Marriage in Islam is one of the most important decisions a person will make in their life, after all the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) reminded us that marriage is "half of your faith."
Marriage is the process of two people coming together onto one life path for the ultimate goal of pleasing Allah and it is one of the most intimate relationships we can have with another person. In the Qur’an we are also reminded that, “your spouses are like clothing for you,” signifying that our spouse is the closest person to us in life, physically and emotionally, like clothing is to skin.
Further, our spouse will be the one person who knows us the best and knows our vulnerabilities therefore they have the responsibility to protect our weaknesses. Having a person in our life that is so close to us can only happen if we share ourselves and are open and honest with that person.
The foundation of a marriage is built upon mutual acceptance, communication, honesty, sharing and trust.This foundation is established through open and honest communication in the initial stages of the relationship. When people meet one another and get to know another for marriage they are sharing themselves with another person and building a foundation for a marriage together.
Getting to know someone for marriage requires a couple to share their views and experiences in an effort to better understand one another. Conversations between the couple should include practical as well as emotional questions in an effort to seek information about a person and understand their values and beliefs.
The key to asking questions is to inquire with the intention to understand a person, not to judge them. The more you know and understand about a person’s world views the better informed decision you can make about whether you can share a life with this person.
There are core topics that couples need to discuss before getting married and this requires asking questions in the process of getting to know someone for marriage. It is important to understand that when asking questions that the intention is not to make the person feel they are on interview or taking an intensive exam but asking questions and having a discussion will help facilitate the process of getting to know a person and will help you determine if there is “chemistry” and compatibility.
Couples need to discuss their long term goals, their values & beliefs, their views on finances & children and their immediate families. If issues or problems arise when discussing these core topics, this should help the couple to evaluate the relationship and the strengths and weaknesses they each bring to the marriage and if they can sustain a future together.
Having thoughtful conversations when getting to know someone will give you insight into your communication styles. Verbal communication is not only a way to share answers to questions but it also is a way of expressing yourself through your use of words, sarcasm, jokes, comments and complaints. Couples also communicate non-verbally through their facial expressions and body language which all serve as information about a person’s character.
The initial stages of getting to know someone may be filled with sustaining an image so it is important that the process is not rushed and that any “uneasiness” or red-flags be addressed. In addition, a person’s behavior should be consistent with what they share and with the values they say they are committed to.
Finally, observing a person’s interaction with their friends, family and strangers is very revealing because these relationships shed light on a person’s character and the way they may treat your relationship.
- Use your head as well as your heart when selecting a spouse
- Listen to your “gut” about how you feel when you are talking to this person
- Be aware of any “red-flags” that come up in your conversations and address them
- Don’t make excuses for incompatibility
Munira Lekovic Ezzeldine is the author of Before the Wedding: Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married. She received her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Counseling at California State University, Fullerton, and co-hosts an internet radio show, Family Connection, on One Legacy Radio.