’t get divorced, it was frowned upon, so they had to work through it and that’s how we should think again. People nowadays don’t take permanent things seriously anymore, just because there is always a way out. Tattoos you can get removed again and a marriage can be easily divorced. Learn to take the responsibility again and respect those serious things. A divorce should be the very last resort (there are of course certain no-goes like abuse but that’s not the topic), try to sit down and talk. Working on oneself is not easy, because being completely honest to yourself can hurt tremendously but the result can save your marriage and you can become a better person and enjoy yourself more. Do you really think if the first marriage didn’t work and you won’t work on yourself that the second or tenth will be better? It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, marriage is beautiful but also a full-time job. Change is part of life no matter if you are 28 or 85, all you can do is to decide to change in a positive way and keep nurturing your marriage, so it will continue to grow.
I hope at one point our society will be able to see the beauty of marriage again and not just see it as a prison or chain. As something, treated in the right way it can become the fire of your life and pay you back million times more than what you invested. Till then I will try to simply don’t care what others think, raise my future daughter/son as a proud feminist and keep nurturing my marriage – mainly with food though, hello diabetes and obesity! -.