So a disclaimer: I don’t claim to be a marriage or relationship expert, but this is based on experience and observations. Hope it helps those singe Muslim folks out there! I’m open for a discussion based on the below and open to learning. With that said, let’s begin!
A lot of folks who’re single may find it frustrating to find “The One.” Numerous attempts to get to know someone for the sake of marriage may have ended in failure, heartbreak, disappointment and frustration. Many attempts may have included different strategies or approaches all resulting in failure. It’s extremely frustrating and it makes you want to give up on the search altogether. We’ve also all heard the numerous marriage lectures/talks at Islamic conferences, workshops and programs. We’ve maybe attended speed dating events or programs. We’ve maybe even tried looking online for a potential spouse.
However, up until this point there truly hasn’t been real talk about how to find a spouse keeping in mind the actual happenings on the ground. There’s the ideal and then there’s the reality of searching for a potential spouse. Many marriage talks/lectures focus on the ideal rather than the reality. Searching for a spouse may not be a clean, simple and easy process.
Here are some things to reflect upon/keep in mind when searching for “The One.”
Your Niyyah (Intention)
What’s your Niyyah (intention) to get married? What’s the real reason you’re looking to get married? This will require some real soul searching and truly understanding of marriage. Don’t get rushed because everyone around you is getting married, or you feel like your time is running out. Purify your intentions and clear them to ensure you’re focused in your pursuit of marriage.
Prepare For It
Are you prepared for marriage? Emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially? Read up about emotional intelligence, vulnerability, love languages, and purchase these books:
Do You Understand Marriage—it’s purpose, your role, your responsibilities? I feel my generation and younger generations truly don’t understand marriage at its core. Many have a Bollywood/Hollywood/Disney image of marriage in their minds which often make their pursuit of marriage an obstacle in itself and is the reason many marriages fail miserably.
Read up on marriage, watch lectures (not just Islamic ones), watch lectures, read books on relationships, emotional intelligence, etc.
Have you done introspection about your own strengths and weaknesses? Have you done a self-SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of yourself? Do you truly know what makes you tick? Where are you at as a person? I don’t say this lightly, because it’s incredibly important to know who you are prior to entering a relationship so you’re able to be confident in yourself and exude that confidence to a potential spouse.
Know Your Limits, Boundaries & Non-Negotiables
Reflect upon what are certain things you will not tolerate in a marriage or a spouse and ensure you convey that to your potential spouse when talking to them.
Know the Difference Between Love & Lust, and Infatuation
Sometimes in our pursuit of getting to know someone we may mistake some of our emotions and feelings for someone we’re talking to—which may confuse us. It’s important to ensure that we’re knowing our emotions and feelings. Ensure you’re making the distinction between love, lust and infatuation.
Don’t Fall in Love with the Idea of a Person/Marriage/Being in a Relationship
Sometimes we fall in love with the idea of someone rather than the actual person themselves. This makes us miss certain red flags in a person we may be in a relationship with or be talking to for the sake of marriage. Other times we may fall in love with the idea of marriage or being in a relationship. This is often due to peer pressure or feeling that everyone around you is either married or seeking marriage and it’s a badge of pride/bragging material to say you’re “talking to someone.”
Know and Understand the Difference Between Divine Love and Human Love
We honestly throw around the word love so loosely these days it’s lost its true value and meaning. It’s important to make a distinction between Divine Love and Human Love. This means understanding one’s love of Allah (and seeing if it’s strong or weak and truly understanding what Human Love is and it’s relation to Divine Love. You love someone for the sake of Allah, thus establish Divine Love before Human Love.
Read Up on Emotional Intelligence and Vulnerability
Emotional intelligence and vulnerability is an extremely fascinating topic along with overall relationship advice. One person who’s incredibly insightful is Brene Brown. She has several lectures online and books. Check them out!
Be the Best You Can Be
Are you the best version of yourself you can be—emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually speaking? What are improvements you can make?
