Have you ever been at a family function or at a funeral crying your eyes out and the abominable question, “when are you getting married” pops up?
In many Muslim communities, as soon as you turn 21, aunties start flocking around you with this question.
Well let’s be frank here; as a picky Western society, when it comes to our marriage choices, things aren’t as simple as they used to be. Whether that’s good or bad is not the issue.
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Depending on where you are on the gender spectrum, expect good meaning elders to interfere and offer to find someone ‘suitable’ for you.
With the divorce rate as high as it is, you want to give your potential union the best chance of surviving the long haul.
Why Are You Getting Married?
If you are considering marriage, make sure you are getting married for the right reasons. It seems many have doubts right up to their planned wedding day, yet go through with it anyways.
Those of us who really want to get married often face a myriad of issues in finding a good match. The issues are as diverse as the Western Muslim community scattered all over the country.
Adherence to cultural norms and expectations, generation disparity, and the neglect of the Islamic standard for the choice of partners are also hurdles single Muslims in the West face.
Is Our Decision Right?
Like everything else, when faced with decisions, I suggest we refer to the teachings of our Prophet (peace and blessings upon him).
So what did he say about marriage? What are the criteria we need to base our decisions on? What are the roles of the parents of both potential groom and bride?
Of course, cultural traditions and expectations, the desire to possess another, and the idea of being a princess or prince for a day are at the root of most couple’s desire to marry.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said,
‘When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied with asks your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so, there will be temptation on Earth and extensive corruption.’ (Tirmidhi)
The happiest most respectable couples are those with the most reasonable expectations.
So parents, yes our respective children are precious and we want guarantees but some mercy is required here.
The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said, “The best of marriage is that which is made easiest”.
What To Look For
It is important that both parties enter the marriage with their eyes wide open, that they understand their differences and know that marriage needs work. According to experts, “The people who expect it to be perfect are normally the ones who are disappointed”.
So to ensure that you’re entering into a conscious, compatible and healthy partnership, take a hard look at your motivations for wanting to get married.
Set aside time to make a list of reasons for wanting to get married and discuss them with your parents. You may identify with items on both the ‘for’ and the ‘against’ lists.
Is your potential partner someone you will find comfort in? You’ll definitely want not only a spouse but also a best friend.
Look for someone that you can confide in, who’ll not only listen but their words make you feel better while helping you analyze the situation and then they offer words of wisdom. And you also do the same for them.
Now that you have established who the ‘one’ is, pray Istikhara. Allah will show you the way.
If you have already made the proposal or accepted one, you owe it to your betrothed to be the best version of yourself.
It takes time to truly get to know someone. There are only two ways to experience joy and peace of mind in relationships. We either get what we want or we learn to be happy with what we have. Accept them as is.
Realizing that our potential spouse is not perfect but deciding to love them anyway is an excellent indicator that a great marriage can be in our future.
Just as guys want their future wife to have the eagerness to learn the religion; it’s equally as important on the girls’ side.
Each should look for a partner who is on the same level in terms of religion or above. In short, someone they can look up to because this encourages them to be better. This is to ensure that you are entering into a conscious, compatible and healthy partnership.
After choosing and agreeing on your partner, start working on sacrifice. Gain awareness of the external pressures and then tackle your awareness of the internal. Marriage, after all, is about making efforts for the betterment of the other person.
Islam teaches us that marriage involves setting aside our insistent inner self that wants to be first and the focus of attention. This doesn’t mean that we become invisible or insignificant. It simply means work on your intentions. In fact, when the motive is pure and the intent noble, our minds, hearts, and souls grow and glow brighter.
Secret To A Successful Marriage
Acknowledge that sacrifice is an essential element of a strong marriage where each gives up the less important for the most important. Furthermore, couples should not keep score; they must both be engaged in sacrifice for the marriage to be healthy. Remember you are partners in the process.
A Final Word
While marriage is one of the strongest relationships which Islam stresses, encourages and considers as one of the Prophets’ practices, it is important Muslim parents understand that they are not allowed to force their children into marrying someone against their will.