A male perspective: Who I need to be – for you

Yusef & Samira

I’m not a marriage counselor but it doesn’t take much to see that young Muslims’ unrealistic expectations, fears, families, and career ambitions – among other factors – are contributing to a high rate of single and divorced Muslims. In my own circle, for every happily married couple that I know, there are three or four people still looking for the right connection.

For a long time I was one of those people. I was a true romantic, believing that if I searched hard enough and met as many people as possible then, eventually, I would find the person of my dreams. When I met a woman of interest, I was assertive and clear in my approach. Though I still think that’s an important part of meeting someone and is a method that everyone should utilize when looking for their future partner, I also strongly believe that there is work to be done before meeting the partner of your dreams.

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is: Who do I need to be in order to meet and attract the person that I’m looking for?

We have a lot more to do with meeting the person of our dreams than we realize. I offer this advice as someone who has gone through this exact process. I was looking for someone that was honest and faithful, someone who was serious in the practice of her deen. But, I wasn’t in the right place to attract that type of women. The actions I was taking in my life were inconsistent with the life I said I wanted, with the woman I wanted it with. For years, this held me back.

What I realized is that we can’t have expectations of our partner if we don’t adjust our own behavior or expectations of ourselves accordingly. As humans, there are many things outside of our control, but, for the most part, we have the life we choose. It’s easy to blame someone else or to see yourself as the victim of circumstance. It is always more challenging to look within ourselves to see what we can choose or behave differently. You yourself could be precisely what is preventing you from the life and love that you seek.

Let me give you an example from brotherly love. One day while driving, I heard a man being interviewed on WBEZ. He spoke eloquently and passionately and I was impressed by his responses. It wasn’t until a few minutes into the interview that I realized that it was actually my older brother being interviewed! For much of my life, he and I were not close, and I blamed him for us not having the relationship that I wanted us to have.

But, after hearing him on the radio, I asked myself: What have I done to contribute to our relationship? For the first time, I took responsibility. It was the beginning of a personal transformation for me that affected every relationship in my life, including the one with my brother.

Some time after that epiphany, I met Samira. She is originally from Harlem, but when I first connected with her she was living in Oman. I was living in Queens, and there was an 8-hour time difference and over seven thousand miles between us. My previous experiences with long distance connections were bad and I’d vowed never again to consider someone who wasn’t in the same area as me. But our connection was unlike any other I’d experienced before. She had over 95% of the qualities that I’d mentally listed as desirable in a spouse, down to the little, silly things.

After a couple of months of conversation, we reached the point in our courtship where I had to choose whether I wanted to continue exploring this connection with someone that I could fall in love with, or end it because of my fears of a long-distance relationship based on past experiences. I chose to be the person I needed to be – to face my fears so that I could accept Samira into my life.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Samira decided to move back to New York City permanently after we both realized that we were utterly and undeniably in love.

Eventually, we decided to get married and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Yusef Ramelize is a New York City-based graphic designer and the founder and project director of the annual event Homeless for One Week. As he says on his website, “In all areas of my life, from activism to design expression, whether it’s a house to live in or a work of art, I seek to encourage appreciation for those things that we often take for granted in our lives.”

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  • http://lifeontuesday.wordpress.com ashazenzi

    excellent insights. i remember having that exact same ‘ah ha’ type of moment right before i found my husband. 11 years in and we’re holding it down! :D

  • Fatima

    This is so lovely and well written. A guide for all Muslim men in search of their match.

  • http://adentalstudent.wordpress.com adentalstudent

    Yusef, love your approach that one should work on oneself before expecting the same positive traits in another. This reminds me of these Qur’anic phrase 24:26, part of which says, “Impure women are for impure men and impure men are for impure women. Pure women are for pure men and pure men are for pure women.” suggesting that one should attempt to purify oneself first in order to have the same state in her/her partner.

  • http://invisiblemuslimah.blogspot.com Chinyere

    It’s excellent to read reflections on love from the male perspective! I’m withholding my desire to ask this brother if he has single friends, haha, but seriously! I’m so tired of reading pieces that basically reduce men to a few simple addages and an appendage without hearing voice of sincere men who, like all of the women I know and love, want compatible life (and deen) partners… Makes us all seem a bit more human and makes love seem all the less impossible. Thanks for sharing, and can we get more brothers contributing soon! Thanks!

  • Reshmi

    Thank you for sharing a male’s perspective. Often this key element is missing in most conversations related to marriage and relationship, at least from my observations

  • http://collegeinsomniac.wordpress.com College Insomniac

    Yusef thank u so much for sharing your story. Reading this gives me hope that the person i am waiting on could think like this one day and things will be ok with us again. I wish you and samira the best.

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  • DeSean Rodgers

    Very good insight Brother. Our paths sound similar in that even distance couldn’t deny our feelings and expectations for one another. Pure for pure, indeed.

    Even still, I’m glad you identified that moment where you had to make a decision. Faith plays a major role in how we act. We may not know for absolute certain that a person is supposed to be in our lives but it ‘feels’ right from within.

    I’m happy for you and your wife. Take care and may Allah continue to bless your steps.

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