Around a year ago, I got married to a very kind and wonderful Muslim man. I was a divorcee with 3 kids and we met online. Alhamdulillah, he was accepting of my past and we got married. We did Nikah in his country; I was Christian, and I converted to Islam that same day.
My friends and family know about our marriage, but his family doesn’t. Only his couple of close friends know about our marriage. He doesn’t want to tell his family because of me and my background as I am a foreigner, divorced with kids, and 9 years older than he is.
He said his family will reject me, and that he will tell them eventually but just not yet. This devastated me and made me feel sad that he has to hide our marriage. I feel like a bad person.
We currently live separately. He wants to move and live with me in my country, but the visa process is tough. I would love to live in his country, but he told me it would be difficult for me because of the language, culture, and traditions, as well as his family situation.
We talk to each other every day but I feel like I am a little lost. I don’t know what to do. It’s very hard to live separately from my husband and I love him from the bottom of my heart. He tells me that he really misses me, so I told him I couldn’t live separately anymore and that I want to move to live with him. However, he still refused and said he couldn’t at the moment.
If he moves to my country, it will be very difficult. He can’t speak my language and it is not easy to find a job. But I know that if I was the one to move, I would sacrifice, and I would be able to adjust.
What should I do? We strongly love and trust each other but our relationship is also very strained right now because of discussing the best way to find a place to live. I also feel sad that his parents don’t know about our marriage, and I also don’t think a secret marriage is very likable in Islam.
Please advise me, thank you.
In this counseling answer:
• Begin first with the issue of telling his family about you before moving on to the bigger issue of where to settle.
• You can focus on getting to know them first and giving him space to approach them at a good time. As you get to know his parents and they warm up to you, telling them will be easier.
• Regarding where you will live, carefully consider your various options together and be prepared ahead of time. This will strengthen your relationship and make the move to wherever you both decide easier and smoother.
• Both of you can also make istikhara a (a prayer asking for guidance) on the issue.
Wa Alaikum Salaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa barakatuh sister,
Alhamdulilah that you have seen the light of Islam and entered the fold. You have found a good man and have gotten married. However, the challenge you face now is about where to settle as a family and the difficulties any option may present. On top of this, you are concerned that he didn’t yet tell his family about you due to your age and having children already as he is concerned that they will reject you.
Begin first with the issue of telling his family about you before moving on to the bigger issue of where to settle.
Understand his perspective
Understand that he knows his family better than you do and will be in the best position to approach them at the appropriate time when they will be more likely to respond positivity.
Spending time getting to know them first will make it easier to accept you for who you are, not based on your age and history. If you are currently living apart then you could do this via phone or video calls. This will pave the way for ease in telling them about your marriage as they come to accept you for who you are rather than other factors that are less important.
Be empathic for his situation. He’s withholding the marriage for your benefit, otherwise, they may overreact and try to encourage him to leave you. You can focus on getting to know them first and giving him space to approach them at a good time. As you get to know his parents and they warm up to you, telling them will be easier.
Consider your options
As it stands, there are discrepancies between where you and your husband want to live. He wants to come to your country and you to him. Both of you are not so keen on each other’s ideas due to anticipated difficulties.
This is where it is very important that you get together as a couple and discuss the matter amicably. It is important that you both consider each other’s opinions and respect them, otherwise, this could only lead to problems in the marriage. Talk about the strengths and weaknesses of each option and what is the most important thing.
Check out this counseling video:
Showing respect for each other’s opinions will even strengthen your marriage as it shows a commitment to one another. Perhaps you could even think about and discuss other options that you have yet to consider like another country entirely where your husband could get a job in his field of work and you could raise your children in a good environment.
Make this an ongoing thing that comes with careful and realistic considerations. Both of you can also make istikhara a (prayer asking for guidance) on the issue which will be the most powerful tool to aid you in making the correct choice. If you make a choice that Allah knows is not good for you then it won’t happen, yet if it is the best thing for you, He will facilitate it.
Prepare to compromise
There will unlikely be an option that will fully satisfy one partner or the other so you should be prepared to compromise. This is where talking it out together allows you both to put across your opinions and likes and dislikes in so that you can come to a solution that will satisfy you both as much as possible.
It allows you to express your concerns before making any moves so that you can make any possible compromises easier on the one that has already stated they may struggle with a certain aspect.
‘…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.’ (Qur’an, 2:216)
Whichever choice you make, be it to move to his country, or he to move to yours or you move somewhere entirely different, there will be some challenges. Some of which you will already be aware of and others that may arise later down the line.
This is where it is important to remain strong as a couple to tackle these challenges together. This will make the process much less stressful and lead to a successful and happy outcome, in shaa’ Allah. Settling into a new way of life, whichever path you choose, takes time and will require patience all around.
It may test your relationship as you adjust, but this is where talking about it ahead of time and discussing potential challenges will work in both your favors and will work to provide the foundations for a strong and enduring marriage.
For example, if you choose that he will come to live with you, then you can look around for any groups of people who have moved there from his country. You will often find such groups online. This way he can be aware of the perks and difficulties that others in the same scenario have faced and take advice from their experiences.
Furthermore, he could take a course in the native language so that he at least has the basics to get along at the minimal level. Likewise, if you move to his country then become familiar with the culture ahead of time so that you don’t face a shock when you arrive.
Of course, other things may arise over time that you cannot plan for, but this is where a solid relationship will prevail as you face these things together. Of course, this will work out best if the relationship is strong from the outset having gone through the process to get there together having consider all avenues. At least, with whatever challenges you face, you will still have each other for comfort.
Find common grounds
Wherever you go, a good place to begin is to connect with other local Muslims so that you at least have this common connection to Islam regardless of being away from your normal place of residence. This will provide a sense of security and belonging in an otherwise unfamiliar place as well as helping to support a connection with Allah in the confidence that they will support you through times of good and bad.
On the authority of Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) — the servant of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) — that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself. [Al-Bukhari] [Muslim] (40 Hadith Nawawi 13)
Begin with your husband not telling your parents about the marriage yet. Be patient with him for a time so he can present it to them in a way he knows to be more favorable and trust that he will do this in the best way. Regarding where you will live, carefully consider your various options together and be prepared ahead of time. This will strengthen your relationship and make the move to wherever you both decide easier and smoother.
May Allah guide you to whatever is best for you and your family and may He make it a source of happiness and success in both this life and the next.
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.