Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

I Am Not a Spinster (Wikipedia Says So)

on May 6, 2014

Hello, readers!

It has been a long time since I last posted. So much has been going on and life often gets in the way (births, deaths, sickness, and happiness, too). So, I thought I’d start with a bit of catching up.

I shockingly realize my last big post was around the New Year. Well, at that time, I did have a reason for holding back; I had met a new man and things had been progressing well.

I say ‘had’ because (SPOILER ALERT!) after I realized he was a lying, controlling asshole, my family and I decided it was best to part ways. Here’s how the latest story goes.

We met online through one of the Muslim matrimonial websites. His name was a typical Shia name (I’m Sunni), but he said he was Sunni (probably a little too quickly in retrospect). Our first meeting was at a coffee shop, and it went pretty well. He called me the next day to ask if we could meet again, for dinner this time. I took that as a good sign. (In case you’re wondering, my parents were aware of my meeting him from the first time we made contact through the website, and knew of the other times we met.)

Dinner also went well. We had some good conversations, but I could tell that he was obsessive in some respects. I’m a little OCD myself, and I thought ‘no one’s perfect’, not even me, so I let it slide. He didn’t ask me a whole lot about myself, but I’ve found that guys like to talk about themselves. But then that movie, He’s Just Not That Into You, kept floating through my mind. The movie (I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on that) states that if a guy’s interested in you, he’ll let you know it.  Hmmm.

From there we progressed to a day outing together, wandering museums. If you’re a previous reader, you know that I have done this with previous gentlemen callers. You can find something for everyone to enjoy, and it gives you a sense of how patient they are, how they interact in public, how respectful they are. (P.S. – I was dressed in a super cute sweater, jeans, and boots, though nothing designer; this will be relevant later).

After the museum trip, my parents preferred we only talk on the phone (not meet again). I was fine with that. He wasn’t. Our mothers had spoken to each other at this point (!) so his mom called my mom to complain ask her to permit the boy and I meeting. My mom said okay, just a few more times. We also arranged for the families to meet in December.

So the boy and I went out another time or two. It was fine, but I did start getting the sense that something was slightly off about him. He liked everything just so, and didn’t like deviation. He really liked to be in control. He also had switched jobs a few times in the last few years and was planning to again because his newest job wasn’t “working for him”. Hmmm.

So our families met in December. We went out to dinner. Twice. They insisted on paying the first time, though my father took the check initially. Then the second time, when they knew my father would be paying, they invited more people and ordered more food than would be normal (this perturbed me quite a bit). In any case, it went okay. And I was dressed super cute both times (which is very relevant – stay tuned). Afterwards, I spoke to my father, who spent time with the boy during both dinners. He also had some reservations, and thought the boy was holding something back. My father did get him to admit that he LIED about his education. The resume and information he had sent us had some degrees and certifications listed that he never received (nor was he in the process of pursuing). Hmmm.

After the family dinners, I get a call from him asking if we can meet for coffee. (FYI – at this point his family had not mentioned an engagement or marriage at all.) He specifically asks me to wear one of the dresses I wore to the family dinner to coffee. Midday coffee. I ask him why, and he responds with “because I’m asking you to”. I tell him it’s very inappropriate to wear an evening-ish dress during the day, but he asks me to “just wear it”. I talk it over with my mum, who says to just indulge him this time and see what he wants. So I wear it. With a long black coat that covers it while I’m walking around (it was winter – totally acceptable winter wear. Ahem.)

I show up and he looks at me very seriously and tells me there is one thing that is very important to him that his future wife must do.

I ask him what that is.

He said, she has to dress well.

I sat there trying to hold back a laugh. Of all the things that are important in this world, that’s the most important to him? More important that caring for his parents, or being a good mother? I didn’t say that, though.

He started going on about how he is always impeccably dressed, and how he likes to set a standard for dressing well. And he expects his wife to do the same. He brings his “A-game” and he expects his wife to bring it, too. And, yes, he actually used the phrase “A-game”. He also went on to tell me that he even asks his mother to change when he feels she’s not bringing her “A-game”. I should mention that his mother was ill and recently hospitalized, and he still had her change before our family dinners. He said he spends at least an hour getting ready in the morning, and he would expect me, too, as well.

I tell him, I dress appropriately for occasions. If I’m going to spend the day with my niece, for example, I don’t dress the best because we’ll likely get dirty. And I tell him that he needs to have realistic expectations for the future. (Who wants to bring their “A-game” all the time? That’s not me.) He said that the occasion doesn’t matter. Just buy new clothes if they get ruined, he said to me.

I tell him that buying new clothes is unrealistic for some people, who need money for food and shelter, etc. (i.e., me). He said that doesn’t matter, either.

He then tells me that he “was offended” by some of the things I’ve worn in his presence. Like he’s a king or something and I’ve broken some royal law.

