Monday, May 21, 2001
Salaam. I am a 21 year old girl who is living far from home. My parents sent me to another place because they were having marital problems and it was starting to affect me.
I was engaged previously and discovered that my fiance had a drug problem so I called off the relationship. After more than 18 months I met someone new. He is someone I work with and is twelve years older than me. He is divorced and we are really in love. My only problem is the fact that he has two children and I have a major problem accepting them in my life. I refuse to acknowledge them so we are wasting time when it comes to making a decission about our future. I really like his daughter who is ten, but I cannot understand why I cannot tolerate his six year old son. His ex-wife does not work and he still supports them because he wants his kids to remain in an Islamic school so he still pays the fees. I am getting irritated because he has to support everyone.
Another obstacle is his ex-wife's best friend. She is forever pumping him with information about his ex and his children. This changes his moods and I am his target when he is in pain. His siblings in Durban are also experiencing financial problems and he overlook his personal financial obligations in order to support them. All this is really getting to me because we are constantly arguing. Please advise me on: How should I handle his children? Should I confront this woman who is betraying her friend and upsetting me? Should I continue this relationship or not?
I am very goal oriented and independant. My family and friends don't feel he is the right one for me. Help.
I would probably have to agree with your friends that this may not be the right situation for you. Even though you have strong feelings for this man, he has certain responsibilities that he cannot ignore. He should maintain his children and it is very commendable of him to make every effort to keep them in an Islamic school. Regarding the former wife and her friend, Allah knows best. It is difficult for me to judge this while only hearing one side of the story. However, these are his circumstances - they are a part of being with him at this point in time. If these things are upsetting you a great deal and you can find no way to work around them in your own mind then he is not the man for you.
I am especially concerned about your feelings toward his son. As a new wife to a man who already has children, you will need to learn to accept the children wholeheartedly, recognizing that they are children and their emotions cannot always be taken personally. You should ideally strive to be a good friend to them, not trying to replace their mother, but someone who loves their father and them as Allah's creation and as their father's children. Likewise, their father should require that they respect you while also understanding the need for them to adjust to their parents being divorced. This is not an easy situation for anyone, but especially the children because they are not yet mature in mind and emotions.
If you are going to marry this man, you must accept the children and be willing to persevere with patience to develop a good rapport with them, and also not allow the former wife to influence your feelings and cause problems between you and your (future) husband, and he should do likewise. As Muslim sisters, you should ideally strive to be on friendly terms and observe the Islamic etiquettes between one another. This would be good for the children and your marriage. At the same time, you should expect that you will be respected by the man as his wife and that he will expect others to respect you as his wife also and between you come to an agreement on what this means. There are discreet and tactful ways of doing this without being offensive to anyone. You should strive to gain an understanding before marriage of how he perceives his responsibilities to his children and likewise to you and decide if you can accept what he thinks about the matter. You must honestly decide if you can work with it or if you should let it go. Be honest with yourself and seek Allah's guidance through prayer (salatul-istikharah). My best wishes to you.