x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Newlyweds take advice - and leave it

This recently married couple must endure a lot of unsolicited quips and advice.

It never ceases to amaze me how many jokes are made at the expense of newlyweds. My husband seems to be suffering from the brunt of the unsolicited comments that come disguised as quips, which is a relief considering his better grip on his temper and endless reserves of patience. It's also fair to note that, for him, the friendly jabs started before we tied the knot. Sometimes it feels like a rite of passage for a man to be able to handle some good natured, cliched jokes on his impending marriage.

"Man, God help you. You better get some fun in while you can," said his co-worker before settling into story after story illustrating the misfortune of marriage and how shackled he is by his wife. "Take it from me. Your suffering is just about to start," said his Jordanian grocer, warning him to keep a tight fist on his finances and never share unnecessary information with the woman he has chosen to share his life with.

"There's really no positive advice I can give you," said his Lebanese relative, patting my husband's back. "You're doomed." At first, I thought it was purely an Arab, male trait: men share their tales of marital woe with one another while women complain about their husbands. I was mistaken; we ran into a Brit recently who thought we would laugh at his "bet you miss the single life" joke. He ended up masking the resulting silence with a contrived coughing fit.

My husband, fortunately, does not get offended as easily as I do, and manages to see the humour in these repetitive gripes on the institution of marriage. Now, when he is asked by a gossiping co-worker how much he is suffering in his newly appointed role as a married man, my husband pulls the proverbial rug out from under his co-worker's feet. "It's excellent," he is prone to saying with a grin. "I highly recommend it.

His reward is the unrehearsed look of shock on the face of a man who had hoped to joke with a fellow comrade about donning the ball and chain. "Really?" asks the colleague, disbelief and scepticism weighing down his words. "Really, man?" "Absolutely. It's wonderful," replies my husband, nipping the topic in the bud. Or so he hopes. Innocent teasing on the increase of white hairs on his head and how I must be ageing him before his time, or the joshing about how my cooking must be poisoning him but how he must never admit it are par for the course. I predict they won't abate until well into our third year of marriage.

As for myself, I am teased about cooking, burning food, feeding my husband scraps and surviving in the kitchen, which I have been told is an impossible battlefield ripe with landmines. But my favourite piece of unsolicited advice was how I must never show my husband how much I love him, and always make sure he loves me more. I have not yet managed to figure out how to curb my emotions to make sure I follow that bit of nonsense, but I suppose I have a lifetime to practise.