12 Years a Spouse

12 Years a Spouse

Written by Theresa Corbin

In one month, I will have been married for exactly 12 years.

And I don’t just say that because I love the future perfect tense of verbs. I say it because I am proud of this accomplishment. 12 years of fun, failing each other, forgiveness, and friendship. In these 12 years, I have learned a lot. I have learned that most fairy tales end at the wedding for a reason. I have learned a lot about the human condition and myself.

Allow me to introduce us:

My husband and I are both American Muslim converts. We are the same age. We come from the same area of the country. We both lack interest in football. We have the same sense of humor. And we didn’t know the other existed until we had an arranged marriage. The story of how that went down is here in case you are interested. And then we lived happily ever after … LOL

When we tell people our marriage would not have happened and would not work without Islam, the automatic response is “that is sad”. But it really isn’t. If you think about it, why else do people get together? They don’t want to go it alone. And they find someone who has similar beliefs and ambitions and try to make the load of two lives easier. Islam is our common belief and ambition.

And no matter what reason people come together, I think a lot of people treat marriage like it in itself is a religion (I blame fairy tales … lots of fairy tale talk. Probably because I saw Frozen three times and loved the non-traditional message).

Once people find a partner, they tend to approach marriage thinking the other party should offer them extravagant admiration and endless devotion and be perfect and constantly selfless and good smelling and save them from bad situations and on and on, i.e. they expect to be alternatively worshiped and saved. This kind of marriage has the seeds of failure and bitterness sown into its premise.

To me, there is nothing so harsh as expecting someone to be perfect and nothing as absurd as expecting selflessness from others (have you ever met people?). As Muslims, we understand that people should not be worshiped for many reasons not the least of which is that people are sometimes cranky.

Not only does Islam bring us together and give us perspective within our marriage, it also gives us a road map on how to treat each other: argue with manners, smile, treat each other with kindness, don’t be suspicious, respect each other, a good greeting increases love, don’t backbite, the strong person controls him or herself in anger, at least try to smell good for your spouse, what is his is hers and what is hers is hers, and so on.

So to commemorate our 12 year accomplishment, I have compiled a list of things we have said to each other that have enriched our marriage.

One for each year of marriage. I will not tell you who said what (you can try to guess), but I will tell you that with each comment a serious lesson was learned.


12. I am glad you understand that I am funnier than you.
11. I think your feelings are completely unfounded, but the fact that they are real to you makes them matter to me.
10. I grant you Fart Blanche.
9. I opp-o-lop-ogize. I did it on a porpoise. (stolen from someone else’s marriage)
8. Love should totally be conditional. If you killed me, I wouldn’t love you any more (we both agreed on this point).
7. Let’s have a dance party (translation: let’s sit on the couch and eat ice cream).
6. Wake up! It’s time to pray!
5. If you want to talk about money, just email me. It takes the sting out of the conversation.
4. “You’re ruining my life!” In the key of a 13 year-old girl (this is ridiculous and dramatic enough to diffuse any argument).
3. We have to move. We need two bathrooms.
2. Fine! I will learn how to play D&D.
1. I forgive you.

And for my next trick, I will now offer you some sage marriage advice: 

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

2. You are probably a bigger idiot than you realize (This is general advice. I learned this the hard way).

3. Communicate!!!!

4. Sometimes you don’t like something about your spouse, but it is the very thing that you sometimes love. There is a hadith about this and it is so true.

5. If you are not both in it to win it, it is not going to work. Period.

Disclaimer: I do not parody the title of the movie 12 Years a Slave because I think marriage is like slavery nor do I do it because I think the evils of slavery in America are funny. It was just convenient timing on both the part of the movie and my marriage.


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