بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم
Salam alaykum warahmatullah,
This is one post that has kept me up for weeks and my confusion has been mainly around how it will be received. I’d like to put out here that I’m definitely not an expert on anything I write about as these are just my reflections of things that happen to me and around me. Like I said in my first post, I’m on a journey and I’d love to take you with me. Hopefully, we’ll learn and grow together, or better yet, you’ll learn not to make the same mistakes I’ve made.
I attended a program recently and “Scarcity of Spouse – Myth or Reality?” was one of the topics. The lecturer first conducted a mini survey – Brothers vs Sisters. Brothers said it was a myth while Sisters responded that it’s a reality. Interesting right? Our reality is really just a perception of the situation. Remember this picture? This is a clear example of how everyone’s reality is different. We are a product of our environment and experiences.
In my part of the world, as a young lady in your mid-twenties, you would typically have finished college and have started a job; so ‘naturally’, the next line of action is getting married. Somehow, every conversation you have within your family circle (and outside of it, the older you get) somehow finds its way to the topic of marriage – and when “we are going to buy aso-ebi”. God help you if you don’t have a satisfactory answer – you become a prayer point… lol… Then it becomes even worse if you’ve not been having suitors over…. Errmm… Daddy, you did say not to entertain male visitors remember?
Back to the mini-survey; in a room of at least 100 men and even more women, there was a clear division as to how both genders perceived the situation. I’m not going to argue which is true because as we’ve established from that vote, it’s a matter of perception.
However, today’s discussion is really focusing on females like myself who have found themselves the subject of these awkward conversations and prayer points. What I want to discuss is our ‘getting married process’; what do we do when we say we are ‘ready’ for marriage and what could we try for better results?
A few questions I’d like to ask.
Firstly, am I actually ready for marriage?
For a long time, I thought I was ready for marriage. Well, I was out of uni, working and of course most my mates were already married with kids. But what I didn’t realise until recently, unfortunately; is that it’s actually a more spiritual and psychological decision than about timing or achievements. I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted but I was wrong. I started a self-rediscovery journey recently and I’ve been learning new things about myself – I learned about my personality, my temperament, my goals, the kind of life I want to live, my reaction to situations, parts of my life I needed to improve on, my relationship with my Maker, what actually makes me tick. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an inward looking person, but this time something was different. And I realised what it was – I had somehow let go of some of my pride (hopefully, eventually Allah will rid me of all of it). I could see that I wasn’t perfect; not even close. I used to see myself as a ‘catch’. I mean seriously, what more could a guy want? Beauty and brains rolled up in nice exotic spices – I held my head up high and in six inch heels for that matter…. (looking back, all I say is Alhamdulillah). Eventually, I came down from my high horse (heels) and looked closely in the mirror, and there I saw my flaws! Truly, you are beautiful (inside and out – maa sha Allah!), but if you look closely enough, you’ll see those flaws. So the question is – if every human has flaws, then whomever I’m going to be with will definitely have flaws. Of course, this influenced my re-discovery process. I saw people through different lenses. It was a not-so-rude awakening. I was just a regular girl after all.
And I realised something else, if I had gotten married at the time I thought I was ready, it probably would have been a disaster (Allahu A’alam though). So I thank Allah for helping me find myself. I’m still on that journey and we know it’s a lifelong process.
So what’s my point? Most times, these things are not black and white, you need to look closely to see the shades of grey in between. Take a step back. Ask yourself questions only you can answer. Answer them honestly. Ask Allah for guidance and discernment. He will come your aid.
The Prophet (SAW) said as Narrated Anas: “My Lord says, ‘If My slave comes nearer to me for a span, I go nearer to him for a cubit; and if he comes nearer to Me for a cubit, I go nearer to him for the span of outstretched arms; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ ” Sahih al-Bukhari
Second question – How do I select a spouse?
But before we even go into the selection process, I have a confession to make… I lied. The truth is I don’t think anyone will ever be fully ready for marriage because it’s the only school you go where you don’t even know what the courses are until you’re signed up. Ha ha! The best we can do is work towards being the best version of ourselves, pray to Allah for guidance and help, keep an open mind and hope for the best.
Typically, a lot of us expect to wake up one day and find a Prince Charming at our doorstep ready to whisk us away (figuratively ooo… no haram please). Well, I’m not saying that the fairy tale doesn’t exist, but I’m saying sometimes Cinderella and Prince Charming need a little help… remember Fairy God Mother? A lot of us remain in our comfort zones but what we don’t realise is comfort zones are called just that because they don’t change.
And even more questions –When? How? And Where? What am I looking for? When should I start looking? How and where do I look?
When does it make sense to start looking or putting myself out there? My opinion – as early as possible; with the help of parents and guardians. Some people may be surprised by this but I’m an avid believer and supporter or arranged marriages. I mean why not? I’ve made a promise to myself and my unborn children that as soon as they start maturing, I will start matching them with possibilities. I don’t want to digress from today’s discussion so I’ll do a different post for betrothals later.
As to what we want in a spouse, these are answers we will find during that soul searching we talked about above. My advice? Make a list. Write everything. No matter how silly, superficial, overambitious it may seem at the time. Keep it in a safe place, get a good night’s rest, go back to your list and review it. Don’t take out anything. Next, add weights to each item on your list; such that your total weight is 100. This helps you understand your wants vs needs and prioritize accordingly. For everyone you consider suitable, pull out your list of priorities and see if they fit. Please note, you are not looking for a 100% score. Remember you are not a 100% either. No one is. We come together in our imperfections and create perfectly imperfect unions. And of course when choosing a spouse or making any important decision really, the importance of Istashaarah (consultation – ask questions, talk to people that would have details, also seek advice from are older and wiser) and Salat al-Istikhaarah (Prayer for Guidance) cannot be over-emphasized – May Allah guide us.
Now, how and where to look? *smile*
Everywhere and anywhere. Please don’t get me wrong; nobody wants a sister oozing desperation. It’s a major turn off (pardon my language). My mum used to say something along these lines – “read your books, become a successful woman, boys will look for you then”. Well she wasn’t entirely wrong. Allah ordains our steps and we pray He guides us to meet our soulmates in the best of places. I say live an active life; engage in things that are worthwhile and make you happy, create networks, take on new adventures, travel, contribute to your society. This would enlarge your pool of options and also grant you a purpose-driven life. We also pray that when we do meet him, the Almighty helps us to recognize him as our Prince Char.
Another point I would like to address is this: a lot of people want to get married but, in truth, they are more interested in the Walimah than the actual marriage. Before dragging a brother down that road we need to ask ourselves and be sure we don’t just want a wedding party but more importantly, a life-long commitment.
May Allah guide our paths, strengthen our eeman, grant us spouses and children that will be the coolness of our eyes (I love how Mufti Menk says that) and grant us successful relationships in this life that will continue in Al-Jannatul Firdaos.
Barakallahu lee wa lakum
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