The third post in the series about forced marriages shows what an impact it can have on those who are forced.
Forced marriages. Such a ugly thing. And parents need to know the damaging effect it can, no actually WILL have on their children and the relationship between parent and child. If by some miracle the marriage does work, then it won’t always be all sweetness and light and everything is hunky dory. The damage is internal. In the heart, mind and soul of the person who is forced to marry.
My story is that my parents had agreed to my marriage for a number of years before I even knew. So when the time came for the wedding to happen, if I said no then it would bring shame upon them as the other party thought that I was aware of the ‘engagement’ and were happy about it all. Not really my problem I hear you say. But when you are brought up to respect your parents and your parents have already been through so much with their other children then it get’s slightly difficult to go against them. And I guess I just wasn’t strong enough to walk away and potentially be disowned.
I guess I was lucky in that I was not physically forced. It could have been a completely different story if they were physically abusive as I don’t think I would have stood for that. It was more emotional abuse. The silent treatment,then the screaming and shouting, the swearing. The ‘lets be nice’ approach instead. And then the complete emotional blackmail, tears and what it would do to them if I didn’t agree with it. What could I do? I had no support from my siblings, they had their own issues. And it was basically go ahead with it or be disowned. So I went ahead with it. Thinking it would be relatively easy to divorce in the UK if he turned out to be a complete div.
Once of the issues that makes it difficult with arranged marriages is that alot of them are done ‘back home’. This leads to a number of issues, including language. My first language is English. Although I can speak my ‘home’ language, I’m not at that comfort level where I can have a deep and meaningful conversation with my husband. The other issue basically is being brought up in different environments means we have different thoughts and processes. Different ideas on marriage and bringing up children.
Being forced to marry had more of an effect on me than I realised. I was bitter without knowing it. Any argument with my husband and I would sit there thinking that I had never wanted to marry him anyway and daydreaming about what my life could have been like if I had had the courage to walk away from my family when they were marrying me off. Picking minor faults just because I hadn’t chosen him as a husband; it was like I was purposefully looking for the bad in him and still do.
And ultimately my relationship with my parents suffered. On the surface it looks like things are fine. But the cracks are there and the cracks continue to grow. They may try to give me advice and I immediately think they are trying to control my life. They suggest I do something and I will do the opposite because I don’t want them telling me what to do, forcing me to marry was enough.
The pain and hurt always stays with you. The thought that their honour was more important than their child’s happiness; that they were willing to be emotionally abusive to get what they wanted. And then once the marriage happens you are told not to bother them with any issues as it is no longer their problem.
Parents really need to think twice before doing this. Is a forced marriage really worth the heartache? Is it worth losing your child’s love and respect? And for the Muslim parents out there the practice isn’t even Islamic so in effect they are sinning for doing this.
We need to work together to wipe this out and save future generations from suffering with forced marriages.
If you would like to share your story with us then please do not hesitate to contact me in the strictest of confidence