By Roba (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
Have you ever said to yourself something similar to, ”It’s okay, when I am married, I will stop getting angry so easily” or “I’ll never hurt my spouse or children with my words like I did today with my parents or siblings – I will change and I’ll be better.” The same goes for a society thinking that a person will change once they get married so a spouse should be sought for them to finally change their life-long bad habits.
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. [Quran; 30:21]
Most of us believe in the idea of changing for the spouse and, possibly changing them too. This delusional notion suggests that change comes after marriage and two different people suddenly become this harmonious couple who have been completely separated from all of their past habits, mannerisms, and behaviors to fulfill their marital duties perfectly. Of course, we don’t have to be perfect to be able to marry. None of us are perfect human beings and will never be, but we can try working on ourselves as much as we can to be able to demand the same traits in our spouse. So, before considering marriage, please consider the following 10 pointers which can help you prepare yourself for your big day and to be able to choose what you deserve in shaa Allah:
1. Work on yourself first and try to become the person you want your spouse to be
As Muslims, we are compelled to continue developing and transforming into our better selves. Personal development or spiritual growth may look different for different people. Know what you need to grow and start working on it now instead of delaying everything till you’re married or have kids. Self awareness and development is a long journey which takes years of practice and discipline. Start now before you feel like it’s too late to change because certain habits have been ingrained in your personality. Working on yourself first – becoming a better person for your future spouse is the best investment you can make for your marriage.
Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women.” [Hadith; Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1162]
Similarly, we prepare beforehand for a job interview, an exam, or any other important event in our lives. Most of us mistakenly think that the basics of attaining a healthy marriage will come naturally to us while we are married and our only preparation is a physical one – taking care of our physical selves and belongings. However, that’s not remotely true and not because marriage is a difficult journey to embark on, but because it is a sanctity in Islam and must not be taken lightly. It might sound odd, but try to become the person you’d want to marry.
2. Ask others about your flaws (things that you may not know need to be worked on)
Work on your flaws. Write them down one by one and think of ways you can improve yourself. But also ask others because you may not be aware of some of your flaws. Naturally, as human beings, our ego can blind us from seeing our own flaws and faults. Therefore, you find yourself in dire need of unbiased viewpoints. Ask someone you trust about your behaviors or habits which can cause problems with someone living and sharing a life with you. This is one of the hardest, but most effective ways to prepare yourself for marriage as well as evolve as a person. The best people to ask are probably the people you are already living with day in and day out. Ask your parents, ask your siblings. They may be brutally honest. Also ask them how you CAN improve because being aware of the problem is half the solution only. Knowing how to work on your flaws is the next big step. Have an open communication with them without getting offended. You have flaws and they do too. All of you can help each other because no one knows our highs and lows better than people who are constantly living their lives with and around us.
I cannot emphasize this point enough. I believe it is one of the most important factors that can determine whether a marriage is happy or miserable. I am sure you heard that marriage is not all rainbows and butterflies, a gazillion times before. It might be a cliche, but it is a fact. However, the more you learn about the process of dealing with conflicts instead of expecting you will never disagree on anything, the happier your marriage will be.Learn to be angry respectfully, to communicate what upsets you without hurting or disrespecting your spouse. Check AYEINA’s notes in the slides above of “ART OF NEGOTIATION” masterclass!
The bottom line is to be proactive and don’t be passive. Lose the “fighting, screaming, and saying curse words is only natural. We’ll always make up” mentality and learn to be angry in a respectful manner. Every time you feel you are about to blurt out hurtful words to your spouse, take a breather, and seek refuge in Allah from the Shaytan. Preferably, take a break from the discussion and go make wudu. I promise you, you will be amazed by the outcome of these simple yet effective steps.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension) ; the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” The Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” A’mash said: He then embraces him. [Hadith; Muslim 2813b]
4. Be happy for your married friends and make dua for them
Be truly joyous that they are happy. Congratulate them and make Dua to Allah (SWT) to bless their marriages and that He grants you the same.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The supplication of a Muslim for his (Muslim) brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Everytime he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: ‘A meen! May it be for you, too’.” [Hadith; Riyad as-Salihin 1495]
When I say details, I mean every single tiny specific detail. Ask Allah what is it that you aspire to find in your spouse. Their deen, akhlaq (manners), looks, personality etc. Yes, EVERYTHING. Unlike human beings, Allah the Almighty, is pleased to hear our pleas and duas. And then ask khair in whatever you ask of Him.
