Saturday, February 28, 2015

The 5 love languages and faith

I have been thinking a lot lately about the 5 love languages and how to use our deeper understanding of ourselves in terms of getting more spiritually connected with God. If we know how we function in terms of love, maybe we can use that to better our relationship with God. So, I decided I will simply just write about it and in hopes of doing that, I will be able to actually find some good examples.

The  5 love languages are:
1- Words of Affirmation
2- Acts of Service
3- Receiving Gifts
4- Quality Time
5- Physical Touch

You can take the quiz to find your dominant (and recessive) languages of love here.

I will start in the order that I listed them above and hopefully something meaningful can emerge:


The idea of the "words of affirmation" language essentially says that you verbalize your love through positive affirmation to your partner and would like to receive love in the same manner. So, in a sense, something like "I love you because...." not only "I love you" because that is not an affirmation. To say I love you, it could be an "empty" statement.

This understanding or language of love needs to be recognized, in faith, in two ways. The affirmer and the receiver. For those of you who are reading this, I am writing from the Muslim perspective, however, you can reflect on biblical or other holy texts to draw this point home.

a) The receiver

Lets speak from the receiver perspective. You want to receive words of affirmation. In faith, that means, you need to constantly hear how God expresses His love to you. Essentially, you would need to seek out the actions, beliefs, and reflections that are often associated with God's Love in your Holy Text (or in the supporting texts, in Islamic tradition, being Hadith/Sunnah).

Some examples of this would be:

"And spend (freely) in God's cause, and let not your own hands throw you into destruction, and persevere in doing good: behold, God LOVES the doers of good." (2:195)
"Verily, God LOVES those who turn to him in repentance and loves those who maintain their purity" (2:210, similar to 9:108, )
"God's LOVE is of those who are conscious of him" (3:76, similar to 9:4, 9:7, )
"God LOVES the doers of good" (3:134)
"God LOVES those who are patient in adversity" (3:146)
"God LOVES those who place his trust in Him" (3:159)
"Hence, ask your Sustainer to forgive you your sins, and then turn towards him in repentance; for, verily, my Sustainer is a dispenser of grace and a fount of love" (11:90, similar to 85:14, )
"Verily, those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds will the Most Gracious endow with love" (19:96)
"God loves those who act equitably" (49:9, similar to 60:8)
"Verily, God loves those who fight in his cause in solid ranks, as though they were a building firm and compact" (61:4 --> this one needs to be contextualized, in a time and experience of life that is far removed from our current reality; therefore, it can be interpreted in the sense of God doesn't love those who are divisive, but this is for another time).

Keeping in mind, Holy Texts (in particular the Quran) also talk about what God does NOT love:

"God does not love corruption" (2:205, 28:77, )
"God does not love the evil doers" (3:57, similar to 42:40, )
"God does not love any of those who are full of self-conceit, act in a boastful manner" (4:36, 57:23)
"God does not love those who betray their trust and persist in sinful ways" (4:107; similar to 22:38)
"God does not love....and is bereft of gratitude" (22:38)
"God does not love those who transgress the bounds of what is right" (5:87, similar to 7:55, )
"And do not waste (God's bounties); verily, He does not love the wasteful" (6:141, similar to 7:31, )
"God does not love the treacherous" (8:58)
"Truly, God knows all that they keep secret as well as all that they bring into the open; and behold, He does not love those who are given to arrogance" (16:23, similar to 22:86, 31:18, )
"He does not love those who refuse to acknowledge the truth" (30:45)

In reflecting on these varying verses, we find that love, at least in Islamic tradition, is part of affirmation. You cannot love without affirming a good behavior in the process. So, in order to feel the words "I love you" from God, it needs to be associated with the "because" aspect of love. Love is both unconditional and conditional. I love you because "you act equitably" or "I love you because you do good deeds" or "I love you because you are patient". Similarly, words of affirmation aren't just mere "I love you-s" all the time, but "I love you, because you take care of me" or "I love you because you always remember me". Etc.

b) the affirmer

In the first case, we were discussing how "god loves you". Now, we are discussing "how you love god". This is really simple, in Islamic tradition, similar to how in Catholicism a rosary is used, we have the concept of dhikr or translated as remembrance . By practicing the remembrance of God, we are able to affirm our love of Him. Essentially, by constantly remembering God's blessings and mercy on you, you essentially are affirming your love of God. By making dhikr , you are putting God into your consciousness constantly, which is your affirmation of love. God is reported to have said in a hadith Qudsi, that if my servant (humans) remembers my name in a gathering, I remember his or her name in a gathering that is greater (i.e. a gathering including God and angels) and command the angels to recognize their name.


