When should he knock on your front door?

Of the Muslim parents I know, the overwhelming majority seem to have had ‘arranged’ marriages. This could mean anything from marrying someone they met once or twice before the wedding to simply being introduced by a mutual friend and proceeding from there with a relatively low level of familial interference. When things are done in this way, the lines are, for the most part, clearly delineated. The parents on both sides are fully aware of what is going on and the potential suitor comes in through the front door from the outset.

However, this is not always the case for their children growing up in Australia and elsewhere. People are meeting of their own accord away from their living room, whether it’s at community events or through the university MSA. When people meet in this way, the question must be asked: when should he knock on your front door? This leads to two very common scenarios arising:

1.) The ‘Let’s Do Things The Right Way’ couple

These two may have conversed on a casual level at Muslim community events and may have engaged in some friendly yet restrained online contact. But once interest has been formally expressed, they will proceed almost immediately to the doorknock. Online contact may continue simultaneously, but this will be kept to a minimum and will have some degree of formality.

For this scenario to work,  both parties must be in a position to introduce the idea to their parents. If the guy isn’t seen as financially stable, he’ll have to be extremely stubborn to get his parents to come on board at this stage. If he doesn’t receive the okay from his parents, he will be unable to proceed to doorknock stage immediately and the couple’s social status will be in limbo. In theory he can come doorknocking without his parents, but this rarely happens. More commonly, the couple will now find themselves in category 2.

2.) The ‘Let’s Wait and See’ couple

This couple may have met in the same way as couple 1, but for some reason they are unable to proceed to doorknock stage right away due to anticipated or actual parental disapproval. This is particularly the case where the couple are from different ethnic backgrounds; this type of couple will often try and bring their parents around to the idea gradually rather than risk an all-out fight. Parental disapproval will also be commonly anticipated where the male is considered to be too young and financially unstable to consider marriage. In this case, the couple will often introduce the idea to their parents and then play the waiting game until he finishes university or obtains a job his and/or her parents deem to be sufficient.

Of course, where the couple are both from different ethnic backgrounds AND considered too young, this will only compound the anticipated parental opposition. These types of couples may wait years for the parental sanctions to be lifted. Their biggest concerns in the meantime? First and foremost, how to keep it Halal, and secondly, how to sell their story to the Muslim community i.e. to use Facebook terms, are they ‘engaged’, ‘in a relationship’ or ‘it’s complicated’?

What do you guys think? If a guy cannot proceed to doorknock stage from the outset, is the whole thing doomed to failure?


4 responses to “When should he knock on your front door?

  1. I wouldn’t say doomed. I think it is good to be realistic of the circumstances both potentials are being faced with and looking for the ”right” time to make it all work. Of course this does not mean that in between this time both potentials should be hanging out together/ dating, etc, but maybe they could let their parents know in advance ”So and so is interested in me.” and gradually get them used to the fact that both want to pursue marriage so the door knocking stage isn’t so much of a shock of ”Hey, I want to marry your daughter!” – That could lead to tension between both families, (Especially like you mention those of different ethnic background.)

    • It’s definitely a tricky one. Introducing the idea to parents can be a minefield, not to mention navigating how to avoid haram when marriage isn’t an immediate option.

  2. What would you comment about parents and not accepting potentials for their daughters/sons due to ethnicity for instance? Should both pursue the intention of getting married despite parents possibly not accepting the daughter/brother in law? Hypothetically speaking, the rejection of a potential is due to ethnicity, not legitimate Islamic reasons. It is sad that still occurs in our communities. .

    • Intercultural relationships is a massive issue and one I could easily write about for days! Without getting into it too much (since I will be discussing it soon) I’d say that each case is different and it really depends on the relationship both parties have with their parents as well the relationship they have with each other. Obviously it’s important to respect one’s parents-for some people this consideration will be paramount and they will give up on a person they want if their parents disapprove. Others will fight it out if they believe their parents are being unreasonable and their reasons for refusing unIslamic. I believe at the end of the day most parents will accept the choices made by their children, it’s just a question of how long it takes to get to that point!

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