You’ve gone through some introspection in Part 1 and now the next thing you’ve got to tackle is your family. Before you actually approach them, do an assessment and strategize how you can best get your family onboard. After all, you’re probably in your early twenties, and many parents, rightfully so, are concerned about your ability to enter into a committed relationship with lifelong obligations and consequences.
Previously in this series: Part 1
Maybe you’re reading this thinking, why should I go to my parents before I know if the other person even likes me and wants to get married to me? Why should I involve my parents if I haven’t even talked to the other person and hashed everything out with them, making sure we want to get married to each other?
Well, here comes the truth, my young friend. If your parents are not on board with the idea of you getting married in the near future, you will more likely than not fall into a haram relationship with the person you’ve been dreaming of marrying.
No matter how good and pure your intentions are, if there isn’t cooperation from the families, you won’t go anywhere with that relationship in a halal direction. I’m not implying that you’ll commit big sins together of a sexual nature – but honestly, it does happen even to people who are memorizing the Quran and volunteering to teach Sunday School classes (happened at my MSA just ten years ago). But even an emotionally-intimate committed relationship is problematic, as I hope you see.
Why Your Parents May Not Think You’re Ready for Marriage
More likely than not, your parents will not want you to get married before you graduate college. You may think your parents’ position is preposterous, but let me try to explain their side. The younger you are, the more barriers you have in the way of you actually getting married. The cards are stacked against you: you don’t have a real job, you’re still in school, and don’t even have a diploma yet…there is a lot of uncertainty in your situation and you don’t have a ton of resources that you’ve amassed to fall back on during periods of instability or change.
If you’re a brother, imagine going up to an uncle and saying, “All I have to offer your daughter today is a place in my heart, sharing my room in the apartment I rent with 3 other brothers, and I can make her lunch every day.” That’s a hard sell, right? Good luck getting either family onboard for that deal! Your parents want you to be in a position in which you can make your relationship successful, even if their point of view may seem misguided or closed-minded to you.
In addition to that barrier, there are a handful of other factors that your family may want to consider about you getting married. To you, these will seem like issues, but to them these will simply be expectations and assumptions that they may have never directly discussed with you. You’re in luck if their expectations and assumptions match up with yours – but you’ll never know unless you ask them.
Plucking Up the Courage to Broach the Topic and Get the Family Onboard
Are you worried, nervous, or scared to talk to your parents about getting married? That’s normal. You may even be embarrassed or feel like crawling into a hole and disappearing for a few weeks (I was guilty of that!). However, you must come to terms with your emotions, overcome your fears, and start the conversation. It may not be easy, and you may have to ask for help from the wise souls around you that give good advice and understand your family. Remember, all of this effort to get your family onboard will be worth it once you’re finally married.
Depending on your family dynamics, approaching either/both parents may be less or more complicated based on the health of their relationship with each other and your relationship with each of them. It is crucial to bring your parents into the picture before you take any real action, even if it may be difficult or uncomfortable. Figure out how you’ll get over it and get a move on.
Let me be frank. If you can’t muster up enough courage to have a direct conversation with your parents about wanting to get married, you’re not ready to get married (there may be extremely rare abusive family situations which I’ll have to make an exception for). This is proof against you that shows me you aren’t ready to take care of another person. How do I know that? You won’t be able to bring that person into your family in a harmonious way and join their family, likewise you can’t communicate about your basic thoughts and expectations with your parents, let alone theirs.
Exceptional circumstances: If you have beef or problems with your parents or any other issues that are so crippling that you cannot broach the subject with them; I suggest getting professional help to mend that relationship or to get sound guidance to restrict that relationship to best protect you. You may need to go to therapy on your own to sort out your thoughts and emotions. You may approach a family therapist for joint sessions to help you heal your relationship with either/both parents. And you may have to do both in a step-wise fashion. Getting your family onboard is something you can address through professional help and a trusted scholar.
You’re thinking – oh my God, this is getting so complicated…just to get married? But this suggestion of family therapy is only for the more extreme cases where the ability to have a serious conversation with your parents is nearly impossible. The majority of young MSA-hopefuls, inshaAllah, are in the position to put their game face on and dive right in. They will stare into the bathroom mirror while performing a brief hype dance and then sit their parents down and have that terrifying “Mom, Dad, I want to get married” conversation.
Pre-Gaming the Conversation with Your Parents
Go outside and sit under a tree on a nice, breezy afternoon and ask yourself these questions to see if you can get your family onboard with you. Be very honest with yourself and take notes:
- What have my parents mentioned to me in the past about their expectations of me getting married? (Was a certain age brought up? Career milestone?)
- What have my parents mentioned to me in the past about their expectations for a potential spouse? (Ethnic/racial preferences? Career? Family background? Religious practice?)
- Will my parents be open to me getting married in the next year?
- Will my parents allow me to have a nikaah without moving in with my spouse (i.e. be in an Islamic marriage with limited obligations to my spouse?) Or maybe an engagement?
- Who in my family will be a proponent of me getting married that I can ally with? Conversely, who will be an opponent and how can I win them over?
- What concerns will my family bring up when I present the possibility of me getting married? How can I proactively address those concerns, whatever they are?
- How are my parents able and willing to help me in my marriage while my spouse and I are young and could use the support? (Money, living with them, etc.)
Once you’ve answered these questions, see if you can come to a conclusion about whether or not your family will support your desire to get married. Decide from there if you’re going to talk to them, or going to defer the conversation; and therefore delay when you’ll be able to pursue the MSA prospective spouse. You should not act further without the support –even begrudging support– of your family. Even if you think they will be completely against it, you might find that bringing up the conversation anyways will put the fact that you want to get married on their radar. Figure out what action items you can work on to improve the chances of getting your family onboard with your plan. Strategize as best as you can and then–bismillah. It’s go time, baby.
After having this discussion with your family, you may find that you’ve amassed a handful of extra resources and a loving team to help you reach your end goal. Family support stretches a long way!
[In Part III, we’ll look at using a go-between to make contact]
The post Getting Your Family Onboard: You Found “The One” In Your MSA [Part 2] appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.
Source: Muslim Matters