It seems that in all cases, we want to explore the different way God expresses his love to us as well as how we express our love to God. Therefore, in this case there is the Acts of Service that God has given us out of His Love and the acts of service that we give out of our love  for God.

a) the receiver of God's service

This could be as simple as a gratitude journal. You need to reflect on all the blessings God has given you and "thankfully accept" what he has given you. This is about God's ACT of giving, and not the "thing" you receive in itself. You need to recognize what God is DOING for you, and not just giving you. Meaning, you should aim to recognize God's acts of service and be grateful for it.

b) the acts of service you do for God

In this case, I would recommend ANY TYPE OF VOLUNTEER WORK. Basically, you have recognized your blessings and the service God has done for you. Similarly, you need to return the love in kind. Therefore, the best way to do this is to constantly strive to "pay it forward". To volunteer at soup kitchens, to help box food at food pantries. To help provide clothing at clothing drives. To "pay it forward" everyday. This is because all of the services that God has given you are part of your daily lives and affect you daily. It is impossible to return the service 100%, but aim to do a daily "pay it forward" good deed. Do a weekly volunteer activity. Go to an elderly home and read to them, play games. I don't know. Volunteer to clean the local park, or your mosque/church/synagogue/temple.


This seems similar to to the ACTS of SERVICE category. However, this is difference. The ACTS of SERVICE is about what you do. The RECEIVING GIFTS is about what you get. So, let look at it in terms of the gifts we receive and the gifts we give.

a) the receiver of God's gifts

As a receiver of God's gifts, you sit and reflect on what God has given you, the material stuff. The things that keep you warm at night, whether that be your blanket, your home, the meal in your tummy, or your spouse. Think about the things that keep you full. The food and drinks you are  given, the love in your life, the laughter in you life. You are thinking about the "things". Whereas before, you were thinking of the services. Think about those things and be grateful.

b) the gifts you give

Here, similar to the "pay it forward" notion in "service", you need to "pay it forward" in "things". So, not only run a food drive, but contribute to food drives. Donate, money, clothing, just like you donated time and effort in the earlier language. Here, you are reminding yourself and essentially telling God, I will not let the material life cause me to be entitled. I know that all gifts are from God, therefore, I share God's gifts with His other "loved ones". Its hard to give God a gift, since God has ownership of all things, but you can share God's gift. By giving someone a gift "in the name of God" or sharing God's gift, you are essentially expressing Love of Him. Its up to you define what you consider a gift, it could be an action like a hug, or words, like an affirmation, or even a prayer for a loved one to get what they seek in this life. Essentially, you are "sharing the love".


This is different than the last three categories, in that it is not about the "giver" and "receiver" or "the doer" and "what has been done to you" or the "sayer" and the "what was said to you", but rather about a mutual relationship, both of your presence, in a moment of shared time.  Although, all the above categories can be manifestations of "quality time" if you are constantly conscious of God, but I think this is best summed up in "prayer".

Think about the date you are about to go on with your loved one (whether its a parent, sibling, spouse, friend, or any loved one) think about how you get ready. Take a shower, put on your favorite clothes, put on a little perfume. You build anticipation. Throughout the day, you think about that date. What are we going to talk about? Where are we going to go? Will anyone else be joining us? Even if it is a week in advance, we think about it and build anticipation. Well, why doesn't that happen with prayer?

You need to build anticipation. Think about God throughout your day. You've already thought about some of His blessings earlier. Try and make that a habit. When it comes to prayer time, designate a special place "where your date would normally take place", and special set of clothing (what we know as your 'Sunday's Best' in Christian tradition), and go through the hygienic prep you would normally go for (i.e. for Muslims this would be ghusl or wudu, which are ritualistic cleaning rites for prayer).  When you are excited about your date, you usually end up showing up early and wondering about the other person. So, go to prayer (even if its in your own home) early. Think about God before going through the motions. People talk about how prayer is so ritualistic and robotic that you're done before you even realized it... Well, so are dates. People always do the same things. They go on a date for coffee, or food, or drinks, or some sort of activity. They've done the same things hundreds of times before. They have probably eaten or drank something a few times throughout the day. But that doesn't make their date any less "robotic". Similarly, prayer needs to be seen in that light. By building anticipation, by prepping yourself, by showing up early, by thinking about God as you wait, your prayer will be much less robotic and much more "meditative". You think about God and you talk to him through his verses (ayat). Similarly, just like when you and your loved one are so in-tune with one another, you begin to say the same things at the same time, almost developing similar speaking patterns. In this case, you are talking to God. You are using His words. And He is speaking back to you. Maybe not in the same way you would on a normal date. But you are speaking to God, in His language (whatever Holy Text you ascribe to) and He is responding back to you in that same instant, using your voice and the same words. To the point that your breathing is a manifestation (symbolically) of His breathing; your words are His words; your thoughts are His thoughts.

Every time you pick up the Quran (or any scripture), you are learning about God. You are reading His profile. You are getting to know Him in depth. You are reading His autobiography. Any time you have a question  you want to ask Him, He has an answer for you somewhere in there and is challenging you to find it. He is being "mysterious" and you want to unlock all His secrets. This is God's love letter. How many times have you read and reread your crush's text message, email, or watch one of his/her vines? So many times that you have memorized their words verbatim. The Quran (or God's scripture) is His love letter. It is the key to unlocking (understanding) His love for you. Spend some time learning about your Loved One, because he already knows everything about you.


This one right here, well this is a challenge. I was struggling to figure out how to "touch God". I mean, does that mean that everyone who speaks the "love language of physical touch" will be completely neglected? Then, I thought about what the Quran says about this situation. Essentially, the biggest challenge that people face in faith is this question of their "senses". How do they believe in something that they cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch. Therefore, this is the most challenging love language of all. It is also one of the most common ones, in regards to faith. Therefore, I had to think of it in terms of "creation" and "creator". That we cannot really "touch (or physically sense)" the "Creator", but we can physically "sense" the "Creator's creation".

