Advice: I didn’t say yesPosted: December 26, 2013
Dear Love, InshAllah:
I am 29 years old and am under a lot of pressure from my parents to get married. My parents are very conservative. We never spoke about girls, so there was never an opportunity for me to find out what girl they would like for me nor I was able to tell them my thoughts on what I was looking for.
Through a few social contacts of my parents, we met a few families who were looking for a match for their daughters. On a couple of occasions, I liked the girl but my parents did not.
About 3 months ago, my parents and I went to meet another family. The girl was not what I was looking for and I planned to tell my parents immediately after the meeting. I was surprised that my mom insisted on the girl, even using emotional pressure (my mom would say stuff like she feels very lonely, is not feeling well these days, etc.) The pressure was so intense that I was not able to say no – but I did not say yes either.
After a few days, my mom said yes to the family and our engagement was fixed. I was shocked and upset. About 2 months have passed since our engagement, and now the marriage ceremony (nikah) date is planned too. I’ve discussed this with a couple of friends, but they say nothing can be done now.
I do not want to go through with this marriage but I feel I cannot be straightforward as I don’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings or those of her parents or my mom. What should I do?
I didn’t say yes
Shy Desi Boy responds:
There is no delicate way to put this so I will be blunt: do not get married to this woman. For your sake. For her sake. For your family’s sake. And for her family’s sake.
I fully understand the pressures that families exert on us, especially parents. I also understand that right now it is easy to go along with your mother’s wishes and to believe that you will eventually love the woman she has arranged you to marry. But I firmly believe in instinct and your instinct here is that she is not a right fit for you.
Your mom, your dad or your friends may tell you that the woman is attractive, smart, religious, from a good family, etc. They will tell you cannot do better. But you can. Marriage is about connection, compatibility and communication, something you do not feel for this woman. Ten years from now you will be wondering what would have happened if you said “no” all those years ago. You will not have the chance then that you do now.
Yes, it hurts to let down your parents. Your mother will cry and maybe even threaten to hurt herself. I experienced this myself. But this is your life. You will be the one standing before Allah (swt) alone, answering questions about the life you led.
Our lives are our own—not our parents—and who we share a bed with is our own choice. Of course we should respect our parents and we should listen to their advice.
But please, say no. Trust me, I know. I am divorced. It is an awfully painful. I do not wish it upon anyone. What I also do not wish on anyone is for them to be in an unhappy marriage.
I hope you follow your heart here. It is telling you to do something that will be awfully difficult but believe me, it will save you considerable heartbreak later.
Miss Sunshine responds:
Your friends are wrong. There are always options. The problem isn’t that you don’t have a choice, it’s that no choice is easy. That’s okay. Part of being a fully functioning adult means accepting that sometimes there are no easy answers. Religion and ethics are there help us clear a path through difficult journeys. You will always be your parents son, and Allah (swt) has ordered us to hold that relationship in high regard, but you are now preparing to build a whole new set of relationships with their own obligations. Those obligations are just as pressing as those you have toward your parents.
As a parent, I understand the desire to choose your child’s spouse. You want to make sure that whoever joins the family is someone who shares your values, someone who will understand your culture, and contribute to familial harmony. I also know that this type of controlling behavior can be oppressive and cruel. It’s admirable that you are concerned about the feelings of your mother and this young lady. But a divorce, or a miserable marriage will be far more damaging to everyone involved than a difficult act of courage right now. The longer you allow this to go on, the harder and more complicated it will be. The time you take sitting in fear of your parents is time that poor young lady could be spending finding someone who really wants to be with her. It’s time you could be spending marking new boundaries in your relationship with your parents, and working out how you’ll work together to welcome a new bride into the family.
In short, it’s time to act like a grown-up and accept responsibility for your actions — or lack of action– and their consequences. Speak up, tell your parents your concerns. Talk to girl and tell her as well. She deserves to know.