Sunday, 4 October 2009

Fight or Flight

I started writing this during the time I was looking for a wife, but never posted it because I couldn't finish writing it before I got engaged. Anyway, here it is!


In psychology, the term fight or flight is used to explain the biological responses our body makes in reaction to a threat - to either prime the body for fighting or to prime the body for fleeing.

Am I weird to say I experience the fight or flight response whenever I approach a girl to seriously talk about marriage? How hard should I fight to get a girl? Should I have an attitude where fighting to get a girl equals hassle... hassle that I could, frankly, live without?

These are all questions that I had to ask myself when I was looking for a wife. In the start of my search, I didn't think much of it. I thought that a girl would suddenly fall in my lap (not literally! lol) and we would fall in love and get married and live happily ever after. Getting married shouldn't be hard - being married is the difficult bit... right?


Rewards are always sweeter when you have fought a long, hard battle to get what you were aiming for. The amount of appreciation that you will have for something that you worked hard to achieve would naturally be much greater than if it were given to you on a silver platter.

Let me explain, by rewinding a couple decades ago...

When I was a young boy, my parents never gave me any pocket money. Didn't buy me many things, didn't get any birthday presents... didn't really get many material possessions. I used to envy my school mates who would get £5 a week for doing nothing. They'd all have cool games consoles, when I had a tennis ball. They went to the corner shop after school and bought sweets. I had no money to buy anything, so I just went home. The only time I got money was when it was Eid, or when I worked for it. And here was the standard list of jobs available to get money:

Wash the car inside and out: 50p
Clean all the downstairs windows on the inside: 20p
Clean all the downstairs windows on the outside: 20p
Clean all the downstairs windows on the inside: 20p
Vacuum one room: 5p
Clean my room: no money, cos i'm expected to do it anyway!
There was a time when I used to get 5p for each prayer I completed
Sometimes, I would get 5p for practicing reading the muqaddam (a book to familiarise myself with the arabic text and to learn how to read the Qur'an)
Washing the dishes: 5p
And so on...

And I remember when my siblings and I had worked really hard and we had all saved up lots of money (approx £2 each or so), so we would all go down to the local shop and buy multi-packs of crisps and chocolates and share it amongst ourselves.

MashaAllah, my mum taught us the value of money, and taught us how to spend that money in a nice way - by sharing it with others.

So I grew up really cherishing everything I had - even though I didn't really own that many things. Whatever I had for lunch, I would eat everything, even though I didn't like it sometimes (and as I was a slow eater, I would usually be one of the last kids to leave the lunch hall). I would see others throw away the food they didn't want to finish, just because they didn't like it.

I always compared myself to my classmates and I could never understand their rationale behind their actions. For example, whenever I had a bottle of drink, I would save the bottle and reuse it the next day. But I would see my classmates do stupid stuff like bite the bottom of the bottle and drink through the little hole they made with their teeth! What a waste of a perfectly good bottle! Obviously, they had to throw away the bottle after that since there was no way you could use it again. But I remember thinking "how can they not appreciate these things that they have been given?"

Simple answer: spoilt children. They've been given everything they asked for without having to lift a finger. They never did any chores. They never learnt to appreciate what they had and what they worked for. So they had no care for their actions and no love for their belongings. Whereas I had to struggle to get the tiniest bit of monetary reward.

Let's move forward in time back to the recent past...

I was sitting with my brothers and sisters celebrating Eid when the discussion came up about me choosing a wife. Big sis asked me if I wanted to fight for the girl of my dreams. My natural answer: "no, it should be simple - I don't wanna fight. If it's meant to be, it'll happen". My brother shot up and said, "nah, you never want to fight for your things. You just expect things to happen around you. That ain't reality. You're living in a dreamworld". My sis then proclaimed, "yeah *Hiro*, you should show that you're at least fighting to get a girl, otherwise, it would seem like you don't even want her"

That short conversation had such a profound effect on me. Could it be that I've lost all the values I used to hold as a child? What happened to the concept that I should work hard to get what I wanted? Had this dark dreary world corrupted me to the point where I have forgotten my mother's teachings?

