This letter writer would like to move out; however, his strict Muslim parents will disown him if he does.
Only you can decide what’s best for you, says our elder. But here’s what I would do…
Hi, I am a 27-year-old male living at home with strict Muslim parents in the UK. Next year they have planned that I will have an arranged marriage in Pakistan. I have never had a girlfriend; I like drinking alcohol and eating bacon. I’m not allowed to leave the house after 10pm so I find it hard to meet women. I have spoken to my parents about getting my own place before and they said if I do I am not their son and they will disown me. What do I do?
Thanks for writing to us and sharing this all-important issue. Let me answer your letter topic question right away. You ask if you are a bad person for wanting to leave. No, you are not a bad person. You are a normal and good person. This decision is significant and important, but it does not define you as good or bad. Your life and what you do with it and what you accomplish and how you treat other people with kindness will do more to determine whether you are a good person or not. Not whether or not you want to leave and be your own man, making your own decisions.
Next, let me tell you that I am not a Muslim. I was raised in a different religion and I was raised to think for myself and be independent. I have always valued and been thankful for that. As such, I am independent and I do think for myself. I have been successful in my career and in my life. I make my own decisions – about me and my future.
I do know that not everyone is raised as I was, and that there is an expectation in some cultures and religions that the parents continue to plan and determine the lives of their children. Depending on where those families live, it may be disappointing to the children, but accepted and adhered to. In many cases, and depending on the country, there is no other choice.
You live in a country where there is a choice, and you have been exposed to freedoms and freedom of thought and action. Even so, you have never had a girlfriend and live at home and at age 27 still have a curfew. You like bacon and drink alcohol, so you are not completely compliant, however, your parents have an expectation about your future and your life – where and how and with whom you will live. I know those expectations sometimes exist and that some children adhere to them. I couldn’t, but then I wasn’t raised in that culture.
I completely understand your interest in getting your own place, just as intellectually I understand the conflicting feelings you must have when your parents say that they will disown you. Intellectually, I understand and know that you have been brought up in that mindset, but given my up-bring, it is hard for me to put myself completely in your position. Given that qualification and perhaps restriction, for me, there would be no decision. I would get my own place, live my life, and make my own decisions about my future. At some point, you will have to do that. Your parents won’t be around forever.
Is there anyone else you can talk to? Someone who is a friend, maybe a best friend. Man or woman. Or friends at work. Do you have a support system, both for now as you consider and make your decision, and after you have made it?
Even if I could make it for you, this is your decision, and you have to make it. I can tell you what I would do, given who I am. That is the most anyone can do.
I can tell you that I have read literature and seen films about men and women who are in your exact same position. Some of them decided to be independent, go on their own, make their own decisions, and become their own person; others succumbed to the pressure of their parents and culture.
From what I have read and observed, the people who went out on their own were sad about their parent’s reactions, but they persevered and prospered. The people who agreed to the arranged marriage were never completely satisfied, happy, or made to feel important and valued.
We have received letters from those who found themselves in arranged marriages. They were looking for ways to be happy and, in some cases, released. There have been other letters from people who have left arranged marriages and who are looking for advice on how to start over.
I referred to film. One of the most recent, and one that has received quite a bit of recognition, is The Big Sick. It is about a man, about your age, who is in a similar position as yours, although he has already moved out of his parent’s home. I recommend this film to you as a way to get the perspective of someone in a position similar to yours.
That’s my thinking. As I said, you will have to decide for yourself what is best for you. And unfortunately, no matter what you decide, there will be some discomfort and a little unhappiness. For that, I am sorry.
Good luck, my friend. If you’d like to follow up and have other thoughts as a result of what I’ve written, I’ll be here and I will respond quickly. Let me know what you think, and if you are willing to do so, let me know what you decide. I wish you well, and a happy life!!
Article #: 418784