The ‘M’ Word

“You don’t owe people an explanation of why you’re not just settling as they will never understand anyway”


Marriage; the dreaded M word that lurks at the back of almost every girl’s mind as soon as she hits the big 20. It’s not so much the actual idea of marriage that’s daunting (well for some it is) but most of the time it’s stressing about ever finding Mr Right, and especially if you’re a girl like me who’s never really explored the dating scene, the search becomes that much harder.

I’ve had my fair share of marriage proposals, 34 so far to be exact and needless to say, it’s quite frustrating. Maybe I am being too fussy because that’s what I’ve been told, but thinking about it, all these people branding me as the ‘picky girl who thinks she’s too perfect to settle for less’ know nothing about my struggle or journey. On the other hand, there are many girls in the same boat who can relate to weird marriage proposal encounters similar to mine so I can’t be wrong all the time.

I like to think that I don’t ask for much in a person, I’m fairly reasonable with a few major requirements that I’m not willing to compromise on. I try to be open minded when someone suggests a potential but I have preferences too and am entitled to my opinions, right? There are certain things which are off putting to me either before or when first meeting someone which have led me to decline, but apparently to old school desi people, my reasons for declining are absurd. Among others, these included a disregard for Islamic teachings, a bad reputation, being a mummy’s boy, coming across as a misogynist, control freak or flirt, being lazy, uneducated or too old and let’s be honest, an appearance unappealing to me.

Some might argue that I can’t just judge people without knowing them or just base my decision on a single meeting. I get guilt tripped into feeling that one of them might have been the perfect guy if I’d just given them the chance but to be honest I’d just be wasting my time and cheapening myself in a way by allowing guys who I have no future with to get to know me. And some guys didn’t think I’m deserving of a chance either and declined, but hey that’s life and that’s just how things work.

I’m not against love marriages per se, in fact I’m thinking maybe that’s the route for me to go now as I’ve had too many arranged blunders but it confuses me how to get to know and fall in love with someone without breaking the confines of Islam, I wonder where I should look for a potential or if I should even look at all. I’ve tried the social media approach twice, by getting introduced to a friend of a friend via WhatsApp and all that, which didn’t turn out too well either and left me feeling hurt and broken. So now I give up I guess.

Days are like an ebb and flow of emotions. Some days I decide to let it all go, feeling content and going about my life but other days the anxiety and hopelessness that I may never marry overwhelms me. Although at times I may feel like an empowered woman revelling in my freedom, not having to fret about marriage responsibilities, other times I feel lonely and sad wanting to curl up and cry in a corner as I watch all my friends enjoying their married life. I’ve sometimes felt angered too that I’ve restrained myself from dating and been a ‘good girl’, yet I’m still single while so many other girls who’ve had tons of boyfriends are happily married.

The worry that I may never find the person I’m looking for has skyrocketed especially since I know I’m not getting any younger and the patronising comments from people don’t make it any easier. I understand that there is no perfect person and I’m not looking for perfection at all. I am imperfect and flawed too and according to what I know about marriage, it’s about finding that person whose imperfections you can accept and work around.

To girls sharing similar experiences as mine, you don’t owe people an explanation of why you’re not just settling as they will never understand anyway. I’m also sick of being pitied and sympathetically hearing the phrase “If it’s meant to be it will be”, I often feel like shouting yes I know, but when? I know that this is a test which might get tougher before it gets better but I’ve come to realise though that maybe the approach was wrong all this time. Marriage shouldn’t be the be all and end all. Work on yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually and whenever Allah wills the right person will probably show up often when you least expect it.

Rafeeah Laher

Rafeeah Laher is 26 years old and a freelance writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work has appeared in several magazines and blogs such as Sisters Magazine, The Muslim Woman and Mvslim.com. She holds a degree in IT but is also currently pursuing a career in beauty therapy and wellness
Rafeeah Laher

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