Advice: I didn’t say yes

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?

Sincerely,
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.


16 Comments on “Advice: I didn’t say yes”

  1. Ashley says:

    Please say no to the girl. Do it NOW. Don’t wait any longer. The girl deserves to know. She probably thinks that you want to marry her and like her. For the sake of your future children, please say no. My mum was forced into marrying my dad. My brother and I are the by-products. I wish she had never married him. Life in my home was very unstable. It was not a happy home, especially for us kids. I have never seen two people so incompatible with each other. Please for the love of your Maker, have mercy on your future children. Say NO. It does not matter that your parents will throw a tantrum, the girl will be hurt, the girl’s family will be hurt, but this is nothing comparing to 30+ years of a marriage where you wonder if you married the right girl and where your kids hate coming to your home once they leave the nest.

    Your marriage to this girl could end up being happy but it is a risk. You may marry some one you can connect with, but later on things may not work and you may well end up with a divorce. However, in this case, you will have no one to blame. In either case, you will have to bear the responsibility regardless of who pressures you into marriage.

  2. LilBabyTiger says:

    Salam brother, I wanted to comment before this site is possibly flooded by more conservative voices urging you to do your “Islamic” duty and marry whomever your parents desire. I completely agree with the authors, and I want to add this: marriage is sacred and beautiful. To go into it against your will or with only the wish to please your parents goes against the very reason for marriage. This is your chance to really grow up and claim what you want. As tough as it is, please let your parents know that you cannot go through with it. If you need to, move out or travel. Regardless of the various degrees of emotional abuse you may face, please find your voice and use it. May Allah be with you on your journey.

  3. Say no. Politely, respectfully, but very firmly, no.

    It is unfair not only to yourself, but to the girl. It’s not right for *anyone* to marry someone who doesn’t even want to be with them.

    I’m also divorced, and really, trust me… it is PAINFUL to find out/ know that the person who married you didn’t really want to (or was disappointed by you, or pressured into, or whatever) marry you in the first place.

  4. Dr Sumaiya says:

    True true true
    Especially for a woman its horrible to live with someone whom she doesnt love.
    If you are going for an arranged marriage i think its best to find out whether you love that girl or not,atleast is there any possibility of loving her in future before the engagement.all it takes a little love to change our world and make it a heaven.
    But theres one thing that i think these days.if you want to live happily ever after marry the who loves you,instead the one you love and she doesnt care about you.life will be miserable then!

  5. Salman Khan says:

    The conservative viewpoint is that you do not have to marry a particular woman even if coerced by your mother or father. The questioner should have not remained silent. Maybe if he voiced his opinion clearly his mother would not have fixed the engagement. He can kill two birds with one stone though – please his mother by marrying this girl and then marry another woman to his liking or up to four women. In America this is now almost mainstream and certainly acceptable in Utah, Arizona and a few other places (Sister Wives on TLC).

    Saalih al Munajjid said: “It is definite that he should not obey them (parents) where they force him to marry a girl whom they have chosen. This is not a matter in which he is obliged to obey them. Rather it is akin to food and drink: he may choose whatever he wants to eat and drink, and they have no right to control that.”

    Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali said: “The parents have no right to force their son to marry someone he does not want. Shaykh Taqiy al-Deen (i.e., Ibn Taymiyah – may Allaah have mercy on him) said: Neither of the parents has the right to force their son to marry someone whom he does not want, and if he refuses then he is not sinning by disobeying them, because no one has the right to force him to eat food he finds off-putting when there is food that he wants to eat, and marriage is like that and more so. Food that one is forced to eat is unpleasant for a short while, but a forced marriage lasts for a long time, and it harms a person and he cannot leave it.”

  6. Paras says:

    You must be able to take your decisions in time. I think you should meet that girl again and then decide. If you feel the same, you should say NO asap. And also you should say sorry to that girl.

  7. I’d be quite surprised if anyone on here will tell you to go ahead with the Nikaah because, for your sake, as well as the girl’s, you shouldn’t. Of course, this will be extremely difficult to do: you’ll be hurting several people by pulling out… but, this is probably the one time in your life when you can (and should) be selfish and stand your ground.

