The pendulum has swung, the tables have turned, and you have heard the oft-quoted “Where are all the good men in our community?” The reality is that for both young men and women the idea of “romantic love” from the wider society we live in has permeated our diverse and differing cultures.
Arranged marriages are or were for the dinosaurs. With so much choice and so little commitment, what are we to do? What happens if I commit today and six months down the road I find that perfect partner who I should have married?
These and many other doubts, about the grass being greener (actually it’s not) keep our fantasies alive about meeting our perfect partner rather than committing and being the perfect partner.
Although there are a thousand and more questions you may want to know about your prospective spouse, the prophetic answer (distilled down) is very simple. Look at the person’s piety and faith.
The problem and challenge for our times is that faith has become so narrowly defined. That as communities we are hurting from the same ailments that are impacting the wider society we are part of. Faith is all-encompassing.
It is easy to get drowned in the details of how they make you feel, the way they communicate, and more, that it sometimes feels like a lost cause. We have been culturally programmed to look for signs like the violins playing each time you meet.
Forget Hollywod, Bollywood, and even Lollywood (look it up, it does exist). Forget for a moment the music, and the romance novels. Get a dose of gravity and meet real people and role models, and find out what it takes to build a successful marriage.
Now do a little homework and make three lists for your future husband or wife.
- Must-have qualities
- Nice-to-have qualities
Here are examples:
- Must-have qualities: Practicing Muslim, Honest, Trustworthy, Educated, Attractive, Generous, Hard Working, Caring, Humble, Appreciative, Creative.
- Nice-to-have qualities: 3 years younger/older than me, fun, sense of humor, like my hobbies etc.
- Deal-breakers: Sarcastic, Loud, Drinks or Gambles, Secretive, Financially Irresponsible, Controlling, Anger-problem, Won’t support my career goals, In-law expectations.
Now the heart of the question, How Do You Know when He or She is the One?
- Ask yourself: Is this someone I would like to spend the rest of my life with? Remember it is impossible to know everything about a person before you get married. Just look at the fundamentals and then ask can this person become my best friend, confidant, partner?
- Does he or she, get along with my family? Marriage is not just a bonding of two people but two families. No matter how different we think we are from our parents, the reality is we will mirror our parents with the time, so take a good look at your in-laws.
If you are a guy, take a look at her mother, that’s who you will be married to in 40 years (we are speaking metaphorically). If you are a girl, take a look at his father, that’s who you will be married to in 40 years.
- Is there something major you want to change about your potential spouse? If there is, the bad news is people rarely change because someone forced or coerced them into it. Can you live with their weaknesses and you aware of what they are?
That’s it just three questions with many sub-questions. You have to take that leap of faith, which humanity has been making since Adam and Eve. Watch out for red flags like divorce in the family, bad character, or reputation. Other than that the most critical decision of “yes or no” should be made with a prayer for consultation with God, istikharah.