Therefore, go out into nature, go out into the world and observe, God's creation. All of these are a reflection of God. Spend a day just staring at the skies. Trust me, you will begin to feel this feeling that life is bigger than you. Spend a day hiking in the woods, you will see so many different types of trees, plants, animals, bugs, and so forth. Spend a day at the beach, don't be staring at the girls in their bikini tops or those muscled manly abs, but stare off into the water. Close your eyes, listen to the waves. Feel the sun warming your skin. Feel God's warmth. (lol, don't get sunburned!). You're in a cold state, like Michigan, well go to a planetarium. Go to a science museum. Go to an art and history museum. See how ancient people's lived and let that give testament to God's timelessness. That all these people had some connection with God (maybe different than your own) but God was always part of the picture. Go to the park. Go to the zoo (although, I am not endorsing the imprisonment of animals). Experience all of God's creations. Go have a conversation with someone who is so "utterly different than you" in all aspects. Ask them about how they "feel" God.

Pick up His scriptures, read the words aloud. Are they calming? You are hearing God's words through your own voice. You are, in a way, hearing God's voice. Listen to the words. Look at the words. Feel the words. Meditate on them.


I hope this is a helpful. Honestly, I know not many people read my blog... most of my posts are for me. I come back to them months or years later and read them. Not many people  comment. So, this is to my future self, if your "love language" changes.... don't feel lost. Just learn a new language. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Top 10 things I've learned


So, I was talking to someone the other day (and the other day for me sometimes means a year ago and sometimes means a day ago... it really depends on my memory where time is all conflated) about marriage. They basically asked me what was the top thing I've learned through married life. So, I decided to share some of them here.

Disclaimer: I'm not saying I know much about marriage and married life, I still consider myself relatively new to the lifestyle, but these are just my top ten reflections.

1- If you made it past the first year, you're likely to be together forever. 

The first year (maybe two) of marriage for everyone is the most challenging. Why? Because you are so "in love" with a person that the over-the-top image that you have of your loved one is contrasted with their day to day realities. Your knight in shining armor, your princess or queen, the love of your life.... so pure, so amazing.... contrasted with, well let me quote one of my favorite children's books, "Everyone Poops" (Taro Gomi).

Essentially, you witness one extreme to the next. Although the rate of divorce is high and there is no guarantee, but I strongly believe that if you make it past the first two years, you can get through anything.

2- Praying for your loved one, makes you love them more. 

This was a piece of advice my brother-in-law gave me. Really, it works. When I am annoyed as heck with my hubby or my daughter or my sister or anyone else in my family... I pray for them. Not in the "holier than thou" way... I pray for random things. Like that my sister does well in her classes. That my husband excels at work. That my mom gets to do something fun in the next two days. That my daughter likes to read books with me. I pray that they get the phone they want, the dress they've been saving up for, the date that they need to go on (I'm rooting for you mom and dad, you really need to go out alone more often), and so forth. The reason I pray for their "materialistic" things is because it makes me feel less annoyed with them and really feel like I witness their hard work and sacrifice. My husband works so many hours on computers, he should be able to enjoy the newest technology that his work contributes to. My sister studies so hard, she should be able to get the grade she is aiming for. My parents gave up so much of their alone time for us as kids, they should be able to enjoy being alone on dates as much as possible.

3-  Don't take things personally.

I won't lie. This one is a challenge for me until this second. I tend to take things personally if it comes from family. Mainly, because they know me through and through. But in the end, the people who love you aren't trying to hurt you. They're trying to love you through their own approaches. Some people talk in naturally harsher tones and shorter sentences. I'm not like that. But it takes a lot of effort for me to distinguish the way a person talks versus the message they're trying to deliver. Therefore, its a challenge, but don't take things personally.

4- Keep living life.

I think this is harder, for the most part (but not exclusively) for women. My husband used to tell me when I first got married, go out with your friends, go out to your open mics, just go out and have fun. But it was so hard for me to do it, because I wanted to spend all my time with my new husband. I felt like our time together was shared and I didn't want someone else to take that away from me. But if you do that, constantly want to be together with your spouse, you kind of suffocate each other. This is a tip for people who constantly love to be with their spouse: If you are with them constantly, your time with them is going to get shorter and shorter. But if you give each other your own personal time, you'll have a life-time together. Essentially, don't force your spouse to replace everyone of your relationships... that is unfair, impossible, and will lead you both to burn out.

5- Find the right friend. 

You have good friends, I get that. But friendship (and I think I've blogged about this in the past) differs completely when you're single, in-a-relationship, married, a parent, and even a grand-parent. Your lifestyle completely changes in all these different points of life. You need to find a friend, who can understand what you're going through, be willing to exchange non-judgmental advice and a listening ear, and will not be upset when you don't fill in the blanks. Life with another person is tough and sometimes, you just need to get away, but you know at the end of the day, you will want to come home to you loved one.

6- TEA, TEA, TEA, and TEA

This may seem silly, but my husband has introduced me to the world of herbal teas that I never really knew of... or at least never purchased before. I've fallen in love with a beautiful mix of: Marjoram, Anise, Ginger, and Cinnamon. I can drink it all day long.