    I was in a very similar situation a couple of years ago and telling my parents that I didn’t want to marry “the most eligible bachelor to have proposed” was painful; my parents didn’t speak to me for a few weeks but got over it in the end. It wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences but – even though I am still single – I don’t regret saying “No” because I knew he wasn’t the right one for me. I hope you will gain the courage, Insha’Allah, to do what feels right. All the best.

  8. Another perspective says:

    Salam,

    I agree with many of the comments already posted.

    You should definitely agree or not agree to a marriage based on both your feelings and the girl’s feelings as well as compatibility.

    You can be polite and respectful to parents and eveyone involved but being coerced into a decision that only you are stuck with for a lifetime will leave you feeling resentful if it does not satisfy you later on. It may hurt the girl and her family now, but you may be sparing them from a failed marriage!

    You did not speak much about how your interactions with the girl are or what you think her thoughts/feelings are. Maybe she is being pushed and forced into this by her parents too? I doubt she would tell you as you can see it is a tough situation. However, this is a big life choice and both parties should be sure before deciding to spend the rest of their lives together.

    I wish you all the best and please keep us posted on what you decide.

    Good luck!

  9. Kaytie Nam says:

    This couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I’m going through pretty much the exact same thing, except I’m 27 and female. So you can imagine the added stress of the situation. I’m confused and lonely and hurt and very afraid. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I am cornered and there seems to be no way out….

    • Another perspective says:

      Why do you feel hurt, lonely, and so hopeless? Isn’t there SOMEONE in your family you can talk to even to just vent your thoughts and feelings? Not to sound like I am talking down to you. I just want to understand better.

      I understand wanting to please parents amd others but in these situations why can’t people just be honest with all parties involved (parents, the other person, and the other family)?

      I was once told pretty good advice, “you can’t get in trouble for doing what you think is right.” You will have to love with this person for the rest of your life after all. Is slowing things down or getting to know each other better an option? Or do you know for sure you don’t want to agree to the current engagement?

      This is actually how my last relationship just ended. The girl I was talking to just agreed to take someone her parents found b/c she didn’t want to defy her parents. She is marrying a man that has no idea she has feelings for someone else and forcing herself to believe “time heals all wounds.”

      We can keep things simple and honesty about our feelings is very important. Our families want us to have a successful marriage.

      It is understandable that it is a big life choice and scary. I hope you find your solution and you feel better soon. Good luck and keep us posted what you decide to do as well.

    • LilBabyTiger says:

      Say no. Do it even if it hurts. Save your money to move out if you need to. Talk to your friends, and keep them close. Build a support network of people you know and trust. Take time off of school if you need to and deal with this first. if you have to go through with it, be honest with your husband- be clear about your expectations. But start by saying no, loudly. You will be in my prayers.

      • Kaytie Nam says:

        Thank you for your advice and well wishes. I need them quite a bit right now.

        Another Perspective, I feel lonely and confused because I am being coerced into marriage by my family. I have been saying I’m not ready and don’t want to do this. But they don’t seem to hear me. If I don’t say yes to this person, then they will push me into a marriage with someone else. There literally is nobody I can speak to in my extended family, they are the ones that are pressuring my parents into making me do this. With this person, I know I don’t want to go through with it for sure because there is literally zero compatibility. I have asked my parents to convey that message to the family asap.

        But the problem is greater than that. I spent most of my 20s in a very deep depression, suffered from anxiety attacks constantly. I am just beginning to get out of that and heal. I am in no way ready for marriage emotionally, mentally or spiritually. I need to focus on myself first before I can make room for anybody else in my life and be a good partner for them. But now that I am in my late 20s and everybody around me is making me feel like I’ve committed the ultimate sin by not being married, my parents are becoming increasingly anxious and desperate. I am trying to speak to my mother about this, she doesn’t hear me because she’s so worried as it is.

        That is my dilemma. It’s not just one person in particular, marriage in itself is something I am in no way ready for. To be fair, I am not getting too many proposals anyway at this ripe old age. My parent’s next step is to take me back to the home country to get married to someone there since I seem to be running out of ‘options’ here.