As you can imagine, I didn't say much for the rest of that conversation. I was in deep thought for the whole evening. Maybe I should fight to get the girl of my dreams. Instead of just wandering aimlessly, waiting for her to fall into my lap. I mean... who do I think I am? Shahrukh Khan in some Bollywood movie? Things don't just happen like that in real life.

I decided on two things that night. Firstly, to cut down on the movies. Secondly, to adopt a new way of thinking when seeking a suitable partner in marriage.

This new way of thinking included many things. For starters, I'm not going to run away from the smallest problem I had with the next potential wife. I remember rejecting girls just because they had studied medicine and some twisted logic in my mind had made up the idea that because she was studying medicine, she probably wanted to make a career out of it, therefore, didn't want to have children. So I rejected her without even talking to her! I had rejected girls because they were from a different culture to me. Even though, we were both born in the UK and had grown up here all our lives. I had rejected girls I had never even met before because they were older than me. Or they lived in another country. Or were too short. Or knew my sister. Or she never used to wear hijab. Once, I even rejected a girl because she had the same name as my sister (but that is quite freaky for obvious reasons!). The point is, I kept choosing the option of 'flight' every time I saw a small threat that might materialise in the future.

What a moron I was. And I wanted to change. I had realised my mistake in all of this and I had decided that now is not the time for 'flight' every time a small minor negative thing gets in the way.

It's. time. to. fight.

Nobody is perfect; so I can't expect my future wife to have no flaws whatsoever. Which means that I can't expect an easy ride to get the girl of my dreams... right? In fact, I now believe that if we don't struggle to find 'the one', then it might come back and haunt you later in the future. Maybe through not appreciating the one you are supposed to love. Maybe that might lead to your future spouse reciprocating that feeling. Maybe that might lead you to fall out of love. Maybe that might lead you to end up in divorce. Now that's a scary thought.

I now hold the opinion that you have to expect to fight for the girl of your dreams. Sitting down and waiting for her to come to you is not an option. After all a marriage-seeker should seek. Not be sought. Cos then, you would be a marriage-soughter. And that don't even make sense.

So let me go back to my original hypothesis: "getting married shouldn't be hard". Maybe I should change the 'getting married' part of that hypothesis to something more appropriate like 'choosing a colour to paint your wall... shouldn't be hard'. That would be more fitting. Getting married is the hard part. That's where you lay down the foundations of your union. It's where you learn to appreciate each other and each other's roles in each other's lives. It's where you have to make a decision whether you think you can spend the rest of your life with that person or not. You have to consider the relationship that your future spouse will have with your family, if your future spouse is planning on moving in with your family. You have to figure out whether or not you both have the same direction in life; after all, one of you may be an extrovert personality, while the other may be introvert. And if one of you have to relocate after marriage, then what are the logistics of that happening?

Most importantly, you have to mentally prepare yourself for marriage. And that doesn't mean looking in the mirror and saying "I want to get married". Noooo. It means that you have to be at a pretty mature stage of your life, where you are confident that you can resolve problems. That you can foresee problems and eradicate them before they exist. And have the knowledge that sometimes, your wife just wants to talk (sometimes scream). And you have to listen - even though you really wanna just watch tv. lol.

All this requires a lot of thought. And a constant battle with yourself ensues. 'Can I live with that part of his/her personality? Would he/she be upset with my direction in life? Would I get support from him/her whenever I want to do something?'

If any of you have felt the same as me, please share it with us. A problem shared, is a problem halved.

1 comment:

  1. Everything you think you know before marriage is incorrect.
    Everything you think you need and want before marriage is incorrect.
    Basically, if you can get on with someone - then you will fall in love with that person.
    From love, follows respect, trust and integrity
    Once you have these things - you will change a little to fit in with her, she will change a little to fit in with you and you will both "team up" and develop together into the future.
    This happens even if at the beginning you are poles apart and completely different.

    A marriage is like a football team - you cant have 11 amazing strikers make a good team. You cant have 11 amazing defenders either - a good team requires a mix of skills and attributes as does a team for marriage- two people who are the same dont advantage eachother.

    As my grandma, my aunt, my mother and every married person I know says: "you dont know the person until after you have married them"

    So I would say look for communication skills - if she gets you and you get her, then already you can do what most people cant.

    Make sure there is attraction.

    And everything else should work out from there.