Advice: Marry for Sex or Stability?

Dear Miss Sunshine and Shy Desi Boy,

I’m in a bit of a dilemma and need your help. I’ve been introduced to three boys as potential marriage prospects (rishtas). I am not attracted to two of them and find it hard to imagine having sex with either of them. While both boys are virgins and have very good careers and other good attributes, I don’t have a very open relationship with them in terms of communication. They are of a traditional mindset which I am not.

The third boy whom I’ve been introduced to is not a virgin and is also not well settled in his career. He has had sex with many women before. However, I am very attracted to him and can imagine myself having sex with him. The only problem is that I am a virgin and find it hard to trust him with his past sexual history and am worried he may cheat within marriage. I have been able to talk to him about everything from money to even how frequent he would like sex with me if we do get married as well as his previous sexual history and my concerns regarding the same.

Is attraction very important to enjoy sex? Do you think it is possible to have a fulfilling relationship with someone you are not attracted to? I know financial stability is also important. I’m just confused as to whether I should marry for money and comfort or marry for love…considering life it not really a fairytale.

Thank you for your help.
Sincerely,
Sex or Stability

Miss Sunshine replies:
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On Birth, by a Father-to-be

Yousef Turshani

Yousef Turshani

Flying into Detroit to see Sara and Nabil’s new home, it’s my annual visit to catch up with my now 5-year-old neice, Lina.  She who gave birth to me 35 years ago today will be there. We haven’t spent my birthday together for about a decade. All the warm greetings I receive today are for my mother.

This birthday is special in a few other ways too.

I’ve been blessed to have attended about a thousand births professionally, as a pediatrician. From the 1-pounder to the nearly 11 pounds. From Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to San Francisco, California. From the celebrity mothers to the orphans who were HIV+. They’ve all taught me something, and each birth was life changing for their families.

Just a few weeks away now is the one birth that will change my life.

Last night, before heading to the airport, I knelt down before the swollen belly pushing out in all directions. I have been singing “You are My Sunshine” to our growing girl throughout my wife Nadeah’s pregnancy.

Some time around October 8th I will get the chance, God willing, to sing directly to her in my arms.

On that day I’ll gain a new title: Daddy.
 
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Zen & the Art of Soul Repair

Zainab Chaudary

Zainab Chaudary

Just before they take her away for her MRI, my mother removes her rings and asks me to wear them. They won’t allow metal in the room, and she gets four of her rings off easily, but there’s a set of three that are stuck. She frets with them as the orderly situates her in her stretcher.

“The tech will figure it out when you get downstairs,” he says soothingly.

She sits back on the pillows, looking tiny and forlorn in her hospital gown, and asks for her dupatta so she can cover her head. She hasn’t been out in public without her hijab for almost seven years now, ever since my brother was admitted into the hospital he never left. I know she thinks of this as they wheel her away. I know the beeps of the machine bring back memories we’ve all tried to bury. I watch her til the end of the hallway and try to quell all the fears a hospital brings while I wait an hour a half for her return.

I stare at my hands. I’m wearing my mother’s rings and they feel too big for me – not because of their size, but due to the weight of their history. Here are the two rings my father gave her all those years ago: the tiny diamond engagement and wedding rings that he could afford as a Naval officer in Pakistan. They commemorate struggle, sacrifice, the strangeness of a new life in a foreign country. The two other rings are bigger – the diamond circlet he gave her just before my brother got sick, the year we moved into a new house and were happy, the year things came together before blowing spectacularly apart. The princess-cut diamond he gave her this year, to celebrate their 35th year together and all they have endured. I know the permanence of these rings on her fingers is linked to what they commemorate: survival coupled with faith, faith coupled with love.

Wearing her rings still makes me feel like a little girl playing dress up in her mother’s closet. This, despite the fact that I am already ten years older than she was when my father first put the engagement and wedding rings on her finger, already older than when she had her first child and older than when, many years later, her twin boys were born. Younger, though, than the other two rings. Younger than when she lost her child.

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The Yellow Glowing Dot Near Dubai

Zahra Noorbakhsh

Zahra Noorbakhsh

Eds. Note: In last month’s column, Zahra thought she was going home to Iran to an extended family she hadn’t seen in 20 years. At the last minute, she had to cancel her trip there and rerouted to Dubai instead.

At 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity, it’s a cool night in Dubai. I’ve stopped wondering about the male gaze that rules the city, because I can’t stop staring at everyone and everything around me. So far today my infidel husband and I have been skiing, kissed a penguin, and bobsledded down a snowy mountain at the downtown mall’s negative-five-degrees, indoor ski resort. Yesterday, outside the Burj Khalifa, my husband, mom, dad and I listened to the adhan fade away as the jet streams of the Dancing Fountain burst into the air, choreographed to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

I have no idea who to be or how to behave in Dubai. Every moment feels like a collection of contradictions. Am I an American tourist, a Feminist taking careful notes, a horrified human rights activist, or will I come to discover an entirely new persona to add to the plethora of identities I’m already trying to integrate?

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This is a Love Story

Nijla Mu'min

Nijla Mu’min

I was an avid reader growing up. I read everything, even books that weren’t meant for children. Mama by Terry Mcmillan was one of my first novels. I recall reading a novel entitled Hand-me-down Heartache by Tajuana TJ Butler. It was about a woman named Nina who is in a relationship with an attractive, unfaithful basketball player and her unwillingness to leave the relationship. Having witnessed her father’s unfaithfulness to her mother growing up, she has come to accept his behavior, though it’s painful.

There’s a scene where Nina stakes out in front of her boyfriend’s home, bangs on his door, distraught and angry, while he’s inside with another woman. As a young girl, I read this with fresh eyes for the denial and hysteria that Nina was experiencing. The scene was vivid, and so keenly observed that I felt Nina’s embarrassment, especially when he emerges from his home and tells her to leave him alone. I wanted to scream through the page to Nina, and tell her to forget him, but something in me felt for her. I entered the scene fully, imagining the quick beat of Nina’s heart, her wet, mascara-streaked eyes, and the neighbors outside watching as she fell apart.

How do we get there? From young women, reading about love and feeling it in our imaginations, to fighting for it, and refusing to accept that it was never there?

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Confessions of the Hopeless Romantic

Kaye M.

Kaye M.

That is my first confession: I spend endless hours drowning in lovelorn prose and will sigh over Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen and sundry YA titles (though I draw the line, pragmatic to the finish, at Juliet and her Romeo).

It is not an admission I am ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with a steady diet of fluff and fairytales – a little whipped cream to mask the harsh reality of day-to-day college life and the steady awareness that I am in a smaller circle of friends than I used to be.

There is an obvious line drawn between the single and…well, those who used to be single.

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Oh, How We Danced!

Hayah

Hayah

Eds. Note: Hayah shared part one of her story – “Love. Loss. Forgiveness. Love.” – about finding love as a divorcée, but ultimately deciding to part from Dedan because of religious differences. Here, she shares part two of her story, in which she dances at Dedan’s wedding.

Oh, how we danced!

When Dedan and his beautiful bride stepped out of the car towards the wedding hall, oh, how we danced! I couldn’t help thinking that it was a strange synchronicity that I happened to be in Kenya during the wedding of the person who helped me realize that love after divorce was possible.

But I was also grateful that we had remained good friends over the years, and happy to be surrounded by so much merriment at the wedding of two wonderful people on Valentine’s Day. I appreciated then, as I do now, how time and circumstances have molded Dedan’s life path and my own so differently; how he moved on to find love, and how I was given a second chance to live the life I wanted.
 
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