When I was first introduced to my husband, I sent him a two page profile of myself by email. On one page was ‘who I am’ and on the next was what I am looking for in a partner. In return he sent me three points about himself and asked me three straightforward questions.
In the first week of knowing each other we had exchanged about 80 emails. Yes, you read it right. EIGHTY. We weren’t flirting or indulging in small talk. These were serious back and forth discussions about our priorities in life, where we see ourselves in a few years, our expectations of a partner etc. I don’t have to say this, but obviously I was the one asking most of the questions- ‘What do you think about women working? ‘What do you think abuse means?’ ( I actually asked that) ‘When do you want to have children (if at all)?’– I bombarded him with question after question and he patiently answered each one of them. It took us both two months, Skype calls, and a meeting to ‘seal the deal’. He tells me now that my first two page “autobiography” told him that I was who he was looking for.
This introduction sets the tone of our relationship. I am the crazy one all over the place, and he is my rock, without whom I’d be adrift. On my part, I ensure we have a bit of fun too in the series of chores and bills that is life. He jokes that I am the PRO of our marriage, the one who is the face of our marriage and ensures we are maintaining the ties. In our marriage I find that we perfectly complement each other’s flaws and goodnesses. Most of it is because we both fervently prayed that Allah blesses us with a spouse who is ‘coolness to our eyes’ but a part of it is also because we did our homework BEFORE we got married.
Ours is a funny culture, this desi one. We spend ages ordering off a menu in a restaurant (butter chicken and garlic naan in the end), but when it comes to selecting a partner FOR THE ENTIRE FRIKKIN’ LIFE we expect a man and a woman to meet for a few hours (some times less than an hour) and finalise it then and there. In some cases it’s worse, the people who are supposed to get married never meet before the wedding day! The parents meet the prospective son/daughter in law and decide on behalf of their child. What sense does this make? You are going to live with your husband/wife NOT your mother in law. Imagine finding out after getting married that your partner doesn’t want kids or wants one in the first year itself? How can you live with someone without knowing if you are on the same page when it comes to religion/finances/children/rights and responsibilities?
One of my favourite metaphors in the Qur’an is that God has made spouses as garments for each other. A garment is supposed to shield you, hide your flaws, accentuate your good features, and, above all- protect you from external elements. Outside of your own body, the garment you wear is the closest thing to you. Your spouse is supposed to be like that. But how can they be a garment you love to don if someone else chose it for you? And really, who here likes their parents’ questionable fashion choices? 90s sleeve puffs and bell bottom pants anyone? Take their input, yes, but don’t just blindly accept their preferences and make it your own.
For those who are currently in the phase of looking for a partner. Please take this seriously. Forget about a deadline or what people will say. The very same people who taunt you for being single will turn their backs on you when you have a problem in your marriage. So ignore the ‘wedding’ and think about the ‘marriage’.Remember that the partner you choose will affect every sphere of your life, emotional, spiritual, professional, and even physical. While no two people can have the exact same tastes and outlook, it is ABSOLUTELY VITAL that you are on the same page when it comes to the BIG THINGS- Career/Finance/Children. The whole point of deal breakers is that they should be known before the deal is fixed, not after it is broken. Don’t tie your own noose because you have people breathing down your neck.
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