When looking for a spouse, look beyond “he prays five times a day” or “he has memorized the Qur’an.”
Some of the worse people could very well be those who “seem” to have the basics and that doesn’t define how a person would be in a marriage.
Also, not everyone who claims to pray or memorize the Qur’an lives accordingly. Islam is not just a list of rituals. Our belief and actions SHOULD translate in the way we act and treat others; as best as we can. Don’t make the mistake of settling for the basics. Praying is a condition of being a Muslim, it’s not an extraordinary skill or character that makes a person above others by default.
Here are some of the most crucial things to look for BEYOND the basics:
This is one of the reasons why it’s important to have support from the family from both sides. It’s important to observe, question, ask people who know the person about his character, how he treats others around him, etc. In addition, having a proper sit-down (or more) before marriage is extremely important as it gives you both the chance to communicate, obverse and see if you can see yourself with the person in the future.
We often ignore this part, but how a person grew up says a whole lot about how he/she will be in a marriage. Is he the type who will help his wife around the house when she’s sick or pregnant? Does he see housework as something only women must do no matter what? Is he clean and picks after himself? Does he expect his wife to wake up in the middle of the night to make him a cup of tea? Does she see men as being responsible of women? The list goes on. Think about how you grew up and see if it’s compatible with your suitor.
Many of us pretend not to care about this part until it comes back to bite us. Talking about money is probably one of the most important parts of premarital discussion after the basics! Well, at least it seems crucial NOW more than ever before given the rise in divorce because of financial issues! In Islam, yes, men are the providers and women are the carers of the home. However, how often does that become a reality in marriages today?
On one hand, believe it or not, more than ever before, many men expect women to contribute financially (even when they don’t say it), but will still NOT contribute in the household or with the children. This usually leads to women being overburdened with multiple hats such as providing, taking care of the home, caring for the children, homeschooling/educating (on a rise) and being wives (fully taking care of their husbands). Many women go through depression in silence because of feeling overburden. This is even more true for those who become “house wives.” They barely get any breaks from their responsibilities, have no time for themselves and many try to find ways to make an income from home to supplement the family’s income.
On the other hand, there are women who want to work outside the home after marriage, but their spouse to-be may not want that. Some men are fully responsible and take their role as providers very seriously, whereas the women they meet may want a “50/50” type of marriage. This may mean sharing the responsibility providing, sharing household chores, sharing caring for the children, education (if deciding to homeschool), etc.
Also, on what financial grown is the marriage starting on? Yes, Allah provides, but it’s also part of the deen to ‘tie your camel’ by doing your part. None of us sit home expecting for food to fall in our mouths. We work for our provision and trust in Allah to find it. Many people think they can handle financial instability by saying ‘Allah will provide’ without looking at the reality in front of them. It may work for some, but it surely doesn’t work for everyone. There are men who may want women to marry them without a job, business or any financial plans, yet they’re suppose to be the providers of the family …
How does that work without any plans whatsoever? After marriage and children, this type of men sometimes take the frustration of their financial instability on their wives and children, become depressed when responsibilities increase and some even go as far as leaving their families to start a new life. It even affects some people’s emaan to the point of even kufr. How many divorced Muslim women with children have we heard of in the community who are left with financial difficulties, no savings and no plans for the future? We can avoid some of this by first stopping expecting people to get into marriage with unrealistic expectations.
Yes, I do agree that in some cases, when both are patient, fear Allah and are pious, they can overcome any challenges in the world. This is reserved to only a few among us. Besides, anything can happen after marriage even with proper plans, but we still have to do our part from the beginning.
Not having a proper discussion of financial expectations usual leads to serious issues.
Talking about your likes and dislikes are also very important. What do you like doing in your spare time? Do you like watching movies? Do you see movies as being haram? How do you interpret Islam in general? Do you want a husband who loves the niqab? Do you want your wife to wear the niqab? Do you not even see hijab as necessary? What does hijab mean to you? Do you want your husband to pray all his five daily prayers at the masjid if possible or are you okay with just salatul Jumu’a at the masjid? What are your pet peeves? What can you compromise and what is off limit? Think about all this before jumping into a marriage.
What are your current and future goals? Is traveling or a honeymoon important to you? Is going to Hajj at the top of your priorities even before having children? Is studying the deen and/or memorizing the Qur’an important to you even after having children? Are you business-minded or you simply rely on getting a job? What do you expect from your spouse when it comes to achieving your goals? Will it create friction if you see no support from your spouse?
These are all some things to think about. It doesn’t have to be complicated; just think about what’s important to you and what will make marriage easier and worth it to you. Don’t settle for just the basics because we should all have the basics and strive for more. Islam is meant to show up in the way we act, treat our families and others. Take your time to be sure of what you want, and most importantly, pray salatul istikharah (prayer of guidance) to seek Allah’s help.
May Allah help all those who are not yet married (and want to) to find the right spouses and help those already married to live happier and righteous marriages. As for those divorced, separated or widowed, may Allah rectify their affairs and give them what’s much better.
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