Study and Observe Marriages (Both Successful And Unsuccessful Marriages)
Observe successful and unsuccessful marriages. Study what makes them work and what don’t make them work. What are traits and actions that make successful marriages work and what are things that make marriages fail? These marriages can be within your friends or family—so observe them and see what makes them work and what are certain things you like and dislike. It’ll give you an idea of your own marriage and how you would like it to be.
Lastly, find an experienced confidant/mentor who you feel is a good judge of character and has a strong understanding of married life and what it takes to make a successful marriage work. Ask questions and take notes. Talk to marriage counselors and ask them in their experience what makes some marriages fail and some successful.
Love Allah, Love Your Self, Then Love Another
We often mix up Divine Love with human love. The key is to love Allah (develop a relationship with Him via prayer), love yourself (accept yourself with your flaws and imperfections and embrace them), and then love another. You cannot truly love another once you establish the first two.
Avoid the Rebound
Are you rebounding from a previous relationship? Avoid the immediate rebound out of a yearning for companionship or a relationship. Slow down and get a grip on yourself prior to entering another relationship. Take time to heal, reflect upon your previous relationship, pray, and even cry it out if you need to get rid of the emotions from your previous relationship.
This also means closing the door and making peace with your past relationships. Delete numbers, block on social media, and do what it takes to remove previous folks from past relationships from your life. Don’t keep in touch with them nor seek to go back–or entertain it. If you don’t feel you’ve truly moved on don’t pursue getting to know someone unless you’ve fully cleansed the emotions and feelings for them from your system. Also, an obvious thing—never keep in touch with exes—never a healthy way to start a new relationship with your new potential spouse knowing you’re in touch with your ex. This may differ when it comes to divorced folks who may need to keep in touch if they have kids together, but as a rule of thumb it’s best to keep your ex at a healthy distance if you want to pursue a new potential spouse.
Lastly, if you truly haven’t healed from a past relationship or relationships it would probably not best to put yourself in a new one if you’re not emotionally ready. Seek counseling or therapy if needed.Be Okay with Rejection
Rejection will happen. People are people. They may reject you based on superficial reasons based on absolutely ridiculous superficial reasons–looks, your bank balance, earning potential, ethnicity, or race—so it’s okay. They may reject you on absolutely legitimate reasons. It feels bad to sometimes get repeated rejections, but you’re being brave and courageous by putting yourself out there so be proud of yourself it’s not easy!
Learn How to Court A Potential Spouse
This is probably one of the biggest problems I’ve personally seen in the pursuit of marriage for some folks. Guys don’t know how to court (or talk to girls) and vice versa. Learn how to be normal and talk maturely with a potential spouse. You may have your own style or preference of how to get to know someone–some of us may be a bit more traditional/conservative and ask for families to be involved from the beginning or some of us may be a bit more progressive and be ok with meeting up with a potential spouse and getting to “halal date” with them. Whatever approach you take just learn how to court someone in an honorable, respectful, dignified, and mature in your approach.
Be the Reason People Believe There are Good People
No matter what decision you take in accepting or rejecting a person be sure to be honorable, respectful, and dignified in your pursuit. Be good, be honorable, be compassionate and be merciful if/when you decide to move on from someone or simply would no longer like to talk to them. It’s all in how you treat others that gives them hope in good people existing. There are utterly way too many people hurting other people and breaking hearts due to their selfishness and ignorance. Be nice and give folks hope there are other good people in the world.
Don’t Rush It
In the process of getting to know someone don’t rush it or catch feelings too early on. Don’t divulge too much about yourself early on. You’re getting to know someone completely new to you—be careful about rushing things and not catching certain red flags. Your time will come (InshaAllah – God Willing). Be patient.
Don’t Catch Feelings Too Early
I feel this point needed to be made: don’t catch feelings too early in a relationship. Don’t confuse someone’s attention as affection. Keep it strictly business in the beginning. Don’t say I love you. Don’t get flowers or gifts. Don’t confuse folks with your actions. This may sound a bit hard hearted, but the idea we’re trying to make is to ensure that your hear and emotional state is protected from potential misunderstanding, heartbreak and disappointment. Ask critical and focused questions about what’s important to you in a potential spouse. Observe, listen, and take notes of things you see in them you like and dislike or feel should change.
