When a man is looking for his future wife he is often pulled in at least three directions: what he feels he wants, what his family feels is best and what is truly best for him (speaking Islamically, of course). Hopefully he can do a little leg work and planning to get these streams aligned.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “A woman is married for four things, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty, and her religion. So you should marry the religious woman; (otherwise) you will be a loser.” (Al-Bukhari)
Though emotions and hormones easily distract us all, ultimately marriage is like a business contract. Be sure to compile a checklist of key points before meeting any potential spouse and refer to it liberally when your vision gets cloudy.
#1 Religious Commitment
There is a common belief among Muslim men that marrying a good, pious woman will help them be a better Muslim. Maybe, but in reality only you can make yourself a better person and technically if you aren’t praying you aren’t even marriageable. Looking beyond hijab and abaya, are you on about the same level of religiosity? Do you both pray? Do you both read Qur’an? Does she enjoy being a part of the Muslim community? Be sure your religious commitment currently lines up with room to grow together.
#2 Good Character
The emphasis on a woman’s character is strongly regarded among Muslims as we know she is the backbone of the ummah, as the primary caregiver to her children she will pass on her character traits to them. It is important to build your family with a woman of sound character. It is also important that you appreciate her personality as you will truly be a team in this endeavor. Get to see how she interacts with different kinds of people, is she consistently kind and compassionate? Does she seem honest or does her body language convey otherwise? Listen to your gut instincts and do not ignore red flags.
#3 Shared Values
Ask yourself what are your life goals and how will you achieve them? Do you plan to spend a lot of time with your children or is acquiring wealth more important to you? Consider how your spouse may help you in achieving your goals. When you meet with prospective partners, ask them about their life goals and lifestyle needs. Will she want to travel, to entertain company frequently or not much at all? Will she want to always work? Will you be able to help her achieve her goals? Get to know each other.
This must be a difficult point for most brothers. It’s important to be realistic. Recognize that firstly you are not entitled to perfection, but also attraction doesn’t occur purely based on physical looks – you must like your wife as well as finding her physically attractive.
In addition to having a checklist to keep you on track, also have an accountability buddy – a family member or good confidant who knows you well and can act as a sound boarding to reflect back to you when you are being realistic versus when you are being rash.