Marriage decision is one of the most important decisions in one’s life. It’s not easy to know if you’re on the right track while searching for your other half.
Here are 10 steps you can take to help lay down the building blocks of a strong and joyous marriage – or to weed out potential heartache before it happens.
Step 1: Discuss a List of Pre-Marital Questions
Through the course of your (halal) courtship, work through a well-rounded list of questions. The goal is to ensure you are learning about each other’s characters and assessing compatibility for marriage. Take notes so that you can reflect on what you are learning and mark down additional questions you would like to explore.
Step 2: Meet In-Person
Within the bounds of modesty and Islamic principles, meet your potential spouse to learn more about him/her and your personal compatibility. Try to observe him/her in activities that will give you insight into his/her character, how s/he naturally behaves, treat others, handle pressure, and see if his/her actions are consistent with what you have been learning about him/her.
Step 3: Keep a Trusted Confidant Informed
Having a family member or best friend that knows you well and that you can trust to share all details of the courtship with can help ensure you aren’t making any rash decisions.
Step 4: Take Pre-Marital Counseling
It can uncover issues and help you work through them before they become problems. It equips you with communication tools to navigate a successful marriage. In addition, at least one session is recommended with an Imam who can specifically address problematic differences in Islamic interpretation around marriage or gender roles.
Step 5: Review Essential Books, Courses, & Fun Quizzes
To better learn about each other, marriage, and valuable tips by experts, take at least one course on the rights and responsibilities in marriage from an Islamic perspective; read books like “Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman; and to better understand yourself and each other, take personality quizzes like the Muslim Personality Test.
Step 6: Pray Istikhara
In the courtship process, the prayer of istikhara is especially pertinent when deciding to begin talking to someone for the sake of marriage, and when making a decision about a proposal.
Step 7: Prepare for Physical Intimacy in Marriage
Given the chastity and modesty in gender relations enjoined by Islam, it is understandable to have fears about beginning intimacy with each other. Make sure you are familiar with some of the basic fiqh on intimate relations, but build your practical knowledge beyond this as well.
Step 8: Prepare for Planned Parenthood/Birth Control
Ensure both you and your potential spouse are on the same page when it comes to planned parenthood /birth control options, and are aware of the related fiqh rulings.
Step 9: Plan for a Mindful Wedding Ceremony
With the right type of planning, weddings can be filled with elegance and joy without unintentionally snowballing into stress, debt, or extravagance. It’s not just about the wedding but about the building blocks of a marriage.
Step 10: Plan for the Post-Wedding
Romance: Regularly be on the lookout for new traditions or ideas and ways to keep things fresh. Have a regular date night and do something fun!
Spiritual & Character Building: Have regular habits such as praying in congregation, studying a particular book together, or any small, regular habit you both can commit to undertaking together for the purposes of spiritual growth.
“May Allah bless for you your spouse, and bless you, and may He unite both of you in goodness.” [Abu Dawud, 2130; Ibn Majah, 1905]
First published: December 2016