We all dream of that magical, perfect moment we’ll fall madly in love with our soulmate, tie the knot, and live forever in unending love, peace, and harmony.
Yes, those are nice things to look forward to. And Islam even encourages us to forge happy relationships, have children, and form loving families, as the well-known ayah in the Quran states:
“Among His signs is that He creates companions (mates) for you among yourself, so that you may find tranquility with them, and He set love and mercy between you. Surely, in this are signs for people who give thought” (Quran, 30:21).
And, of course, we all have the guys and girls of our dreams who look, act, and talk a certain way that’s most pleasing to us. Some people would like a woman who cooks killer Arab food, or a husband with a hilarious sense of humor.
What about you? What are some criteria you have for your future husband or wife? Perhaps you’d like to marry a doctor? Or maybe you want somebody fun, who’d rather have a Nerf water gun war with you than go for a quiet, romantic moonlit walk on the beach?
We all have our ideas of who’d we’d like to spend the rest of our lives with. Most of us base what we’d like our future spouse to be on things like physical appearance, character, financial state, and religiosity. But is it really that simple? Should you base your decision to marry a person on one thing, or many things? What’s the key to a successful marriage?
Imagine you’re crossing a stream with your eyes blindfolded. Are you going to plunge into the stream, or walk slowly and feel around to be sure you don’t harm yourself? Getting into marriage kind of works like that. It’s dangerous, unknown, and you have to decide how to navigate the situation.
People can tell you all their many tips of how to have a successful marriage, and it’s wise not to discard that advice from people who’ve lived life and learned lessons the hard way. However, it’s also wise to understand that the very worst thing you can walk into marriage with, or anything in life for that matter, is ignorance. Knowledge is power. Ignorance shackles you.
It’s naïve to expect perfection in a marriage. Inevitably, there’ll be mishaps along the way in any relationship. That’s life. But do what you can to avoid getting into trouble and trust in Allah, as a famous hadith states:
Anas ibn Malik reported, “A man said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah? Or should I untie my camel and trust in Allah?’ The Messenger said, ‘Tie your camel and trust in Allah.’” (At-Tirmidhi 2517).
The Prophet’s advice in this hadith is an analogy to the greater idea of putting work into avoiding trouble in life but knowing that, in the end, Allah’s Qadr will prevail and we should trust Him.
The first step, before even considering marriage, is to be sure that you yourself are mentally, physically, and financially ready to take on the many lifelong responsibilities of having a spouse and raising a family. Read the Quran and hadith to know the rights which you owe others and the rights you are owed. Remember: Knowledge is power.
In this day and age, our individualistic Western culture has produced an abundance of commitment-phobic people. If a person wanting to marry you isn’t ready to face responsibility and commitment, then you shouldn’t suffer for it just because they’re good-looking, rich, or entertaining. And you aren’t the only one who stands a good chance of being harmed greatly by decisions you make. The children you might have, as well as the rest of your biological family will be affected, whether directly or indirectly, by the choices you make. So, make sure you choose well.
When somebody comes along who is interested in marriage, ask your future husband/wife questions. Don’t limit it to a few, casual questions about where they’re from, what they’re studying in college, and what’s their favorite food. Ask them the hardcore questions nobody likes to hear: What are their opinions on polygamy? Have they been married before? How do they behave around their friends, as opposed to their behavior around their family? Do they believe in homeschooling children or sending them to public school? Do they plan to leave the country often? How do they expect housework to be divided between you two?
Don’t be afraid of appearing like an interrogator. If the person runs in the opposite direction the minute you start asking them very personal, uncomfortable questions, don’t fret. You have every right to know what you’re getting into, and if that person has something to hide, they’re not the right person for you. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry. Better single, independent, and a little lonely rather than mentally and emotionally destroyed for life, possibly sharing that lifelong pain with children and family.
Yes, it sounds like it’s all doom and gloom. It’s the complete opposite of how we’ve been taught all our lives by Western culture to look at romantic relationships. But reality can be depressing sometimes. Marriages go wrong, particularly in this day and age. Psychologists have dedicated their lives to studying the aspects of a successful relationship with no solid luck.
In truth, it is Allah’s Qadr and will in the end that prevails. If it is His Will that you have a successful marriage, it will happen, regardless if the world is against you. If it is His Will that you don’t have a successful marriage, then this is how it will be. And no amount of preparation and caution can stop it from happening.
As the hadith from before states, tie the camel’s rope and trust in Allah. Don’t view a relationship not working out as a failure of yourself as a human being. Incompatibility between two people makes neither one a horrible person. You have every right to be with somebody who makes you happy, whom you can fully love and who fully loves you back.
Photo Credit: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/gospeldrivenchurch/2015/03/27/change-and-grace-in-marriage/