Mom is Divorced & Lonely: How to Help?

19 January, 2017
Q Salam Aleikom, I desperately need your help. My parents divorced almost 10 years ago; yet my mom is unable to move on with her life and I cannot see her like this. My dad is fine, he has his own life with his new wife, hamdulillah for few years, but mom is desperate. She is renting a room in a big flat. She likes living there. She works, and she likes her current work and colleagues, but she does not really have friends. She basically just watches TV and checks FB in her free time, nothing else. We talk every day and meet at least once a week. She has changed her place of living as well as work a couple of times in this 10 years. She also tried to meet other guys, but as she is over 50, the situation seems to be very hard. The guys she met were complete disasters. Some did not have proper job, others turned out to have some kind of addiction, others were just simply not “her type”: too talkative, too careless, too short, too fat. I feel she still cannot let my dad go. (my dad initiated the divorce.) My mom’s parents and brother and his family live far from us, but she doesn’t want to go there as I and my siblings are here in this city. What can I do with her? What can a lady over 50 do to find her partner? JazakAllah!

Answer

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your most important question.

It appears you are very concerned about your mom and that is a sign of a loving daughter, alhumdulilah. When couples divorce, it is often hard for one or both to move on and heal from the pain of divorce. In your dad’s case, he has moved on with his life and is now remarried. Your mom, however, is still single and you appear to be concerned that she might not remarry and state she is “desperate”. While you did not indicate what thoughts, behaviors or communications she has exchanged with you to indicate she is desperate, I ask you sister to please evaluate if it is your mom who is desperate to marry – or is it you who is desperate for her to marry.

Often times when our parents divorce, we worry if one gets married and the other one doesn’t, especially if it has been a long time since the divorce such as in your mom’s case. While it is true that maybe she cannot get over your dad and is possibly depressed, perhaps she is taking this time to discover who she is, what her interests are and what she truly desires in a future husband. This can be especially true if she married young and raised children all of her life. What you may perceive as “desperate” (unless she has indicated she is) may just be her exploring a new life without marriage and children.

Additionally, perhaps she spent the first few years healing from the divorce and getting over your father, and then after that she spent several more years redefining who she is as a single woman. Perhaps, in the last few years, she has started dating as she desires marriage, but is not ready to settle for the sake of being married. It is possible that her work, colleagues and home-life is adequate for her until she finds a proper mate.

While I can imagine it could be lonely, and this may be one of your concerns, it can also be liberating as well. It can be a time wherein she can chose to study something she has always wanted to learn; a time to travel; an opportunity to engage in charity work or other social activities. It can also be a time for just relaxing and reading a book, watching TV or going on social media (as you states she does do some of these things). While she may not have friends that you are aware of, perhaps she does enjoy her life as it is right now. After all, she does work all day and perhaps she does enjoy her solitude in the evenings.

You mentioned that “my mom’s parents and brother and his family live far from us, but she doesn’t want to go there as I and my siblings are here in this city.” I admire your concern, sister, but what makes you think your mom would want to leave her job, home and independent life to become dependent upon your grandmother? These are things, my dear sister, which I ask you to think about, in sha’ Allah, as your mom does seem to have a lot of good things going for her.

On the positive side, you stated your mom is happy with her job, with her colleagues and with the place she is living in. These are very important factors in terms of happiness. All too often people are unhappy at work, or can’t get along with colleagues, or are not comfortable with their living arrangements.

As you stated, your mom has moved and changed jobs several times in the past 10 years. One could look at this as a strong character trait indicating that when something makes your mom unhappy (job, housing) instead of “settling” she chooses to make her life happier by changing her conditions. On the other hand, if one is use to stability and a set routine which does not include life-job satisfaction, then it could be viewed as one who is uncertain or unstable.  Therefore, sister, your mom’s life style is perception based and only she can determine if she is unhappy and desperate, or happy and satisfying.

I would kindly suggest that if you have not already, please sit with her and express your concerns about the divorce, your impression that she has not gotten over your dad as well as your concerns about not being married. Ask her for her opinions, feelings and where she stands on these issues. In sha’ Allah, please do approach her as a loving, concerned daughter who is interested in her life rather than one who views her as unstable. In sha’ Allah, you will discover that she is quite happy with her life and if she decides to marry, it will be to one who is pleasing to her in most ways.

It is quite understandable, as I am sure you would agree, that she would not want to marry one who has addictions, is jobless, or doesn’t have a stable job, or even those whom she is not attracted to nor compatible with. Islamically, these are not qualities one should settle for at any age. Further, your mom has the wisdom to know that a good marriage requires compatibility as well as a basic attraction.

As far as the possibility of marriage after 50, well, I suppose it is about the same as trying to get married at any other age as there are bound to be men who are in her age bracket, who are also looking for marriage! The positive thing is that at this age there are no issues young people face concerning disparities about how many children they will have, or having to finish school first, or any of the other myriad of issues that one must deal with.

As people over 50 usually have been married before, they have (hopefully) greater insight into what makes a marriage work and what doesn’t. There are lessons learned from both a marriage and divorce which can be an asset to a future marriage. People at your mom’s age are usually more confident in themselves as human beings; are generally more secure in self and are better at adaptation than their younger counterparts. Often times, they may be less willing to “settle” and may take their time to make a decision regarding marriage.

If you do find that your mom is, indeed, desperate, there are many things you can suggest to her to help her get over your father as well as a possible fear of getting hurt again, or a common issue which is comparing every man to your father.

You can encourage your mom to get out more by inviting her to Islamic events, plan activities for her wherein she can meet new people in a halal manner as well as having sisters invite her to social outings.

Talk to your mom and find out what interests her and encourage her to take a class, take up a new hobby, do some charity work and so on. By encouraging her to get more involved in activities, it may help her to get past any issues she may have as a result of the divorce.

If you do see signs of depression, please do encourage her to seek out counseling. However it is my feeling that your mom will be just fine and is just enjoying her life her way, and taking her time in choosing a husband.

You are in our prayers sister, please let us know how you are doing.

Salam,

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.