Between What They Say and What I Feel

Question and answer details
H (20-female-US)
As-salamu `alaykum. I would like to begin by showing my appreciation to the scholars that so inspiringly answer the questions of people with these common issues. I am seeking advice from this website because I have recently gotten a marriage proposal from this man who lives in another country. He is educated and seems like a good person. We have been texting for a few months now and I feel no attraction towards him. After expressing my doubts about him to my family, my mother arranged for my uncles to go visit him. They were pleased in the way he presented himself and claimed that it was a very good proposal. Being born and raised in America, it is very difficult for me to accept an arranged marriage from someone who doesn't share the same culture as me. Although he seems like a good person, we bump heads a lot and we eventually stopped texting as much in order to avoid a fight. None of my friends want me to marry someone from Pakistan because of the culture clash. I’ve never seen him in person but I have seen a few pictures. The more I look at his pictures, the less attracted I feel towards him. Although I've been talking to him for about four months already, I don’t have any feelings for him. I can’t imagine sleeping on the same bed as him. I know that a woman denying her body to her husband is not Islamic but I think that this will end up happening. I don’t know what to do. My parents keep telling me that it is my choice but I can't decide. It is not fair to him for me to deny him after all these months so I have to decide now. I don’t want to miss out on a good proposal but at the same time, I'm not sure that we are compatible. I can’t seem to leave my relationship on chance. I am aware that Allah knows best and all I can do is pray for him to guide me on the right path. Though this is true, I still have doubts about this possible relationship. I think I am scared of spending my life with someone I don’t know. With the guidance of Allah I have saved myself from any inappropriate relations with any man. Therefore, I would not be comfortable with living with someone that I don’t know and barely get along with. I don’t know what to do and I don’t know if I will ever be attracted to him. How can I spend my life with someone that I don’t like? Thank you for your time and I would appreciate any advice that you can give me.
Sakeena Abdulraheem

Dear Hina,

light-bulbAs -salaamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Thank you for your question. It seems there are several issues that are impacting your ability to make a decision regarding whether or not to marry this gentleman that lives in Pakistan. Based upon your explanation it seems that you feel guilty that you have been talking to this person for 4 months through text messages and you neither feel attracted to him nor know him very well, and the minimal conversations that you had during more recent times have not been pleasant and so you no longer communicate with him to avoid arguments.

You stated that your uncles went to visit him and they felt that it was a very good marriage proposal. However, you mentioned that your friends do not want you to marry someone from Pakistan and you do not feel that you can relate to this person culturally. You also stated that it is difficult for you to accept an arranged marriage from someone who doesn't accept the same culture as you. Although your family is comfortable with him they stated that it is your choice whether or not you want to marry him. Throughout your explanation it seems that you are not comfortable talking to this person and you are not attracted to him as well.

Taking these factors into consideration a great question to ask yourself is what is holding you back from making a decision when the majority of what you have stated about this person has not been favorable. It seems that everyone among your friends and family has made it clear what they would like you to do but at the end of the day Islamically it is your decision to say yes or no. Taking time out for yourself to reflect and explore what it is that you are looking for in a husband and what you would like your marriage to be like may contribute to making your decision clearer. 

As women we are often raised to be very nurturing which can sometimes lead us down a path of constantly putting the needs and desires of other people before our own when self care is not factored into the equation of taking care of others.  We may even do this to the point of sacrificing our own happiness and emotional well being and this is not healthy for us as women and it can also take away from our ability to fulfill the various roles and responsibilities that we have.

You also made the statement that "I know that a woman denying her body to her husband is not Islamic." Islamic marriage is about companionship, love, friendship, sharing, and being partners on the same team. You both have rights and responsibilities to fulfill to each other so my question to you is why would you consider marrying someone that you already know before marrying him that you have no sexual attraction towards him? This will have a significantly negative impact on your marriage long term.

Other questions to ask yourself include:  What qualities do you look for in a prospective husband? Why do I feel guilty about not being interested in this guy after speaking to him for 4 months? Do I feel pressured to marry this guy to please other people sacrificing my own happiness? If my family is not pressuring me to marry him why am I delaying ending this relationship if there is no love or emotional attachment towards this person?

These questions should provide you with a start to establishing your own sense of clarity about which direction you should go. One positive aspect about having guilt means that you are taking into consideration the feelings of the guy you have been speaking to for 4 months. However, avoid allowing your guilt and concern about whether or not this will hurt his feelings to dictate this very serious and lifelong decision of marriage.

Honesty is always the best policy. As a result, ending a relationship with a prospective husband before further emotional attachments and commitments occur is much better than ending it after making the decision to marry the person. I hope that this information was helpful.

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About the Counselor:
Sakeena Abdulraheem holds an MA in Social studies with a concentration in Islamic studies from the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences. She is currently completing her M.A.in counseling psychology with a concentration in trauma counseling. She has extensive experience working as a teacher, mentor, and consultant.

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response reflect an attempt from the counselor to deal with the case, based on the limited information provided in the question with no responsibility whatsoever on the website. You are strongly advised to seek face-to-face counseling and consult your physician or therapist when making a drastic change in your lifestyle in terms of behavior, medication or diet etc.