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Dealing with the Pressure to Get Married – Tips for Muslim Youth

Empathize with those putting pressure

This sounds strange because why would you empathize with the ones who are putting pressure on you, especially when they’re family members/parents who’re meant to support not pressure you?

It’s easy to become angry and resentful. However, taking a step back to look past the words, and understand the person instead can take off a lot of the pressure and negativity.

A lot of behavioral traits in families are built through watching experiences of other family members through generations. It may be that our parents have struggled mentally and emotionally and were only given affection a certain way, which then gets passed on to us.

A lot of parents still come from backgrounds where their children represent their success. At tea parties, weddings, dinners etc., kids are always the topic of conversation.

“So what job does your son have?”

“Is your daughter married? Not yet? Oh, such a shame…”

Now imagine a parent whose own parents are still alive, and are putting pressure on them as to when their grandchildren are getting married.

This is not to justify the harsh words or tell anyone to put up with them but to hopefully help you understand that some people weren’t taught to recognize success beyond marriage, and this is not your problem.

Remember the Words of Allah more than the words of people

Once you can empathize, internally you can break free of the chains of holding yourself to standards that are bringing you down. The standard here isn’t getting married. I personally want to get married and I ask Allah  for a righteous husband daily. But when a person is told they lack X, Y, and Z, they can’t look past those hurtful comments. But you have to look past that to grow!

We’re not saying don’t aspire to get married, we’re also not saying get destroyed for not being able to get married at the moment. We’re saying there is a balance. “Tie it and rely upon Allah,” as the Messenger says. [at-Tirmidhi]. Take the halal means, and leave it to Allah. Anything that happens in your life afterward will be to your own advantage if you’re patient and your relationship with Allah is still strong.

The Prophet says:

“Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

So maybe those hurtful people and hurtful comments are there to expiate your sins and raise your ranks in the Hereafter for eternity!

Remember, getting married and having children in and of itself is not an accomplishment, but patience is.

Allah (SWT) says:

“Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” [Qur’an: Chapter 39, Verse 10]

And He says:

“And it is not your wealth or your children that bring you nearer to Us in position, but it is [by being] one who has believed and done righteousness. For them there will be the double reward for what they did, and they will be in the upper chambers [of Paradise], safe [and secure].” [Qur’an: Chapter 34, Verse 37]

And He says:

“Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope.” [Qur’an: Chapter 18, Verse 46]

The Qur’an puts matters in perspective, and this is extremely important. You have to remember the words of Allah  more than the words of people, and you can’t let what’s temporary ruin what’s eternal.

Clear communication breaks the cycle of negativity

When someone asks you, why you haven’t gotten married yet, you can say: because Allah decided that now wasn’t the time, or because I haven’t met someone yet.

With strangers, it’s easy to tell them to make dua, or keep an eye open if they find someone suitable for you, but what about with your own parents?

Some people have fallen into a cycle of arguing with their parents about why they’re not married yet and being blamed for it, and then getting angry and trying to avoid forcible setups with people they’re not compatible with.

I had a friend who was going through this. Her mother kept asking her things like, “How did you go to university and not meet someone? Were you misbehaving? You probably gave off a bad impression, that’s why men didn’t approach you.

You know I was married at 22, you’re now 23, you’d better find a husband soon, you can’t remain a burden on your father and I like this. When I was growing up I had so many marriage proposals, how many did you have?”

My friend’s responses used to be very angry: “Oh my god! You know what, come and meet the men at my university, and you’ll see that there wasn’t anyone suitable, and how can you say that no one wanted to approach me, we’re not living back in your country where any random stranger just comes and proposes to you.

And fine if you don’t want me as a burden sure I’ll just move out so you won’t have to deal with me!”

My friend always felt angry and started actively avoiding her parents, because the moment her parents would see her, she would think that all they see is an unmarried girl.

Now, this was a negative cycle that my friend learned how to break out of. Breaking the cycle doesn’t mean changing another person, or telling them how they should interact with you.

Expressing your feelings should be about how you feel, as opposed to how others are making you feel. It’s about not taking the bait to engage in the same repeated heated argument. 

You cannot make a parent for example stop putting pressure on you, but when you respond differently, the cycle begins to break.

One day, my friend tried a different approach. She tried being very calm and understanding with her Mom; they had a discussion that went something like this:

Mother: Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider your ex-fiancé?

Friend: Mama, he was controlling and possessive and I wouldn’t have been happy with him.

Mother: Okay so how are you planning to find someone? Or are you intending to live off your father and me? You’re now 23, and you have no one.”

Friend: Mama I do want to get married, but I don’t know how to. Would you like me to message my friends and let them know that I’m looking for a husband and I need to find one soon?

Mother: No of course not! That’s so undignified, don’t do that!

Friend: Okay so what would you have me do? Have a sign on my forehead that reads “SINGLE”? You want me to be happy, don’t you?

Mother: Of course I do.

Friend: Then what should I do? You always tell me that a person’s partner is written for them when they’re born and is not something they need to chase after because Allah will give it to them, so how can I force Allah’s plan? I can’t just get a husband from thin air. When you met Baba, it was by the decree of Allah, it wasn’t planned. You both grew up in 2 different countries, and Allah still brought you together. You didn’t have to go after him.

Mother: Yes that is true. Allah’s plan is perfect, and whatever He has written for you will reach you no matter where you are.

Friend: So don’t you believe that the man that He has written for me will also reach me?

Mother: Yes that’s true; I am just worried about you sometimes.

And this is an important point; sometimes the people that we’re angry with are genuinely trying to help us and they are panicking out of deep love for us. They don’t know how to deal with what seems to them like a problem, so they put pressure on us. It doesn’t mean we’re worthless, it means they’re unable to channel their emotions and their help towards us the right way.

My friend’s discussion with her Mom revealed that her Mom had an insecurity that a lack of marriage proposals indicated a problem with her daughter, and that’s what fueled the arguments. Part of this again was her own upbringing. But with clear communication, the cycle of negativity broke.

Even within this discussion, my friend’s mother kept saying things that would usually provoke an angry reaction from her daughter. Remaining calm is not always easy; it requires constant effort. When trying to break the cycle of anger and negativity, look for the bait and avoid it. This is where you need to continue to be patient, and remember that your reward is with Allah. It is not from the akhlaq of the believer to actively distance herself/himself from their parents, and when breaking the cycle, you need to make an active effort on your part to cultivate a relationship of compassion and affection.

This may mean that sometimes you make conversations with your parents to get their opinion on marriage, for example. Simply ask them, how did they know they wanted to get married? What qualities did they look for in a partner? Or what were your grandparents’ reactions to their marriage? Making your parents feel valued goes a long way in helping you to empathize with them, and look beyond their harsh words onto their experiences and/or insecurities.

The goal here is not to change your parents, but to change yourself. Identify your own cycle and break out of it because it’s unhealthy, exhausting and creates nothing but resentment, self-doubt, and erodes a person’s self-esteem.

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