Although PerfectMuslimWedding.com is a site that helps you plan your wedding day, its behind-the-scenes goal is to help you plan and build your marriage. It is nice to have a perfect venue, a gorgeous dress, a shiny ring, a rainbow of flowers, and a delicious cake. The list is endless of what makes a “perfect wedding.” It is easy to get lost in the sea of details for the big day, but just as important, if not more, it is an opportunity to reflect on who you are and connect with that special person God has put in your life. As the saying goes, “A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.” Perfect does not mean flawless, nor does perfect mean extravagant. Perfect is what ever you want it to be.
When you are exploring marrying another person, understanding expectations and trying to meet them will be critical. Each of us have our hopes and dreams, our pet peeves and annoying habits. What does marriage mean to you? How will you grow with it? What price are you willing to pay for it? Are you and your future spouse accommodating? You don’t have to agree on all the items discussed below, unless they are deal-breakers. The important thing is to have the conversation and then to have a process of how the decision will be made. Understand that with some things e.g. career versus family-time there may be short-term and long-term advantages and disadvantages. Some issues are universal e.g. in-laws. Remember not even identical twins agree on everything, so how can you? This is not the goal of the exercise. It is okay to agree to disagree on some items you come to an impasse on. You just do not want to be blindsided once the wedding day is over and marriage begins.
- Finances. Know both the assets and even more important the debts including student loans you and your spouse carry and bring to the marriage. What are your spending habits and where do you save? How will you make large purchase decisions? What are your long-term and short-term financial goals? Will you keep separate bank accounts and what will be common? How will you handle disposable income?
- Children: If/when, how many, discipline, how you will raise them, who will be primary caregiver (you, nanny, daycare), going back to work, these are several things to think about and consider. How were you disciplined as a child? What do you think is effective? What if you’re not able to get pregnant?
- Careers: What are your goals? What are you willing to do to meet them? Would you consider relocation? Where do you draw the line between work and family time?
- Faith, Family and Values. How does faith play a role in your life? How is your relationship with God? How do you interpret faith as it applies in your life? Are there certain schools of thought that you strictly follow? What are you strict on? Where are you liberal? What values from your parents would you like to pass on to your children? Which ones would you like to avoid? Remember what worked in a certain time and space may not work for another generation, but other things are universal. How have you and your family handled tough times? How will you handle parents, in-laws or other family members when their health deteriorates? How do you make important decisions? Are there any family or personal secrets that may become a barrier in the future? Now is the time to bring them up. Remember nobody likes unpleasant surprises.
- Handling Conflicts: How do you handle them? What is your approach to problem-solving? How good are you at taking criticism and apologizing? What will you do to make your marriage a priority? Where do you see the line between married life and relationships with parents? How do you express anger? Do you have any addictions?
- Chores: Who will be doing what and how often? How will the chore load be divvied up?
- Pet-peeves and Deal-breakers: We all have things that annoy us, or we do out of habit. How will you communicate what bothers you?
- Free Time: How will you spend time together, individually, and/or with friends? When do you need space? What are the boundaries you have about social relationships with family, friends and co-workers? How do you interact with members of the opposite sex? What is acceptable and what isn’t?
- Sex: A very intimate conversation and not everything needs to be discussed upfront, but anything that may become a barrier needs to be discussed. How to prevent getting bored? Do you have a sexual history, if so, your spouse-to-be needs to know.
- Personal Goals: What are your dreams? Where are you fulfilled? What remains? What price are you willing to pay for these goals? What came to you easy? Where did you struggle? Are there any areas that may become a barrier to these goals?
Marriage is a lifelong process of discovery, both of the self and your spouse. The goal of asking these questions isn’t to get perfect alignment, as that is an impossibility. Marriage will stress your relationships, and that is not a negative thing. It will identify your strengths and weaknesses, your opportunities and threats. What is important is to start an honest and transparent relationship. With proper intention, follow-through and prayers, you will be on a fascinating journey of a lifetime. Marriage is a blessing, enjoy the ride.