7- Trust

Trust is such a hard thing to have in this day and age. But because of past experiences, we gather information, we draw conclusions, we develop assumptions, we limit trust. Trust is essential to a marriage. However, I think that your spouse and you need to define how you understand trust. For example, just because I don't tell you something, doesn't mean I don't trust you. I just don't feel like it is necessary to tell people. Whereas, other people feel that if you don't tell your significant other everything then it means you don't trust them. Get to know how both you and your significant other approach the concept of trust.

8- Family support is a must. 

Needless to say, you love your family, your spouse loves their family and you should both aim to love each other's family. In the long-run, it is essential. This can sound very self-serving, and I won't lie, in the end, it is. But many couples break up because of family drama. Try your hardest to extend love to your in-laws and you will find them to be a pillar of support in your household. Also, a piece of advice my mother-in-law told me was to avoid complaining about your own family, because this could reduce the value and image of your family to your spouse. Overall, your family loves you, acts in what they consider their best interest of you, and they may do things differently than you, but its out of love.

9- Thank you, thank you, thank you....

Before I get into the implications, I suggest you always thank your spouse at least once a day for something they did for you. At least once a day, because if its too frequently, it honestly gets annoying. And if its less, then you might feel taken for granted. Anyway, implications. I have had two different narratives mentioned to me in terms of thanking people you are close with. First, someone mentioned that you don't thank your family because this is their duty to you. Second, don't thank another person too much because they start to see you as beneath them and treat you as such. I think these are both valid arguments, but I do not agree with them, although I have confronted both in my lifetime. I have had a relationship in the past where a friend would "talk down to me" and another friend pointed out it is because I "always thank them and always compliment them". For these two scenarios, I think this is the best approach: First, always thank people no matter what their relationship, because even parents feel taken for granted, no matter what their duty is. When you thank them, it makes them feel like less of a duty and more of an act of love. Second, remind people to thank you. I know that sounds "obnoxious", but really, sometimes you need to. Sometimes I am so caught up in my own head, that I don't realize that someone did me a favor, or took care of me, or helped me in some way. Every once in a while, when the other person starts to feel "taken for granted", I think they should remind their loved one that they helped them in such and such way. Don't catalogue a huge list. Just be nice about it. Like, "I made you some coffee today, do you like it?" I think this is a nice way to remind your spouse that you did an act of kindness for them without pressuring them to feel obligated to thank you.

10- Treat people the way they want to be treated, not the way you want to be treated. 

This is also a tough one. How well do you know a person to know how they want to be treated? Maybe you have to directly ask them how they want to be treated. But, just because you want to be hugged all day long, doesn't mean your spouse wants that... Or just because you like to constantly be in someone's company, doesn't mean that your loved one wants that... Or just because your loved one always likes to eat pizza doesn't mean you want that... Or just because your spouse likes to receive gifts doesn't mean that you want that... I've said this before, find your partner's love-language. It took me a long time to realize that my mother's love language (like most Arab mothers) is through constant "nit picking/advice giving" and through "service". Essentially, the same way you accept their services, you should accept their advice, no questions asked. So, I try to serve my mom now. I'm obviously not going to nit-pick at her... but I do try to serve her more than gift buying or words of love. I do those things, but when I serve her and spend time with her, thats when she recognizes my love the most. Some people love receiving gifts. To express your love to them in a way they recognize you need to give them a gift, even if it is to buy them a cup of coffee. Some people need words of affirmation and love. Some people need physical touch and intimacy. I'm not suggesting they only need one of these things to satisfy them, but sometimes they need one area or "love-language" more than the other. So, essentially, treat your loved one in a way that they can understand your love, the way they want to be loved, as much as you can.

One extra just for you... 

Married life is as difficult and complicated as you make it. If you complicate things, then you complicate things. If you make things easy, you make things easy. Find the right balance. It'll take time... I'm still trying to get ahold of the ropes... we all will eventually figure things out.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

5 Ways to Get Out and/or Stay Out of an Emotional Affair.

Hello. Its been quite a while... 8 months in fact.

I just read this article: 5 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair. I think the article is interesting conceptually and in many cases it can be true, however, I don't think it is completely fair.

I asked the question when I originally posted the article to facebook, what are the root causes of emotional affairs? I mean, there must be a reason why people seek to fulfill their emotional needs, right?

Sometimes people may be in a relationship where one partner (often times the woman, but not always) has much more emotional needs than their partner has or can accommodate. Therefore, they seek their emotional needs elsewhere. For most women (and men), they have their "girl friends" to talk to. They hash out their thoughts, emotions, and secrets. You promise your friends (and ideally if they are good at it) not to share it with anyone, bring it up with your friend (unless they bring it up to you), and separate yourself from the equation so that you do not feel anything negative from your friend's partner. The reason being is, your friend is going to feel differently in an hour, day, week, month or even a year. If she doesn't feel differently, it is still her/his problem in the end and you need to be supportive of THEIR decisions, although you can help them sort out their thoughts throughout the process.

