When her marriage failed after 10 years due to physical abuse and betrayal, Maya found it hard to trust and love another man again until she met Salim, a divorcee with one daughter. They decided to get married and Salim moved into Maya’s house. His kind-hearted and caring nature won the hearts of her two children and elderly parents. Likewise, her soft-spoken nature and motherly attitude won the heart of Salim’s teenage daughter. At Maya’s house, Salim’s daughter enjoys having step-siblings to talk to and she also enjoys Maya’s and Nenek’s home-cooked meals as well as doing prayers in congregation with Atok as the Imam.
Maya owes her happiness to her parents who have been her main pillar towards her decision to remarry and she feels grateful to get the moral support to rebuild her life again.
Does the above sound familiar to you? Or, does such happily-ever-after remarriage happen only in storybooks and drama serials?
The above is based on the true story of a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. She feels blessed that Allah SWT has opened up her heart again to love and feel loved. But how many success stories of a remarriage have we heard of or personally experienced?
Madam Halijah (not her real name), a 45-year-old professional, mentioned that a strong religious background and continuous education on morality and manners instilled in children since young plays a big part in the acceptance of a step-parent into their lives. As a step-mother, she is determined to overcome the challenges that she faces. She is sure that one day, her step-children will realise that she loves and cares for them. When I touched on the topic of her new parents-in-law, she said her father-in-law is a very easy-going person and accepts her into the family without any issue. Her mother-in-law was initially cold towards her but their relationship has improved. Madam Halijah is into her second marriage for almost a year now.
From a male perspective, remarrying a divorcee who has children herself comes with challenges that include financial challenge. Mr Adam (not his real name), a 43-year-old administrator, said that while a man may be used to certain family dynamics, being the head of a new family, it is difficult to change what is already there in the new family. In fact, it is almost impossible to change, especially if the step-children are teenagers and older. To make the situation even more tense, their grandparents may not be receptive and welcoming of a stranger being the new head to their daughter and their grandchildren. Where financial issues are concerned, two families now need to be supported; the man’s own children and the new family. He advised that a man must have a strong and stable financial background before embarking into another commitment with a partner who has her own children because not all biological fathers give monthly support to their children and as the new head of the family, this responsibility to support inevitably falls onto the new head.
Within my circle of friends and family members, I have seen many second and third marriages that are still standing strong even after ten years but there are also such marriages which have crumbled because of several factors such as:-
The biological parent is always seen as protecting his/her own children whenever petty quarrels take place among the step-siblings. To make things worse, some of these step-children are sometimes poisoned into believing that all step-parents are evil. The older children may be able to differentiate between evil and kindness but the younger ones usually tend to believe what they hear. It takes time and a lot of effort to gain the trust and love of these children.
“A step-parent is so much more than just a parent; they made the choice to love when they didn’t have to.”
Not every parent-in-law can accept the existence of another spouse in their child’s life, after having been so comfortable bonding with the first son/daughter-in-law. This problem is more obvious in women. The emotional bond that has been formed over the years between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law is so strong that it is often very difficult for the new daughter-in-law to be accepted.
“It is difficult to be patient but to waste the rewards for patience is worse.”
– Saidina Abu Bakar r.a.
(3) Extended Family Members And Close Friends
This is a secondary factor but in some cases, these people do play a part in making or breaking a remarriage. If the relationship between a divorcee and his/her partner starts off with genuine sincerity and genuine love, even before the relationship leads to marriage, this genuinity will shine right from the beginning for everyone to see. Hence, there is no reason for extended family members and family friends to feel doubtful. Instead, they should celebrate their relative’s/friend’s newfound happiness.
“The first state of sincerity is that your private and public state should be the same.”
– Imam Ghazali.
For many people, it is not easy to move on after a failed marriage. Many divorcees avoid going into a new relationship because they fear that they cannot meet the expectations and hopes of their new partner, new children and new parents-in-law. If you are one of these divorcees who have found your new love but are afraid to move on to the next level with your partner to embark into a remarriage, you may want to spend some time to attend the upcoming Forum Keluarga Unik Keluarga Sakinah, organised by PPIS Vista Sakinah. You can learn tips and pick up great pieces of advice from the professional and religious speakers.
It will be take place on 17 August 2014, 9.30 AM to 12.30 PM, at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre and costs just $10 per ticket. A great line-up of speakers will be taking the stage to address and discuss the issues related to step-parenting and many more.
Do visit www.islamicevents.sg/event/4613 for more details and to register your attendance. This forum will be conducted in Malay.
“We cannot change the past to rewrite a better beginning but we can work for the future and strive for a better ending.”
– Yasir Qadhi.
NORLIZA BTE ABDUL KARIM