Ask Asad: My ex’s brother sent me a proposal. Should I marry him?

Dear Asad,

I am stuck in a dilemma between two brothers. Not really sure what to do about this. My family resides in Australia but I have lived in Karachi for the past eight years under the care of my father’s relatives. They have treated me well over the years and whatever I am today is because of them. They have two sons, one who is elder than me and one who is younger than me.

Over the years I developed a companionship with the family, and especially the younger son. He is five years younger than me but we ultimately ended up committing to each other. I know the relationship was not right according to the norms of our society, elder girl with younger boy, but that aspect never bothered me. May be because I grew up Australia where this is very normal.

There was always something about him that I had admired and kept me from ending the relationship. Ideally he was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, even knowing that he was younger than me I was ready for the fight. I knew my parents would ultimately agree but he always said that his parents would not. We used to argue about this issue, but I would always say that when the time will come we will see. Other than that we had been a decent couple, never had any problems with each other.

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 Five years of our relationship went by and ultimately I had to shift back to Australia to my family. We kept a long distance relationship but it soon took its toll and after being one year apart he decided to end it all.

I was devastated, as the reason he gave was that his parents will not agree. Every time he brought the reason up before I never gave it importance because I believed that he will be strong enough to take a stand one day, especially upon graduation, job etc. Never did I imagine that he would back out especially after all of the years spent together. So finally I gave in, and agreed to end it, because I realised that if he isn’t willing to take a stand for me now, he probably will not in the future, so no point in prolonging a relationship that will lead to nothing.

Growing up I had always seen my parents have a bad marriage. I decided I wanted to marry a man who happily wants to marry me, not because he has to for the sake of marriage, but genuinely for me. Breaking up was the hardest decision for me mainly because I really wanted the relationship, but I calmed my nerves and decided to agree and we ended all contact. He suggested that I consider all future proposals. 

One month goes by and I get a few proposals here and there, but none were suitable, until I get one from his family – for his elder brother. Although I have known that the elder son was obviously a better match for me, I never inclined towards him, especially since I was committed to the younger one. I even avoided him so that he wouldn’t develop any interest in me. Both brothers are good people. It’s just that the younger one approached me first. Had he not, I wouldn’t be in this dilemma. I am not blaming him but things would have been different. 

I am 27-years-old and at this point this is a golden proposal for me, it’s a family that is known, a person with a good job, and someone who I observed for the last eight years. It’s everything that parents look for. My parents have even indirectly said yes to their family, they believe I will agree because ideally this is perfect and I have no reason at all to reject, but no one knows the secret that I keep. 

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Upon finding out about this proposal I contacted my ex. I wanted his opinion, after all we did have a long relationship. He was definitely not alright with it, and said that if I would agree he would move away from the family entirely as he couldn’t imagine the thought of me being with his brother. I know it’s difficult for him to consider me as his sister-in-law, and I am not the type to be alright with drifts between two brothers. Family is important to me, having seen my parents always fight I never want to be the cause of fight between these two brothers. But I also have to see for myself. I know this sounds selfish, but I am considering the proposal from an arranged proposal point of view, I do not have feelings for his brother but because genuinely this is a good proposal.

My ex will never come back to me so ultimately I will have to go through the arranged pathway, so why not this proposal? He states that I can find others he doesn’t want me anywhere near his family, with him or his brother, but I have been looking and this is the best and one that my parents are very satisfied with. Saying no is something that both families would be very disappointed in.

If I say yes I will have to spend the rest of my life keeping a secret about my previous relationship, not to mention chances that the secret might come out and that will have its own consequences. If I say no, family terms will be affected and I am far too indebted by what they have done for me all these years, not to mention my pool of proposals is shrinking because of my age.

Should his opinion even matter? After all, he did decide to end the relationship himself, but then again it is his brother and his family. I just wish this proposal never came. I was healing myself from a loss but this proposal just put salt on my wounds. The end decision will be mine but what the decision will be is driving me insane to the point where I even think suicide is a good option. Should I ignore the feelings of my ex or miss this golden opportunity of a good proposal that both families have agreed upon?                                     

Confused between two brothers


Dear confused between two brothers,

I believe you should go for this proposal and not let your ex convince you otherwise. Like you said, it’s a good proposal and both the families want it. Also what I have gathered from your letter, you also are quite in favour of it.

Your hesitance to say yes to the proposal is quite natural. After all you were in a relationship with the younger brother for a few years, therefore your double-thinking marrying his brother is normal. But like you mentioned, he’s a decent guy with a good future ahead of him and hopefully you will have a good married life with him.

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As for your ex, the younger brother, he had the chance to be with you. But keeping the norms of the conservative Pakistani society in mind, he didn’t have the courage to go against them and sacrificed your love. That was his sole decision in which he did not involve you and left you broken-hearted. If he can’t see you as his sister-in-law and would shift away, then that’s his decision and you have nothing to do with it. To answer your question, his opinion should no longer matter. But to his credit, he was always honest enough with you to tell you that his parents won’t agree and like you acknowledged that that used to be the reason of arguments between you both. That means he never led you on with false promises and dreams. He was very much aware of the obstacles and made you aware of them too.

Don’t start blaming yourself for causing a future rift between brothers. You are not the cause of it and you have no responsibility in taking the blame for it – if it ever happens.

Yes, you will have to keep this secret for the rest of your life. Please don’t ever think of sharing it with any of your family members, especially your future husband, no matter how close and wonderful a relationship you have with him. As for your ex, I don’t believe he will be sharing this with anyone as he would be blamed for it too.

All the best!



Asad is a counsellor, life coach, inspirational speaker and a personal-development expert. He advises on social, personal and emotional issues. You can send him your questions for this weekly column at [email protected] with “Ask Asad” mentioned in the subject line and provide as many details as possible.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Express Tribune.

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