Finding the “right one” is something that almost every woman wants, regardless of religion or culture. The human heart desires companionship, and given that marriage is half of our deen, we long to find a match that will help us both in this world and in the Akhirah, don’t we? So, how do we know whether we have found “the one?” And for those of you who are looking right now, how do you know what to really look for? There may be more than one person who would make a good partner for us, but we need to have some idea of what to sift through in order to find a suitable match. Let’s explore how to go about making the most educated and best possible choice.
First: Get to know yourself!
Do you know anyone who married someone who was perfect on paper, but the relationship didn’t work out? Making a decision based on the superficial things alone may lead to the wrong choice. It’s not that job, location or having a house isn’t important, but they are not the only things that matter. In fact, the most useful way to know if someone is right for you is to first get to know yourself and what you need. Ask yourself:
• What is it that I really, really need to have to be fulfilled in my life?
• What is it that I cannot and will not tolerate?
• What are the things that I am willing to adjust to?
Knowing what will fulfil you will make it simpler to see whether a potential partner has the qualities that you are looking for. Remember that you are responsible for your own fulfilment, so some of your needs you will have to meet yourself. But being clear about what makes you tick will help you choose a partner who has complimentary values to yours. In terms of “values”, I suggest you get clarity on what really makes you tick; what you feel that your life purpose is. When you are clear, you can also notice what the other person values. For example, if you focus on other people, but they focus mostly on themselves, then you know that it may not be a compatible match. In addition to values, knowing what your deal breakers are in advance will help you to notice if there is anything that may become a significant issue in the long run. This way, you can make the most educated choice possible.
Second: Share experiences in a halal way:
It is very difficult to get to know someone by just talking to them. Why? Because let’s be honest, words are easy to say, whereas actions may tell a different story. The expression “actions speak louder than words” has more wisdom than we realise. When you are getting to know someone for the purpose of marriage, create opportunities to see them in different situations. Find ways to meet in halal settings, involve family or friends, and get to see how they interact with people in your life. The way that they behave in different situations will give you valuable information about whether you share similar values. Their behaviour will also tell you if they do what they say. You may be challenged by family or friends, but ask them to get involved to ensure that things remain within an Islamic framework. Remind them that how people behave in various situations says a lot about who they are as people. Your family and friends may also pick up information that you may initially miss. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the person challenging questions and be honest about how you really feel when they ask you something in return.
Third: Don’t walk over red flags!
I know of a sister who noticed some major issues before she got married, but she walked over them during the initial stages. She made excuses for him, and those were the very issues that then ended their marriage. If you notice something that is an important issue for you, then make sure that you bring it up in a respectful way. Sharing a concern doesn’t mean that the relationship is necessarily doomed; quite to the contrary. If you bring up concerns early enough, then something can be done to address them. If you find that your concerns are being addressed in a respectful way, then you are setting a foundation for resolving conflicts for the long run, insha Allah. Pretending something doesn’t bother you won’t make it go away. It may manifest as a bigger issue later on. Make sure that you address the important issues at the beginning, but do think about what is small enough to live with, or let go of as well.
Check: Can you respect the person?
We often think that love is what conquers all. I would like to suggest that it is actually respect. Imagine if you didn’t respect the person you are with, would you be able to live with them? How would you interact with a person you didn’t respect? Would your behaviour be what you would want it to be with a spouse? Would you be able to look up to them? Probably not! Ask yourself: do I respect this person? Will I be able to respect who he is and the choices he is making in the long run? Turn the question around and ask yourself “Do I feel respected by him? Does he honour who I am and what I need?” If you feel that the respect you deserve is lacking, then this is a warning sign to take heed of. Respect is something that should be freely given at the beginning of a relationship; then it is up to us to keep our own respect in the long run, by being who we said we would. If you sense a feeling of being put down or disrespected, then take heed and listen! Your gut feeling will play a valuable part in guiding you.
I hope that you have found these tips useful. My best wishes to you in finding a partner who helps you enhance your life both in this world and in the next, insha Allah.
Sayeda Habib works with sisters and families to help them create fulfilling relationships. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You! Life coaching for Muslims.” To get in touch with Sayeda, log on to www.makelifehappen.com, call +44(0) 207 402 0786 or email Sayeda@makelifehappen.com