It’s recently become clear to me that there might be some misunderstanding and miscommunication about what Aliya and I are thinking, planning and doing regarding our wedding. I will take full responsibility for this. I should have been clearer with everyone from the beginning. My only excuse was that I was allowing the relationship to evolve naturally - like a more western relationship. But it’s clear now that we need to get everyone on the same page to help things go smoothly.
So I wanted to try to write one clear update for everyone so that there’s no confusion.
First, some background about who I am and what I had originally imagined (growing up) for my wedding/wife...
Immediate family is very, very important to me. I want our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters etc will be a part of this happy day, and part of the rest of our lives. I want Aliya to stay deeply involved with, and respectful of, her family. I want her friends and family to be proud of her and us.
Beyond our immediate family, I am not overly concerned about what everyone else wants. Aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins etc all have opinions. I refuse to allow all the noise to cause, politicking, distress and frustration.
As some of you have noticed, I am indeed quite westernized. For me, I had always imagined a protracted (2-5 years) dating period where I would live together, travel and get to know my bride-to-be before making any kind of more serious commitment.
As you can imagine, my parents/family are also very interested in who my partner will be and how we will get married and live our lives. Being Christian, my mother dreamt of a white church wedding where she could see her daughter-in-law-to-be walk down the aisle and see her eldest son start the rest of his life amongst a lot of friends and family.
I have a fairly acute social anxiety that makes big functions - particularly ones where I am the center of attention - extremely difficult (almost impossible). This is something I’ve struggled with all my life. While it’s certainly frustrating, I believe it also gives a great deal of empathy and discipline.
I need to travel for work. I do not want to travel without Aliya by my side. As a result, I am about 6 months overdue to go on some important business trips to keep my consulting work moving.
I have quickly come to understand that, due to Aliya’s visa status and her religious and cultural background, we needed to get married sooner rather than later before living together, traveling etc. Of course, this is something that I understand and respect.
Had you described this situation to me a couple of years ago, I would have told you that it would not work for me and I wouldn’t be interested in getting involved. However, I love Aliya too much to let these kind of details get in the way. So we all need to work together to find a solution/balance that works.
Now for some updates on our current thinking about the marriage and why/how things have been playing out...
Aliya’s visa/resident status in Australia is about to expire
I need to travel for work and we want to live and travel together.
We love each other and want to spend the rest of our lives together
Given all of the above, I have gone against all of my previous plans/anxieties and the hopes of my family to do the things that seemed important to her family and her visa situation. The most of important of which includes...
Not living with her before marriage
Not traveling with her before marriage
Accelerating the conversion to Islam
Accelerating the timing of the marriage
Trying to find a way to do all of these things on timeframe that works for the Visa process
Today, Aliya and I sat down and discussed our more concrete plans with Imran for the first time. I think I now understand (for the first time) the intensity/extent that some of the additional/finer details and concerns of the family - beyond the steps taken above. This includes…
The Nikkah is not enough - a Rukhsati is essential to be performed before Aliya comes to live with me or we travel.
It’s essential that the immediately family be present for the Rukhsati.
Given all of the above (my anxiety, my more western traditions, the hopes and dreams of my family, the urgent visa process, the fact that the family is far away, my need to travel for work etc etc) - we are now going to take a breath and figure out the best path forward to make sure our life together starts off on the right foot and that the people we love are there to be a part of it.
We ask that you give us a little time to figure this out together.
Moving forward, I want to also acknowledge that clear, direct communication is the foundation of all good relationships. In an effort to try to minimize any miscommunication in the future, can I suggest we try a few things from now on…
Let’s always assume the best intent from, and for, each other
Let’s try to speak plainly and honestly with each other without worrying about offending or taking offense - especially since we now know that we all have the best intent, and we are all going to be one big happy family for many years to come
Let’s try to speak directly to each other, not via other people. For the most part, we can probably achieve some of this with a nice group chat so that everyone can keep track of the conversation together. Phone calls and meetings will, of course, be necessary, but let’s make sure that the people who being talked about are in the room to represent their own point of view.
Finally, I wanted to give thanks to Imran who has been very kind to me through all of this. It’s been very helpful and has been very appreciated.
I very much hope that this letter is received the way it was intended - as a kind hearted attempt to get everyone on the same page, mend any previous miscommunications and to act as a clear step forward for our journey together.
I am also very much looking forward to getting to know each of you better and thinking of each of you as a fond part of my family.
Kindest regards and love
Chris (with Aliya proof-reading haha)