Ask Asad: Should I marry a stranger just because my parents want me to?

Published: December 13, 2016
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Dear Asad,

I am a 27-year-old divorced woman. I got married when I was 24, back in September 2013. My parents, especially my mother, wanted me to marry my phupo’s son, knowing that he had just graduated but with a good job in the Middle East. I was totally against this ‘proposal’ as I didn’t like my cousin. I was my family’s non-serious child so they thought I was too immature to take such big life decisions. My phupo insisted that she only wanted to see me as her bahu and after two years my parents said yes without my consent. Against my intuition I was forced to get married because I could not say no to my father.

After marriage I tried to change myself and mould myself into someone he would care for. After all, girls are born to make compromises. In the first week of my marriage I found out that my husband was an alcoholic and the moment I questioned him about it I saw a beastly side of him. I was mentally, physically and emotionally abused to the point where I wanted to end my life, but I had no option as my parents had selected him for me. I never went back to them for help either. I suffered from insomnia as I was scared he might kill me in the middle of the night someday as he kept saying so all the time.

One day my elder sister saw him physically abuse me for speaking to my jija and she took a stand. She called my parents up and narrated everything. Despite my husband’s constant threats, I eventually filed for khula after two months. It’s been three years now since the divorce, I’ve completed my masters and I’m trying to continue studying so I can forget this nightmare and move on. However, my parents want me to get married again and this time too to a boy of their own choosing.

I’m hopeful about my future, but over the years I’ve developed a fear of men. Under a lot of pressure from my parents I’ve decided to get married again to a complete stranger. I have had a chance to speak to him though and he revealed he too is an alcoholic. He lives in the United States and is very liberal and wanted to inform me about himself before we got married. I am totally confused now about this decision and I’m still trying to overcome the trauma from my first marriage. My parents keep forcing me to remarry as I have a younger sister too who is next in line, but I don’t want to rush into getting married again. Please help.

Confused

Dear Confused,

I understand your situation. It is very grave indeed, where a girl is married off as soon as she comes of age and that too to a total stranger without trying to figure out if they would be a suitable match for each other or not.

Many parents want to see their children, especially girls, married off without fully understanding what effect this might have on their lives. Whether the spouse they have chosen would be able to keep their daughter happy or not – and more importantly if she would be happy with him or not – is not always their top priority. Getting her married off to a financially stable guy as soon as she comes of age seems to be their top priority.

They wrongly believe that everything will turn out fine or things will change for the better after marriage. That is hardly ever the case.
How can a person completely change overnight just because he got married? If he was a monster before he got married, chances are he’s going to stay a monster after marriage. If his parents, siblings, relatives, friends, etc couldn’t change him for the better then how can a girl who has just entered his life as a wife do that? It’s nearly impossible. Not only is it unrealistic but also cruel of society to expect that.

Do not get married, or for that matter even engaged, till you feel and believe that you are completely ready for it – emotionally, physically and mentally. Getting into a marriage before that might spell disaster – again.

I strongly believe that for any relationship to work, and for the people in that relationship to be happy with each other, there needs to be four vital ingredients: love, respect, trust and similar values.

In your case, the values between you and the guy in America are completely different. You want someone who doesn’t drink, understands and follows the concept of ‘halal’ and ‘haram’ and is not too liberal. He on the other hand is the opposite of all that.

Your intuition was right about your ex-husband. Everyone else’s was wrong. Stick to your intuition. If you don’t feel right about this guy in America then you most probably are right. Let your intuition guide you. Do not be confused about your decision. It’s the right one.

I would strongly urge you to resist your parents’ pressure in getting married again till the time when you feel you are ready for it.
It might sound terrifying but you will have to talk to your father directly on this matter now. This time you will need the guts to talk to your dad and say no if necessary. You need to be prepared for that. You will need to be firm and try to make him understand that you are not yet ready for marriage again. Try to assure him that you don’t have anything against marriage and want to get married again but not before you are fully ready for it.
It might not be easy to do this and you might be branded as selfish and difficult but it’s something you need to do if you don’t want to lose your sanity and your chances of being happy in the future – with the right guy at the right time.

Letting yourself get pushed into a marriage again without wanting to be in it is going to lead you to be very unhappy and depressed, not to mention the aggravation of your androphobia, which can have a disastrous effect on your mental state of health.

Giving in to the pressure to get married just because you have a younger sister and according to custom you have to leave home first, is only going to make it worse. Do not be rushed into a marriage. You might regret it.

For your androphobia I would recommend seeing a psychologist if possible. That should greatly help.
If it’s not possible for you to go to a psychologist then research as much as possible about androphobia and see how others have dealt with it.

You are doing the right thing by pursuing higher studies. Don’t discontinue that because of everything that is going on in your life.

It’s a good sign that you are hopeful of your future. This shows that you are on the path to recovery.

Being scared is natural and acts as a defense system to protect us. Being fearful is completely normal, so don’t worry about that. Take your time, trust your intuition and stay hopeful for the best. You will be fine.

Asad

Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at [email protected] with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Javed Cheema
    Jan 2, 2017 - 4:31PM

    In my opinion her parents are greedy and only target men who boast huge bank accounts. What they really fail to see is that money can buy luxuries but not a life. First it was a middle east person who had a well paying job now its USA, who doesn’t want their children to go USA? Anyways this is years old now, I wonder what heppened to her.

    When parents look at only money, their children are married to beasts. This is a fact. So don’t marry off to a poor, but don’t let the gleam of money blind you. Look before the money factor and I’m sure they can see the negative effects of marrying their daughter to an alchoholic. Recommend

  • ghani
    Feb 11, 2017 - 4:36AM

    @Javed Cheema:
    This is the problem of nearly all Pakistani parents. Heck even Indian parents. They convince the guy to “first study hard, find a job, find another job and so on an so forth until you have the money for our bragging rights” while they convince the girl the just shut up and do whatever they want to do with her Recommend

  • Irfan
    Feb 14, 2017 - 2:29PM

    If this story is true then I am sorry parents of this girl are either selfish, reckless or very greedy. They are not accounting for the feelings and happiness of their daughter. If there have another younger daughter and they go by the traditional customs, then divorced elder sister is still a taboo. So, this logic is not acceptable for second marriage. Follow your intuition, Girl.Recommend

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