Editor’s note: This blog post is part one 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. Check back to the blog in the coming weeks for part two and three of the series, which will focus on practical tips to prepare for marriage.
Some of your friends are talking about marriage apps, half-jokingly matchmaking for each other, and getting hitched. Others are opting out right now to focus on school, family or other commitments. But what about you? How do you know if marriage is the next best step for you? When is the right time to be looking for your other half? Here are three questions to help you find an answer.
1. Why do you want to get married?
In the life of a Muslim, every action is evaluated by its intention. Marriage is no exception. It is a companionship that should bring a person closer to Allah (S) and set the foundation for a peaceful home and a pious family. This intimate relationship with another human being takes time, commitment and patience from both partners so that they can experience a loving bond.
Your intention will shape the entire journey – from the kind of spouse you look for to how you’ll find him/her to how quickly you decide to get married, etc. So first, take a minute to ask yourself – why do you want to get married?
People marry for various reasons. Some people marry to escape from a dysfunctional home or family environment. Maybe you want to settle down and start a family. Maybe you want that loving partnership with a spouse as you move through life. Or you just feel pressured because everyone around you is getting married!
Be mindful of your reason(s) and be honest with yourself about what’s motivating you. Think about how this could affect your search for a spouse and how you approach the decision to get married.
Also, maybe you don’t want to get married right now. Ask yourself why that is. Are you putting off marriage because of school or career or because it’s just not the right time? Were you surrounded by toxic relationships or have had negative experiences that make you anxious about the whole idea of marriage?
Take note of your reasons, and keep reading.
2. How do you define “ready?”
Think about what you believe it means to be “ready for marriage.” What do you notice about your expectations? We tend to focus on things like being able to afford a wedding or meeting our life-long fitness goals first. But what about less tangible things like emotional readiness? Are you emotionally ready to get married?
Emotional maturity is key
to a healthy relationship with yourself and others. A healthy marriage is made up of two healthy individuals, so it’s important to be mindful of any emotional issues you may struggle with and begin working on them.
Image source: Pexels
1. Am I unwilling to talk about my feelings with others?
2. Do I have trouble dealing with my anger?
3. Do I have difficulty with commitment?
4. Do I feel spiritually or emotionally empty within myself?
5. Do I dislike the person I am?
6. Do I have any addictions that I’m not addressing?
7. Do I feel so lonely and desperate that I’m totally miserable without a relationship?
8. Am I comfortable asserting what I need or want from others?
9. Am I able to be assertive about leaving a relationship should I come across a red flag?
10. How honest am I with myself, and how honest will I be with a potential partner during the courtship process? Is there something I feel l need to hide from a potential partner?
We all have blind spots, so ask a good friend or trusted relative to help you answer these questions too. Even if you disagree with their answers, make sure to listen and understand where they are coming from. Reflect on what they’ve shared and be mindful of any behaviors they’ve pointed out to you.
The key here is to be honest with yourself. If your intention is to please Allah (S) through your marriage, then don’t overlook the importance of refining your character and taking responsibility for any personal issues that may impact your marriage.
But coming across something you need to work on doesn’t mean putting off marriage until you’ve become the perfect version of yourself either. Self-development is a lifelong process that will continue through marriage, Insha’Allah. But, you can take active steps towards your growth; explore counseling and self-help books.
Set goals for yourself and a timeframe by which you’d like to accomplish them. Get creative to learn more about yourself: Try new things, step out of your comfort zone, and reflect on your experiences. Get to know your thoughts and how they influence your opinions and decision-making. Think about what you need to do to be more prepared, and do it!
3. When is the “right time” for you?
Each phase in your life will present you with circumstances that can benefit a relationship in some ways while challenging it in others. For example, people who get married young may have found a companion to grow with – but they may struggle with the changes each person is experiencing as they grow, as well as supporting themselves financially. For young professionals who delay marriage, they may be more financially/emotionally stable and more aware of their needs in a relationship, but they may struggle to find a spouse at an older age.
There is no perfect age or stage to enter the marriage market. Just because everyone expects you to be married by a certain age doesn’t mean that’s the best time for you. And although emotional maturity and personal responsibility do generally come with age, age alone does not make a person more/less ready for marriage. Self-awareness, maturity, and strong relationship skills are much better predictors of marriage readiness.
The right time to consider marriage will vary from person to person based on their circumstances. So, consider your circumstances. How soon do you want to be married?
If you’re serious about getting to know potentials, how will you prioritize the time and mental/emotional space needed for courting?
If you were to get married in the next 6-12 months, how would this impact you and your spouse? Consider your studies, career, what you’ll be able to afford, living arrangements, etc. How will it impact your lifestyle in the early years of marriage?
If you find yourself wondering if marriage is the next best step for you, think about these questions. Talk through them with someone you trust and who knows you well. Make du’a about it and have faith in Allah’s (S) timing. Know that being intentional about how you approach marriage will only make you a more self-aware, mindful person and a better partner, 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.