Marriage is an intricate process – full of emotions, decisions, and necessary communication. In many cases, we hear the saying that marriage is not only between the man and the woman, but when you marry, you marry a whole family (i.e. the "in-laws"). Decisions have to be made taking both parties' situations and suggestions in mind. Now, this is not necessarily the case for everyone getting married (looking at culture, family structure, etc.) but this is the common and more usual situation.
Unfortunately in recent years, we have seen marriage, especially in the Islamic world, become a more difficult and challenging process. Be it the times and the new fears, many young Muslims have gone about the marriage process in the wrong way, leaving a big mess and sticky situation to be dealt with on both sides.
It is really important that when a man and woman begin to speak with an intention of marriage, they keep it only at that. Yes, it is extremely hard to keep emotions out of the way, as that is natural, and this is why Islam offers many solutions, like temporary marriage, or even open discussion, in order to be sure about the lifelong decisions being made.
Also in recent years, there have been many unfortunate events taking place when it comes to young Muslim women and men "talking" to each other. Many of us have friends involved in these situations, or are personally involved in this delicate and challenging process, which has become even more so in these recent years.
It is absolutely wrong to hide ANY important information from either party. Brothers, if you are interested in a sister, please let your parents know, if you know that they are the kind of parents who care to be involved in your marriage process. What has happened a lot lately is brothers continuing to talk to sisters they are interested in for long periods of time, and not keeping their family or parents appraised of their moves. What can and usually does end up happening is the parents' rejection due to their own various personal reasons. This will require the brother to either stand up to his parents and make a final decision, or the brother will have to end the process with the sister, after both have become emotionally attached and usually promises and plans have been made.
These situations are not only the brothers' fault but the sisters' as well. Many sisters believe their parents will understand and will listen to their daughters' dreams and wishes, and then when it does not work out that way, we have depressed sisters and angry brothers (and parents).
Whether we like it or not, emotions are there, and it takes each of us to be strong and ready to take on this process. Unfortunately we see many cases where the parties drag on the situation for months, even years, because of small mistakes like not informing parents or family who we knew would have a problem. This becomes a stress on both the brother and the sister that is unnecessary and could have been eliminated or discussed beforehand.
The last thing we want is our marriages to occur out of spite and with unhappiness on either side. We do not want angry families, parents, and hate being practiced for silly reasons. It is up to each brother and sister to make the right moves and practice a lot of clear and constant communication with each other, and more importantly, with their individual families as necessary according to their own knowledge. Every person knows his/her family best, as well as who and what is important to them.
Islam looks down upon any Muslim holding a grudge against another Muslim for any reason. What ends up happening in these situations is the exact opposite of what God wishes for us. Let us all try our best in helping each other find suitable spouses, hold more information sessions with scholars to teach youth and parents about Islamic marriage criteria, and invalid reasons to say no when it comes to parental approval. Insha'Allah we can all do each other favors when meeting each other and taking care of each others' needs by lending a helping hand and giving good advice.
Clear communication will in turn give us fewer broken hearts. As Muslims, we should not be wasting our energy on problems that should not be problems. Instead we should be making our marriage process simpler, and more Islamic, so that we can build stronger families and communities to prepare for the Awaited One (may Allah hasten his reappearance).