I KNOW! Offended by what? My great sense of personal style? I don’t say that, but I want to. He tells me he was offended by the clothes I wore to our museum day trip. I really want to dump the coffee on his head and tell him to fuck off (he mentioned he hates public scenes so I think up a really fabulous one in my head), but I hold myself in check. After all, I really do like the coffee shop we were sitting in and I know I’m going to come back. But I HATE it when people try to make me feel small or lesser than who I am, when I’m just being me.

So, I very politically reiterate my thoughts (i.e., have realistic expectations, etc.) and we leave. We are parked on the same level of the same parking garage so we walk there together. We reach his car first, which is parked in a handicapped spot. He is not handicapped. But he has the handicapped sticker because of his elderly parents. Which aren’t in the car with him. But he’s still using the spot that could, in fact, have gone to an actual handicapped individual. Total dick move.

As I drive away, I think back to our conversations. He mentioned that he had seen other girls (who likely brought their “A-game” more than me), but they weren’t that interested in caring for his parents. I don’t mind caring for my husband’s parents, as long as husband realizes that we’re taking care of my parents, too (this is why most men break things off; they don’t want to deal with my parents). Hmmm.

A few days later (after I had told my parents what happened, and my mum agreed with me on my take), my parents want to know his birth year (which he has been evasive about). He finally texts me his birthdate, and we discover he has lied about his birthdate and is, in fact, 3 years older than he stated he was in his online profiles and on the information he sent us separately.

We also find out later that he has also lied about being Sunni, and is actually Shia.

So, suffice it to say, I broke things off with him. But, being the obsessive sort, he had his mom contact my mom a few times to try to change our minds (my mum never picked up her calls). I was really nervous when he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and kept bothering us. All sorts of horrible scenarios ran through my head about what he might do (I’m sure you can imagine). I imagined several scenarios about what I would do to him if I ever saw him again.

Why did I have to go through that? Why does any woman? NO MEANS NO.

So anyway, now I’m back out there, trying to find a non-creepy, honest, kind individual who recognizes the importance for women to take care of their parents as much as men do (or should).

I’ve been called a spinster. I don’t agree with that term. Wikipedia essentially defines spinster (by the historical definition, I’m not talking about the more modern versions) as a woman who hasn’t married someone by the time they reach menopause. I’m nowhere near menopause, so that really doesn’t apply to me.

Oxford Dictionaries defines spinster as a derogatory term referring to “an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage”. I would argue that I am not “beyond the usual age for marriage”.

It’s true that women in my culture do get married young at times. But was it wrong to avoid the lying, controlling assholes? Someone in my family actually told me that I should marry someone, even if they’re mean or might be mean to me. I even had someone who, after the suitor’s family said that marriage meant I would never see my family again (no parents, siblings, extended family, etc.), still thought I should get married. Um, I’m sorry, but I refuse to settle for someone who will be cruel to me. I’ve been treated to enough cruelty in this world, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living with another one. And I refuse to accept that this stance is somehow wrong.

Women in our culture put up with A LOT. We do. We are exceptionally kind, giving people (not all women, but a lot of them are). We easily give up what we want and need for the wants and needs of others. I do that, too (hey – I’m not totally selfish).

I had an epiphany a few years ago. I was engaged. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it before, but I was. I remember one day thinking, “Well, I won’t have the best marriage but maybe my daughter will do better than me.” And I stopped dead in my tracks. Why don’t I think I deserve to have a good marriage, with someone who truly cares and respects me? Why should I put up with someone unkind just to say that I’m “married”? Suffice it to say, that this epiphany, coupled with revelations about the family, meant we called off the wedding.

I don’t think finding a kind, decent person is unrealistic. I believe it can be reality. “Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it” (Sleepless in Seattle). God knows what is best for all of us, and I pray that God will provide me with direction to the right path and person.

So, now that I’ve defended my non-spinsterish stance, I leave you with this old poem. Thanks for reading!

 

Old Maid Poem

 

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2 responses to “I Am Not a Spinster (Wikipedia Says So)

  1. NM says:

    Love your post MK . I am going through almost same stuff , its even harder for me because I am a divorcee with 2 boys, can you imagine the kind of stuff I have to go through? I think about giving up since I haven’t had any real chances any ways, but, then I am a hopeless romantic and don’t want to commit a sin and want to give my kids a sense of some normalcy which they have not seen at all because they were only 2 and 6 when I separated. Its the feeling of not having anyone to share what I go through kills me. It’s never ending disappointment of opening up my online matrimonial account and discovering all the invites are hopeless…..being in this alone, and putting up a face of ” I don’t care, I am happy being single”, is a killer. We should create a club and give each other hope, good luck :)NM

    • MGA says:

      Thanks so much, NM, for your kind words! And it is very hard, whether you’re still unmarried or divorced. I know others who also face stigma as a divorced Muslim woman. Take care, NM – you are in my prayers! InshAllah, good things will happen.

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