Marriage: Parents vs. Daughters
I’ve begun to notice a strange phenomenon targeting our women. It starts when she reaches 24 and worsens the older she gets. This phenomenon is called the, you’re getting too old for marriage so lets keep pressuring you until you either give up or become resentful, phenomenon. It’s still a working title.
I have been witness to this first hand with my own sister, and many of my community friends. As a girl reaches the ripe, and apparently old as hell, age of 24, the countdown has begun. The same question is asked of her in every gathering, family event, and meetup, “so, when are you getting married?” The madness must stop.
In our culture it is imperative that a girl gets married as soon as she reaches “age”. The older she gets the more insane people become as to why she isn’t married. Rumors start flying, her “market value” depreciates, and after a while she is pretty much seen as the proverbial old cat lady. On the other hand, if she wants to pursue her career and wait to get married, she is defiant, opinionated, and will never find a husband. Now, before you start thinking what a barbaric culture, understand every culture has their weaknesses. This is not an article to make fun and point, rather to mend and heal.
Advice for Parents
I believe the only way to stop this way of thinking is to break the mental thought process that the older a girl gets, the less chance she has of getting married. She will get married, but how, and when that happens is totally outside your control as a parent, and even her control for that matter. As Muslims we forget that everything is destined. Tie your camel, and trust in Allah. So yes, unmarried women in our communities who want to get married must try, and put in that effort, but at the same time constant petulance from everyone is counterproductive.
I would also advise parents to not freak out. I know, its hard, its somehow built into the DNA of Desi parents, but it’s doable. Learn to communicate with your daughter. Ask her what she is looking for, what traits she likes, what characteristics she doesn’t like. Help her manage expectations if she sways one way or another into extremes. Be encouraging, but give her room to decide. Don’t pressure her. This is an important decision, and as much as it might not make sense, people meet and get married differently now, and that is okay. Breath. Have faith, and never become angry and impatient with her. Trust in Allah, after all, even though you might have had an arranged marriage, never forget it was arranged, like all marriages, by Allah.
Advice for Men
The number one complaint I hear from women is, “there are no real men, only boys”, and the more I look around, the more I find this to be true. Men, step it up. Understand that if you are trying to find a maid for a wife, stop searching. Prophet Muhammad said: “He is the best among you who is the kindest towards his wives and I am the kindest among you towards my wives.”
Second piece of advice I would give to men looking for marriage is stop looking at marriage through the lens of duniya. Your wife is not your property, not your chef, not your cleaner, not any of these archaic culture influenced things. She is your better half, your responsibility, your friend. It is for this reason that a wife is not seen as duniya. She is your protection and your peace. Understand how incredible your wife is to your hereafter. Why else is marriage a fulfillment of half your faith? If you can fully understand the immense responsibility on you, in how you treat her, and take care of her, and how that will relate to your hereafter, you are ready for marriage. Drop your ego, and start fixing yourself. You don’t get to have a princess, if your character is that of a joker.
Advice for Women Seeking Marriage
Understand that finding the one person out of the billions who you’ll want to spend the rest of your life with will take time. It will be hard, it will require a lot of effort from you, diligence, and planning. These are things we are not told when it comes to finding our soulmate. We think that we’ll just bump into our future spouse in a cute bookstore while traveling overseas. Yes, it can happen, but be logical.
Second piece of advice is to be patient and determined. I know its tough. Maybe you are pursuing a career, and have no time to meet anyone. Maybe you have tried a thousand times, going to all the matrimonial services, meeting that guy your friend told you about, even going to meet that nice Pakistani guy your mom said was perfect for you, only to end up in disappointment and frustration. Be patient. After all, everything is a test, even this. Allah gives to you when you are ready. You might not be ready, even though your parents think an arbitrary age determines your readiness for marriage, Allah knows you better. So be patient, and keep looking!
Lastly, the greatest piece of advice I can give you, from my own personal experience is, trust Allah. You can scour the earth in search for that perfect person, but if you don’t ask Allah to help you, your efforts will be futile. Ask Him, every prayer, ask Him to unite you with your other half.
‘And among Allah’s signs is this: that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, so that you might find rest in them; and He has set between you love and compassion. Truly there are signs in this for people who reflect.’ (Quran, 20:21)
In my own experience I would still be unmarried if it were not for the help of Allah. It took me years, a lot of heartbreaks, depression, and unwavering faith in Allah which led me to find my amazing wife. It wasn’t easy, there were times my parents didn’t understand me, but through it all I always relied on Allah. I would ask Him, “if this person is the best for me, then make it so, if not then remove any feelings for them and lead me to who will be best for me.” Learn how to perform Salat-l-Istikhara.
The Prophet (pbuh) said “Istikharah (seeking guidance from Allah) is one of the distinct favors (of Allah) upon man, and a good fortune for the son of Adam is to be pleased with the judgment of Allah. And a misfortune of the son of Adam is his failure to make istikharah, and a misfortune for the son of Adam is his displeasure with the judgment of Allah.”
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْتَخِيرُكَ بِعِلْمِكَ وَأَسْتَقْدِرُكَ بِقُدْرَتِكَ وَأَسْأَلُكَ مِنْ فَضْلِكَ الْعَظِيمِ فَإِنَّكَ تَقْدِرُ وَلَا أَقْدِرُ وَتَعْلَمُ وَلَا أَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ خَيْرٌ لِي فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاقْدُرْهُ لِي وَيَسِّرْهُ لِي ثُمَّ بَارِكْ لِي فِيهِ وَإِنْ كُنْتَ تَعْلَمُ أَنَّ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ شَرٌّ فِي دِينِي وَمَعَاشِي وَعَاقِبَةِ أَمْرِي فَاصْرِفْهُ عَنِّي وَاصْرِفْنِي عَنْهُ وَاقْدُرْ لِيَ الْخَيْرَ حَيْثُ كَانَ ثُمَّ ارْضِنِي بِهِ
I have been married for over three years and maybe one day I’ll share my whole story and all the difficulties that came with it, but for now, my greatest advice to you is, do your effort, and trust Allah. Remember to be respectful and kind to your parents. Even if they don’t understand you, they are coming from a place of love, and most importantly, read a book on marriage by Imam Al-Ghazali, it will help you understand marriage, and pick the husband you deserve.
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