I am a Civil Engineer working in Saudi Arabia. I am the eldest amongst my brothers and my parents want me to get married and settle down. They want me to marry a cousin of mine who is the daughter of my mother’s brother (Mamo). Her family likes me very much and they are very keen that I marry their daughter. Both the families want this marriage to happen.
The problem is that I do not want to marry my cousin. She is a nice, pious and good girl and I am sure she will make a good wife but I find her quite average looking. And it has always been my dream to marry a good looking girl. I don’t believe I am wrong in wanting this.
If I disobey my family and don’t agree to marry my cousin, my mother will get very upset. She has borne many difficulties for me and my siblings and I don’t want to make her unhappy or disappoint her but at the same time, I don’t want to be unhappy and miserable by marrying my cousin towards whom I don’t feel any attraction at all.
There is a way out of all of this. My younger brother is quite keen to marry this cousin of ours. He has told me that if I don’t wish to marry our cousin then he will gladly marry her. This can be the solution to my dilemma but another problem is that my Uncle, the girl’s father, is very keen that his daughter marries me rather than my younger brother. The reason he gives for his preference is that he has always liked me most amongst my brothers and wants me to be his son-in-law.
I am really confused as to what I should do. Please help me.
Dear Cousin Trouble,
No, you are not wrong in wanting to marry a girl of your dreams. All of us have a sketch in our minds of how we would want our future spouse to be. To strive towards finding such a spouse is not wrong, neither is it something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. You are the person who will be spending his life with your spouse. Therefore, it makes complete sense that you marry a person of your choice, and in your case, not marry the person whom you don’t like or don’t want to marry.
It’s your life and you should have the right to choose your life partner, a life partner whom you enter into marriage being happy, excited, and content and with peace of mind. If you replace these emotions with unhappiness, dread, anxiety and the feeling of being forced – emotionally or otherwise – into getting married to someone, then you will never be happy. Neither will you be able to do justice as a husband, as a son or as a son-in-law.
I very strongly believe that you should let your younger brother marry your cousin (Mamo’s daughter) instead of you forcing yourself to enter into marriage with her. Your brother must know her as well as you do, she being his cousin too. If he likes her and wants to marry her that should be completely fine.
Keeping all this in mind I think you should gather the courage to have a frank and honest heart-to-heart discussion with your mother. Explain to her how very much you love her and want to fulfill her wish to make her happy but by marrying your cousin you will actually be ending up doing the opposite – make everyone unhappy. Try to explain to her as how marrying a girl whom you don’t want to marry will make you miserable instead of happy – the emotion one should be feeling when going through one of the most important phases of one’s life, i.e. marriage.
Note: I don’t believe it will be an easy task to be able to convince your mother not to force you into marrying her niece. She has her heart set on it and might not give up easily. She might get angry, upset, sad, depressed, etc. There might also be a typical situation – Pakistani style – of the kind that usually surfaces when sons wants to a) not marry a girl of the family’s choice or b) wants to marry a girl of his own choosing. This usually intensifies a lot more if the girl chosen by the mother happens to be – quite conveniently, I might add – her niece. The mother, in such a case very strongly believes that there cannot ever be a girl on this entire planet who can match her niece for her character, piety, homeliness, etc.
As for your Uncle (Mamo), once you have been able to convince your mother then it should be easy to convince him too. Reason with him in a polite and respectful manner but stand your ground. Explain to him that although you appreciate his liking for you and his preference of you as his son-in-law, it won’t be possible because you don’t believe you will be able to keep his daughter happy as you won’t be happy having her as your spouse. Do this tactfully without offending him. This is important because he’s family and also because if he gets upset he might refuse to then give his daughter’s hand in marriage to your younger brother.
All the best!
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.