My Mother Tells Me: “Don’t Expect a Happy Marriage”

28 April, 2020
Q I am one of two daughters; my younger sister is 21 years old. We're orphans and our mother is worried about my marriage, which is understandable.

But there are some very strange things she says that make me depressed and hate the idea of marriage.

I do not have high expectations. I just want a kind man who can take care of his family. However, my mother keeps saying that I should not expect or desire to be loved by my future husband.

She says it would be okay if the husband is not good to me or doesn't want anything to do with me as long as he's providing for us and if I have at least a child.

She also says that I should not expect a happy marriage. All I need is to get the label of being married. I find this picture of marriage extremely sad and dark.

Allah knows what's in store for every person, but is it wrong to at least hope for a loving marriage? How can a woman give her husband any love if she's told that she shouldn't expect to receive any?

My mother has some psychological issues. She wanted a son and now she wants me to fulfill that by giving her a grandson.br/>
I also find it very repulsive and disheartening that a mother should tell her daughter that marriage is simply to have a child.

I don't know if parents should say such things to their kids.

I'm very hopeless and the prospect of marriage seems like the time one becomes a slave that's deprived of love and happiness and is asked to never desire any of these. What should I do?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

• We should seek marriage with these expectations. While marriage can be hard work, it is also a gratifying, happy union when built upon an Islamic foundation.

• When making a choice for a marriage partner, it is important to get to know the character of the person in a halal way. It is also good to have things in common and most importantly to be truly practicing Islam.

• Please, educate yourself and your sister regarding the standards for marriage and what Allah says about marriage.


As Salam Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us. As I understand, you are writing concerning yourself and your sister who is younger than you. You stated that you are orphans, but that your mother is worried about your marriage.

As you stated you’re an orphan and then talk about your mother, I’m rather confused but none the less I will try to address your situation as best as I can.

Negative Messages about Marriage

The issue that you wrote about is marriage and the toxic advise and information you are getting from your mother. Your mom is advising that you should not expect or desire to be loved by a future husband.

She feels that it would be enough if you can manage to have at least one child after marriage and be able to live happily with that child.

She indicates it is okay if your husband is not good to you or doesn’t want anything to do with you. As Muslims, we know that marriages are not to be cold, empty nor abusive.

The way your husband treats you matters very much. He is not to harm you or abuse you. According to her, if he is providing and if you have one child- that should be enough.

Your mother has also told you that you should not expect a happy marriage. She reports that the reason to get married is for the label of being married as well as to have a child.

No doubt you are distraught that your mom should tell you that marriage is simply to have a child. Marriage is for having children yes, but it is so much more than that. Your mom may have built up a defense mechanism where she does not believe in love and that is very sad.

Sister, as you know that is a very bleak outlook on marriage as well as husband and wife relations indeed. It is a very depressing view and is not consistent with reality. True, some marriages can end up like that, especially ones not rooted in true Islamic principles. However, in the general scope of things, it is not an accurate view.

What Allah (SWT) says

Allah created marriage and states in the Qur’an,

“And among His Signs is that He created for you spouses from amongst yourselves so that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts; truly in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (30:21).

Does what the Qur’an say about marriage align with what your mom says? Allah states “tranquility, love, and mercy” This is a huge difference from what your mom is telling you, yet it is from our Creator Allah (SWT) who is closer to us than our juggler’s vein. Hence, those who seek Allah’s approval do their best to uphold the attributes and mercies of this most powerful blessing of a union.


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As Muslims, we should seek marriage with these expectations. While marriage can be hard work, it is also a gratifying, happy union when built upon an Islamic foundation.

If we examine the life of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and how he treated his wives, there will also be a stark contrast between what your mother says and the sunnah of the prophet (PBUH). He treated all his wives with mercy and loving-kindness. He was the best to his family.

Projections of Pain

Sister, it appears that possibly your mom had a very bad experience with marriage or perhaps she saw her mother suffer through a bad marriage or others. It seemed to affect her psychologically as you pointed out. The things she is saying about marriage are toxic. She may be telling you these things because perhaps this is all that she knows. She may feel she is trying to prepare you for the worst, so you do not get hurt or disappointed as possibly she herself did.

You stated your mom wants a son and that now she wants you to give her that son in the form of a grandson. Sister, as you know you have no control over the gender of your child whatever Allah gives you, is a blessing. Your mom can’t live her life, dreams, hopes, fears through you.

In an ideal mother-daughter relationship, she should be discussing marriage and children in a positive Islamic light as well as pointing out ways to avoid problems or pitfalls. At this point, she is unable to, and without healing, she probably will never be able to. Insha’Allah, perhaps in the near future, you and your sister can show her just how wonderful marriage and family can be.

Making Good Choices

All marriages have struggles but they are all not the dark, void, lonely partnership which she tells of. Yes, some marriages are bad. However, when making a choice for a marriage partner, it is important to get to know the character of the person in a halal way. It is also good to have things in common and most importantly to be truly practicing Islam.

This helps reduce the chances of negative relationships when married. For instance, if you meet a potential spouse and you come to find out that he is rude to others or has a short temper, perhaps it may be a warning sign. If a man is lax on praying, does not place a lot of value on studying the Qur’an then that’s another warning.

If you enjoy visiting your family and playing board games and someone who is a potential gets irritated, that may cause conflict down the road. Your chances for having a wonderful marriage increases with knowledge sister as well as a solid Islamic foundation which mirrors the way the prophet Mohammad (PBUH) treated his wives and family.

Looking for the Positive 

Sister, I know it may be hard, but insha’Allah try to tune out the negative things your mom is saying about marriage. Please do realize that she is coming from a place where she is very hurt and disappointed. Perhaps she went through an abusive childhood or an abusive marriage. Your mother’s perspective sadly is one which is probably based on a deep pain and disappointment.

While there is nothing you can do to stop your mother from giving her advice, you can understand that the advice is not good, positive, nor conducive for you for nor your sister. Please do not take it to heart. Please do replace that with positive information and experiences from others on marriage.

Sister, please do not feel helpless. Do not feel despair concerning marriage. I encourage you to read what the Qur’an says about marriage as well as learning what the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said about marriage and family.

You can find some very wonderful articles on AboutIslam regarding marriage and its blessings. You and your sister have much to look forward to in the way of marriage. Insha’Allah, you both will find wonderful, loving kind husbands.

Conclusion

Please educate yourself and your sister regarding the standards for marriage and what Allah says about marriage. Try to speak with others who have happy marriages and get their perspectives. Attend Islamic pre-marriage seminars and classes. Join Islamic groups for young single Muslims sisters wherein you can learn other perspectives from sisters on marriage and what they have been taught.

Sister it is good to seek a balance in views as well as explore other viewpoints when faced with negative ideas. Make duaa (supplication) to Allah to help open the door of light, hope, and blessings and seek refuge in Allah from dark things that are not conducive to healthy perspectives.

We wish you the best,

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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 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.