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5 Crucial Ways You Should Soul-Search Before You Spouse-Search
Lifestyle
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Jul 25, 2022
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5 MIN READ
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Guest Contributor
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Editor’s note: This blog post is part two of a three-part series on preparing for marriage and is excerpted from The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit. Check out the full toolkit and The FYI’s very own online marriage prep course here. Read part one of the series here. In this article, we’ll talk about why and how you should be soul-searching before looking for your other half.
By Issra Killawi
Often when thinking about marriage, people make lists about who their ideal partner would be. But what about you? What makes you who you are, and what would make you a good partner for someone else?
A strong sense of self-awareness will help you know whether you’re ready to be married, how you might show up in a relationship and what kind of spouse will help you grow. It can help you make wiser decisions about who to consider when searching for a spouse.
Here are five ways that you can use self-awareness to prepare for marriage.
1. Know your story.
Self-reflection is one of the best tools in your marriage prep toolbox. It will help you gain clarity on what you want in a partner and in a marriage.
  • Challenge yourself to answer questions that you might ask a potential partner, like “How would you behave if you were upset with someone?” or “How has your parents’ relationship impacted your expectations of marriage?”
  • Take a personality assessment to learn more about yourself.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of journaling as a tool to help you better know yourself. Here are some reflection questions to get you started.
  • If writing doesn’t come easily to you, try spending time in solitude and recording yourself as you think/speak out loud.
2. Talk to family, close friends and mentors.
Do they have any words of advice about how you can grow or how to prepare for marriage? Try answering these questions on your own, then pose these questions to the people closest to you. How do their answers compare with your own?
  • How would they describe your personality?
  • What are the strengths they see in you? What do you they think you can work on?
  • What are the characteristics of someone they can see you with? Why did they choose those characteristics?
  • Don’t avoid asking the sibling with whom you never get along these questions too, or the friend whose personality often clashes with yours. They may point out something about you that you weren’t aware of before.
3. Explore what you’re looking for in a partner.
When asked about what they want in a spouse, most people say something like, “I just want a good person.”
Everyone wants a good person, but we all have different upbringings, circumstances, and values that shape our expectations of a partner. So, it’s important to get specific about what you are looking for. One way to do this is to put it down on paper.
  • Make a list of characteristics that your future partner MUST HAVE –, and a list of NICE-TO-HAVES.
  • Be concrete in how you define each characteristic. What does it look like in action? Can you measure it?
  • Also, make a list of deal-breakers – characteristics or circumstances that would keep you from moving forward with the relationship e.g., smoking, relocating, living with in-laws, not praying, etc.
4. Know the red flags.
A red flag is a sign that something about your potential spouse is not sitting well with you. Or it could be a clue warning you about issues that can create serious conflict in your relationship. Research shows that one of the reasons for divorce among Muslim couples was that red flags were left unaddressed before marriage (Killawi, 2018).
In addition to red flags in the behavior of a potential partner, how you feel can also be a red flag. Do you feel heard in the relationship? Does your partner listen to your perspective and respect your needs, boundaries, and decisions? Have you felt that they’ve tried to put you down or invalidate your perspective?
Before talking to anyone for marriage, it's a good idea to know healthy relationship behavior from toxic behavior. Read up on what kind of red flags to look for, and how to address them if they pop up. In a situation where you’re unsure of whether you’re spotting a red flag, know that pre-marital counseling can help.
5. Envision your courtship
When it comes to courtship, a common question is, “How long should I talk to someone before either deciding to get married?” There is no magic number for how long courtship should last. The length of your courtship does not determine how compatible you are with someone. Some people get to know their partners deeply over a shorter time period while others require more time.
What’s important is that you are spending quality (halal) time with the person, that you are asking the critical questions, and being thorough in your process. So, think about what your courtship will look like. What will help you assess for compatibility and determine if there is a connection between you and someone else?
In what kinds of settings would you feel comfortable meeting a potential spouse? Would you prefer a family or group setting over a one-on-one meeting? Will you be engaging in-person, online, on the phone, etc? This will look differently for couples depending on their life circumstances, cultural and family values, emotional and spiritual states, and whether the relationship is a long distance one. If your family will be involved, remember to discuss their expectations about this process and get everyone on the same page.
Before you write the next chapter of life with someone else, you need to know your own story. Try some of these tips and see what you learn about yourself. And remember – the more self-aware you are, the better of a partner you can be, Insha’Allah.
The Family and Youth Institute (The FYI) is a national research and education institute focusing on Muslim mental health and family wellness. The FYI provides research-based educational resources like animated videos, articles, toolkits and infographics.
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