For example, I am a very emotional and reflective person and am in constant need of someone to talk to... and I mean CONSTANTLY.  Every thought gets pulled apart, rearranged, and put back together, maybe in the same form, or maybe in a new pattern. But it is unfair to my partner to have to listen to my every thought, every emotion, every moment. So, I seek out other people to meet my emotional needs. I talk to my parents, my in-laws, my siblings, and my closest friends. I do not consider this an emotional affair. The reason being is because I am attempting to respect the quiet tendencies of my partner. Is it frustrating? Hell yes. But is it for the overall good of our relationship, I hope so. The reason why is when you talk and re-hash things as much as I do, it might seem like you are 1) constantly complaining; 2) constantly in doubt; 3) constantly flip-flopping; 4) constantly having problems; 5) in constant need of therapy.

But it is not the case, I'm just an verbal thinker. I need to bounce ideas off of people, including the process of sorting out my emotions and relationships.

I will adjust the definition of an emotional affair as when a person begins to seek emotional comfort from someone outside of their relationship in which could turn into another relationship that could replace your existing one (whether a man or a woman, considering sexual preferences). 

So, anyway, this has led me to write a post in response to "5 Signs You're Having an Emotional Affair" and lets call this: 5 Ways to Get Out and/or Stay Out of an Emotional Affair.

1) Make sure you understand why you seek and/or might need emotional comfort on the outside. 

This may be because your emotional needs are not met internally within your relationship. So, you feel the need to have a stand-in. Think about your emotional needs. Are they too much? Can you reign them in so that you and your partner can find a middle ground? Are your emotional needs connected to another issue? Are you unsatisfied with everything in your life and considering your partner the root of that dissatisfaction? Think about why you are seeking more on the outside.

2) Consider who you are seeking emotional comforts from. 

Personally, I do not think seeking emotional comforts from outside your relationship is a problem, unless it from a "threatening" individual, and by threatening, I mean for your relationship. This is the age-old debate of whether men and women can be "just friends"? I do believe men and women can be just friends if they are just friends. However, I do not believe men and women can have a deeper relationship without it turning into something more (and apply the standards for same-sex couples, so men-men; women-women). If they are the person you turn to with every problem or every complaint, then it changing the playing field. But if you're turning to someone like a parent, a therapist, or a friend (that is not of your sexual preference) the boundaries are a lot more clearly drawn. You know how much is too much; how much to hold back; and where guilt starts to play into factors.

3) Talk to YOUR Partner.

I think a major problem is people don't talk to their partners and when they do, the messages delivered and received are not the same. So, when they need to talk to their partners, they should try to speak to them in a way that they can understand and empathize with. I'm a fan of the book The Five Love Languages. Or take the Myer/Briggs Personality Test to know what type of person you are and what type of person your partner is. You really need to be able to understand another person to effectively communicate.

Often times, women and men (and people in general) communicate differently. Partner A will say something like "look at the floor, its so dirty" and it could mean many things such as a simple statement of fact "look at the floor, its so dirty" or it could imply "I need to clean it", it could imply "get up here Partner B and clean it", it could imply "I made a mess!" and it could imply "You made a mess!" Some of these could be complaints or accusations. Partner B could be constantly hearing your statements of facts as a complaint and accusation. Causing them to withdraw. You need to figure out how your partner thinks, for the most part and communicate in that language.

4) Adjust as much as you can permit yourself. 

Your partner is not someone you can change to meet your needs. You need to adjust as much as you will allow yourself to meet them half-way. Sometimes, this means working a lot on yourself to meet their needs to get a long-term gain. So, if you feel like your partner doesn't talk as much or doesn't want to talk as much, read their emotional cues. Are they tired from work? Are they in a bad mood? Maybe they have a headache? Maybe, maybe, maybe. In Islamic tradition, we are taught that you need to give another person 70 excuses before issuing some sort of judgement on them and their behaviors. I know for me, when I don't want to talk or am "not in the mood" to talk to someone, its usually because I have a migraine. But I don't mention I have a migraine because 1) I don't want to complain about it; and 2) I try as much as possible not to think about it. However, it leaves me standoff-ish  and withdrawn. Maybe I'll be withdrawn for a day, maybe for a week (depending on the migraine), so I try to get by with the contact that with keep my family satisfied (or at least I think thats what I am doing).

Although, I'm not a fan of super "religious movies", I was a fan of the movie Fireproof. In the movie, the main character is recommended to follow this book of dares for like 40 days (click on the link to see some of the dares). And honestly, it works. You reach out in small ways to your partner and you begin to see the reward. I won't go into the specifics, but I decided to try it, and within a week I was seeing a difference in my relationship. Not only was I becoming more positive, less impatient, and overall more content, my partner also responded in positive ways. Talking more to me, trying to ease me of my responsibilities at home, and even going the extra mile in communication and talking that is above and beyond other people's needs. Basically, adjust yourself but don't change who you are. 

5) Be honest to yourself and your partner. 

Do you feel guilty? Are you hiding secrets? This could mean that you're in an "emotional affair". I will note that Number 5 is different from Number 3. In Number 3, I mentioned Talking to your Partner. However, here I mean, talk to your partner about your concerns in your relationship. Sometimes, you need to figuratively smack your partner over the head with your attempts to communicate. What I mean is this... "Hey wifey, did you notice how I gave you a massage the other day? And I bought you your favorite ice cream? And took you out for dinner? This is because I am trying to connect with you since I feel like we've grown distant".

