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Troubleshooting/Additional Resources

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This section of the toolkit addresses various concerns or issues that may arise during the courtship process and how to navigate them effectively. 

Determining compatibility can be an exhilarating, messy, and overwhelming process. Our thought patterns and beliefs influence our emotions and actions profoundly. You may feel a great sense of excitement and gratitude during courtship. You may also feel anxiety and uncertainty and deal with resurfaced insecurities or projections throughout the process. Use these resources to help you work through what you are feeling. What you’ll learn about yourself will be immensely helpful in your decision-making.

Every couple will experience differences of opinion. This is the natural result of individuals learning how to balance their own needs with that of their partner’s. If handled with respect and open communication, conflicts can help you learn more about your partner and strengthen your relationship.

 

 Debunking 5 Myths About Premarital Conflict

 Conflict as a Path to Self-awareness

 4 Behaviors Destructive to a Marriage

 How to Avoid the Pursuer-Distancer Pattern in Your Relationship

 The Little Things That Will Make or Break Your Relationship

 For Better or For Worse: The Post-Honeymoon Reality Check

 Exercise: The Art of Compromise

 What Did You Say, Honey?

 How You Say It Matters!

In today’s world, it is likely that you may get to know someone through a long-distance courtship. Getting to know someone virtually comes with its own challenges, but you can build a strong relationship if you are both creative about the process. Take your time, pay special attention to red flags since they may be more difficult to discern, and arrange for multiple in-person meetings.

 3 rules to help guide your process if you’re considering a LDR 

 Why Meeting Someone Online Promotes Casual Intimacy (And How To Protect Yourself)

 6 Things to Know if You’re Considering a Long Distance Relationship

 10 Tips for Conflict Management in a LDR

 6 Options When It Feels Like There’s Nothing To Talk About In Your Long Distance Relationship

If you are considering someone who was raised with a different cultural, racial, or religious background from you and your family, you may experience additional challenges and will need to learn how to negotiate these differences between you both and your families.

 Challenges in Intercultural and Interfaith Marriage

 Thoughts & Advice on Interracial Marriages

 Interracial Marriage in the Prophetic Era

 Would It Be Wrong to Avoid Interracial Marriages for Cultural Considerations?

 Addressing Intra-Muslim Racism

 Sunni-Shia Marriage

If either or both of you are immigrants from another country, you may find these questions adapted from 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married helpful to discuss together.

 

 

Discuss these questions if either of you is an immigrant from another country:

 What type of visa are or your partner using to stay in the country? When will this visa expire, and what documentation will replace it so that you/he/she can stay in the country?

 Are you or your partner staying in the country illegally or with forged documents? 

 Will you or your partner be seeking residency or citizenship status?

 What would you do if you or your partner were suddenly deported?

 How familiar are you with immigration law?

 Have you spoken to friends or family who knew your partner before he/she left his/her country?

 Will you be sponsoring any relatives to become citizens?

 Where will you be living after you are married?

Remarriage is a reality for many couples. You may need to consider what history and experiences you are bringing into the new marriage and how you will navigate the impact of your previous relationships, as well as the dynamics of co-parenting if children are involved.  

 

  10 Rules for a Successful Second Marriage

  4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Divorced Potential Spouse

  Things to Consider When You Marry a Widow or Widower

 

 

Children/Blended Families

 Questions to Ask Your Potential Spouse About Their Kids

  Remarrying Well with Children

  Seven Tips for Stepfamily Success

 Stepfamilies: Is Remarriage a Step in the Right Direction?

You may find the questions below adapted from 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married helpful for discussions with your potential partner if either or both of you have been married previously.

 

Discuss these questions if either of you have been married previously.

 If this is a remarriage for you, what are your hopes and fears with this relationship?

 Has your divorce been finalized? Are you sure your partner’s divorce has been finalized?

 Do your children approve of your marriage?

 Have you met your partner’s ex-spouse?

 Do you only know your partner’s version of what happened in his or her previous marriage?

 Will you be taking your partner’s name once you’re married?

 Are you always comparing your wedding or marriage to a previous one? Is either of you trying to outdo a previous wedding?

 Do you and your partner disagree over how formal the wedding will be?

 Do you or your partner keep any pictures of your previous wedding(s)?

 Will your former in-laws or other members of your ex’s family be invited to your wedding?

When considering marriage, some people can struggle with physical attraction in a few ways.

 They don’t know where physical attraction should be on their list of priorities, so quite often they fall into extremes, for example:  

 They may have a specific profile in mind and only want to consider people who fit that physical profile. This tends to be more common.

 They may completely negate the importance of attraction, and refuse to consider physical attraction in their search for a spouse.

 They don’t have enough self-knowledge to identify what it is that they’re attracted to. Thus, they are unable to distinguish between purely physical factors and factors that have more to do with how others carry themselves, their personal style, personality, etc, both of which are equally important.

 They lack trust in the idea that physical beauty may change over time, and that attraction can grow through other means.

If you are having problems with attraction, refer to the resources below. Also, refer to the “Use both your head AND your heart” note in Section 4.

 When You’re Not Attracted to Your Partner

 I Wish S(He) Was Funnier

 Should I Consider Him for Marriage if I’m not Attracted to Him?

 Problems With Attraction

If you are meeting someone who is older or younger than you by some years, know that your marriage may be impacted by the age difference and that there are several things you both should consider before committing.

 

 On Age Differences Between Spouses

 What Does Islam Say About Marrying an Older Person?

 Can a Relationship Succeed if One Partner is Much Older?

 Five Considerations for Relationships with a Big Age Difference

If there is a significant age difference between you and your potential partner, you may find the questions below from 1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married helpful for discussion.12

 

Discuss these questions if there is a significant age difference between you and your partner:

 Have you ever felt a generational gap in your conversations?

