When it comes to marriage, we often think there must be the perfect formula. When I see happily married couples, I often think, what’s their secret? What do they know? Trouble is that secret doesn’t actually exist. It’s nothing more than the fairy tales we were told as kids. Marriage is about hard work and commitment. No one is perfect and there are no shortcuts to a perfect marriage. Having said that, I still think there are key points to look out for when you are choosing a spouse for yourself or helping your children to find THE ONE.
A Religious Spouse
Prior to focusing on the person you will marry in terms of aesthetics or personality traits it is important to look at the influences around the person. The key to learning more about someone you are considering to marry is to look at their family and the environment they were brought up in. Another important factor is their commitment to their deen. Do the person’s family appear to have a place for Allah in their hearts. If the answer is yes then you are more likely to find that the person you are considering has mannerisms and behaviours that reflect the teachings of Islam. There are exceptions of course and there is no guarantee that a person who performs salah and appears religious can also be capable of a nurturing respectful relationship. People who never miss a prayer can still be hurtful, deceiving and commit crimes. In essence someone in touch with their deen is a quality to look for but this in no way can guarantee how they will behave as a spouse. The two can often but do not always go hand in hand. When looking for your other half being a Muslim is frankly, not enough.
Do We Fit?
Something else to question is whether their lifestyle is compatible with your own. If your potential spouse is from a household used to cohabitating with their extended family, then they are likely to expect that with any future daughter in-law. My point here is, don’t go into these kinds of situations and then expect something different. If you choose not to wear hijab and your husbands family all choose too or the general trend is that the women in the family stay home and do not pursue a career these are all things to consider especially if you are moving in with the in laws. If your way of life, goals and opinions wildly differ from your spouse and his family it could cause problems further down the line leading to resentment on both ends.
Don’t buy into the myth that you’re marrying the person and not the family. Unless you’re moving to the other side of the world or something, they will be a part of your spouse’s life whether you like it or not. So, make sure you actually like them because they are going to be at every birthday and every occasion you have.
Consider all aspects of their family unit, if they are very wealthy, don’t assume the daughter or son is in the same position. The wealth could be the fathers and totally under his control. So, if you see a cleaner and cook in their house, don’t think that you will automatically get one! I could go on but I think you get my point. Go in with your eyes wide open.
As for the person themselves, I would look for kindness and honesty above beauty or wealth, both of which can come and go. Moreover, look for stability and a peaceful existence. I am not saying marry someone boring but someone who will show commitment to you and your life together.
As well as this, look for the clues in how the person treats his or her family and friends. Are they respectful to them because no matter what, that will have an effect on you? Do they show kindness to their parents, even if they have odd requests? Are they kind to their friends and honest with them?
If you’re from a close family and your spouse isn’t, then this could and often does cause tension. Even close friends can soon be seen by a spouse, as an enemy, if they are not used to these kinds of relationships.
People often think that a long engagement is the best way to get to know someone, in my opinion, it’s not. I see couples divorce after a couple of months, even though they had been engaged for a couple of years. Trouble is they are so busy going out and spending time together, that they miss the whole picture. For so many reasons, they just see one side of that person, come on, who isn’t on their best behaviour when they are engaged.
If you take away anything from my advice it would be to look at the bigger picture and see if it’s really what you want, all of it, not just the pretty parts. Even if you even have the slightest inkling that something isn’t right then back out. The picture doesn’t have to be perfect, no one’s life is but be sure it’s something you can live with.
Once you are sure, make the commitment, trust in Allah and enjoy the journey.