In this counseling answer:
• The gentle education of your parents must be slow and gentle. Show them love and respect by acknowledging what they feel and what they are trying to say to you. Listen to them so that you can identify their fears. This will empower you to contemplate strategies to use in order to alleviate their fears.
• Practice “talking” to your parents by writing them letters that you do not send so that you can have your own mind clear.
Salam ‘Aleikom sister,
This is a very difficult situation, but I am not convinced that you should divorce. It seems both of you love each other, respect each other, and are a support and comfort for each other. In today’s world, this can be difficult to find. I am neither a scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence nor an imam or sheikh, therefore, I cannot advise you from a religious perspective. But from an emotional and psychological perspective, I would suggest that you consider gently working on lowering the defenses.
Your life is in a country that has become accustomed to a caste system for thousands of years (since 1000 to 1500 BC). This model was likely intended to model a societal system as a reflection of the Cosmos in that different groups of people, in society performing difference functions, and in harmony as part of a whole body of humanity. However, over time caste became synonymous with status. Combined with the British influence of class and socio-economic status, India has a unique history that influences the individual’s self-image in the context of his or her relationship to society.
However, India is not alone in a modern/postmodern separation of families/communities by socio-economic status. Although this class system may continue to be very much alive in many people’s mind, -either consciously, or unconsciously,- India has been progressing very fast toward offering upward social mobility. People are now able to change their socio-economic status by learning skills, gaining an education, becoming a professional, etc. So, the strict social class/status being assigned to an individual and family is becoming more flexible as India has been changing and is currently a major player in the global community. This new ability for individuals and flexibility within the culture changes the class system and helps in bringing people from different backgrounds together as equals.
Islam does not recognize a caste or a class system and recognizes all men and women as having an equal value which is inherent within the being of every human. Understanding the history behind a caste or class system in a context of the culture that you live in might help you understand what is in the unconscious emotional mind of your parents and what their fears are. Once you understand your parents’ conscious and unconscious fears, you can then attempt to identify ways in which you can help them relieve their fears.
It is very likely that your parents are more worried about the family image than money. After all, you already earn a decent wage. If you can find examples of men who have achieved admiration for their character rather than their class status or who have done wonderful things for their community, you might be able to open their heart to a different way of measuring a man’s worth.
Also, seek out the attributes of your husband that they can “brag” about. I understand that this is not “ideal”; however, it is possible that they feel insecure around their own cohorts and peers in that they do not know how to talk about their daughter with other family members or friends. Yes, this is an “ego” issue, but the problem is that people who are trapped by “ego” do not always realize it. So, it is not really a character defect, but rather a learned and unconscious behavior, albeit destructive.
Our job is to calm the “ego’s” defenses rather than confront it. So, instead of trying to convince your parents that they are wrong to be thinking the way they think or to feel the way they feel, we will take the approach of empathizing with their fears, and then gently touching their hearts in hope of opening their minds.
It is very possible that the arguments between the families include a lot of hurt feelings and insecurities that have resulted in building a defensive stand. It is possible that once your parents are able to reframe their perspective of what constitutes social status including piety, integrity, commitment to one’s spouse and family, and the values of Islam, they may soften and relax.
If your family has property and social position that they want to protect, you might also find a way to demonstrate to them that this remains safeguarded. As you mentioned, your husband has been providing for you and has not become a threat in any way.
With that said, there will be more work ahead as your husband’s family may feel insulted. But we need to work on lowering our defenses to reveal the truth we all share – that we all believe in one God and we have the same heart; we’re all humans, therefore, we also have the same weaknesses and fears. If your husband’s parents can be softened to take these into consideration, they might be willing to forgive your parents’ fear-based behavior of rejecting this marriage and their son. Although difficult, they might be willing to look the other way and not to take this personally.
The reality is that your children will not be in the same world as your parents, or even you and your husband. Your children will not be in a world where the family status determines their own status. Rather, their place in this world will be supported and facilitated by good parenting, enlightened teaching, and then they will be responsible for how they apply the things they have been provided for, and for using their skills, education, and upbringing wisely. They won’t be judged so much by what their grandparents or great-grandparents owned or what their standing in society was, but rather what they contribute to society themselves.
Indeed, your husband’s family history has provided him with an enormous wealth of values, principles, and wisdom that, when applied, can contribute to your children’s development. Likewise, your own family history has provided you with a huge resource to draw upon which you can benefit from while raising your children.
Indeed, many couples today choose not to have children because while the world is in transition, they may not have the resources to adequately support children. Yet, many couples find their place in the world as major contributors of knowledge or wisdom and make enormous contributions to the society as they are not bound by the responsibilities of child-rearing. It might help if you are able to softly and gently awaken your parents to this reality of the current quantum age that we are moving through as a collective humanity. Food for thought.
The gentle education of your parents must be slow and gentle. Show them love and respect by acknowledging what they feel and what they are trying to say to you. Listen to them so that you can identify their fears. This will empower you to contemplate strategies to use in order to alleviate their fears.
Practice “talking” to your parents by writing them letters that you do not send so that you can have your own mind clear. Eventually, you will stumble upon the exact non-threatening approach and words that you will use to awaken them to one small truth which will relieve a fear. Continue doing this with patience and respectful love, and over time it is possible that your parents will notice their own hearts awakening and opening up to new possibilities.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.