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“Some arranged marriages don’t work, but most are very happy”

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A COUPLE, whose very first date involved exchanging vows, gave insight into how an arranged marriage works, after 11 years of marital bliss.

Sonia Haroon and Muhammad Haroon Younus, who both work in the health sector and have three children, said it was “blind trust” that brought them together.

They reflected on their experiences as they prepare to celebrate another Valentine’s Day together.

The couple, who live in Wilton, revealed their romance is often surprised by those unfamiliar with arranged marriages. However, Sonia explained that arriving in Ireland while pregnant with her first child was just as much a culture shock.

“I remember the doctor asking us if we were going to get married,” she said.

“I was shocked at the time. I couldn’t believe I was being asked such a question because, in my mind, everyone had to be married before having a child. Of course, I understand now that’s not the case but at the time I was very surprised.

Originally from Pakistan, Muhammad Haroon recalled how they first met.

“I first moved to Ireland in 2004 and had never heard of Sonia before. Every year and a half I would come home for the holidays,” he said.

“My parents met friends for a year and a half. Our culture is that if a family is looking for a partner for their child, they will do it themselves or ask a relative to help them. In 2009, I was starting to have suspicions because my father kept asking me when I was coming home. They asked me if I could go home for four weeks this time instead of three and I agreed.

Muhammad Haroon did not realize that they were planning to introduce him to his future wife.

“When I was at home, they asked me if I wanted to come and meet some new friends of theirs. When I came home after meeting the family, they asked me what I thought of their friends. I said that I found them very nice. They then asked me what I thought of Sonia.

Muhammad Haroon finally achieved what his parents planned.

“As Muslims, we believe that couples do not meet but are made in heaven. In terms of ratios, arranged marriages do better than love marriages. Of course, like any couple, there are arranged marriages that don’t work out because the personalities are so different, but most are very happy.

Sonia said people are often surprised by their unconventional love story.

“When I tell this story to my friends, they ask me: ‘How is this possible?’

“However, I always knew that I would get married the same way as other members of my family. My parents asked me if I was ok with it. They wanted to make sure that I would be happy in first. I was happy to trust them. As a 19-year-old girl, I was very young. I might have made a lot of mistakes without their advice. They were the ones who had the experience of the world .

The endoscopy technician said he was happy to have Sonia as his first and only love.

“When I tell people I’ve never had a girlfriend, they don’t believe me,” he said.

He remembers their first date.

“We went for a walk on the beach and had dinner. When we got in the car, one of the first things she did was turn off the air conditioning. She was shaking. I explained that it was very cold in Ireland and I was not used to the heat.

“Every couple has arguments. It is one of the spices of life and without the spice you have no flavor.