“Oh hey, sister, it’s been a while, how are you? How have you been?”
“I’m doing great alhamdulillah; I just got a promotion at work, and I finished memorizing more of the Qur’an; my brother just had a baby girl.”
“Oh, Masha’Allah… so when is it your turn to get married? How old are you now, by the way?”
Most, if not all, single ladies out there have heard some variation of this line of questioning. The marriage issue tends to come up a bit too often that it seems nothing in your life matters unless you get married. This underlying notion can be damaging to one’s spiritual, physical and personal productivity, especially if people have been trying their best to find a spouse, but it hasn’t been destined for them to meet the right person yet—and this is their test from Allah .
With pressure from those around to get married, it can make a person feel helpless, lost, burdened or worthless. On the one hand, you can’t just pluck a husband/wife from thin air and this period of looking/waiting can be a big trial for you, on the other hand, everywhere you go, there seems to be someone who asks if you’re married or not, and if not, why, what’s wrong with you…?
At one point, I actually started thinking: what if I were someone who would never get married? But I realized that when you start to lose hope and fall into despair, the pressure around you can get even more destructive. So, you need to be able to have the right mindset and right perspective of this whole situation.
We might not be able to change the people around us or stop the pressure coming from them, but we can change our own selves and how we respond to our situations in order to be the best version of ourselves in every condition that Allah puts us in. Here are a few tips that helped me and can help you too.
Recognize your worth
It’s very important not to allow the negative talks or questions make you think any less of yourself. Allah says:
“And we have certainly honored the children of Adam…” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 70]
Allah honored all the children of Adam; your worth in the sight of the Creator is not defined by whether you get married or not. Rather, your worth is defined by your taqwa (God-consciousness/righteousness).
“Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Qur’an: Chapter 49, Verse 13]
At what point your future spouse will come into your life is for Allah to decide, not you. To define your worth or belittle your achievements because of something that you have no control over is both spiritually and emotionally damaging.
Najwa Awad, psychotherapist said:
“It’s very unfortunate that there will always be people who make unnecessary and hurtful comments about how a woman carries herself, especially if she is unmarried. A Muslim woman needs to remember, however, that the most important relationship she will ever have in her life is with her Creator; if He is happy with her then nothing else matters. If a Muslimah bases her self- identity around her spirituality and being a genuinely good person she will find that criticism from others, regarding other parts of herself, won’t sting as much.
Allah decrees everything at an appointed time- when we are born when we die and even when we get married. If family members keep asking why she is not married she should respond that Allah is Perfect, His timing is Perfect and he will decree for marriage to come when it’s time. In the meantime the Muslimah should seek to better herself, just like everyone else, by taking good care of her mind (through reading and education), her heart (doing good deeds), and her body (eating right and exercising).”
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.
“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.
Face your problems and engage in self-purification
A girl once asked her older brother to make dua for Allah to bring her a righteous husband. Her brother retorted “Err, go be righteous yourself first.”
Whatever you expect in your partner, be sure that you can embody those traits yourself. None of us are without flaws, but sometimes we see marriage as a solution to our problems. If someone has difficult parents, they think getting married and moving out is the solution. If someone has a pornography addiction, they think getting married will cure them. This is wrong.
Whatever sins, weaknesses or insecurities you had before marriage, could still exist after marriage. So, you have to face your own problems and work on yourself.
Your environment may exacerbate or lessen the impact, however; ultimately, you are responsible for your own spiritual, emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Be honest with yourself about your own weaknesses and start working on them from now. If you are emotionally entangled with someone, for example, you need to cut that off. It’s unfair to get to know a potential partner whilst having someone else in your heart.
Purify yourself so that Allah can bring you someone pure as well. And basically, look at this “waiting/looking” period as a purification period. This way, you increase in eternal rewards, and then when Allah wills, He’ll bring you the worldly reward you asked for as well- but by then, you would have made your scales heavy.
When you’re engaged in self-purification which also entails being in the close company of the Qur’an, seeking sacred knowledge and being around the righteous company, this will make you a lot calmer and help you put matters in their right perspective and avoid panicking/magnifying issues.
Perfect your akhlaq and don’t cause pressure to someone else
I realized something a few weeks ago. As much as I dislike being asked about why I’m single, I frequently asked my friends if they have met someone or not. When they would mention someone casually, my mind used to wander and think hmm, is something going on? Part of it was indulging in gossip and part of it was indulging in curiosity.
The Prophet says:
“Part of the perfection of one’s Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.” [Nawawi]
I realized that I took part in the pressure that I complained about.
I once asked an international colleague I worked with online how old she was. She is someone I love dearly but I have never seen her or met her. I told her that I was curious. Her response was “I prefer to discipline people’s curiosity.”
I have never forgotten that; and if there’s one thing I try to perfect as part of my akhlaq (manners), it’s to not be curious about another person’s life. If they volunteer information, that’s fine, but I shouldn’t pry into someone’s life.
You know when there is someone who carelessly and casually asks a married woman “still no kids yet?” that question upsets me, this is poor akhlaq; we don’t know people’s struggles. We don’t know what they’re going through. Maybe that woman is infertile, maybe her husband is, and maybe they’ve been trying for a very long time, and they don’t need someone to remind them of their trial.
There are so many things to discuss in this world, so I learned to not take a person’s personal life as a tea time discussion topic.
So, on a very positive note, one can really learn aspects that softens his/her hearts and perfect their character—and a perfect character is one of the heaviest things that could be added on a person’s scale on the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet said:
“The heaviest thing which will be put on the believer’s scale (on the Day of Resurrection) will be good morals.” [Related by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi who graded it as Sahih]
And Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“The fear of Allah and good morals (Akhlaq) are the two major characteristics which lead to Paradise.” [Related by At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim graded it as Sahih.]
Expect good to come to you and never give up hope
Sometimes it is easy to fall into the trap of pessimism during this period of waiting and dealing with pressure. So, always try to let your heart and mind be exposed to things which are positive and uplifting, and remember that Allah is as you expect Him to be; if you put into your mind that Allah will bring you an amazing partner who will be good for you in this life and the next, then it will happen, insha’Allah, no matter how long it takes for this to happen! No one can stop what Allah decrees for you.
So, never stop supplicating to Allah for what you want. We learn from the Qur’an from the story of Prophet Zechariah that he continued to ask Allah for what he needed despite the old age and the seeming impossibility for his request to be fulfilled… yet, he knew that nothing is impossible for Allah .
“[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah
When he called to his Lord a private supplication.
He said, “My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.
And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir
Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].”
[He was told], “O Zechariah, indeed We give you good tidings of a boy whose name will be John. We have not assigned to any before [this] name.”
He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when my wife has been barren and I have reached extreme old age?”
[An angel] said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, for I created you before, while you were nothing.’ “[Qur’an: Chapter 19, Verse 2-9]
So, anticipate goodness from your Creator and you will surely find it, and remember that the believer’s affairs are all good for him/her.
Have these tips benefitted you? Share with us your other tips and thoughts in the comments.