One of the first things that most people think about when preparing for or thinking about marriage, are the characteristics or qualities of the person they would like to marry. Some people think about how they want their potential husband or wife to look - perhaps they think about such things as hair and skin color. Some men may look for a wife who is an excellent cook, and some women may look for a husband who is very religious. Many Muslims nowadays look for a wife or husband that is conversant in the Arabic language, or someone that is at least a student of Arabic.
Nonetheless, most people, Muslims included, seem to go to great lengths to make elaborate lists, either on paper or in their minds, about all the things they want or expect from their potential husband or wife. And while this is good and perhaps a very necessary part of the marriage search, few people ever sit down with the same purposefulness and care in order to enumerate their own qualities and characteristics or just think about whether they, themselves, are the kind of people that someone else with just as high expectations or ideals would want to marry.
Think outside of yourself for a moment: If you were someone else, would you marry you? I don’t mean you, as you would like to see yourself weeks, months or even years from now. Nor do I mean you as you imagine yourself after you have had a chance to change a few of your bad habits, improve your character, fix yourself up, or you after you begin to practice your religion more seriously. I mean you, as you are TODAY.
I believe that if some people were to be completely honest with themselves, they would have to admit that they, themselves, do not possess the kind of qualities or characteristics they would want in a husband or wife.
Perhaps we all know of someone like this – possibly a relative, a best friend or maybe this person is YOU. For two people who are experienced at it, marriage, at best, can be difficult. It requires patience, diplomacy, perseverance, flexibility, wisdom, and endurance, just to name a few things.
Does this mean that if someone does not possess ALL of these qualities they should not get married? No, I don’t mean to say this. However, there are people that I have come across that are in a desperate race to get married; while at the same time they possess characteristics of selfishness, stubbornness, inflexibility, insensitivity, and ingratitude. They are overly critical of other people while at the same time they have difficulty accepting criticism of themselves. They also have poor communication skills. On top of all of that, they may be in denial and won’t face up to the fact that they have a *few* personality defects to iron out before getting married. Do any of these characteristics describe you or someone you know that is looking for a wife or a husband? Has anyone ever told YOU that you possess any of these characteristics?
Marriage is so serious an affair that I would dare say that if someone looking to get married possesses some or all of these qualities, they may be headed for big trouble. Or, should I say anyone that marries a person like this might be in very, very big trouble? The question then becomes: Does a person who possesses these kinds of shortcomings have to wait years before getting married? I would say the answer is no. Someone like this doesn’t have to wait years to get married.
Allah, The Sublime, says in the Quran that He will never change the condition of a people until they first change what is inside of them. This verse offers hope - hope of a new tomorrow. Isn’t that what most people want? They want to know that whatever difficulties they are facing today, a change is on the horizon for tomorrow. However, it does not only offer hope. It offers hope based on a condition. That condition is that we have to take the first step to recognize that we have a problem and then do something about it. Can a man who is a drunk ever become sober unless he recognizes that he has a problem? Can a woman that is insensitive, inflexible, stubborn, ungrateful, rigid, and selfish ever be a good wife?
Someone who is in denial about their faults will never be able to change their negative pattern of behaviour until they first recognize and ADMIT that they have a problem. Once you can admit that you have a problem, the next step is to begin working diligently and consistently on your problem or negative characteristics.
The key words here are working diligently AND consistently. As any doctor will tell you, a patient has to be diligent and consistent about taking their medicine in order to see good results. Couple this prescription that Allah gives us in the Qur'aan with prayer and strong faith, Allah willing, you can overcome any problem.
If after taking a good long, honest look at yourself in the mirror you cannot honestly say that you would make a good husband or wife in your present condition, then before you pick up the pen to enumerate a list of all the fine qualities you are looking for in a wife or husband, instead, why not list some of the qualities that you need to work on, and then embark on a program to change these bad qualities so that someday soon, when Allah does bless you with a good wife or husband, you will be worthy of such a person?
After all, isn’t the divorce rate high enough already?