Sometimes, your partner just won't realize unless you tell them. I'm not telling you to rub it in their face and make you seem like the good guy and your partner the bad guy. But be honest to your partner that you're worried about your relationship and have been making strides to mend it. Ask if they've noticed too? Maybe they don't realize that the foundation of their relationship is becoming unstable... Maybe they have noticed it and have given up. Maybe they've noticed it and decided to do something about it. Maybe you haven't noticed their attempts to reconcile as well.

I'll give an example from my personal life (sorry hubster if you're reading this!). So, I like to be constantly with the person I love. CONSTANTLY. Its like that with my parents. It's like that with my friends. Its like that with my husband. Its becoming like that with my daughter. Basically, when I love someone, I need to feel their presence. We need to communicate. We need to have these philosophical discussions and what not. At one point, I was getting so frustrated with the hubster because he was so aloof and unavailable, which made me feel totally and utterly rejected. Then, he was on and off for about a week or two. When we talked about it later on, I was so emotional and frustrated. Then, he gave me his explanation, "your family was in town and I wanted to give you some personal space to be with them alone". I mean, I didn't even think about the fact my mom and grandma were in town (at the time) and thats why he was giving me space, to give us our "ladies time".

Personally, I don't like that space, but it taught me that he thinks about that alone time and space. He needs that alone time with his friends and family, without me always creeping in the shadows :p. But basically, it wasn't about me personally per se, but about giving me a fuller opportunity to enjoy my family while they were in town. I wouldn't have figured that one out and had been stuck dwelling and dwelling and dwelling on it until kingdom come. So, being honest, even about my frustration, was helpful because I found out that first, my frustration was misplaced; and second, that my husband needs much more space than I may need.

I guess thats about it. Basically, 1) understand yourself/needs; 2) consider the who; 3) Talk to your partner; 4) adjust accordingly; and 5) Be honest. 

Let me hear your thoughts on this subject as well. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Its been 3 months, shy of a day, since I've been thrusted into the world of mamahood. I won't lie, its been hard, trying to juggling a job, research, a child, and other social duties/activities. Sometimes, I just want to crawl into the closet and sleep for days, but you can't do that. Sometimes, I want to take my daughter with me to work because I just don't want to be separated from her, even for a few hours... but I also can't do that. Sometimes, I want to go out without being a mom... and sometimes, I want to take my baby out with me and carry my mama badge for the world to see.

Its a complex, tangled web of emotions that I'm sure other moms (maybe fathers) have felt before. I think that most people don't realize this emotional phone tag you experience, until they're knee deep into poopy diapers, screams, and blurred vision due to lack of sleep. But you start to love the smell of the poopy diapers, hear music in the screams, and who needs 20/20 when the world looks like a great big colorful cloud?

My post isn't to complain about being a mom (or parent). But it is to shed light on the complexity of being a parent. Not all parents are the same. I happen to be the type who can't just send my child off with someone (even a family member) without feeling guilty. Many women are like that... I don't know about men... But, to do something on my own... even if it is to do research for my dissertation, while sitting at home, I feel bad sending the little one to someone else and then they get tied up and aren't able to do their own activities. Yes, I know that as she gets older, she'll learn to play by herself and won't need to be constantly held or talked to, but until then its hard.

That is why I've come to realize that it truly does take a village to raise a child. Two even three people can't do it alone. But, you need to work with what you have. So, based on my short experience thus far, this is what I need to do:

1- Get over it. Not feel guilty... Let the tiny human being go play with her aunts, uncles, cousins, babas, mama and baba's friends and anyone else who is close enough to you. How to not feel guilty? Think of it as a) a learning experience and opportunity for the little one; b) a fun date/outing for the big ones.

2- Babies need to get used to seeing a lot of faces... otherwise, when they're older... you'll probably suffocate from separation anxiety.

3- Go to work. If you're a stay at home mom, find something that you can do alone outside of the house, even if its an hour a week. Maybe, go to the library and read a book. This time make you feel like you're a real human being... not a milk machine... i.e. a cow... which is bad enough, considering all the weight you put on making the baby.

4- Find someone to trade off with you. You might have a friend, who has a baby too. Set up your schedules to "alternate" in order that you can baby sit each others kids, without having worry about costs or values. This is good for the parent, because they can have the flexibility to do things without the baby distracting you. And good for the child, because they'll have a playmate as they get older. This isn't only for working mamas. For example, say its really hard to get the house clean... Set up a day once a week, where you send the little one with a friend. But you have to be willing to accommodate the friend's day too. FYI- I'm still looking for someone to do this with...

5- Don't take things personally. This, I still need to work on. But, if people start saying things to you that tick you off, whether it is how you're doing something wrong, or not to do such and such, or to do whatever it is, or even a loaded comment about how working moms aren't real moms... Well, just pretend that their comment didn't come out of their mouths. Instead, think of what you need to hear and replace that in your brain. So, if someone is like "You're doing it wrong" in your brain process their statement as "you got this!" ---> This takes a lot of time and mastery... trust me, I am not even close to being able to do it, since I'm an extremely sensitive person. Good luck!

