11 things no one tells you about marriage (and they really should)

I am no expert on the subject of marriage as I only tied the knot a few months ago. But these months have taught me some valuable lessons.

Usually when people get married they have to get used to combine spending time with both partner’s families. And as difficult as that might be, I would take it any day over living about 1,500 km away from both our families. We live in South Africa and are both from Cape Town, but my husband had just been employed by an international oil company. This meant we would have to pack up our lives and leave for Durban.

So despite everyone giving me advice on marriage, this is what I discovered in the first two months:

1. You do not exactly remember who attended your wedding

I must have redone my wedding reception guest list ten times since we began planning for the day, but I still have no idea who attended.

2. Things will go wrong but no one will tell you

I only discovered things that went wrong with my wedding later in the day. My cousins, sister, aunts and mother decided to keep it a secret to not spoil my day. But, there is always that one aunt that wants people to believe she saved the day. She could not wait to tell me that the dress I had made to wear for the Nikkah had stains on it. She managed to get it out while working through midnight until 2 a.m. to do it (it was actually a team effort!).

3. What do you call your in-laws and when do you start?

I am not the type of person to call my future in-laws ‘mom and dad’ before the actual wedding happened. It is too forward. I only actually spoke to them a few days after the wedding, I think I actually only said ‘mom and dad’ after a week.

4. How do I save my in-laws’ numbers on my phone?

Well I cannot save them as ‘mom and dad’ because those positions are already taken by my own parents. ‘Mom 2 and dad 2’ seem a bit wrong. I opted for ‘mom surname and dad surname’.

5. Remembering the names of everyone in your extended family will take a while

My husband’s family is huge! I can barely remember the names of aunts and uncles but now I need to remember cousins too. His family is very sweet and supportive because they regularly text me to ask if we are okay. However, I need to figure out who the person texting me is without sounding like an idiot.

6. Your mother in-law’s kitchen is unchartered territory

It is a kitchen you are not used to and of course you do not know where everything is! Just ask, she cannot blame you. But do offer to help!

7. Who washes your clothes?

When we just got married, we lived in a hotel for two weeks. During this time, my mother-in-law texted me daily to ask if we had a load of washing to do. Generally I would only send my clothing to my mom to be washed, because it’s weird to ask your mother-in-law to do it for you. But if she offers it, then just let it happen.

8. Where is home exactly?

We lived like nomads for two weeks before our big move to Durban. You cannot call your parents’ house ‘home’ because you are not living there anymore but you cannot call your in-laws house ‘home’ either. (I hate calling our apartment home!)

9. Cleaning up after yourself and someone else is exhausting

Because I am the eldest sibling, I was always the most responsible. Before, my mom acted like a police officer that used to scold if there were dishes left in the sink overnight… I have become that person. I also need to wash clothes, clean the floor, make the bed and do the ironing all between working during the day and coming home to cook too! My husband is quite domesticated too so thankfully he does help with the cooking and cleaning.

10. You only miss your family to a tear-jerking effect when you no longer live there

I will admit, I always thought that getting married meant that I will finally be away from my crazy siblings, parents and very busy house that was always receiving visitors. I miss that now, I cry for my family almost every day and no one visits us at our apartment. It is quite boring actually. I always think that if we stayed in Cape Town, our friends would probably visit regularly and I would be hosting dinner parties, not just cooking for two.

11. Sabr and Iman = Sanity

I am by no means an Islamic scholar, but this is what keeps me sane. Sabr because my husbands’ contract is only for two years and then we will move back to Cape Town and be with our friends and family again. Iman because there is a reason that we are where we are, we believe without questioning that reason even though we do not understand it is what we are taught as Muslims. This experience will only make us stronger as a couple, Alhamdulillah.

Written by Aqeela Bawa

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Aqeela Bawa recently tied the knot and moved from beautiful Cape Town in the Western Cape to another coastal province, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. She works as a copywriter at a creative agency taking.