I am a Muslim living in the US and I am happily engaged. AlhamdulilLah (praise be to God) my iman (faith) and my love for my deen (religion) have always been high: I decided to wear the hijab 3 years ago on my own, I teach in a masjid, I attend halaqas (study circles) weekly. The problem is that my fiancé is a member of a stricter religious group.
My whole life I have never needed anybody to tell me how to practice my religion. I believed that it was all about my connection with Allah—my personal connection. I would feel like, by praying, I am communicating with Allah, and by reading the Quran, He is communicating with me. And that is all I ever needed.
Now I am worried that my fiancé’s pressure on me to be more religious is what is making me turn away from Allah. My fiancé always encourages me to become a better person, supports me in what I love, and pushes me to pray and be good. And I am thankful for that. However, the feeling of being forced or pushed to practice something is something that I am not used to. I know his intentions are pure, and he is doing it all out of love, but I do not know what it is that is making me not see this.
It sounds like you are not feeling accepted by your fiancé. When he pushes you to be more religious in the way he chooses to practice Islam, you may feel you are not good enough. If he has a more strict interpretation of Islam and wishes for you to join in his views, then you need to decide if that is what you want. His current encouragement and pushing may manifest into coercion later in the relationship and this can lead to resentment and tension. Rather than enter a marriage in which you are not on the same page, it is important that you talk about how you each envision practicing your faith and raising your children in the faith.
If there is mutual respect for your different practices, where he can respect your less strict interpretation and you can respect his stricter interpretation, then you will have found a compromise. However, if either of you wishes the other person to change or be more like themselves, then you may face disappointment. Long-term change will only come when a person chooses to change out of their own free will. Spouses generally seek to feel accepted by their partner, both in positive and negatives qualities, while at the same time they want to feel they have space to grow as individuals. Finding a spouse who encourages personal growth at your own pace is golden. Finding a spouse who accepts your strengths and weaknesses and still loves you is priceless.
VMCounselors was a collaborative advice column produced by two previous website authors, Amal Killawi, a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education, and Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine, a Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in premarital counseling. Please note that our counselors are not religious scholars and will not issue religious rulings.
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