When I first read the book ‘The Surrendered Wife’ in 2005, I carried it around with me everywhere I went and I couldn’t stop recommending it. I started having chapter discussions with my close friends and they started passing out copies to nieces, daughters and daughters-in-law.
However, sometimes I would meet sisters who couldn’t get past the title, the “Surrendered” wife. They would ask,“Why does the wife always have to be the one to surrender?” or “What about the man, what does he give up?” My response then (as a reader of the book) is still the same, seven years later, now that I am an official Surrendered Wife ® Mentor and Trainer. I reply with a question of my own: “Why is it that we have such a hard time with the word ‘surrender’?”
Surrendering is the process of celebrating our femaleness – our God-given right to receive life’s blessings of love, companionship prosperity and family life. We can fulfil our womanhood only when we give our husbands the freedom to stand tall in their manhood.
You would think, as Muslimahs, we would be used to the concept of surrendering as it is the meaning of our deen. Islam means to surrender ones’ will to that of Allah (SWT), to let go and accept the peace that He brings to our lives as followers of His last prophetic religion. I don’t understand what would be wrong about seeking this same act of surrendering in our marriages, where we let go and accept peace, passion and intimacy in place of nagging, bitterness, detachment and overall dissatisfaction.
I think that sometimes we can get caught up in judging a book by its cover instead of looking deeper to see what value it has within. It’s ironic too, because this prejudice is an issue that we as women, and particularly Muslim women, may come up against on a daily basis. Society perceives and portrays us to be weaker and less competent because we are female and particularly because we choose to cover our bodies. As Muslimahs, we know that looking deeper will give a more accurate view of what we are looking at, so giving this book a chance will be time well-spent to improve our marriages.
In a sense, we, as Muslims, already are surrendered wives, just as we are surrendered daughters and surrendered sisters. In addition, our husbands are surrendered husbands and surrendered fathers and sons. When we look at the greater picture and sense of the word when we choose to accept Islam as our way of life, we are choosing to surrender completely to Allah (SWT). This includes carrying out all the duties and responsibilities in our relationships to other fellow human beings.
Being a wife comes with rights and responsibilities. It is our duty to learn the ways to build healthy, solid relationships. Marriage is a serious matter and one that we believe can be a path to our future in Paradise. It is a wise person who learns how to use tools that can aid in making the journey one that’s enjoyable, loving and fulfilling. I found the advice in ‘The Surrendered Wife’ a useful addition to my toolkit for a happy marriage. Using the tips and strategies learned in ‘The Surrendered Wife’® Principles, women can learn ways to make their marriages work for them and learn how to keep the romance, happiness and intimacy alive. It also teaches ways to help heal a marriage that has experienced and suffered the loss of love. Laura Doyle says about ‘The Surrendered Wife’:
This book…is about having a relationship that brings out the best in both of you, and growing together as spiritual beings.
As either the lead or the follower, being successful means to do your part and to allow the other person the space, trust, admiration and respect to do theirs. When they come together as two wholly functioning members, the result is beautiful.
A surrendered wife is vulnerable instead of nagging; trusting instead of controlling; respectful not demeaning, grateful not dissatisfied and faithful instead of doubtful.
The basic principles of surrendering are:
• Let go of inappropriate control of your husband
• Respect his thoughts
• Graciously and gratefully receive his gifts
• Express your desires without being controlling
• Rely on him to handle family finances
• Do things for your own self-care and fulfilment
One surrendered wife beautifully explains in the book of how it all connects: “Surrendering is the process of celebrating our femaleness – our God-given right to receive life’s blessings of love, companionship prosperity and family life. We can fulfil our womanhood only when we give our husbands the freedom to stand tall in their manhood.”
Surrendering in practice
One woman complained that her husband was verbally abusive during arguments. Upon further discussion, the wife revealed that she too makes abusive comments. When she was encouraged to transition into surrendering by taking the first step and apologising for her part, he too apologised. This may seem small but her apology was essential because it showed that she respected him. Continuing to practise the basic principles of surrendering led this couple to restore the harmony and mutual respect in their marriage.
Another illustration of surrendering is going on a “no-control” date with your spouse. Essentially you flex your trust muscles by agreeing to go on a date where he makes all the decisions. In doing so, you as a wife basically learn how to relax and practise allowing your husband to be in charge.
Have a winning marriage!
As Muslimahs, we know that men and women have different roles and responsibilities. Different does not mean that one is any less important or meaningful. Take team sports for example. Each player on the team has a role and a responsibility. If you want to be a player of a winning team, you will do what it takes to get the championship prize at the end. Players who show off are more concerned about their egos or “being right”, and can cost the whole team an entire game. In partner sports such as ballroom dancing or figure skating, each partner is responsible for performing his or her best to assure the best result in the judges’ scores. As either the lead or the follower, being successful means to do your part and to allow the other person the space, trust, admiration and respect to do theirs. When they come together as two wholly functioning members, the result is beautiful. As we believe that marriage is half of our deen and can be a key to a door in Paradise, we have much more at stake than winning a championship or an Olympic gold medal!
Surrendering in the context of a marriage is less about the word and more about the spirit. In the earlier years of my marriage I would cringe at the thought of someone saying I was giving up or giving in. In hindsight and after 16 years of marriage, mashaAllah, I can sincerely say that I am more concerned about the end result than the means. I’d rather be successfully and happily married than not always having had my way. This means more to me than being labelled a surrendered wife. In the end, we should wisely choose whatever halal means that Allah (SWT) makes available to us to improve our marriages.
When not to surrender
The Surrendered Wife’s stance on when to and not to surrender is of utmost important to mention. The book advises that women do not surrender in a situation when their spouse is:
1. Physically abusive to her or her children.
2. Actively addicted to drugs or alcohol.
3. Chronically unfaithful.
In our community, we tend to bury such issues and that’s a grave mistake. Too many of our families are plagued with these issues. We can love a person and hate their behaviour. This is what loving for the sake of Allah (SWT) is about. If a person is abusive, addicted or unfaithful he is not able to put the needs of others over his own. Such a person cannot be trusted to make sound decisions for your welfare. Seeking professional help in determining the best solution for you and your family is advised.
Overall ‘The Surrendered Wife’ is a great resource that is relevant to us as Muslimahs. Despite it not being written specifically for Muslims, there are no strong underlying Christian themes or references that you find in many traditional family-orientated literature. It contains ideas that are in line with the Islamic view of marriage. Its concepts are easily explained and the examples the author shares clearly demonstrate practical ways to foster greater respect, intimacy and ultimately romance in your marriage.
Tamara Redfern is a professional teacher and a personal development coach who teaches life skills and lifestyle design to women and girls worldwide. Tamara is the founder of SisterShineLife™ Coaching and an official Surrendered Wife ® Mentor and Trainer. She currently resides in Saudia Arabia with her husband and two sons. To learn more about personal coaching and online workshops visit her website www.SisterShineLifeCoaching.com.