6- Talk to (and appreciate) your family members and significant other or even friends who may be helping you out. When you begin to appreciate them truly, that negative guilty feeling goes away, and you just feel blessed. Also, talk to them about specific needs you may have and explain, without embarrassment, what help you need exactly. They may think one thing and you have something totally different going on in your brain. And then in the end you get frustrated and annoyed. So, yeah... be more accurate and specific about your needs and constantly express your appreciation.

I guess I'll stop there.

Friday, November 1, 2013


I've been struggling with this pendulum swing of emotion. I think most of us have experienced it at some point or continuously experience it on a daily basis. It is that feeling in which you feel total and utter gratitude and contentment with your lot in life and then on the other side, a complete dissatisfaction with something (or multiple things) in your life...

The feeling is an odd one. At least for me it is, because there is this constant tension, this push and pull, a tug-of-war battling within me. A moment where a rush of appreciation washes over me that is humbling and grounding. And within the same minute or the same hour or the same day or the same week, you feel this frustrated annoyance with something else in your life.

For example: 

An unparalleled appreciation of the fact that your loved ones are surrounding you, even for a short period of time.


A frustrated angst that burns you up until you're dehydrated by it because you feel like no one is listening to you.


Happy you're almost done with school


Anger at the system for not having enough job opportunities.

This back and forth, of random things (not necessarily the example above) is more frustrating, for me at least, than the "frustrated emotion" that was expressed.

How then, do you balance it back out? I don't know if I am romanticizing my past, but I never felt this tug of war before when I was younger, or even about a year or two ago. And I've been mulling it over in my brain trying to figure out, what was different then from now? What did I used to do that kept me so content most of the time? Or stress free?

I haven't figured it out yet. But I'm going to be guess-timating for a few minutes before I hit publish on this blog post.

1) Aggressive Exercise... Daily for multiple hours. 

I guess when you exercise you release endorphins which make you feel happier and more content with everything. It gives you a feeling of success and achievement. It makes you feel like this is your place in the world and everything seems to be in balance.

2) Being busy, busy, busy... all the time. 

I think people function differently and the type of "busy" depends on the person as well. I used to constantly be on the go, constantly involved, constantly around people, constantly working on something. Although I am supposed to be "busy, busy, busy" I don't feel the same level of conscious busy-ness (business?). Now, I am busy but I am always in my own head. From before, I was busy, but I was always conversing with someone, bouncing ideas off of someone, sharing and receiving thoughts and reflections. I don't think I have that kind of busy lifestyle anymore. Yes, I have tons of things to do, but its more solitary and easily prone to procrastination.

3) Procrastination.... used to never happen. 

Actually, I didn't really think about this until I typed it up in #2. But I never ever used to procrastinate. All my work was always done WAYYYYY ahead of time. Maybe procrastination causes stress that doesn't necessarily need to exist. If you just reverse time allocation, you could be doing the same things but stress free. For example, instead of watching a Sabrina the Teenage Witch marathon and then working on your dissertation... you could work on the dissertation first and then go for the TV series marathon.

4) Always having someone to talk to. 

In the morning I had my dad, during the day, my mom/siblings/friends, and in the evenings I kept to my self. Now, I pretty much keep to myself all the time, because the people who I used to have the most meaningful conversations with live across the world. Maybe, my parents spoiled me, in that I always had them to talk to. But once that environment is gone, you have to make up for it somehow... even if its through new friends or at least phone calls.

5) Spoiling yourself without the guilt trips. 

I think I used to never have guilt trips when it came to spoiling myself. When you spoil yourself with something, no matter how small, even if its something like a walk around the block, it feels good and all feels right with the world.

6) Having someone put things in perspective for you. 

When you're having a pity party for yourself, someone is always there to remind you of how great you have it and how not everyone is as fortunate. Again, my mom and dad were always there to remind me to be grateful and appreciative of what you have and to consider what it feels like if it was taken away. I used to blog much more frequently, so sometimes, I would be putting things in perspective for myself.

7) Be grateful for what you have and do something about what you don't. 

I never used to get angry about what I don't have... If I didn't have something that I wanted, I would strive to get it... and for the most part, I would get it. Sometimes, I'd want to have a conversation (like the example I gave above) and I would just seek out someone to talk to... as opposed to dwelling on the fact that I don't have it. I guess this is the most pivotal point. I rarely used to dwell on the "what if" and just went for "what I could". If I couldn't, I'd just assume it wasn't meant to be. Maybe, this is what I need to revive in me.

I basically typed longer than I meant to.

I'll end with this... exercise, keep busy, don't put things off, be grateful (mentally, verbally,  physically), spoil yourself every once in a while, talk to people, make sure the people closest to you keep things in perspective for you (as you should do for them), and do something about "it".

Any other suggestions?

Okay. Bye. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a mama

People keep asking me, so, how does it feel to be a mother? I don't know how to answer the question, but I'll try.

Its been a short while. A week exactly, since I've entered into the ranks of motherhood, as others have done before me and others will continue to do so after me. And although my thoughts are not very significant, I felt that I needed to share the immediate, instantaneous changes one feels when becoming a mother.

You suddenly understand what it means to love so unconditionally, that its an overwhelming sensation. If you ever felt love before, it is nothing compared to loving your child. Even the love you feel to your spouse, your own parents, or your siblings just feels so different. You may love them so much that you can't help it, but its not the overwhelming sensation that one feels towards their child.

