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What to Do When Parents Reject Your Choice of Spouse

Questioner

P

Reply Date

Mar 21, 2017

Question

Assalamualeykum. I would like to ask for advice regarding to some problems in my family. My parents are from Turkey but my father was one of the guest workers in Germany so after marriage they moved to Germany and my three siblings and I were born there. My father is a pride person he gives utmost importance to education and physical health. However, he has a very low emotional intelligence therefore we all suffer from emotional childhood neglect. He had many difficulties in life and was often betrayed and disappointed by relatives and friends although he always helped them financially. He sacrificed his health and worked so much so that his children could get a good education and a good life. We all are grown up and educated. My elder brother was sent back to Turkey when he was a young teenager as he was not successful enough to get into a good high school, my father could not accept this and he forced him to go to a high school in Turkey. My brother was very upset and this left a huge scar in his heart. I'm sure he felt abandoned and that my father does not love him. Even after he came back to Germany a few years later the relationship between him and my father has been always bad. I remember for a long time they did not even talk to each other. My brother was rebellious and my father never understood him he only yelled and blamed my mother for everything. My mother is usually silent because my father always yells, blames and humiliates her. She is always patient but plays her role as a helpless poor person. My brother finished university and found a work alhamdulillah. He is almost 30 now and he wants to marry a girl whom he knows about 8 years. The girl waited for him so long and also finished her studies. However my father refuses to accept her and the only reason is that she is from a particular city in Turkey where the people are generally living according to their desire and are not very religious and that she is not wearing hijab. He thinks she is a bad girl and her family are of those who wants to celebrate their wedding with loud music and dancing which is against Islamic traditions. But my father uses religion just as an excuse. He does not even know the girl nor her family. His assumptions are completely based on prejudices. Through my mother he put the conditions to the girl to wear hijab when she is in his presence and that he doesn't want such a wedding. My sister and me met the girl before although she is not wearing hijab she is a decent girl who prays 5 times salah and fasts in Ramadan. She is not the most pious Muslim but she is at least more religious than my brother. I don't know how she felt when she was demanded those conditions. It is not right to force one to wear hijab. My brother is already depressive and because of this situation his mental health is getting worse. My father is not able to think rationally and reasonably anymore, he has also depressive, obsessive compulsive and paranoid symptoms. I don't know how I can help. My father is so stubborn and has to be right all the time. He never listens and never pays attention to our feelings. I'm sure he only wants our best however he loses his children because of this behavior. My brother doesn't talk to him anymore and he has anger and revenge feelings because he was never respected in his decisions by my father. The atmosphere at home is very serious. Everyone is drowning passively in depression. My brother had to go to the emergency because he had extreme high blood pressure caused by stress. He is 30 years old has heart problems and takes antidepressants and blood pressure medicine. How can we as siblings help him? How can we persuade my stubborn and ignorant father? I'm aware that delaying and preventing marriage opens the door to many grave sins. I feel sorry for my brother and the girl. They are still in contact and despite all these accusations the girl wants to marry my brother. Please advise me in this desperate situation. Thank you very much.

Counselor

Answer


What to Do When Your Parents Reject Your Choice of Spouse

Answer:

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns. I am sorry to hear that your father suffered many hurts and hardships from relatives and friends. Perhaps that is why he put emphasis on education and physical health and according to you “he has a very low emotional intelligence; therefore, we all suffer from emotional childhood neglect.”  Oftentimes people who start out emotionally healthy become damaged and either unable or unwilling to become emotionally involved, even with family due to the fear of getting hurt. While this is not a healthy way to live, the person who detaches emotionally usually does so either consciously or sub-consciously as a defense mechanism. They are trying to protect themselves.

It is sad that your brother had to go back to Turkey. I sure it had a devastating effect not only on him, but your whole family including your father. While your father may have appeared to not care, the fact that he did not talk to your brother, or your brother to him states otherwise. Often times when those who love deeply are hurt or angry, and they often retreat to silence as the pain is too deep to express.

It is even sadder that your mother has become perhaps the biggest victim in all of this as she is yelled at, humiliated, blamed and has basically been abused by your father and his own frustrations and pain.  This is unacceptable sister and I would highly suggest that you propose to your mom (and your dad if you feel he would be open) that you all go for family counseling to sort out this pain and dysfunctional style of family life. 

As far as your brother is concerned, alhumdulillah he graduated from the university. He is 30 years old and despite still wanting to please your family, he should be encouraged to marry this girl as soon as possible and to not wait. Cultural preferences or tribal disputes are not reasons for withholding a marriage between two people who are striving to do right, to get married and please Allah (swt). If you are the only one who will encourage him, please do so.

As your brother has probably been under stress since he went to Turkey, and as the issues with your dad were never resolved, no wonder he is having health problems and is depressed. When the desire to marry was announced and not fully and joyfully accepted, this adds more stress and depression to the whole situation. I would encourage him to continue to see his counselor, move ahead with the marriage plans despite your father’s objections, and make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) that your father also gets the help he needs to overcome his mental health issues. If he has a family member, friend, or an imam whom he respects and trusts, perhaps your mom can arrange for him to speak to your dad about his concerns regarding the marriage. I know this is a touchy situation, but your family needs intervention as soon as possible.

You stated your father is now becoming paranoid and displaying OCD symptoms. Sister, this is an exacerbation of his lifelong mental health issues he already had. As it is getting worse, he needs to be evaluated. You may want to check out your local Islamic community for family services/support, or if there are not any available, find local community services in the town/city you live in. Ask to speak to a family counselor or counselor yourself to see what could be the best approach to take.

Things sometimes get worse before they get better, sister, so maybe this is the point wherein your father will have to come to terms with his own mental health. You may want to talk with him explaining that you love him and that you know he values health and that you have noticed that he is stressed. Kindly suggest that he sees a doctor. Offer to go with him, if needed. While he has his pride, he may appreciate your concern.

Stay close to Allah (swt), sister, make du’aa’ that Allah (swt) grant ease for your family.  Allah (swt) is our ultimate healer and He (swt) knows best.

You are in our prayers sister. We wish you and your family the best, and please let us know how things turn out.

Salam,

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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 poetry projects.

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