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Father Pushed Me into Marriage & Left Me in a Mess



Reply Date

Feb 09, 2018


Salam. When I was about to graduate from high school, my father wanted me to marry someone. I have been engaged to this guy for years, but I have not spoken to him at all since he is from the Middle East, and I’m from America. I was naïve, and my father told me he was a good guy and religious, and that I really had no excuse to tell him no.My father also mentioned that putting down “independent” on the financial application that gives me money for college would give me more money than if I said I was still dependent on my father’s money. That was all I heard, unfortunately. I really wanted to go to a private university, so I said yes. I thought I would receive full tuition with the money. My dad also warned me not to mention anything about this to my sister or my mom, whom I now know would have convinced me to say no. I said yes.The marriage contract was made, and now I don’t know what to do. It has been a year since that happened, but still the marriage is only through contract. I ended up getting no money from this financial application, and even if I did, the college I am attending has given me full tuition for my good grades anyways so it wasn’t needed.My mom’s relationship with me has not been well since she is upset that I did not listen to her opinion on this. I regret doing that. Only now do I realize that the huge cultural differences between this man and me will probably be a big issue since I am from the West and he isn’t. I have worked so hard in school, and I want to know that in the future my hard work will be paid off by working at a job such as a doctor or something else that will help me benefit the society. But according to my sisters, since he is not from the west, he is not used to women working like in the US and will probably not allow me. Honesty, it would kill me. I would feel the majority of my life spent on huge amount of hard work and stress over school would have been a waste.Also, I did not pray Istikhara before the marriage decision. At the time, I had no idea what this prayer was, and that I was supposed to pray it beforehand. My father rushed me into the decision, and now I don’t know whether this man is right for me or not. I know I didn’t marry him for the right reason, either, but what do I do? I can’t end the marriage as it would be embarrassing to my family. But I don’t know if I should stick with it when I genuinely don’t have feelings for him. Please help, Jazak Allah.



forced marriage


As-Salaamu `Alaikum wa Rahmatullah dear sister,

I will try to answer your question by breaking the issues down. I appreciate the detail as it gives me more context.

Your father:

From your question, it seems that your partner choice was more your father’s choice than your own. There is nothing inherently wrong with our parents suggesting potential spouses for us, but there is something wrong with them making the decision for us.

It is true that your father wants what is best for you, but you are the one who will spend your life with this person, and if you have no say in it, don’t you think that is a bit unusual? Does your father make all the other decisions in your life for you like where to go to school, what to study, what to eat for dinner, who to be friends with, etc.?

I’m sure if you two have a close relationship, you take his advice and preferences into consideration, but you are the one who ultimately makes the decision. Again, if you two have a close relationship, then he respects your decision fully knowing that he has raised you well and competent to make good choices.
If neither of these are the case and he makes your decisions for you or doesn’t trust your decisions, then there are deeper issues that we need to address which is currently beyond the scope of this answer.

I am going to assume that you two have a fairly decent relationship; otherwise, I’m sure you’d be more frustrated than your letter is indicating. So, given that you have a say in your life, why is it that you have no say in such a big decision, arguably one of the biggest decisions of your life? If you feel that your father can choose your spouse single-handedly, then I’m afraid you have given your father too much credit. From your letter, he didn’t even consult your mother (I’ll touch on this below).

You speak about “excuses” to say no. Making such decisions isn’t about excuses; it’s not like buying a car (though I feel you would have given more thought to that decision than you did to this). Sure your spouse may be religious and a “good guy”, but do you like him? Do you have similar values (being religious doesn’t guarantee similar values)? Do you enjoy the same things? Surely, there is more to you than being religious and good, and so I’m sure there are other important factors to consider your spouse.

I am sorry to say, but I feel your father forced you into something that he should not have. I’m not sure what your reasons were, but doing so for student loan money is, in my opinion, dishonest at best and naïve at worse.

Hiding marriage from family members:

I do not want to harp too much on the things that were done incorrectly, but did you not find it fishy that your marriage was hid from your mother and your sister? I find this not only odd, but manipulative and secretive which can never be a good thing. I would sit down and question why your father did that and what he was looking to gain.

Cultural differences/values: forced marriage

Moving forward, you need to figure out if you want to go ahead with this, and no one should interfere in your decision making. Giving advice, listening to your thoughts, sharing their own is fine, but making you feel bad, wrong, and selfish is manipulation and has no place in your life.

You need to talk to this person and see if you two get along, share similar views on things, enjoy the same things, have similar dreams. Do you both get angry fast? Communicate well/not at all? Is he ok with you working? etc.

Seeing that you’ve had your nikkah (marriage contract), there is nothing wrong with talking to him and getting to know him. Use this time period to “date” and take things as slow as you want to figure out if this is what you really want, and if you can live your life with this guy.


You are concerned about the embarrassment to your family if you break off your engagement. I can understand this, but think about how much more difficult the situation will be when in a few years (possibly with children) you realize you can’t do it and you end the marriage then. Is that better/less embarrassing?

You’re in a tight situation and have to move forward knowing your choices. You have the choice to end it now if you don’t like him or work on it to make it work. My advice, however, would be to use this time when the picture is simpler to decide if you want to stay or not.

I hope that was helpful.


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About Atia Zaidi

Attia Zaidi is a writer, educator, social worker and mother. She has worked with the GTA's Muslim community for over 15 years in various capacities. Currently, Attia runs a small private practice offering therapy for Muslim families.

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