Do Not Marry Out of Guilt!

31 May, 2021
Q I´ve known a boy for almost a year now. We started talking about this time last year. He asked me after a couple weeks how serious this was for me, if I would consider marriage with him. It was actually serious for me. I didn’t want to talk to a boy just to have a haraam relationship. He seemed like a good guy, prayed his daily prayers and knew a lot about religion. We decided to wait half year before telling my parents because of my age. He is 4 years older and it was only my age that could be an issue between us. Sadly, as we spent more time together, we ended up committing zina. After that, we began to have other issues. We fought a lot because of things in my past that he made me tell him. We both repented and have had no physical contact since the summer now. This issue has been a big problem for me. I have a hard time dealing with it. But I pray to Allah and hope for his mercy and guidance. Anyways, today the situation is this: He tells me that he doesn’t have good thoughts about me because of my past and things that happened between us. He thinks that I am not fit to take my own decisions or big decisions that may affect both of our lives. At the same time, he does not respect me or has a good treatment. He firmly believes that after we marry, things will get better between us by time. He also says that he almost doesn’t love me anymore, and he doesn’t think that he can show me affection from heart today, maybe in a couple of years - or maybe not. The things is, I am not sure of whether he will manage to keep his word and that things actually will get better between us with time. At the same time, I look at this as a chance to hide our sin, and I also think that my parents would have forced me to marry him if they knew about this. (they still don’t know anything about us though.) He does have a lot of issues with me, but he believes that he will become better with time. He probably won’t love me again, but I do not know how important that should be. At the same time, in his heart, he is a good person; he is religious and I believe that he could influence me in better ways so that I will follow our own culture more than the western one we live in. I am afraid of choosing a miserable life by choosing to marry him, but I also have hope for us given that he actually manages to stand behind what he promises me. I don’t think love should be such a big deal in that case - as long as he treats me with kindness and we strive to become better Muslims together. So I don’t know if I should take that risk because of his earlier behavior, and whether the zina issue or the lack of love should be important factors. He believes so strongly that this could become better with time, and so I also want to believe that he will be able to be kinder towards me. Thank you for your answer.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

“Marriage is a huge commitment. It’s not the halal version of being a boyfriend and girlfriend. To start it off successfully, both people need to understand what they are committing themselves. Marriage is about building a life together, creating and raising a family, and serving Allah. What’s done is done. You cannot erase the past, but you can make an intentional and God-fearing decision about your future. Having sinned doesn’t mean that you have to settle. Marrying him isn’t going to “make this right.” In fact, marrying someone out of guilt or obligation due to a sin can actually set you both up for failure down the road.”


As-Salamu ‘Aleikom sister,

Do Not Despair of the Mercy of Allah

The first thing I want to begin with is the reminder that when a servant of Allah turns to Him in repentance they should have nothing but hope for the mercy of Allah. That includes you too.

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah.  Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)

To continue on that path of repentance, I’d like to advise you to go further and either move forward with marriage or end the relationship entirely.

As hard as that might be, it’s what’s necessary for both of you. As long as you both are talking, the temptation is always there to end up seeing each other again.

No matter how much you think it won’t happen, the chances are high that some emotional situation could make one or both of you want to be in the same physical space with each other again. To “talk things out,” or “say goodbye” or “discuss what happens next,” I’m sure you never imagined in a thousand years that you could end up in the situation you found yourself. This is why it’s important to keep your guard up from here on out. If we have fallen once, we can all fall again.

If you want to get married, it’s time to involve your parents and his parents. I am not of the opinion personally that you need to reveal to them the extent of your involvement with each other, but I do believe you are going to have to be honest to some degree about having an ongoing relationship for a time. Otherwise, neither his parents or your parents will understand why there is such a desire to get married.

Sadly, the intention of not approaching your parents because your age gap might be a problem created even bigger problems which are the fact that you and this man committed a major sin. Turn your thinking around and prioritize your faith and your akhirah right now.

Do Not Marry Out of Guilt

Marriage is a huge commitment. It’s not the halal version of being a boyfriend and girlfriend. To start it off successfully, both people need to understand what they are committing themselves. Marriage is about building a life together, creating and raising a family, and serving Allah.

Marriage is also hard work. There are good days and not so good days. Laughter and arguments. Compromises. Knowing that it’s already hard work, it’s important to go into marriage with the choice to want marriage itself and also to believe that the person you are marrying is the person who holds the values you want for your future.

What’s done is done. You cannot erase the past, but you can make an intentional and God-fearing decision about your future. Having sinned doesn’t mean that you have to settle. Marrying him isn’t going to “make this right.” In fact, marrying someone out of guilt or obligation due to a sin can actually set you both up for failure down the road.

You never want him to say to you, “I only married you because I felt bad for what we did.” And he never wants to hear from you “I only married you because of what we did. “Don’t set yourselves up for a loveless marriage where you end up blaming and hurting each other.

If you can’t enter a marriage with someone feeling mutual respect for each other, it’s best to walk away. You should choose someone you want to marry because you believe they are the right life partner for you to choose and vice versa.

Don’t Settle because You Believe You Don’t Deserve Better

I feel sad that you are tolerating attention from someone who is keeping you in this holding pattern of “maybe I’ll love you, maybe I won’t” or “I respect you, but I don’t believe you are fit for making good decisions.” His wishy-washy attitude about you is the sign of his emotional immaturity, not your own.

Let’s Talk about that Anger

You mentioned that he gets angry with you and fights with you because of things from your past which he made you tell him.

Whatever is in your past is your past and no one has a right to get angry at you because of your past no matter what the mistakes are. He is revealing some major insecurities within himself when he gets upset and that’s concerning to me.

Ultimately, regardless of the physical and emotional attraction, I’m afraid he doesn’t actually respect you that he doesn’t want to let go of the attention you give him.

So, while there are parts of him which make him “at heart a good person”, I think it’s time for you to decide what you want in your life versus choosing from the options he presents in front of you.

Take Responsibility for Your Own Spirituality

It’s up to you to choose Islam in your life right here and right now. You shouldn’t wait for any man to come into your life and help you become a better Muslim or be a good influence on you. You need to surround yourself with good people today and move forward. It’s wise to always have your own circle of good Muslim sisters, teachers and mentors, regular learning opportunities, and environments to help you maintain your faith and be inspired by the practice of Islam.

While this man may have some good qualities in him, his impact on your life so far has been detrimental to your spiritual well-being and emotional well-being. I know you don’t want to see this reality, but it’s a must.

Without seeing things as they are, you aren’t going to be able to take care of yourself in the way that’s best for you. Decide what you want to change and instead of looking for one culture or another to help you with that, let Islam be your guide.

Make a Firm Decision and Move Forward

Ask Allah to help you make a firm decision to do what is right out of your love and fear of Allah. Then decide what you are doing to do and do it.

But please stop doing this all alone. Open up to whomever you can trust to help you through this. Whether that is your parents, a local shaykh/shaykha, a mentor, a counselor, or a trusted friend who is solid in her religion and will guide you to what’s right.

Just remember: your past doesn’t define you. It’s what you decide moving forward which will define your life to come.

Salam,

***

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.

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About Megan Wyatt
Megan Wyatt is the founder of Wives of Jannah where she offers training programs, live workshops, and relationship coaching for wives and couples. She is a certified Strategic Intervention coach with specialized certifications for working with women and marital relationships and has been coaching and mentoring Muslims globally since 2008. She shares her passion for Islamic personal development in her Passionate Imperfectionist community. She is a wife and homeschooling mother with four children residing in Southern California.