Love @ 1st Sight

Print

Have you ever heard of ‘love at first sight?’ Have you ever wondered whether there is actually such a thing?

Well, let me tell you my story, and then you can decide for yourself!

When I was in high school, I was like most other girls – primarily interested in fashion and friends, and perpetually glued to my phone. But, as many boys as I may have chatted to, I never really ‘fell in love’ or dated any of them. I may have had the freedom of a phone, but I never had the freedom of going out of the house unsupervised, so obviously… a boyfriend was out of the question.

All that changed when I went to university. I was now away from family in another city, living in a flat with a friend and enjoying a newfound freedom that quite frankly felt refreshing. Being the ‘dutiful’ daughter that I was, I phoned home and checked in with my parents most nights, but I never told them where I was going, who I was hanging out with or what I was up to.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase. One night, when I was at a friend’s house for a braai, HE walked in – the one who would become my significant other, my heartthrob, the flame of my life. In stereotypical fashion (imagine it in slow-mo if you want), our eyes met across the crowded room, and time itself seemed to come to a standstill, so that it was only the two of us that existed in that magical moment.

That was my moment of ‘love at first sight’, and though I didn’t know, it was the beginning of a lifelong journey. We met, chatted, flirted, exchanged numbers, and soon enough, we were an item. Day by day and night by night, I fell deeper and deeper in love, until I was so deep that I was drowning. At this point, you become so infatuated with the object of your love that you can’t even imagine a world in which they don’t exist.

Our love, however, was not to be without its challenges. I came from a relatively conservative, traditional home. Ok, I admit that my parents had certain un-Islamic ideas, like sending me to study, even though they were sitting on millions and I would never have needed to earn a living. But, by-and-large, my family was a respectable one that had never been plagued by a serious scandal before. Until I came along…

You see, the boy I had so ‘inconsiderately’ chosen to fall in love with didn’t match my family’s idea of the ideal boy for me. In fact, he wasn’t even deemed acceptable, and he may as well have been a serial-killer or mass-murderer for all they cared (they certainly treated him as such anyway)! They didn’t approve of his dressing, the way he spoke, the family he came from, the car he drove or his choice of career. In fact, they were so hostile and negative that they found fault with EVERYTHING to do with him, even absurdly managing to fault his phone number!

“All ‘serious’ Muslims have 786 numbers, you know,” my dad pronounced proudly, as if this ‘achievement’ was somehow a sign of saintliness. “But your boy, his number ends in 5462616!” he declared, as if pronouncing a guilty verdict. “So… What’s wrong with his number?” I asked, fighting the urge to roll my eyes. “It has three sixes in it! Everyone knows that 666 is the number of Satanists!” dad concluded.

You get the picture don’t you? To say that I was fighting an uphill battle in trying to marry this boy would be an understatement. The reality is that I had lost the battle before it even started – I lost it when I fell in love.

My dad once berated and chastised me, complaining and asking, “Why can’t you just marry who we tell you, huh? Why you gotta be so difficult?” “Dad,” I reasoned. “You sent me to university, throwing me into the ‘deep end’ of the world. Obviously I would learn to swim on my own! If you wanted me to stay dry, you should’ve kept me out of the water!” My father had no answer to counter this reasoning, and this was one of the few occasions in his life when he was truly lost for words. He was forced to accept the stark reality – university teaches you a lot more than you enrol for!

One night, in utter desperation, my father called a senior ‘Aalim home to speak to me and try to get me to see reason. I sat in a separate room while he addressed me through the closed door, telling me that losing my parents’ blessings would pave the way for unhappiness in life, etc. Blah blah blah he went, going on for himself. Why did he even think I was interested in what he had to say?

See, my father himself always had it in for these Moulanas and never afforded them much respect, disregarding the long years of their studies and calling them uneducated. So, I was never raised to take them seriously or hold them in esteem. Now, when my father ran to these same Moulanas in his hour of need, I found the whole situation quite hypocritical and laughable.

Eventually, against the wishes, advice, instructions, orders and even threats of all and sundry, I went ahead and married him anyway. What else was I to do? After all, my heart knew no other love but his love. How could I even imagine spending the rest of my life living with another man? “I cannot live a lie; I need to be true to my heart!” I reasoned. I was so blinded by the brainwashing of romance movies, novels and blogs, where love always prevails over all else, that at the naïve age of twenty-two, I made my choice, failing to foresee the far-reaching repercussions that would rock my world.

At first, my family alienated me and cut me off. In the face of this opposition, I would seek consolation through comparing myself to Shakespeare’s Juliet and my husband to Romeo, conveniently forgetting that they died in misery and never rode off into the sunset to enjoy a ‘happily ever after’.

Gradually though, bit-by-bit, my family came around a bit and warmed up slightly. However, all was not to be forgiven and forgotten. The wounds of the heart take time to heal – if they ever heal at all that is. So although I was allowed to mix with my family again, there was always this feeling and sense that some cold, unresolved issue stood between us, silent yet stubborn in its refusal to leave.

After the dust settled and the first year passed, Allah Ta‘ala blessed me with a child. My little baby was the apple of my eye and cheer of my heart. I devoted all my time and energy to her, and expected my husband to do the same. After all, he was the father! Surely he would welcome her into his world with the same enthusiasm and love as me! Or would he???

