“Oh hey, sister, it’s been a while, how are you? How have you been?”
“I’m doing great alhamdulillah; I just got a promotion at work, and I finished memorizing more of the Qur’an; my brother just had a baby girl.”
“Oh, Masha’Allah… so when is it your turn to get married? How old are you now, by the way?”
Most, if not all, single ladies out there have heard some variation of this line of questioning. The marriage issue tends to come up a bit too often that it seems nothing in your life matters unless you get married. This underlying notion can be damaging to one’s spiritual, physical and personal productivity, especially if people have been trying their best to find a spouse, but it hasn’t been destined for them to meet the right person yet—and this is their test from Allah (SWT).
With pressure from those around to get married, it can make a person feel helpless, lost, burdened or worthless. On the one hand, you can’t just pluck a husband/wife from thin air and this period of looking/waiting can be a big trial for you, on the other hand, everywhere you go, there seems to be someone who asks if you’re married or not, and if not, why, what’s wrong with you…?
At one point, I actually started thinking: what if I were someone who would never get married? But I realized that when you start to lose hope and fall into despair, the pressure around you can get even more destructive. So, you need to be able to have the right mindset and right perspective of this whole situation.
We might not be able to change the people around us or stop the pressure coming from them, but we can change our own selves and how we respond to our situations in order to be the best version of ourselves in every condition that Allah puts us in. Here are a few tips that helped me and can help you too.
Recognize your worth
It’s very important not to allow the negative talks or questions make you think any less of yourself. Allah (SWT) says:
“And we have certainly honored the children of Adam…” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 70]
Allah honored all the children of Adam; your worth in the sight of the Creator is not defined by whether you get married or not. Rather, your worth is defined by your taqwa (God-consciousness/righteousness).
“Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Qur’an: Chapter 49, Verse 13]
At what point your future spouse will come into your life is for Allah to decide, not you. To define your worth or belittle your achievements because of something that you have no control over is both spiritually and emotionally damaging.
Najwa Awad, psychotherapist said:
“It’s very unfortunate that there will always be people who make unnecessary and hurtful comments about how a woman carries herself, especially if she is unmarried. A Muslim woman needs to remember, however, that the most important relationship she will ever have in her life is with her Creator; if He is happy with her then nothing else matters. If a Muslimah bases her self- identity around her spirituality and being a genuinely good person she will find that criticism from others, regarding other parts of herself, won’t sting as much.
Allah decrees everything at an appointed time- when we are born when we die and even when we get married. If family members keep asking why she is not married she should respond that Allah is Perfect, His timing is Perfect and he will decree for marriage to come when it’s time.
In the meantime the Muslimah should seek to better herself, just like everyone else, by taking good care of her mind (through reading and education), her heart (doing good deeds), and her body (eating right and exercising).”
Empathize with those putting pressure
This sounds strange because why would you empathize with the ones who are putting pressure on you, especially when they’re family members/parents who’re meant to support not pressure you?
It’s easy to become angry and resentful. However, taking a step back to look past the words, and understand the person instead can take off a lot of the pressure and negativity.
A lot of behavioral traits in families are built through watching experiences of other family members through generations. It may be that our parents have struggled mentally and emotionally and were only given affection a certain way, which then gets passed on to us. A lot of parents still come from backgrounds where their children represent their success. At tea parties, weddings, dinners etc., kids are always the topic of conversation.
“So what job does your son have?”
“Is your daughter married? Not yet? Oh, such a shame…”
Now imagine a parent whose own parents are still alive, and are putting pressure on them as to when their grandchildren are getting married.
This is not to justify the harsh words or tell anyone to put up with them but to hopefully help you understand that some people weren’t taught to recognize success beyond marriage, and this is not your problem.