6. Do not pause your life until marriage
If you’ve been thinking of starting a project, do it now. Do not wait. You don’t have to be married first to accomplish your goals. Why? Because the right person will encourage and motivate you to proceed with what you started. Yes, you will have to prioritize your lives together but with your spouse’s support, you can accomplish your dreams too in shaa Allah. Even when the kids come in the situation. No good deed should be delayed simply because of what may come. You’ll be rewarded for however much you can do in whatever given period of your life.
Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) narrating about his Lord said, “Allah ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write). If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times: and if somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then Allah will write one bad deed (in his account).” [Hadith; Sahih al-Bukhari 6491]
7. Know your rights as well as spouse’s rights
I wholeheartedly believe there should be a mandatory Islamic marriage course that prepares every married couple with basics of spousal rights. Don’t we take a driving test to have a license? Why not do the same with marriage?Knowing both of your rights will save you so much energy on useless quarrels and arguments. Allah (SWT) knows us more than we know ourselves and hence has bestowed certain roles and rights upon each of us. This makes things concise and easy. Exerting energy in fulfilling the rights of your husband and him doing the same for you will make both of you get invested in finding ways to make each other happy. Check this FIQH OF MARRIAGE course by Dr. Bilal Philips (not affiliated with it, but AYEINA benefited from it personally and posted the notes in the slides below):
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8. Clearly know what qualities you absolutely need in your spouse vs what you want (what you can compromise on)
Surprisingly, the more you work on yourself, the clearer you’ll know the difference between what you want and what you need in a spouse. You might want a spouse with a sense of humor, but you need someone who is supportive of you. In other words, you might be able to compromise the wants, but not the needs. Do not settle for anyone just for the sake of getting married. Marriage, when implemented for the sake of Allah, becomes a beautiful, and safe sanctuary for both partners.
Prophet ﷺ said: “A woman may be married for four things: Her wealth, her lineage, her beauty or for her religion. Choose the religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” [Hadith; Ibn Majah 14]
The following questions can help you determine if your spouse is the right person for you or the answers to similar questions will determine if this marriage is fitting or not. :
-Is he/she going to help me get closer to Allah (SWT) while I work on myself as well or will he/she push me further away?
-Does he/she care more about pleasing Allah (SWT) or people?
-Is he/she a good Muslim role model for our future children?
9. Turn to Shoora (consulting wise related people)
Istishaara (consulting wise people around you) is an important part of choosing a spouse when you have several options, so you are able to narrow down your choices. Consulting wise righteous people around you who can advice you regarding your situation can help a great deal. As some of our decisions may be purely emotional while some can be out of haste.
Al-Hasan said, “People never seek advice without being guided to the best possibility available to them.” Then he recited, “and manage their affairs by mutual consultation.” (42:38) [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 258]
10. Seek Allah’s help through Istikhara
After landing on a decision, remember to pray Istikhara and proceed with whatever decision you have settled on. The beauty of this prayer is that it gives you peace of mind. After doing your part of course (e.g., making your decision in accordance with Islamic laws and practices), you ask Allah to guide you to the right decision. Leaving your affair in his Hands (SWT) will instill in you a profound sense of comfort that whatever comes next will be khair (beneficial) for you in shaa Allah. Signs by Allah may include constant roadblocks in your way. What could be more comforting than asking your own Creator and The Most Merciful to guide you?
It was narrated that Anas said: “When the ‘Iddah of Zainab was over, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to Zaid: ‘Propose marriage to her on my behalf.’ Zaid went and said: ‘O Zainab, rejoice, for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has sent me to you to propose marriage on his behalf.’ She said: ‘I will not do anything until I consult my Lord.’ She went to her prayer place and Qur’an was revealed…” [Hadith; Sunan an-Nasa’i 3251]
- It’s not important when you get married, but it’s important whom you get married to.
- Choose someone you want to be beside you in this Dunya and in Jannah in shaa Allah.
- Make the intention to improve yourself for the sake of Allah (SWT) first and consequently, your behavior with people will improve too.
- Allah (SWT) might not have answered your Dua yet, but it could be because He wants you to work on yourself to be ready for the blessing of marriage bi’idhnillah.
May Allah (SWT) bless all Muslim men and women with righteous spouse who are walking in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. Aameen.
Co-author’s Bio: Assalamu Alaikom, my name is Roba I am 29 years old and I’ve always been passionate about two things in life, writing and Islam. Through my blog https://www.inspiredbyaisha.com/ and Instagram page @inspiredbyaisha_ , I can help you lead an Islamic lifestyle inshAllah as a Muslimah. I would truly love it if you’d drop by and check them both out.