Shocked by the reality of married life, and the many little things she was unprepared for, the facts she was not told, even by her married friends, Zeinab El Ashry knew she had to go and actually seek those answers herself. She did so by creating a Facebook group, Confessions of a Married Woman. Little did she know, it would grow into a big group, a professional platform that will help countless women. “I had many questions on what is normal and what is not. What is common and what is not. I did not know what to expect,” she clarifies.
It was when she was chatting with her girlfriends that to her surprise, she found that her questions and concerns are common between them all. It is just that nobody shares these thoughts easily that makes every married woman think that she is the only one who passes through this. “After this day, I received comments from several friends saying that this was the first time they engage in such talks about marriage though they have been married for years”, says Zeinab. When Zeinab asked her friends why they never initiated such conversations, they said that they thought they should not speak about these secrets with anyone, referring to such issues as a taboo.
“I personally understand this and support the idea of privacy but still, sharing and letting things out does also help because there is no certain manual for marriage”, Zeinab states her view on the so-called taboo issues. As an attempt to tackle these issues, Zeinab created the group on Facebook, with an anonymous link for women to write their confessions freely with no restrictions. “The whole idea started between myself and a group of friends and there were no plans or expectations for it to grow that big”, adds Zeinab.
Since the nature of the group might be heavy to some, the main restriction for any female to join the group is age. “It shouldn’t be below 21, I don’t want those below 21 to get exposed to too much of this information”, explains Zeinab. “We don’t really mind if the member is single or married, I personally do not care. On the contrary, it is important to those who are still not married to get into this experience with some knowledge”, says Zeinab, adding that she believes that it is always better to prevent problems before they occur. “Let them be aware of everything before getting married to avoid seeing these problems getting repeated”, she says.
According to what Zeinab sees on the group, she thinks that sexual problems are the most common ones among the confessions people send. She stresses that this does not necessarily mean that these are the most common problems between married women.
Marriages are sexual”, she clarifies. Cheating and financial problems between couples are also mentioned by Zeinab as frequent problems, and overall she believes that a common link between all problems shared in the group is the lack of awareness, let it be sexual awareness, hygenity or psychological well-being. Zeinab thinks that if sex education was introduced to women earlier, it would have made a great difference in their lives today and the problems they face.
“Girls need to be aware of their bodies. We don’t want to limit sex education to being happy in marriage. Sex education is important for you to have knowledge about yourself, your desires, and to know how to talk about these issues with your kids”, says Zeinab.
Additionally, Zeinab observes the awareness of people throughout the years to be raised to a great extent. “People did not know that there was something called a sex therapist in the first place. Now it is different. People know that they can seek professional help when they face such problems”, says Zeinab. Lack of awareness on such issues can cause unhappy marriages, the thing that Zeinab believes that might not pop in people’s heads right away. “Sometimes there is a problem in the sexual relationship that causes frustration between the couple without knowing that this is the main reason behind it”, says Zeinab, “Women tell us a lot that they can’t stand their husbands, for no reason. When we dig deep into it, we find that there is a problem in their sexual life that they are not even aware of”.
‘Confessions of a Married Woman’ works on raising awareness about such problems and letting women know that they have the right to be happy in their sexual relationships and they should communicate their desires to be happy and satisfied.
Other than the Facebook private group, Confessions of a Married Woman has a Facebook Page and a website that are more of educational platforms. They contain live videos with experts, articles written by professionals and a directory with trusted professionals and their contacts. Zeinab says that the content shared on these platforms is tailored to the needs of Egyptian women based on what they have seen from the confessions for the past six years.
Zeinab finally sends a message to every woman who faces marital problems but never shares them with anyone.
She says, “my advice to anyone is to never stop fighting. If you have a problem, work on solving it and never give up till you do your maximum. Make sure that you have knocked on all doors to reach the optimum solution. If you don’t want to share problems with people around you, try to seek help from professionals, therapists or counselors.
Talk to people you trust. Don’t keep it to yourself saying that some topics are just taboo and cannot be shared.”