Spousal Selection: 5 Tips from a Muslim Mental Health Counselor

By Anisa Diab

This week marks ten years that I have been with my husband, alhamdulilah. In reflecting on the 10 years that have passed, I believe it is crucial to leave behind a written record for our children in the case that we are no longer with them when they need our advice and support the most. Although my daughter is only three years old, here are important pieces of advice that I would share with my daughter in terms of choosing a potential spouse and being ready for marriage. Dear Reader, I hope you benefit from these tips as well.

  1. Choose someone you can accept in every aspect. This may seem common sense, but I find that some youth are pressured to make hasty marital decisions on the basis of faith or certain characteristics alone with total disregard for physical attraction and chemistry in terms of personality. Take your time getting to know who you may be spending the rest of your life with. Do not be pressured into getting married prematurely if any hesitations still exist.
  2. There’s a fine line between an individual that has rigid religiosity and spiritual religiosity. Know the difference. Islam is not a religion of rigidity, antagonism, or passing judgment on others. Choose someone who is spiritual, but not overly critical of their own relationship with God or others. If this dynamic exists, it is inevitable that such an individual will become overly critical with you and the last thing you want in you marriage is to feel like you’re walking on eggshells each day.
  3. Do not select a spouse based on title or status. While it is important to choose someone who is financially capable of providing for a family, it is problematic to use the titles ‘Doctor’ or ‘Engineer’ as a way to filter potential spouses. Choose someone who is humble and hardworking with good moral character. Success always follows such individuals. Being overly picky about status and title creates missed opportunities for a compatible spouse.
  4. Pursue higher education as much as possible prior to your wedding day. The Holy Prophet made it incumbent upon every man and woman to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave even if one must go all the way to China. You never know what challenges life may bring you. You may find yourself in a position where you need to be the main financial provider of your family. An example of this would be if your spouse were to become injured and unable to work. As a woman you must be able to rely on yourself if needed and foster self-independence, particularly in an effort to be prepared for unexpected difficult situations. Pursuing higher education makes this reality possible and also gives you an opportunity to enhance self-confidence and personal growth.
  5. Do not choose someone who will make you happy. Choose someone who will add to the happiness and tranquility that should already be present within you. People mistakenly rely on a future spouse to make them happy. The truth is, you are the only one that can make yourself happy. If you are unhappy and feeling unfulfilled, take this time to get connected with a Licensed Professional Counselor that will help you do any necessary self-work before entering a marital relationship. Your future spouse (and future self) will be thankful you did!

And remember, always listen to your gut instinct or fitra if something feels off about someone.

My prayers are with you on your journey to complete half your faith.

If you are interested in getting mental health/relationship support or have a speaking inquiry, please contact Anisa Diab at anisa.diab@gmail.com or check out her website at www. anisadiab.com

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