A Man’s Take on “Arranged” Marriage

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The response to our post, “Arranged” Marriage, was overwhelming. We heard from hundreds of readers expressing sympathy and concern for the writer forsaking the man she loved for another due to family pressure.

The post left us curious to hear a man’s perspective, especially as we edit our upcoming anthology Salaam Love:  Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy (Valentine’s Day 2014, Beacon Press). We’re publishing one male response we received, below.   

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My name  is “Fuz,” and I loved a woman who married someone else. She claimed that she loved me until the day of her marriage.

Why did she marry someone else if we loved each other? The usual suspects: family, honor and, most of all, religion.

The principal problem, she says, was my religion.

I am a Muslim, and always have been. Her family thought otherwise. My sect of Islam was not acceptable to them. Because I could never fully understand their hate for my religious convictions, I might be inaccurately portraying their disapproval. I don’t know, but it didn’t make sense to me.

They didn’t approve because they thought I was a kafir and my nikah (marriage) with her would not have been jaiz (permissible).

The sectarianism was mutually enforced. My parents had a similar disdain for the idea of our marriage. Regardless, I had no confusion as to what I should or should not do for my parents. I firmly believed that marrying a person of my choice was my inalienable right.

But, the girl was not a rebel – I was.  Her only rebellion was loving me. Even though she considered me Muslim enough, her parents’ beliefs and their flawed reasoning seemed more important than her happiness. They never even met me.  Yet, she dared to love me, and our love grew.

Let’s backtrack a little. How did we fall in love?

We went to the same graduate school and saw a lot of each other. We spent considerable time together and got to know one another other really well. It is safe to say that we saw the best and worst of our personalities. Despite this, we fell madly in love.

Love Inshallah readers who advocate arranged marriages would have argued we were an ideal paper match – similar schooling, same ethnic-national backgrounds and commensurate social standing. The only difference was our religious sects.

For Love InshAllah readers who are proponents of love marriages, we were made for each other. But she thought her parents would  not accept the marriage and we had to accept that. She was that traditional. She told me, “My parents have done good to me. They don’t deserve the burden of our marriage.” She caved in to her parent’s demands.

I tried to understand. I was accommodating. I was her best friend as she went through the trauma leading up to her marriage. Concealing my own trauma all the while, I suffered in silence. I saw the different directions she was being pulled in, and I didn’t want to add to her misery by pulling her in my direction.

Still, I hoped that she’d move in the direction of our love. I desperately hoped that she would realize I was worth the trouble. I prayed that she’d finally defy tradition and family and come to my side for a life partnership.

She claimed to be a feminist but her life decisions reinforced misogyny.

I promised that I’d protect her, give her shelter and comfort and whatever else she needed from me. She worried about the fate of our future children in terms of religious upbringing. I told her she would decide our children’s religious sect. Initially this reassured her, but later she made peace with the fact that her life would be lived according to conditions set by others.

She is married to someone else now. And I suffer.  I deal with a great deal of pain and anguish every single day.

Believe it or not, men too have a hard time being happy after they have loved someone sincerely. Moving on is easier said than done. For those who tell me time heals, I’d rather smack them than hear them out. I feel that I have lost a part of me and nothing will heal that.

One outcome of such a woman’s decision is the man she is married to – her husband. We do not yet know that story. Will he make her happy? Will she grow to love him? Most men do want their wives to love them. Would he feel betrayed if her knew her heart belonged to another on their wedding day?

But I am the other outcome: the disgruntled, sad lover of the woman who caved in. The one who honored a woman who became irrationally submissive to cultural norms and family constraints. I am the man who loved a woman who surrendered her life decisions to those who did not seem concerned about about her actual happiness.

I do not know how I will come through this. Will I be a man who cannot love again? Will I turn into a husband who will look for someone else in his wife, a replacement, and will therefore never give his wife the happiness that she deserves? Will I  always long for what can never be mine?

Before she got married, we mutually agreed to end all contact. Despite my longing, I stuck to the bargain. I did not contact her.

A day before her marriage, she messaged me: I love you so much. I don’t know how I will do this for life.

But she did it. She married another man.

Meanwhile, my love is still here. Waiting.

“Fuz” is a guy who was introduced to Love, Inshallah by the girl he loved. That girl is no longer in his life. But he has something to say to her in case she is reading this:

Hey B – I love you

Have a story to tell? Share it with us, here.

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