Dear Arab Mothers,
There is no daughter out there who does not love her mother for all that she is. We idolize you! At times, you are our sisters and our best-friends, and most of the time for many of us, you are our compasses and the main guides in life. However, at other times, we find ourselves putting aside these worshipers’ habits and disagreeing with you, and there is nothing we hear and immediately disagree with more than, “get going and find someone to marry, or else it’ll be too late”.
“our happiness lies in our fate, whatever it may be; not in searching for a life-long companion before it’s too late”
We know how deeply you care for us and for our happiness, it is almost immeasurable, but our happiness lies in our fate, whatever it may be; not in searching for a life-long companion before it’s too late. As 23 year old Egyptian Dina Husseini puts it, “everyone’s fate is written. If I turned down several proposals, or if on the contrary, I got married at an early age, in either case that would have been my written fate, so there is really no reason rushing or blaming us for anything”, she says.
Half of us strongly believe that discovering ourselves is key to knowing what we want in a partner. If we are confused in our lives, unsure of what we want to do or where we want to go, this confusion will pour into the decision we make regarding our life long companion. This is an important decision that we need to be certain about, or else – unlike common motherly beliefs – we will actually live a life of unhappiness. The other half of us knows exactly what they are doing in life and where they want to go, but even then, it will never be the right thing to do to drop all aspirations and hopes and look for a companion and/or accept someone we don’t feel strongly about, “marriage isn’t the ultimate goal. I don’t believe in the idea that my value and what I want to do in life rely on me getting married. Marriage is supposed to make you happy and fulfilled, and these are things that can’t be forced – we need to realize that a happy single life is much better than an unhappy marriage”, 21 year old Nuha El Zubeir from Sudan, says.
“if you were to choose between marrying your daughter off at the age of 20 and having her live an unhappy (or even just OK) life, or having her get married at the age of 40 where she will spend the rest of her life living happily, which would you choose?”
“You’re getting old”, “You have to get going”, “You’re going to miss the train”; are all social constructs that we need to acknowledge are untrue. As 21 year old Amira Abaza puts it, “back in the day, getting married at the age of 16 was considered on the edge of being too late! It’s really just an abstract concept”, she tells. This construct is one that changes from generation to generation. That within itself proves that there is really no such thing as too late when it comes to marriage. Think of it this way; if you were to choose between marrying your daughter off at the age of 20 and having her live an unhappy (or even just OK) life, or having her get married at the age of 40 where she will spend the rest of her life living happily, which would you choose? Any mother who genuinely yearns for the happiness of her daughter will go for the second choice, which then shows it’s never “too late” for happiness. If we get married at a young age or at a later age, in both cases you should feel the same way and believe that these were our fates.
“If you truly want our happiness, then it must be acknowledged that anything forced or a marriage resulting from pressure will lead us to the opposite.”
Dear mothers, marriage requires natural and genuine emotions, and a forced marriage will not allow for the ultimate existence of such raw emotions, not at the beginning at least. If you truly want our happiness, then it must be acknowledged that anything forced or a marriage resulting from pressure will lead us to the opposite. When we choose to get married, we want it to be beautiful, natural, which is what real marriage is all about. That can only happen if all the pressure is dropped, and a path of self-choices is made within the realms of marriage. Until then, find value in our careers, in our achievements, and support us by pushing us forward to achieve our aspirations. Then, when the right time or the right person comes along, naturally, we will be rushing for commitment faster than you will be.
Your Aspiring and Beloved Arab Daughters