This is an organic submission to In Real Life Malaysia, is only edited for grammar and formatting, and does not necessarily represent the views of In Real Life Malaysia.
I am a Malaysian Chinese woman with a Malay boyfriend of more than 7 years.
Over the last 7 years, I have been living with my Malay boyfriend and his family. They love me very much (especially his father who is Chinese Muslim), and shower me with the same treatment as if I was their own daughter.
In preparation for the marriage, I recently embraced Islam. We agreed not to get engaged as how others have done, so we don’t use the definition of “fiancée” and “fiancé”.
With all his hard-earned money, my boyfriend booked a banquet hall in a 5-star hotel, paid for the Master of Ceremonies for our wedding day, and made bookings for both the photobooth and bridal studio.
But as the clock ticked closer to our actual “Nikah” day in November, I began to lose trust in him. I was hit by a huge and persistent feeling of gamophobia, which is a phobia of getting married.
I started doubting my boyfriend’s loyalty
Anxiety, worry and overthinking began to grow in my mind for every action of his.
I would cry and overreact over the silliest thing to attract his attention and to gain assurance of his love and loyalty to me. I kept asking him to give me the assurance that he will not choose polygamy down the road in our marriage.
Both our work performances began to be badly affected, due to my overthinking. The fear of him changing his attitude after marriage and mistreating me, betraying me, and practicing polygamy after marriage, were deeply held fears in my mind.
I felt terrible, because over the past 7 years, he had never asked for my assurance that I will revert to “Islam”. Yet here I was, constantly checking his phone like a detective to see any sign of disloyalty.
Actually, I was scared of being socially isolated. If the marriage did not work out, I will be labelled differently: I would be a Muslim woman, and my pool of candidates for any next marriage will only limited to a Muslim man.
There’s this stereotype amongst Malaysian Chinese that Malaysian Malays are known for being disloyal, with a high divorce rate within their community. It was an unfair perception, and I did not want to be a contributing factor towards it.
I kept recalling this myth that if a marriage does not take place after 7 years, the relationship will turn sour. It felt like the prophecy was coming true.
I began searching for answers online
I started to search online in the hope to get an answer for all these questions.
There are several schools of thought: This is a test from God that every couple should embrace before marriage. Black magic by some jealous woman that is interested in him. I took quizzes: Whether to continue the marriage, signs of an unhappy marriage, and so forth.
I continued to look for various assurances that he is The One and is truly meant for me. We even went on a weekend staycation in the city centre of KL to improve our relationship.
At the peak of this emotional phase, I asked for a break up. By that time, I just wanted to end my suffering and was having suicidal thoughts.
He had no choice but to agree, as he felt helpless seeing me suffer each day. But later, I regretted my words and cried my heart out, asking him to forgive me.
I started searching on Google for a psychiatrist’s opening hours in several hospitals, hoping to get some treatment for my insecurity.
At that point, I asked him how he felt about the whole thing.
He shared with me: “I’m sad with all the obstacles due to world pandemic. I had planned for the wedding ceremony since the early part of the year, including dealing with various marriage related procedures with the authorities for you as a Revert due to conditional movement control order.”
Hearing this, it made me realize how I had been selfish all this while, as I did not attempt to care for his feelings other than seeking assurance for my own comfort all this time. As I don’t have any soulmate other than him, there is literally no one that can lend me an ear.
An older more mature woman shared her own experience with me
One day, I was randomly scrolling through my contact list when I stumbled across someone I have briefly known from our client-auditor engagement. I sent a WhatsApp message to ask if she is available for a chat, and she responded with a yes!
Over the WhatsApp chat, she shared with me an honest and mature experience that no one else had ever shared with me.
“In real life, the story of a marriage is not a bed of roses.”
“It is common not to have a topic to chat about with our partner after a certain number of years in a relationship.”
“There shall not be any assurance or promises made by him that this marriage will end with a happy ending.”
“It is all about continuous trust and communication between both parties to make a happy family.”
While everyone else my age was telling me that marriage is a gamble, she said that marriage is a continuous process of trust. It does not stop simply on the day you address him as your husband.
Instead of asking me to reconsider our marriage based on my instinct, she gave me a piece of advice: “You need to trust him as a person that you have known for the past 7 years.”
Just like that, she hit the nail on the head. All I needed was to build Trust with him.
After a long chat with her, I picked up my phone and wrote a long apology message to my dear future husband. I could feel peace in my mind now without overthinking that he would betray me.
As I write this piece, my mind is clear and happy with no gamophobia. I hope that this story could help anyone who is in this gamophobia situation themselves and can relate to my experience.
If you’re doubting the strength of your bond, try speaking to someone other than your partner early on to salvage the beautiful relationship that has been built over the years.
Then you’ll know if what you’re feeling is real or simply the fear of getting married.
For more stories like this, read: Can an Indian Sikh and a Malaysian Muslim Get Their Happily Ever After? and I Converted To Islam To Marry The Love Of My Life.
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