Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dealing With Parents About Marriage

*Assalamualaikum. 

I want to get married but my parents won't let me, specifically because the person I want to marry lives far from us. My parents want me to marry someone closer. The person I want to marry is a good potential spouse for me. 

What should I do?

Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah.

Thank you for your question.

1. I have to be honest with you: there is no black-and-white answer in this kind of a situation. When you deal with human beings, you have to consider the person, the context, and the potential effects of your actions. It requires wisdom to know what would be the best thing to do in a given situation, given the type of people, context, and potential effects that you are dealing with. So, off the bat, I have to say that I cannot give you a straightforward answer.

2. I can offer you a general guideline for you to use in your situation. The first guideline would be to know how important it is to be good to your parents. In whatever situation you are in, never remove good akhlaq from your dealings with your parents. That is their God-given right.

At the same time, I would like for you to understand that being good with your parents doesn't mean that you nod along with anything and everything that they say or do. As a general rule, whenever they are encouraging you to do things that would lead to harm or haram things, then you shouldn't obey them. But even in that kind of a situation, you should maintain good akhlaq.

3. Regarding things that don't lead to harm or haram things, but you disagree with them, then there is always a room for discussion. We don't believe in a dictatorial style of leadership. If you disagree with your parents on a certain issue, then there should be an understanding that both parties can discuss the issue in a civilized manner, with the intention of reaching a conclusion that would be best for everyone.

Ideally, you should have a healthy relationship with your parents such that you can comfortably discuss things with them, including personal things. But I understand that not all families are like that. In the case that you find it difficult to send the message to them and you have tried your best without any success, then asking the help of a trusted and impartial third party would be appropriate.

4. It is important that you practice a sense of empathy when dealing with people, especially your parents. When your parents don't allow you to do something, try to understand their action from their perspective.

Maybe they are feeling a bit lonely without you, and that is why they feel reluctant to let you go. It is not that they don't want you to be happy, but it is just that they find it difficult to be apart from you. You have to understand: saying goodbye to your child is hard, whether it be temporarily or permanently.

From that perspective, there is at least one thing that you can do to remedy that (this is just a suggestion from me): create a deal between your parents and your potential spouse that you can periodically visit your parents after you get married. Your spouse has no right to cut the ties between parents and their child. Even when you are someone's spouse, you are still someone else's child. Never forget that.

You need to find a way to make sure that your parents don't get or feel abandoned after you get married. Obviously, the time spent with them will decrease once you get married and they have to accept that fact. However, that doesn't mean that you forget them and cut them off of your life completely. You have to find a way to make them understand that.

5. Learn extensively about your rights and responsibilities before you get married, especially about your responsibilities. Essentially, marriage is a contract between two parties and that contract outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party. Learn about what those rights and responsibilities are.

I am emphasizing this more for a woman. By educating yourself about your rights and responsibilities as a wife, you will be able to clearly see where the lines are drawn. These are lines that should never be crossed. But without knowing where the lines are, you might be walking in the dark, not knowing whether you are being treated justly or not. So it is very important for women to educate themselves about this.

As a recommendation from me, listen to "The Rights and Responsibilities of Marriage" by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. It is an audio CD. Honestly, it is rather expensive but it is a worthwhile investment if you can afford it. It is a wealth of knowledge, important for people who are about to or are already in the sacred bond of marriage.

That is all that I can offer you for now. I hope I have helped you in some way. I apologize for any shortcomings.

May Allah grant you strength, wisdom, and success. Ameen.

Allah knows best.

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*The question is paraphrased and generalized to respect the privacy of the questioner.