Marrying the wrong person could be the worst decision in one’s life. There is a right way and a wrong way to get to know someone for marriage.
The wrong way is to get caught up in the excitement of a budding relationship and completely forget to ask the critical questions that help determine compatibility. One of the biggest mistakes that many young Muslims make is rushing into marriage without properly and thoroughly getting to know someone.
If you or someone you know is in the “getting to know each other” phase, the following guide offers advice on exactly what to look for and what to avoid:
1. Do Not Marry Potential
Don’t assume that you can change a person after marriage. There is no guarantee, after all, that those changes will be for the better.
In fact, it’s often for the worse. If you can’t accept someone as they are, then don’t marry them. These differences can include a number of things such as ideological or practical differences in religion, habits, hygiene, communication skills, etc.
2. Choose Character over Chemistry
A famous quote follows, “Chemistry ignites the fire, but character keeps it burning.”
The idea of falling “in love” should never be the sole reason for marrying someone; it is very easy to confuse infatuation and lust for love. The most important character traits to look for include humility, kindness, responsibility, & happiness. Don’t let the rush of love lead you to marrying the wrong person.
3. Do Not Neglect the Emotional Needs of Your Partner
The fundamental emotional need of a woman is to be loved. The fundamental emotional need of a man is to be respected and appreciated. To make a woman feel loved give her the three AAAs: Attention, Affection, & Appreciation.
To make a man feel loved give him the three RRRs: Respect, Reassurance, & Relief. As long as each partner is fulfilled by the emotional needs of the other, the relationship will thrive. Working together in this way encourages both giving and receiving.
4. Avoid Opposing Life Plans
In marriage you can either grow together or grow apart. Sharing a common purpose in life will increase the chance that you will grow together.
- You must know what the person is into, what they’re ultimately passionate about. Then ask yourself, “Do I respect this passion?”
- The more specifically you define yourself, i.e., your values, your beliefs, your lifestyle, the better chance you have of finding the one you are most compatible with.
- Remember, before you decide who to take along on a trip, you should first figure out your destination.
5. Avoid Pre-Marital Sexual/Physical Activity
- Recognize that there is incredible wisdom in why God has ordered us to refrain from intimacy before marriage; they are to prevent great harms as well as to keep sacred what is the most blessed part of a relationship between a man and a woman.
- When a relationship gets physical before its time, important issues like character, life philosophy, and compatibility go to the wayside. Consequently, everything is romanticized and it becomes difficult to even remember the important issues let alone talk about them.
- Intellectual commitment must be established before emotional or sexual commitment.
6. Avoid Lack of Emotional Connection
There are four questions that you must answer YES to:
- Do I respect and admire this person? What specifically do I respect and admire about this person?
- Do I trust this person? Can I rely on them? Can I believe what they say?
- Do I feel Safe? Do I feel emotionally safe with this person? Can I be myself?
- Do I feel calm and at peace with this person?
If the answer is “I don’t know, I’m not sure, etc.”, keep evaluating until you truly understand how you feel.
7. Pay Attention to Your Own Emotional Anxiety
Look for the following things to avoid end up being in an abusive relationship:
- Controlling behavior: This includes controlling the way you act and think, the way you dress and wear your hair/hijab, and the way you spend your time. Know the difference between suggestions and demands.
- Anger issues: This is someone who raises their voice on a regular basis, who gets angry at you, uses anger against you, and curses at you, etc.
8. Beware of Lack of Openness In Your Partner
Many couples make the mistake of not putting everything on the table for discussion from the onset. It’s very important to identify what’s bothering you and things that concern you. Then you must have an honest discussion about them.
This is a great way to test the strength of your relationship and to really evaluate how well you communicate, negotiate, and work together as a team. Also, it’s important to ask deep questions of each other and see how your partner responds. Don’t just listen to what they say but watch for how they say it!
9. Beware of Avoiding Personal Responsibility
Many people make the mistake of thinking someone else will fulfill them and make their life better and that’s their reason for getting married. People fail to realize that if they are unhappy as a single person, they will continue to be miserable when they are married.
If you are currently not happy with yourself, don’t like the direction your life is going now, it’s important to start working on improving those areas of your life before considering marriage. Don’t bring these issues into your marriage and hope your partner will fix them.
10. Watch Out For Lack of Emotional Health In Your Potential Partner
Many people choose partners who are not emotionally healthy or available. One huge problem is when a partner is unable to balance the emotional ties to family members, the marriage ends up having 3 (or more) people in it rather than two.
An example of this would be if a man is overly dependent on his mother and brings that relationship into the marriage; this is no doubt a recipe for disaster.
It’s important to consider the following:
Avoid people who are emotionally empty inside
These include people who don’t like themselves because they lack the ability to be emotionally available. They are always preoccupied with their deficiencies, insecurities, and negative thoughts.
They are in a perpetual fight with depression, never feel good, are isolated, are critical and judgmental; tend to not have any close friends, and often distrust people or are afraid of them. They feel burdened by other people’s needs and feel resentment towards them.
Addictions can also limit the level of availability of the partner to build a strong emotional relationship. Never marry an addict. Addictions are not limited to drugs and alcohol.
They can be about addictions and dependency on work, internet, hobbies, sports, shopping, money, power, status, materialism, etc.
Additional Points to Consider
1. The fact is no one looks 25 forever. Ultimately, we love the person we marry for more than their appearance. When we get to know someone we love and admire, we’ll love them for their inner beauty and overall essence.
2. Be flexible. Be open-minded!
3. Giving in a happy marriage should not be confused with martyrdom. It should be about taking pleasure and seeing the other person as happy because of your connection with them.
4. Morality and spirituality are the qualities that truly define someone in addition to beauty, money, and health. If someone isn’t God-conscientious and doesn’t take themselves into account with God, then why should you expect them to fulfill their rights owed to you? Having a mutual and shared spiritual relationship will foster a successful marriage.
Source: About Islam
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