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Marriage is about two families, not just two people

Dr. Aneesah Nadir –

Single? Thinking about getting married? Would the person you’re looking for be the same person your family would want for you? In a world of global communication and increasing mobility, people from various backgrounds and countries are now just a click or a call away.  You and your family may have had a very different childhood and upbringing, leading you to be open to different social interests. That could make Eid dinner conversation quite interesting and lively! But what if your experiences have led you to be open to marriage prospects that are different from what your parents would consider for you? Do you know if your choices will be supported? Should that matter? What should you do when your family is not on the same page, let alone the same book, as to who would be a compatible spouse for you? And, even if you are interested in a particular person, what if your families aren’t compatible? In such a diverse community as our Muslim American community, how can two families become one?

Marriage, in Islam, should bring families together, but too often the marriage causes family discord. Marriage is not just about the two individuals marrying, rather it is about the couple and their families coming together as one bigger extended family. It is your families who you will need to lean on through the ups and downs, the good times and difficult times during your married life.

Without the support of both families, raising the children, managing difficult financial times, planning family events, overcoming potential health problems and family tragedies can be all the more difficult.

So, here are some considerations before embarking on the path of choosing a spouse:

  1. Your family’s support matters. Whether your family is Muslim or you’ve converted and your family adheres to a different faith than yours, have a conversation about what you want in a future spouse.
  2. Be honest and be sensitive to their needs and concerns as you share your preferences.
  3. Don’t spring a prospective spouse on your parents when you know they wanted you to marry someone from their race, culture, home town or socioeconomic background. This is never a license for racism or ethnocentrism but it is important to be sensitive and gently share what you would like in your future spouse.
  4. Take time to discuss your preferences and obtain agreement. If your parents don’t want you to marry someone from another culture and they are very strong about that, gently work to convince them of his or her character, good nature, etc. Have a person they respect help you convince them but don’t marry until they feel good about your choice and about his or her family. This is far better than marrying someone your parents don’t want and won’t treat like family.

Remember that marriage is between two families. Insha’Allah the families will feel love and concern for each other for the sake of Allah and for your future children.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir is a social worker, published author, speaker, retired social work professor and entrepreneur. She serves as the president of the Islamic Social Services Association-USA headquartered in Arizona.

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