Umm Zainab Vanker shares some ideas on how to rekindle the sparks when those early days of marriage seem like distant memories.
We forget that before we became Mum, chauffeur, nurse, and more, we were a woman and wife first. It’s time we took the initiative and brought back that glint in our spouse’s eye (and a little spring in our own steps!). Here are a few ideas to spread throughout your days, nights, weeks, and months!
1. Take a shower
The best time for this is just after you’ve finished the sweaty housework or before your husband gets home. Buy yourself some really nice scented bodywash, lotion or talc powders that are light on scent but can be smelled when someone is close enough to you. The shimmery ones add a little extra sparkle, too!
2. Own a few modest yet sexy, fun clothing items
Depending on how many kids you have and their respective ages, have a few outfits to wear around the house that are modest but still make you feel feminine, sexy, and fun. And don’t forget to add some sexy lingerie. They help liven things up!
3. Comb your hair
Make sure to run a comb or brush through your hair and look a little less ‘bush woman’. Even if you’re just tying it up in a ponytail or a plait, use hair accessories to give it a different look; you’ll feel better without even realising it.
4. Use cosmetics
Run a little lip gloss or lip balm on your lips to make them feel and stay soft and sensual. Use a little light blush to bring some colour into your cheeks and, if not going outside, use some kohl or eyeliner.
5. Show affection
Show affection to each other by giving one another nicknames, hugging your husband when he comes home even from the masjid, and teasing each other in a playful way. So what if the kids see this type of affection openly? It will teach them the halal method of showing affection and help them in their marriages later on, insha Allah. Just make sure that they also see that when company is around (such as your parents or in-laws), certain things are not done in front of them out of respect for them as elders.
It's tough trying to keep things going daily, so at least have some weekly plans to keep the embers warm.
1. A special day
As Friday is our weekly Eid for us as Muslims, why not make it special, not just for the kids, but the whole family. Set a different feel and routine for this day every week. Dress to impress and light incense throughout the house.
2. Special clothes
All those clothes that you've got in your closet to wear for sisters’functions that don’t come out very often, why not wear them for the one person who will show you how much he appreciates it? Better still, there will be no fear about anyone describing you to others.
3. A special meal
Choose a day when your hubby is going to be home early, to cook that special meal that he likes so much. Something that you don't have time to make often, he’ll love it even more that you took the time to make it especially for him.
4. Adult time out
Make sure that you find some way, somehow, to sneak time alone with your spouse. If the kids are toddlers, use their nap time to steal time if he's home or once they’re in bed. If school age, then once they're in bed, that's your time with him. Even if he works odd hours, make sure to take at least 15 minutes alone together.
5. Discreet PDA’s (public displays of affection)
Depending on the country or society that you are living in, PDA's amongst Muslim couples can be done in a very discreet and tasteful manner. No, it is not haram. I am not suggesting any overt displays at all! Things like holding hands while you're walking, whether grocery shopping, window shopping or taking the kids for some fun in the park; teasing each other, sharing a drink or meal or snack together, or whispering to each other. Be creative!
Some things can only be done monthly. Try and find out your husband’s schedule, then plan even just one thing.
1. Date night/day
You don't need a lot of savings or even to do this outside the home. After getting the kids to bed early or for those lucky enough to have family members, take them for a sleepover for a night or out for a few hours during the day, and then plan a date! Inform him beforehand that you have booked this time with him, so he had better not book anything else.
Go out for dessert, take a drive somewhere, have lunch or dinner out. If you can't afford this, then make a special dessert at home or plan a candlelit dinner. Sit on the sofa and cuddle together and talk, not boring daily routine stuff but about anything else, even politics. Just talk!
2. Shop together
We all know most men hate shopping but that's because we don't make it fun! How do you make it fun? Well, all men love to see their woman in lingerie, so once a month tell him to you need his help in choosing which lingerie or underwear to buy. If he's too shy to go inside the store with you, at least he can help you choose from outside the store by nodding yes or no. You don't have to only listen and choose what he likes, but buy what you both agree on. Then go home and model them for him when you're alone. It doesn't just have to be lingerie but can be anything whether for you or him. And yes, you can buy him nice men's underwear or PJ's to wear instead of that ratty T-shirt and shalwar he calls pyjamas!
3. Bathe/soak together
Men like to be pampered, just like us! They have sore muscles and aches and sometimes taking a warm soak helps. So why not do it together? (If you have a bathtub, that is.) Buy some scented bath salts and fill the tub and tell him to get in… then surprise him by joining him. You'll both end up feeling relaxed!
4. Give each other massages
Buy a bottle of relaxing massage oil and give each other a massage at least once a month. Teach him how to do it if he complains that he doesn't know. Sometimes old pets can learn new tricks, if they're taught nicely.
Bi-yearly or yearly
Then there are things that can only be done once or twice a year!
1. School breaks/family breaks
During school breaks or family breaks, make sure to plan some things that you both like to do. Perhaps something nature-related or other shared interest (too bad if the kids find it boring, it's not only their break!).
2. A weekend alone
If and when possible, find a weekend when the kids are staying with family or at a camp or Islamic program to book a weekend away for both of you. Pamper yourselves if you can afford to.
The Internet is a great tool for finding deals. You don’t even have to leave the city you live in! Just make full use of your hotel room!
3. Re-enact your wedding night as you wish it would have been
Almost everyone wishes they could change something about their wedding night and that it was more memorable (especially without the awkwardness of that first night alone with each other!). Who says you can't re-enact it, with some tweaks to make it just as you wished it had been? There's nothing to be shy about or feel ashamed of. I promise you, neither of you will forget this night, not for a long time!
Once in a Lifetime:
Take a cruise or vacation of your dreams for a couple weeks. Travelling together makes you relearn the old and find out the new things about each other. You realise how much each of you have not only changed, but grown over the years and have become true partners as you both depend on each other for many things that you sometimes take for granted.
After 22 years of marriage, you realise that you cannot be serious all the time. Lighten up, be childish and silly together. Remember the early days and months of marriage and try to bring those feelings!
Umm Zainab Vanker (UmmAnonyMouse) has been married for 22 years, has 4 children, 1 grandchild, and is still looking for inventive ways to keep the embers glowing.