If you live with an Arabic woman, you maybe have heard that turn of a phrase. Allah Wallahi kind of translates as “I swear to God” and it usually means somebody has run out of patience. What comes after might serve to take the hide off a rhino. It might be what happens in the Middle East before war breaks out.
My kids are familiar with this phrase. I am too. They laughed and showed my wife (who is Christian Arabic) a YouTube channel of second-generation kids who made fun of their Arabic parents. There were all those things you have come to expect, and Allah Wallahi was one of those. It comes with a bit of Middle Eastern spice. How much spice you like is an individual thing, but I don’t think you get to choose when you marry cross culture. The spice comes with the package whether you like it or not.
Some people are longsuffering and very patient. It takes a lot to rile them. I like to think I am more patient than my wife. Kids know how to bounce off both parents to navigate permission for things. Still, kids intuitively know when they have hit the wall and it’s time to run. At that point, usually the shoe comes out - at least with an Arabic parent. When you are hit with a shoe as a projectile, you have received the Middle Eastern coup de grace and you will know you are in real trouble. The shoe is the ultimate insult, and it comes a bit after Allah Wallahi just in case you didn’t think someone was serious. For most of us, the shoe has little context. I remember reading in the news about a man who was charged with assault for using his shoe as a projectile. I just smiled and inwardly nodded because I knew all about the shoe.
Relationships are a funny thing, and many people during the pandemic have rediscovered what it is like to spend a lot of time with their significant other. For me, I haven’t had this much time with the bride since we were first married. It’s mostly good, but I do get a few Allah Wallahi days thrown in there for good measure. Fortunately for me, Allah Wallahi usually is a bit of a storm in a teacup and blows up a little before the storm subsides and sanity prevails. In context, there are generally cross-cultural perceived slights which were never intended to offend. Understanding and detante follow somewhere after the observation that revenge is never served cold in the Middle East.
The funny thing about living with someone for a long time is that eventually you get to know what to expect and you have already tested the limits at least a few times. I think that the key to longevity in any relationship is that you find yourself equally matched over time. If one spouse conquers the will of the other routinely, it becomes a one person show instead of a union.
When God made man and woman I wonder if he laughed and thought about how all those differences in hormones and temperaments would play out. I wonder if he anticipated that his name would be invoked at high-toned moments of stress, where he would be called to witness. As they say, fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I think there’s a divine wink in there somewhere.
Well, it never gets boring. A little Middle Eastern spice will always change the flavour from bland to a bit on the edge, for those who like living on the edge. I think God was trying to keep us on our toes when he invented marriage.