This is the cry I hear so often in my role as Singles Coach to Muslim women, especially from those over the age of 30. It was indeed my own cry for almost 14 years before I married, quite happily, at the age of 35. After all, you are a catch! You have probably studied to degree level or higher. Chances are you are spectacular at your job and have been on the receiving end of a promotion or two. You have life experience, you have travelled, you have read all kinds of books and your social calendar is brimming with events that you attend with a circle of varied and amazing friends you have accumulated over the years. And yet despite all of your accomplishments you remain unwed while others who seem to have less to offer, are snapped up like a caramel latte on a cold day! The injustice has you reeling. And quite rightly so.
Make a list of 20 things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Now make time to do three of these things each day even if it is just drinking an expensive cup of coffee and having five minutes of quiet time. Doing these things regularly will build your sense of wellbeing and self-worth and put you in a place of clarity from which to approach your search.
So what do you do? You question yourself of course. With a big slice of cake, you sit down in your PJs and wonder. Is it my looks? Is it my personality? Am I intimidating? Why can’t I get it right like other women? Pretty soon you start to lose faith in who you are because you are too preoccupied with who you are apparently not. I mean that’s why you don’t have a husband right?
Then you move on to the next stage where you convince yourself that you don’t want or need a husband, you can go it alone. And of course you can. But your heart sinks with each wedding invitation you receive because deep down you want that companionship too. And why not? You deserve happiness, love and to be cherished like any other human being.
But you know what? There is nothing wrong with you. Or even the men out there. (Ok, maybe a few of them). You are just part of an exciting new generation. Let’s go back in time a bit. My grandmother married at the age of 14. That’s just how they did things back then. A few decades later my mum married in her early 20s. That was the norm then too. Over the years the marriage age is becoming later as a sign of the changing times. Now it is not uncommon for women to marry over the age of 30, 40 and beyond. I believe we are in that exciting transitional phase where we are making it the new norm and paving the way for our younger sisters. You have taken the wonderful opportunities that modern life now has to offer a woman and you are a better person for it. You are by no means subversive or odd or the family cat lady. You are a phenomenal woman with so much to offer the man who is lucky enough to win your heart. And I believe you are on the cusp of discovering him!
Often, Muslim women over 30 are made to feel like they are losing some kind of race. Like the hurdles to jump in this life are education, employment, marriage and children. Done. In that exact order. Yes these are great milestones but they don’t have to happen in that order. Heck they don’t even have to happen at all! And yet no one seems to care about your accomplishments if, by a certain age, you haven’t got the ring or the baby. It’s like everyone is the first to say “when Allah wills” for everything else, but when it comes to marriage apparently it’s all in your hands.
The finishing line is not marriage. The goal is peace and you are entitled to find that peace in whatever form it takes at whatever time it takes. Of course you will face the onslaught of caustic comments from tactless relatives. They will blame you for being “too picky” when they haven’t seen the heartache and rejection you have suffered. Your friends may haul their babies into your arms and remind of your supposedly ticking biological clock and tell you what a blessing it is to be a mother as they pummel the LEDs out of the remote control. Oh and let’s not forget the religious brigade who will convince you that it is sinful, unnatural and against the Sunnah to not be married yet.
Husband seeking can be lonely business. It feels like no one understands what you are going through, you feel foolish to talk about the things that go wrong, you lose confidence in yourself as a competent woman even though the evidence points to you being absolutely awesome.
So, let’s kick start your motivation and place you in the correct mindset for finding your life partner!
Here are the Singles Coach’s top three tips for finding the love you deserve in the smartest possible way:
1. Start with yourself!
You want to be the best version of you before you can give and receive the love you deserve and it all starts with how you love yourself. Make a list of 20 things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Now make time to do three of these things each day even if it is just drinking an expensive cup of coffee and having five minutes of quiet time. Doing these things regularly will build your sense of wellbeing and self-worth and put you in a place of clarity from which to approach your search.
2. Get out there!
Whilst I highly advocate online matrimonial sites for the busy sister don’t let it be your only option. Go to the mingling events, the speed dating and the Meetup events. It’s about confidence building and “marriage networking”. So you might find yourself in a room full of men who are fresh out of school, but through talking to them, and the ladies there, it’s not unusual that they know of someone who is looking to get married. And old-fashioned face to face meeting beats internet searching hands down!
Your time and energy are precious and not everyone is deserving of them. If your gut is telling you that the guy you just talked to on the phone comes across as a misogynistic bigot then he’s not the one you want to be willingly handing your Saturday evening over to. Decide which guy you would enjoy spending time with, whether or not anything comes of it.
The man for you is out there and you are an amazing woman worthy of the love you dream of. Insha Allah may your journey there be fun!
* SISTERS encourages always seeking out halal means to “date” and “chat” – use a wali, use a mahram, use istikara.
In part one of Hafsah Zamir’s series, written just for SISTERS, we meet the witty and tested, bride-could-be Samiah.
Amina Hennah Khan shares her experience and lessons learned to help you pick Mr Right.
Soraya Soobhany-Chohan is a singles coach exclusively for Muslim women who are struggling to get married. She especially likes to work with professional sisters over the age of 30. Soraya was over 30 when she got married and realised that there was a real lack of support for this group. It is for this reason that she created Soraya Singles Coaching. You can find Soraya at www.sorayasinglescoaching.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.