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.
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.