I say this with a heavy heart… he was not father material and never would be. Worse still, he never even tried or pretended to be a good father. When our child arrived and I began to give her attention, he took it for granted that he didn’t need to spend time at home. He casually assumed that with a child in my life to occupy me, I wouldn’t miss him or even mind that he was never at home.

This was when the really dark, depressing period of my life started, as my marriage began to crumble apart. What else could be expected, when he was always away and never home to stay? First it was gym excuses, then meetings, then get-togethers with friends. I would be left wondering what role I now occupied in this man’s life, as he seemed to have no interest in me anymore!

As time passed, he began to stay out later and later, sometimes not even returning home at all! Then, I began to see the telltale signs of drug use which I had so frequently observed in students on campus. Initially, I told myself that it was just a passing phase, and he’d soon see the error of his ways. But that was just wishful thinking...

I tried to help him, but he refused to accept my help or even communicate with me in any meaningful way. I feared questioning him on his whereabouts or pressurizing him in any way as I did not want him to lash out at me with a divorce. You see, when you turn your back on family for a boy, then all you have is the boy. If he turns his back on you, you will have NOBODY to turn to. You will be all alone, with no supportive shoulder to cry on, no compassionate parents – NO ONE. The boy is all you’ll have, and if he was a mistake then well, that’s what you’ll have to live with – for the rest of your life.

Before I married him, we dated for a good few years. We spent hours and hours texting each other, went everywhere together and were practically inseparable. I was pretty confident that I knew him as well as I knew myself and I easily envisioned myself living out my days with him, happily ever after.

Yet here we are now, in a complete and total mess and on the brink of a marital breakdown.

I often wondered to myself, “What made him change?” Why was he no longer the same caring, sensitive and loving man to whom I had given my hand in marriage? Then it hit me, with the blunt force of a speeding train… he had never changed at all. Rather, this is who he REALLY was all along.

Please, allow me a chance to explain. It’s taken me all these years of learning the ‘hard way’ to finally reach this conclusion and gain this perspective, and I’m sharing it with you for free, so show some appreciation and value my words.

Dating is a relationship built on romance, excitement, love and passion. It’s all about the hearts and roses, the hand-in-hand strolls down the promenade, the love emojis and all the other gooey stuff. The focal point of dating is the romance and excitement, and every encounter or communication revolves around the same. After the date is over, each returns to their home to resume their normal lives.

Marriage, on the other hand, is a different ballgame altogether. Marriage is based on the foundation of commitment and responsibility – commitment to each other and the responsibility of fulfilling each other’s rights. This commitment and responsibility does not remain for just the duration of a date – it continues for 24 hours a day and remains until death. Marriage transcends the glitter and glamour of applying lipstick and eyeliner before a date, and extends to seeing your spouse at their worst, when they wake up with a ‘bed head’, stumble to the bathroom and try to brush the ‘morning breath’ from their mouth.

Likewise, when they are nauseous and throw up, or feel sick and lie in bed, or feel down and depressed, there will be no romance found. Rather, it is at times like these that the commitment, sense of responsibility and ‘true love’ of the spouse will be seen. Trust me, at times like these, you won’t want the best dressed, or most handsome, or most ‘loaded’ (richest), or most fun and exciting husband at your side. You’ll want a man who embodies the sunnah spirit of caring, compassion and commitment, someone who’ll wipe your tears, rub your head and bring you soup in bed.

Now ask yourself, “If a boy makes a good date, how does it mean that he has what it takes to make a good husband?” In dating, the occasions almost never arise for his ‘husbandly’ and ‘fatherly’ qualities to be proven, and so dating is a poor gauge of good character and qualities.

To cut a long story short, I never truly knew my husband, and when I did, I wished I didn’t. When you are young, and you are raised in a sheltered environment, where you are seldom called to account for your misdemeanours, or made to ‘face the music’, then you grow up with a false confidence and the wrong impression that ‘nothing can really go wrong’. You fail to realize that even at the tender age of twelve, you can make a bad choice for which you’ll pay dearly until you die (think of teenage pregnancies).

This was what happened to me – I deliberately ignored, nay I spurned my parents’ advice and rejected their love and well-wishes. Lacking any wisdom or foresight of my own, I made a terrible decision from which there was no coming back.

At this point, my husband was a drug addict drowning in denial, but what were my options? While life with him was a misery, I couldn’t exactly walk out either. Walk out and go where? Returning to my father’s home would entail hearing the words “I told you so” until the day I died, and remarrying into a good home, especially when you have a child, is extremely difficult. I was between a rock and a hard place, but who would pity me when I had myself made the choice that led me here?

I wish I could tell you that things somehow worked out – but that would be a lie as it didn’t. Love at first sight is based on emotion – and emotions change and shift as rapidly as the weather. Love based on the pure union of nikaah, without pre-marital relationships, is love based on the sunnah, Islamic way. It will draw barakah (blessings) and the couple will enjoy the divine assistance of Allah Ta‘ala and the company of the angels. This love is based on intelligence, commitment, responsibility, parents’ blessings and most importantly – the way of Islam.

Love at first sight is a fallacy – it’s love with each and every sight, until you die, that counts. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake that I did – IT’S NOT WORTH IT. After the sun of excitement fades and the night of reality sets in, you’ll be left alone in darkness. I threw my future and happiness away and suffer the consequences every day. Rather than pity me – pity yourself and don’t follow in my footsteps. May Allah Ta‘ala guide you, aameen.