Ask the Right Questions
Most of us may not know what questions to ask in the first place. Thankfully compilations of questions have been made to ask when it comes to getting to know someone, but come up with your own list of questions that may range from personality questions, religion, family, finance and intimacy.
Be Honest, Open And Sincere
In your pursuit of getting to know someone it’s important to be honest, open and sincere. Don’t be afraid of speaking your mind and saying how you feel about certain things. Better to be open, honest and sincere and weed out folks who may not agree with your worldview, feelings, and emotions than waste time and end up figuring out they weren’t even compatible in the beginning.
Set the Expectations from the Beginning
When it comes to pursuing marriage or getting to know someone it’s no joke. Be serious, be focused and be deliberate in your approach. Ain’t nobody got time for folks who waste your time or theirs.
Don’t Be Quick to Judge(And Be Understanding)
Each and every person has unique life experiences that may not be perfect. Not everyone has had a squeaky clean past or life. They face immense ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and have been through hell and back. Be understanding, be merciful,be compassionate but also be real with yourself if it’s something you can accept in your spouse or not. It’s ok to not be ok with certain past events or experiences in the potential spouse’s life, but learn to understand that everyone has their own past life experiences full of joy, happiness, sorrow, personal trials, extreme challenges/circumstances,sorrow and difficulties that shaped them into the person they are today.
Perhaps the one with a super rough past may be the best one for you due to them learning from their past mistakes and experiences. You never know!
Listen (and Observe) Intently
When you’re talking to someone learn to listen intently. Don’t get caught up in smoke in mirrors or grandiose promises or talk. Pick up on non-verbal cues, actions vs words, character, personality, etc.
Take Red Flags Seriously
If you find anything that stands out to you and is a super duper negative or a bad character trait—run the other way.
Don’t Ghost People
If you’re not interested in a person let them down easy, with grace, dignity and respect. No one likes to feel like leaving empty at the end of a conversation or process of getting to know someone. Ask yourself if this action would be something you would want someone to do to you.
Don’t Waste Your Time on People Who Aren’t Serious
There will be many guys and girls who’ll be fake, liars, shady, disloyal, untrusthworthy,unsure or simply unclear about what they want in a relationship or marriage—don’t waste time on them—as soon as you pick up on that drop ‘em.
Look For Loyalty, Sincerity, Honesty, and Trust
These are all three very important factors to have in any relationship. Make sure these are all present in the one you’re talking to. This means observing certain behaviors and actions when you’re getting to know someone.
Observe if They Say What they Mean and Mean what they Say
A lot of folks will talk the big talk—especially when it comes to getting to know someone, but observe if their actions match their words and vice versa.
Avoid the Online Dating Scene
This is just my opinion and I could be wrong—-but all of the online dating sites/apps are pretty awful. Folks online post all sorts of edited photos (filters), angle shots that are deceiving, and you truly don’t know the person online. You may get creeps messaging you or weird folks and folks who simply aren’t serious. Meeting and getting to know someone in person is far more effective—you can pick up on non-verbal cues, personality, character and other things much better. Better to catch negative things in person early on than find out later.
It’s also probably best to get to know someone within your local community as long-distance relationships or conversations are difficult to maintain. If you have the means and the ability to meet up with a potential spouse then go for it, but make sure it’s worth it by picking up on things you like and don’t like.
Let Your Friends and Family Know You’re in the Market
Let good and trustworthy friends and family you’re in the market and searching for a spouse. Just as the best employees come from referrals or recommendations so do potential spouses.
Reflect Upon What You Want in a Potential Spouse
Make a list of absolute musts in what you want in a spouse. This means your absolute musts and your maybe want, and your non-negotiables and things you can compromise on. This means making sure you know what you want form everything from character, dress, location, family, ethnicity, race, etc.
Be Focused On Your Goals
It’s important to have personal, spiritual, mental, emotional and financial goals. Having this focus will give you a roadmap and a vision of the future and allow you to see if a potential spouse is on the same trajectory as you and/or would be supportive of your life trajectory.