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Agony Aunt: Should I Explain Past Trauma to a Potential Suitor for Marriage

by in Relationships on 28th April, 2024

We know that Amaliah is like a Big Sis and sometimes our DMs have been filled with requests for advice on a range of life issues including relationships, friendships or work troubles.

We have started a new segment where we field dilemmas from the community and answer them as frankly as we can with love, truth and honesty.

Need some advice on a dilemma? Send them all here!

Salam Aunt Maya, should I mention and explain Past Trauma (dysfunctional marriage of parents) to a potential suitor for marriage? How should one navigate getting to know a man before marriage?

Maya Areem Responds,

Salam Alaykum,

Thank you for reaching out with such an important and sensitive question. Addressing past trauma, especially regarding family dynamics, in the context of a potential marriage requires careful consideration. It’s essential to balance honesty and transparency, with wisdom and discretion.

Firstly, I want to reassure you that discussing past trauma with a potential suitor can be a courageous step towards establishing a relationship built on trust and understanding. Secondly, it is important to have honesty in any relationship, particularly one as significant as marriage. Islam emphasises the importance of truthfulness, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise.” (Bukhari)

I would like you to consider how you feel about your past trauma and the way you have dealt with it. Have you sought therapy to ensure that you have processed your feelings? Do you have any feelings of guilt, shame or anger at your past that can potentially be an obstacle for you in experiencing a healthy marriage? Do you know what your triggers are and have positive mechanisms in place for dealing with them? If not, then perhaps that should be the first step you take before you share your trauma with a potential suitor. Your trauma does not need to be fully resolved before seeking a spouse or being in a relationship, but understanding it is essential for creating healthy relationship dynamics. 

If you have already taken steps to understand and begin to heal  from  the above, then the next step to consider would be whether you feel emotionally prepared to discuss your past trauma with someone new. While openness is important, it’s equally essential to establish healthy boundaries. You are not obligated to share every detail of your past trauma unless you feel comfortable doing so. Focus on sharing what is necessary for your potential suitor to understand you better without compromising your emotional wellbeing. If you decide to disclose this information, do so in a manner and space that feels comfortable and safe for you. Try to seek guidance from trusted friends, family members, or your therapist who can provide support and perspective.

Reflect on the timing and context of your conversation. Introducing the topic of past trauma should ideally occur when both parties have developed a level of trust and mutual understanding. It might not be appropriate during the initial stages of getting to know each other, but as the relationship progresses and deepens, it becomes easier to find the right moment to share such personal experiences. 

Before you begin your conversation, reflect on your intention and objectives in revealing this information. Is it to seek understanding and support from your potential partner? Will it positively contribute to the relationship’s growth and the establishment of a supportive environment? Or is it to ensure they are aware of potential challenges that may arise in the relationship? Clarifying your intentions beforehand can help guide the conversation and prevent misunderstandings.

Now that you are ready to share, choose an appropriate time and setting to have this conversation. Make sure that both of you are in a calm state to have an open and honest conversation. Pay attention to how he reacts to your disclosure of past trauma. Look for signs of empathy, understanding, and respect. His response can provide valuable insight into his character and compatibility with you. 

You may also feel some discomfort whilst and after sharing your traumatic experiences. He may also need time to digest and may not be able to respond fully in the moment, especially if he too has experienced some level of trauma. This is natural and part of managing this within a relationship in a healthy manner. Create some space for yourself after to feel safe again, either by doing something that brings you joy or seeing other friends or family. You should also create some space for you both to reflect at a later time if needed, such as a later conversation where the topic doesn’t feel as heavy. 

Trying to get to know a person for marriage can seem daunting at first. Please know that Islam encourages the process of seeking knowledge about a potential spouse before committing to marriage. This includes understanding their character, beliefs, and values. Engage in meaningful conversations and explore mutual interests and aspirations. Discuss topics such as faith, family dynamics, and future plans to understand each other’s perspectives and priorities. 

You can also read the following articles to help: 

24 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Marriage

Here Are 53 Questions to Ask Your Potential Spouse

24 Questions to Ask Your Potential Spouse About Finances and Money Management

Signs to Lookout For When a Conversation Goes Downhill

I would also advise you to pay attention to how your potential suitor interacts with people around him, including service staff, women in his life, and your family members. Does he show kindness, respect, and empathy towards others? Observing how someone treats others can provide valuable information on their behaviour and how they may treat you in the future. 

Lastly, seek the guidance of Allah (SWT) through duas. He is the ultimate source of guidance and comfort. Trust in Him, and He will surely lead you to what is best for you in this life and the Hereafter as He is the Best of Planners.

رَبِّ إِنِّي لِمَا أَنْزَلْتَ إِلَيَّ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَقِيرٌ

Rabbi innee limaaa anzalta ilaiya min khairin faqeer

“My Lord, I am in dire need of whatever good thing You may send me” (Surah Al-Qasas 28:24)

May Allah grant you clarity, wisdom, and strength in your decision-making process and bless you with a fulfilling and harmonious marital relationship. Ameen.

Love + Duas,

Aunt Maya

If you would like some wisdom from Aunt Maya, send in your problems here! Please note Aunt Maya may consult the opinion of others from time to time and ask the Amaliah community for their advice too. Aunt Maya is not a licensed therapist or mental health professional.

Maya Areem

Maya Areem

Maya is a teacher by day and student by night. She hopes to pass on what she learns.