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Getting Your Family Onboard: You Found “The One” In Your MSA [Part 2]

Are you worried or nervous or scared to talk to your parents about getting married? That’s normal. You may even be embarrassed…

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You found the one in your MSA

Young man on long roadYou’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?

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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.

Tuna sandwich

“I can make her lunch every day.”

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]

 

Related Reading:

Podcast: Like Tinder, But Safer: Troubleshooting Arranged Muslim Marriages | Newaz Ahmed

Podcast: Like Tinder, But Safer: Troubleshooting Arranged Muslim Marriages | Newaz Ahmed

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Are You Prepared for Marriage and Building a Family?

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Meena is a writer, podcaster, high school English teacher, wife, and new mom. She loves working with Muslim youth and is interested in literature, arts, and culture. She studied Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine and has a Master’s in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She briefly dabbled in Classical Arabic studies in the US and is also studying the Asharah Qira'aat/10 Recitations. Check out her podcast and website Brown Teacher Reads: the brown literature circle you always wanted to be in. (brownteacherreads.com)

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Panther

    August 30, 2022 at 6:43 AM

    I cannot stress how important it is that men only get married if they are financially independent. That means a good job and a lot of savings in the bank. Many marriages have been destroyed due to monetary problems, ranging from not being able to meet wives expenditures, leaving wives disgruntled, to not being able to give wives a seperate house after family environment became toxic in a joint family, with overpowering and overbearing in-laws.

  2. King

    August 31, 2022 at 5:37 AM

    One major problem today is forced marriages of women by parents or brothers because it ruins two lives – one of the woman who is forced, and the other of the man on whom his wife takes out her frustration after marriage and treats him poorly. Many forced marriages end in divorce.

  3. Husband

    September 4, 2022 at 8:41 AM

    Parents create problems in marriages but a man should always side by his wife.

    https://youtu.be/HyfnTcdx_bM

    Stand By Your Wife – Mufti Menk

  4. Farhan

    September 5, 2022 at 8:11 AM

    If you do not have the guts to tell your parents about any decision whether it is marriage related or any other life decision, then it will lead your life into a mess. Marriage is a very important journey in life. If you think your decision of marriage to the person you love is right, then convince your parents anyhow. If your parents are not supporting you in the scenario, make them clear that you are not going to do anything under pressure that will make you regret it later in life.

  5. Imam

    September 5, 2022 at 8:22 AM

    Marrying the wrong person is the worst thing ever. Please understand this, No marriage is better than a bad marriage. If your parents aren’t agreeing to your marriage and you cannot deny their decision, then do one thing ask them to not raise this marriage topic again ever in life.

  6. Noor

    September 6, 2022 at 6:34 AM

    Even though it could be challenging or awkward, it is imperative to involve your parents before taking any concrete action if they are adamantly opposed to your plan to marry the love of your life. Once you’re married, it will all have been worthwhile trying to convince your family to support you.

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