Over 40 & Still Single: Dealing with Loneliness

30 March, 2017
Q This is a follow-up of a previous question “Over 40 & Alone". Thank you for your answer; however, I feel the real issue hasn’t been addressed. 1, I agree with Sister Aisha's comments about caste system, but I think she misunderstood me. I am not a proponent of that system, and I know it is haram, but because the Muslim parents in the community are primarily immigrants, they were swayed by such factors as caste, beauty ("fair skin"), etc. which is quite common in Muslim countries. My parents, coming from a lower caste, had no control over the mindset of their community members. Even the immigrant single men, who are frequent on Muslim matrimonial websites, want to know about family status, wealth, and education of my relatives in my parents' home country. 2. She suggested I call a family meeting and quoted from Hadith to explain to my parents and brothers about how important it is for them to find me a husband. My brothers are not religious, and my parents would not expect them to do anything for me. Their wives will never agree to this either. My parents are old (over 80) and sick; they are always at the doctor, and it is very hard to deal with my father. So for me, the youngest and only daughter who has no one on her side, to call a family meeting will only result in ridicule and accusations of me being selfish. 3. I've been on these Muslim Matrimonial sites (though it’s not encouraged by my Muslim community) for almost 10 years, and most of the men over 35 are very similar. They either email from abroad with the hope of immigration and visa, or they live in North America but are economically unstable and expect a woman with citizenship to financially support them. They are also distasteful in their dealings with women, putting shirtless pictures of them on the Internet, calling me "honey" and "darling", and "I am so attracted to you ". They have lied about their backgrounds; many have wives and children already in their home countries. I have often received interests from 20-something's who reside in the gulf. It continues to baffle me why the Internet is the solution for decent 35+ year old Muslim women, many of whom can't always afford the monthly fees charged by the companies that run these sites. If it was truly an Islamic endeavor, then the sites would not charge girls anything and instead obtain their funding by advertising, imams personally, or Islamic centers. So while I appreciate the comments Sister Aisha made, truly I do, the real issue of how I rid myself of the pain in my heart hasn't really been addressed. I am 44. I fed up with matrimonial websites; I've asked friends to help, but they don't know anyone. My family is selfish, I'm sorry to say that, and selfish people do not become unselfish. So I can keep surfing the web, but it's not a halal method. I have to deal with being alone, unloved and childless, when all I've ever wanted was a family of my own.

Answer

Answer:

Salamu ‘Alaykum Sister,

Thank you for your question and your feedback. I have read your original question, Sister Aisha’s answer, and your feedback above.

Firstly, I would like to let you know that you seem to be a patient, hard-working, and God-fearing woman. You are an educated Muslimah who has taken care of her parents all these years while also abstaining from haram and working to earn a living for herself. Those qualities hold in sha’ Allah a lot of rewards. Allah (swt) has bestowed you with these blessings, and you seem to have made the most of it. Please feel good about your accomplishments and thank Allah (swt) for the ability to have them.

While I understand that you are not unthankful to Allah (swt) for not blessing you with a spouse, I first want you to know that you must seek to always believe in yourself and understand that you are a great person by the grace of Allah (swt). Just as Sister Aisha mentioned in her answer, seek to keep your self-esteem high and don’t put yourself down. You deserve good things and you also deserve a life for yourself. That is why I also will concur with Sister Aisha about that family meeting. You seem to be fearful or hopeless about having such a meeting because your family is “selfish” or “not religious.” You may also face the cultural issues which frown upon a woman bluntly asking her family and friends that she needs help finding a spouse and wants to get married.

The unfortunate reality is that yes, as Muslim women, we do face many barriers to getting married in the West – exactly as you mentioned above. I agree with every word you said regarding the issues that get in the way of marriage such as the caste system (or other similar types of thinking), cultural issues, dealing with less than satisfactory avenues for marriage such as the internet, pressured to lower standards, etc. This is, however, the world that we live in now. We, as a society need to work together to change for the better, but it will not change overnight.

A suggestion to be a part of that change is to write about your experiences and share them with various Muslim-operated magazines and journals or even try to raise awareness about it at your local masjid. The more we as a society hear about it and empathize with sisters like yourself, the more likely change will occur.

A part of being content and satisfied is accepting life the way it is even though it is not what we desire. But please do not misunderstand me; it does not mean that we do not try to actively change for the better.

In your case, you have eliminated most of the known avenues to get married (such as asking your family for help or searching on the internet.) It may be true that the options that you have now are not great, but it is certainly worth a try. What do you have to lose if you ask your parents and brothers for help? I can understand that you may feel that they will not heed your request or ridicule you, but you need to ask yourself what you are willing to do to get to what you desire. Your brothers or family members may actually be open to your request to get married even though they may show you otherwise. You just have to try! Again, what will you lose?

You mentioned that you have already tried the online matrimonial sites. I can certainly believe the frustration you have dealt with all the years. You are absolutely correct when you say that such sites need to be supervised by a mosque or other Muslim organizations. There is such a site actually! Here it is: Half Our Deen. This website may be a decent way to find what you are looking for in a more respectful and informed manner.

I  read you live in Canada. Have you possibly looked into matrimonial programs in some mosques in your area? I know that there are a few mosques and organizations in the USA that do have such programs that help singles get married. It is likely that the masjid and organizations of Canada may have them also. It is certainly worth looking into.

The point that I am trying to make is that in order for you to seek marriage, it seems that you may have to do some things out of your comfort zone such as actively being assertive and open about your desires to your family, friends, mosque members, and other Muslim community members. It is not ideal, but at this point, it is the reality that you face. It is your choice whether you will pursue it or not.

In regards to dealing with the pain that you feel, I would also concur with Sister Aisha when she said to work on loving yourself and appreciating who you are as a person. Spend time with people who love you and care about you. I understand that you work. How do you feel about your job? Do you feel like you are doing something important and valuable? If not, then ask yourself how you can make your work more valuable to you. You seem like you have a lot of energy in you to give and receive love and care to another person. Have you considered volunteering in any kind of program that serves humanity (children, families, the sick, etc.)? The point is to find meaning in your life through relationships, work, and others.

You have been suffering for a long time. It is difficult to deal with the frustration and loneliness you feel. But you do not have to succumb to it anymore. You can choose to accept life as is and seek contentment from Allah. Certainly, it is easier said than done and overcoming a difficulty is never an easy task. Do not allow yourself to be bitter and full of broken dreams. Continue to ask Allah(swt)and be assertive. May Allah guide you and all of us to what pleases Him.

Salam,

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About Aliah F. Azmeh
Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.