The power of dua'a (supplication/prayers) suddenly makes sense. A level of sincerity when you're praying for your child is unparalleled. I literally feel like I never really prayed for someone sincerely in my life. Suddenly, I want to read Quran with her, make dhikr (remembrance of god), or just murmur small day-to-day prayers with her that you're encourage to make before eating (like making grace), changing, or even going to the bathroom.

Appreciation. You feel so much appreciation for your parents, other parents, anyone who comes and helps you out. You appreciate the help around the house, the meals, the heat in the house, your health. You appreciate the support system you had as a child and appreciate things that you've long since forgotten or neglected your entire lifetime. You appreciate everything. You literally feel blessed from all angles of your life.

Understanding. Its so weird that, in one week, a flip will switch in your brain, and you begin to understand your mother a lot more than you did before. No matter what, there is always a level of understanding that won't be reached, because everyone is essentially different. But, you start to understand the nuances of your mother and develop a sense of empathy. You can't help but to think 'how did my mama feel when she did this? or said this? or advised me on such and such'. You can't help but think about all the times you put her (and baba) through hell by being rebellious, or 'bored all the time', or just plain annoying.

Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears. Tears. My doctor told me its normal, LOL, to feel this need to cry all the time. But literally, you look at your baby, and your eyes fill up with tears. Maybe its that overwhelming love that just brings tears to your eyes, not because of sadness, but because it is a love that occupies your whole being, your whole consciousness, that you no longer can control your eye ducts.

There is so much more. But, I guess I'll end with this:

Responsibility. You feel a sense of responsibility that is both heavy but worth it. It doesn't matter that your time and life is no longer your own, but shared with this tiny human being, who is still so dependent on you. You can't help but to feel responsible for every aspect of their well-being, especially at this stage, when you are their source of food, protection, and comfort.

Good luck future mamas, past mamas, and current mamas. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

You think you know me, them, whomever.

Today, a fleeting thought passed my brain as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and the various updates that were posted there. I lingered on a couple of pictures of old friends and thought....

Dang, they've changed a lot.

And the connotation was not a positive one. In the split second, I almost felt bad for them, pitied them, looked down on them or whatever you want to call it.

Half a second later, I realized how wrong I was to even think that way. Not only because it was such a arrogant thought, but because I thought I knew the person just by one status update, one picture, one link, one post, one whatever.

So, this got me thinking.... and I am freely writing, since this happened like a minute ago.

First, and most obvious, our definitions of a good or bad lifestyle differ from person to person, family to family, city to city, and country to country. For the most past, it really depends on your context. Therefore, what I want for myself will never be what everyone else wants for themselves and vice versa. What I think is a "good change" doesn't necessarily mean that they had a "bad change," people change. No one stays the same forever.

Second, yes, its about change. No one is static, the same way time is continuously moving along. Therefore, to expect a human being to remain static is oxymoronic. Their body changes, their cells change, their lives and minds change as well. Therefore, anyone scrolling through my facebook wall may think... "dang, she's changed a lot". The only consistency in life is its lack of consistency. Try as we might to hold onto things and think that we've never changed, but the reality is, we've changed, we just are pretending not to trace those changes.

Third, thinking we know people. This is a common topic. People think they know each other via facebook or instagram or any other social media outlet. But we don't. We see "snaps" of people's lives but we don't see the full picture. In fact, without social media, you can live with a person and think you know them, but know nothing about them at all. Think about all those friends you had in person, not cyber space, and reflect on how much you truly know their ins and outs, their thoughts and their actions. Do we really know what another person is thinking? Do you really think you can read the mind of your loved one that easily? Well then, how about a person you haven't seen for years, let alone haven't seen them in person?

We need to stop pretending we know people and let people just express themselves. And every piece of them that we discover along the way is just one piece in a larger, jumbled puzzle of life that is constantly changing. One minute you're playing "pick-up-sticks" and the next second you realize that the game you've been playing has actually been "chess" all along.

Fourth, get to know someone. Its so easy with social media to build passive relationships. No matter how much a person "announces" about their life online, it is just a hyper reality, a pseudo-image, a moment released into the atmosphere (or cyber-sphere). I guarantee that if we start talking to real people, engaging and hanging out with real people, that judgment tendency decreases. We our humbled by our realities and the realities of other people. You no longer are a far away person who can pass judgment on someone else's life. You become a person in someone's life. The lines or standards of "good and bad" may still be the same for you, but you will be unlikely to think, let alone verbalize, the idea that the person has "changed in a bad way". This is because you've discovered the nuances of another person's life. And if they are changing, for whatever reason, in a REALLY "bad way," as a real friend, you can help them through their difficulties.  The solution that you think is most viable may be unrealistic for their reality, but you can be there for them to discover their own solutions along the way.

Fifth, trace your changes. Reflect upon how you've changed over the years. Reflect on whether you think its good or bad. Reflect on how you think others may think it was good or bad. Reflect on what you think your priorities are. Reflect on how those priorities are situation in your reality. And consider whether you truly know yourself. Do you constantly make excuses about yourself? Do you constantly criticize yourself? Do you need to be more relaxed and less self deprecating? Basically, reflect about yourself, how you've change and consider the implications of those changes on who you are and where you want to go in life.

I guess that's all I have to say.