        I don’t want to sound like a helpless victim. I know I have choices, as difficult as they are. I am just confused as to what they are right now. I know realistically my options are becoming more narrow in terms of finding a partner within the arranged marriage system. I am not blind to that. But I am simply not ready for marriage because of everything I’m struggling with internally – but family refuses to wait further…

        It’s like I can’t even trust my own judgement any more…

    • Another perspective says:

      Kaytie Nam,

      I am very sorry to hear that you feel you have not even a single person you trust to listen to how you feel and what you want in life. It is obvious from reading what you wrote that you do know why you want, as some others on this thread in similar situations.

      Nobody can force you to go through anything you don’t want to do. Coercion and emotional blackmail can be tried, but in the end they are really just trying to do something they believe will be best for YOU. If you know this is not what is best for your future, especially if you see NO compatibility then you have to make it clear that it simply is not right for you at the moment or with this person. Advice and support is all we can offer here but it is up to each of us to stand up for our own rights and desires in life. I wish you all the best of courage, luck, and the best outcome in life.

      I wish I could say more but it all come down to you have to do or say something and MAKE IT CLEAR your intentions. Otherwise, you will passively give consent and let others decide your life. Realize at the end of the day if the relationship becomes negative they will only blame you for accepting it and you will have to deal with the problem. Please only accept it if you truly feel comfortable and ready with the person. My prayers are with you all.

  10. Destin F. says:

    I have to disclose that I do not like the concept of forced marriages but I respect the rights of others to do so. I do know that you are about to make an important decision that will define the rest of your life. If you’re not honest now, how will you expect to be honest with your future wife and kids? Please listen to the wise people here who know that without love your marriage would be unsuccessful. I have a female friend now who is being forced to marry someone that she does not love, and it breaks my heart to hear her say that ‘love is not important in marriage’. The human being in me weeps that she is propagating this tradition of forced marriage, and I hope that you have the courage to take charge of your own life in a way that she won’t or can’t. May you find happiness and peace.

  11. hqas says:

    What’s wrong in actually asserting the fact that you have guts and balls and say no!!! Age old Muslim problem, being emotionally blackmailed into marriages and pretending to be martyrs.

  12. jC says:

    To both the brother asking the original question and the sister who posted in the comments: in order for an Islamic marriage (nikah) to be legally valid (in the Shariah), BOTH INDIVIDUALS MUST FREELY CONSENT. Anything less and the contract is at least void able and at most a nullity. Think of it this way: western contract law is based in large part on Islamic marriage contracts. BOTH parties are required to have given their own informed and freely given consent, otherwise there is no “meeting if the minds”.

    So, in a respectful and gentle manner, you both must remind your parents that it is UNISLAMIC and a violation of Shariah to make you marry anyone other than who you agree to marry. I realize that parents can out a lot of pressure, even stooping to emotional blackmail. But that is a form of oppression, which is forbidden in our faith. If your parents argue with you, you should get your local imam into the discussion and explain to him that this marriage is against your wishes and that you do not consent. If you have difficulty finding such an imam nearby, there are plenty of nationally known imams who will support you and zealously defend you before your parents. In the east coast, I’d recommend Shaikh Mokhtar Maghroui (Albany, NY area), imam Mohamad Magid at ADAMS center in northern virginia; in Florida, Imam Abdul Malik in Gainesville, or Maulana Shafayat at Dar Ul Uloom in Pembroke Pines, FL (near Miami); in Chicago, Sh. Omar Qureshi (at Islamic Foundation in Naperville), in Texas, Imam Yusuf Kavaci at IANT; in California, Imam Muzammil Siddiqui at The Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove; in the SF Bay Area Imam Zaid Shakir or Sh. Hamza Yusuf at Zaytuna College. These are all well known and respected scholars who will go to bat for you if you can’t find anyone locally.

    Your parents need to know that forcing you will cause them to violate Allah’s (swt) law twice – by oppressing you through emotional torture against your rights, and by making you enter an illegal contract.

    Yes, I’m taking a very legalistic view, but mainly to be practical. You do need emotional support, but you are also in the right Islamically, and you have rights that you must exert. Otherwise you may end up in a situation where you and multiple others are hurt.