by Soraya Soobhany-Chohan
Choosing a spouse is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your lifetime and like any major life decision, there is so much conflicting advice out there that you don’t know who to believe. You have those who tell you to find a guy who matches you exactly in wealth, education and income. While others who tell you to find a guy who is the same height as you and from the same cultural background.
It’s no wonder then that so many amazing sisters with so much to offer are finding themselves still frustratingly single after years of searching because despite following the advice given to them, they can’t find a guy they connect with, who gets them and who is genuine.
Sadly none of the traditional advice and guidance prepares you for what marriage actually entails. It’s not a just a lavish wedding between two gorgeous people who will live in a state of oblivious, beautifully-fragranced bliss dealing with the odd hiccup then and there. It’s lifetime of living together, day in day out, without a break navigating not only the big ups and downs of life but the every day little ones like sick kids, unpaid bills and deciding whose turn it is to go and buy bread and milk.
So to help you make an informed decision so you can find that guy you actually connect and can create a successful marriage with, in sha Allah, here are 8 realities of marriage to guide you towards choosing the right one. These are the realities I wish I had known about when I was looking for a spouse. It could have spared me 14 years of meeting the wrong guys!
1. There will be money issues.
I’m starting with this one first because in my interactions with single sisters this seems to be the one that comes up the most. There’s almost a fear attached to the idea of marrying a man who earns less than a certain amount. Like you risk living in destitution if you married anyone but a guy earning the same or more than you.
This is the reality sisters, money issues will always exist even for the richest of couples. Being able to afford luxurious comforts will not make for a happy marriage as such. And don’t forget that the businessman may go bankrupt, the substantial family money may be squandered, ill health could cause him to lose his job or he could be made redundant. Marry the sensible, practical man with whom you can work together to manage the family income so that you can live well and be prepared for any financial crisis.
2. Education doesn’t make for a clever spouse.
It makes me cringe the way we equate education with class. Even the man with all the degrees in the world can be narrow-minded, judgmental and boring! Marriage is not a vacation, it’s daily life. And once the honeymoon is over and you start living your everyday lives together you will get tired, stressed and fed up with the general banalities of life, much like you do as a single woman.
When you get home from a long day at work, you don’t want to be talking about the global effects of Brexit, the market value of the dollar or Dickens’ use of satire. You want to unwind, chat and have fun with a guy who is easy going and relaxed. Marry the man who is down to earth, grounded and makes you laugh.
You will never get bored and will always find each other interesting.
3. You don’t have to share the same interests.
When looking for a spouse, especially online, we have very little to go by other than superficial data such as height, education, interests etc.
So it’s easy to make the assumption that shared interests will make a great match. Not necessarily so. Oh, the countless hours I spent trying to find a guy who likes theater, arts, and reading! I found a few but they were far from my ideal match. The reality is that interests chop and change.
It may be more advantageous to marry the adventurous, open-minded guy who is willing to try new things with you and discover new interests together, than the guy who only has three avid interests he refuses to budge from. You can always pursue your own personal interests with your friends like you did before which leads nicely into number 4.
4. Time apart IS healthy.
Togetherness is great, it creates closeness, intimacy, and a stronger bond, but being apart creates a need to come back together. For the sanity of each spouse, it is vital that you are able to spend time apart to reconnect with yourself so that you value your time together and can be in a better place to give without suffering from emotional burnout. It doesn’t have to mean days apart even just a few hours pursuing a hobby or even in the same room but doing different things in your own zone.
You don’t have to be with each other 24/7 for it to be true love. Marry a someone who values himself as much as he/she values you and your marriage.
5. Children are not a given.
There’s this myth that when you get married you will have kids. Alhamdulillah, kids are blessings but they are not guaranteed.
I know there is the debate about age and leaving it “too late” to have kids but if you do the research you will find plenty of women who become mothers in their late 30s and 40s and just as many who cannot conceive in their early 20s. It’s disappointing and often devastating for couples who cannot have children.
It is important to discuss whether or not you both feel the same about actually having children as you don’t want to be in a position where you are conflicted over such a major life decision. But once you have met “the one”, consider children a happy bonus and marry a sincere man with whom you can build a solid marriage based on trust, respect, and friendship.
Best friends don’t abandon each other when things get tough so why should your spouse?
6. Social functions with other couples are not always fun.
When I was single I felt ostracized from the couples’ events that my married friends often attended. I imagined exciting dinner parties and holidays with like-minded couples who shared witty banter and hilarious jokes. I imagined all our friends getting together for enjoyable evenings, picnics and trips. But guess what? They aren’t always like that.
Sometimes they are really dull with only one or two people doing all the talking and everyone else on their phones messaging friends they’d actually rather be with. You don’t have to hang out with each others’ friends either. Yes, spending time with other couples can be fun but in your day to day lives often the goal is to make time for the two of you as husband and wife and to make time for yourself before you make time for others. Often there’s nothing more satisfying than a pizza and movies in your PJs with the one you love.
7. YOU WILL IRRITATE THE HECK OUT OF EACH OTHER!
Don’t take it personally, it just happens when you live with a person. Think about how you and your siblings irritated each other. It’s kind of the same thing!
It doesn’t matter how in love you are when he leaves his dirty clothes right next to the laundry basket, it will bug you! However, marriage is not a battle of the sexes. Marriage consists of a man and woman but that does not make it a battle. Popular culture, comedy and chick flicks like to portray this man vs woman type banter where each party is pitting their wits against each other in the hope that one will win.
Battles ensue with each party wanting to have their way and stand their ground. The reality? It’s a sure fire way to run your marriage into the ground. Remember you are a team, yes you will annoy each other, you will bicker, you will snarl but as a wise woman once told me, for every irritating habit he has, you have one too!
Cut each other some slack, choose your battles, embrace the differences and work as a team.
8. Nothing is hidden!
Your husband or wife might be polite enough, in the beginning, to not mention his/her observations about you. But eventually, you will get to the point where he/she will tell you that your moustache needs waxing, and you will tell him he really needs to cut his toe nails.
Be it your personal hygiene habits, your digestive patterns or your sleep talking, it will all be noted. Of course whether or not you choose to talk openly about such things is up to you and the boundaries you both establish your marriage. So make sure the man or woman you marry is real and open enough to accept you exactly as you are (jogging bottoms, messy bun, and eating cookies straight from the packet) and that in return you can accept him, exactly as he/she is (stubble, coffee breath and snoring) without either of you feeling judged or at risk of feeling less loved.
Single sisters who say they just haven’t met the guy they click with, who gets them and who they feel comfortable have absolutely hit the nail on the head. You get to a certain age where you know yourself, you are comfortable with who you are and you are looking for companionship. This is why you require the person you click with.
When looking for a guy or girl you click with, you are searching for all the right things but when you don’t find them in that rich, 6 feet 2 inches tall, engineer, people call you picky. What they fail to realise is that you are looking for something much deeper because you are wise enough to know that you need a real person with real human qualities and not just an income and sperm provider!
So with these realities in mind make sure when you meet the next guy that he is someone you feel you can trust not to judge you, to be humble enough to accept that you are both human and who has the humour to laugh through life’s tensions and slip ups.
About the Author
Sr. Soraya is a Singles Coach based in the UK. She is married with children, and works with single Muslims to help them in their search for the right spouse.