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Personal Preparation

In this section, you will find resources to help you determine if you are ready to pursue marriage, identify your expectations about marriage, and better understand yourself and your needs in a relationship.

Should You Be Thinking About Marriage?
Three Ways to Know

5 Ways to Soul-Search Before You Spouse-Search

Often when thinking about marriage, people make lists about who their ideal partner would be. But what about you? What makes you who you are, and what would make you a good partner for someone else?

A strong sense of self-awareness will help you know whether you’re ready to be married, how you might show up in a relationship and what kind of spouse will help you grow. It can help you make wiser decisions about who to consider when searching for a spouse. Here are five ways that you can use self-awareness to prepare for marriage.

Self-reflection is one of the best tools in your marriage prep toolbox. It will help you clarify what you want in a partner and a marriage. 

  • Challenge yourself to answer questions that you might ask a potential partner, like “How would you behave if you were upset with someone?” or “How has your parents’ relationship impacted your expectations of marriage?”
  • Take a personality assessment to learn more about yourself. 
  • Don’t underestimate the power of journaling as a tool to help you better know yourself. If writing doesn’t come easily to you, try spending time in solitude and recording yourself as you think/speak out loud. 

Personal Preparation

Talk to the people who know you best. Do they have any words of advice about how you can grow, or how to prepare for marriage? Try answering these questions on your own, then pose these questions to the people closest to you. How do their answers compare with your own?

  • How would they describe your personality?
  • What are the strengths they see in you? What do they think you can work on?
  • What are the characteristics of someone they can see you with? Why did they choose those characteristics?
  • Don’t avoid asking the sibling you never get along with these questions or the friend whose personality often clashes with yours. They may point out something about you that you weren’t aware of before.

When asked about what they want in a spouse, most people say something like, “I just want a good person.” Everyone wants a good person, but we all have different upbringings, circumstances and values that shape our expectations of a partner. It’s important to get specific about what you are looking for. One way to do this is to put it down on paper. 

  • Make a list of characteristics your future partner MUST HAVE and a list of NICE-TO-HAVES.
  • Be concrete in how you define each characteristic. What does it look like in action? Can you measure it?
  • Make a list of deal-breakers characteristics or circumstances that would keep you from moving forward with the relationship, e.g., smoking, relocating, living with in-laws, not praying, etc.

A red flag indicates that something about your potential spouse is not sitting well with you. Or it could be a clue warning you about issues that can create serious conflict in your relationship. Research shows that one of the reasons for divorce among Muslim couples was that red flags were left unaddressed before marriage (Killawi, 2018). In addition to red flags in the behavior of a potential partner, how you feel can also be a red flag. Do you feel heard in the relationship? Does your partner listen to your perspective and respect your needs, boundaries, and decisions? Have you felt they’ve tried to put you down or invalidate your perspective?

Before talking to anyone about marriage, it’s a good idea to know healthy relationship behavior from toxic behavior. Read up on what kind of red flags to look for and how to address them if they pop up. In a situation where you’re unsure of whether you’re spotting a red flag, know that premarital counseling can help.

Personal Preparation

When it comes to courtship, a common question is,How long should I talk to someone before deciding to get married?” There is no magic number for how long courtship should last. The length of your courtship does not determine how compatible you are with someone. Some people get to know their partners deeply over a shorter time period while others require more time.  

What’s important is spending quality (halal) time with the person, asking the critical questions, and being thorough in your process. So, think about what your courtship will look like. What will help you assess compatibility and determine if there is a connection between you and someone else? 

In what kinds of settings would you feel comfortable meeting a potential spouse? Would you prefer a family or group setting over a one-on-one meeting? Will you be engaging in-person, online, on the phone, etc? This will look differently for couples depending on their life circumstances, cultural and family values, emotional and spiritual states, and whether the relationship is a long-distance one. If your family will be involved, remember to discuss their expectations about this process and get everyone on the same page. 

Before you write the next chapter of life with someone else, you need to know your own story. Try some of these tips and see what you learn about yourself. And remember the more self-aware you are, the better of a partner you can be, Insha’Allah.

Before You Say "I Do" - A Marriage Education Webinar

This introduction to marriage education webinar shares practical tips and resources to help prepare for the commitment of a lifetime. The webinar is designed for individuals who are single, searching, and/or engaged.

Play Video

Involving Your Family In The Marriage Process

Tips for involving family, reducing misunderstandings, and paving the way for a smooth marriage process.

7 Things to Consider Before You Say "I Do"

Getting to know someone?

Check out the ultimate courtship roadmap for resources to get to know your partner deeply and intentionally.


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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).