We need to sit back and first of all tell ourselves it is okay to be confused. It's okay to get in arguments with your parents about who you want to marry. It's okay to not be ready to get married yet. But it's NOT okay to string someone along for a roller coaster ride when you knew it would be that way in the first place. Today we can see many youth who are "talking/dating/exploring options" and might not know where to start.
There has been a trend lately in the whole marriage game. Or it just seems that our generation (the 20- to 30-year olds) has been eagerly seeking to move on to our next stages of life quicker than we think. It's not a bad thing, but when we take the values and "strategies" that seem to come from Western society, we see a rise in disappointed, sad, depressed, and frustrated young adults!
I like to take "mental surveys" when I talk to people around the community I live in, or even with my friends across the world, and it seems that today's view on marriage, in the young adult Muslim world, is not working too well. Many of the people I talk to have already (1) had their heart broken or have broken someone's heart, or (2) given up on "looking", or (3) decided that marriage is not for them, just not yet anyway.
What we desperately need is a reality check. Of course we are nowhere near achieving the status and ways of our beloved Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon him), but that does not mean we cannot take lesson from them due to them being "too holy". I think if we begin to change our minds on how we want our partners, our process will be much easier.
"He who knows himself, knows God." How many times have we heard this saying? I can't even count it on my fingers. How many times have we pondered about it? In my perspective, with my very little education in psychology, our main problem is that we do not know ourselves, and we run around trying to "know" others. Many a times our problem is that we do not know what we want, what our goal in life is, and what we want to do with our degrees, in our careers, in our homes…and then along comes this guy or girl we have talked to before, and yeah, we are sooo alike, I mean we both are in the same position, we could co-write a book called Muslim Youth in the West, and oh yeah, the family, racial, cultural, ethnic, Syed/non-Syed issues: call it what you want problem, we can work that out!
Wrong! Too many times we are in denial about what state our life is in. We need to sit back and first of all tell ourselves it is okay to be confused. It's okay to get in arguments with your parents about who you want to marry. It's okay to not be ready to get married yet. But it's NOT okay to string someone along for a roller coaster ride when you knew it would be that way in the first place. Today we can see many youth who are "talking/dating/exploring options" and might not know where to start. Of course we don't ask "what is your favorite sports team?" or "what is your favorite color?" in order to see if we click or not…I hope we don't, anyway. But how about asking things like:
- What is your goal in life?
- What is the most important thing in your life?
- Why do you want to get married?
- What are your expectations of your husband/wife?
- What areas do you want to grow in?
And many, many more that can come in conversation from there.
But the point I am trying to make is that we cannot ask others these questions if we ourselves don't know how we would answer! How can we expect to live a life 24/7 with another person – who will have their own flaws, and opinions, and ways of doing things – if we ourselves don't have control over our own desires and flaws? Now if two people like that got married – one word: PROBLEM!
Rumi says it best:
Your task is not to seek for love,
But merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
And there it is, the answer to all of our "talking/dating/exploring our options" problems. If we don't take the advice of our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) to sit down, take a breather, and figure out how we think, what we want in life, etc., then we will end up in heartbreak, depression, or a grand mixture of the two.
This is not to advocate waiting to get married until you feel you can say you "know what life is", because that is going to be never. But we should have some idea of what we want to do, where we want to go, and be able to honestly and confidently tell another person what our priorities are in life without having to go home later and thinking about how badly we just lied.
We cannot run around being someone we are not. We throw this word "religious" around a lot. "I want someone who is 'religious', prays, fasts, likes to eat out, and is, ya know, funny and stuff!" It's okay to want that, but when you seriously sit down and think about it, is that really what is going to help you later on when you're sitting in your apartment two weeks after your wedding, and up comes an argument about whether or not the Mrs. should be working or not? I want to start a family! I'm not ready. Why don't you read Qur'an? I never learned. Let's go to the masjid. I don't want to. I want to go to Hajj! I already bought tickets for a cruise. It's your job to make the bed. You didn't write it in your contract!
These little comments are things which can become huge problems, all stemming from the problem of one not knowing oneself enough, yet being adamant about what one expects from his/her spouse. If a girl does not want a guy whose priorities might be going on vacation before Hajj, this can be learned before getting involved. But maybe YOU don't know if you really would want to go on vacation before Hajj. Maybe you just think that because, well, it's just because everyone says it's right and you have to go anyway…so why not, right?
If you do not figure out WHO you are, there will be problems when it is going to be YOU + someone else. One of the diseases of the soul is wanting to control another person, and that is usually what happens. When two people get married, one more "figured out" than the other, the power-hungry in us comes out. Even if two people who are not "figured out" get married, they will tend to form and develop upon each other's desires, rather than what their inner nature wants them to be. Many a time we have seen cases where a Hijabi girl very easily takes her Hijab off because her hubby told her to. Or we have seen people lose sight of their religion and the Mercy of God, because the significant other maybe wasn't raised that way, or cared to even think so much about God, but never openly, or directly said that when the two were "talking/dating/exploring options."
It is these little things that count, and they will count hard. Take the time to know yourself and ask yourself those questions before you think about what you want in another person, and you will naturally find out what it is that you want in another person. Marriage has been told to be like completing half of your religion, so think wisely in your decision. There is a good way to chart inner growth, and even just to see where you stand, write down on a piece of paper the thing, quality, characteristic, or value you want in your spouse at this stage of your life, with Number 1 being the most important to you: be it honesty, sense of humor, or money. The worst thing to do is lie to yourself, so be honest.
Then sit back and look at your list. Is that what you want it to be? If yes, then that is a great start. If no, what are YOU going to do about it before getting involved with someone who may still be sitting back and wondering why they wrote what they did on their list?