 Do you each have your own group of friends who closely match your own age?

 Do you each have a separate group of friends who don’t socialize together?

 Are you afraid that in a few years you won’t be able to keep up with your partner?

 Is your mutual attraction based on the strength of a single area of compatibility?

 Are you attracted to your partner because he or she is helping you to mature? What will happen once you’ve matured and feel you no longer need guidance?

 Do you feel you are being treated like a child or acting like a parent in your relationship?

 Do you fear being abandoned for a younger spouse?

 Are you afraid that you or your partner may not be able to keep up with you or any children you may have together?

A pornography addiction can undermine the health of a marriage if left unaddressed. An addiction to pornography is not simply resolved by marriage – it requires an action plan and support from someone who cares. If you are struggling with an addiction to pornography and are also considering marriage, seek help to treat your addiction before proceeding with the marriage process.

Discussions about finances are often overlooked during the courtship process. Unfortunately, this causes significant financial ramifications and puts a great deal of pressure on the marriage. Use these resources to guide your conversations around how you both plan to manage your money.

 How to Budget Islamically by Shaykh Joe Bradford

 Debt & Marriage: An example of how student loan debt can impact the marriage decision

 Podcast on Marriage & Money: Listen to this podcast with Ustadh AbdelRahman Murphy about what financial questions to ask before marriage, financial habits and compatibility, disagreements about money, and other financial issues before and during marriage.  

 Budgeting & Marriage: Watch this video to learn how to create a budget for your marriage.

 Wedding Debt: Is the big wedding worth it?

Muslim-Specific Books on Marriage

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Before You Tie the Knot by Salma Abugideiri and Imam Mohamed Magid: “This book is invaluable for anyone seeking marriage, as well as for parents who are involved in their children’s marriage process. Those getting remarried after a divorce or death of a spouse will also find this book extremely useful. The authors raise thought-provoking questions to help readers increase self-awareness, clarify what is desired in a spouse and in a marriage, and help them get to know a potential spouse.” For the prospective couple to help explore and adjust their expectations about their relationship and the reality of marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Blissful Marriage by Dr. Ekram & Dr. Rida Beshir: “This book contains the right mix of theory and practice due to the authors’ wealth of experience in marriage counseling in North America. All its contents are based on Islamic references from Qur’an and Sunnah and their applications to the contemporary environment.” Basing the principles of a blissful marriage on inspiration from the Islamic and Prophetic tradition, this book can make for great discussions with a potential or committed partner around the spiritual dimensions of a marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Dwell in Tranquility: An Islamic Roadmap to a Vibrant Marriage by Kamal Shaarawy: “Virtually everything we embark on in life requires some training and education, and marriage is no exception. This practical marriage guide combines the sublime knowledge of Islamic teachings with scientific research and over 20 years of professional counseling experience. Thought-provoking exercises help spouses or potential spouses understand themselves, recognize true compatibility in a partner, avoid common pitfalls within marriage, and build a strong and loving partnership.” This is a great read for a couple that has found compatibility in the initial stages of the relationship and wants to continue exploring one another as they prepare for marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources The Muslim Marriage Guide by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood: “Far from the sociological analysis or list of rules that fill other books about Islamic marriage, this book draws from the wisdom of the Sunnah to show how to love your partner in this life and prepare each other for the next. Written with plenty of real-life experience (and even humor) from Muslims living in the West, the author balances the issues of male-female differences, respect for each other’s rights and needs and raising God-conscious children.” Basing the principles of a blissful marriage on inspiration from the Islamic and Prophetic tradition, this book can make for great discussions with a potential or committed partner around the spiritual dimensions of a marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Like Glue: The Little Book of Marriage Advice We Should Have Stuck to from the Beginning by Zarinah Al-Amin and Dr. Halim Naeem: “Marriage is like gardening. The farmer cannot reap what the farmer does not sow. Put in the work, and your marriage benefits. Leave it stagnant, and the weeds take over. Plain and simple. LIKE GLUE by Dr. Halim Naeem and Zarinah El-Amin Naeem is filled with practical advice to help you build love, respect, and FUN in your marriage.” This book is a fun read for a couple to share and discuss at any stage of their relationship.

 
Classic Must-Reads

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman: “This book features learning experiences from the author’s own marriage, such as realizing “that toilets are not self-cleaning” and “that romantic love has two stages.” Each chapter ends with questions and activities for the couple to explore together. This is a relatable, easy read for a prospective couple to help explore and adjust their expectations about their relationship and the reality of marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by G. Chapman: “In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.” This is a great read for a couple that has found compatibility in the initial stages of the relationship and wants to continue exploring one another as they prepare for marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last by Dr. John Gottman: “This breakthrough book guides you through a series of self-tests designed to help you determine what kind of marriage you have, where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what specific actions you can take to help your marriage.” This is a great read for a couple that has found compatibility in the initial stages of the relationship and wants to continue exploring one another as they prepare for marriage.  

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard Harley: “In the classic bestseller His Needs, Her Needs, Willard F. Harley, Jr., identifies the ten most vital needs of men and women and shows husbands and wives how to satisfy those needs in their spouses.” This is for the prospective couple to help explore and adjust their expectations about their relationship and the reality of marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources 12 Hours to a Great Marriage: A Step-by-Step Guide for Making Love Last by Howard Markman: Based on the highly sought-out PREP workshop, this book outlines 12 strategies to develop, protect, and enhance your marriage. This is a great book for a couple to explore together. Each chapter is designed to be covered in one hour.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Fighting for Your Marriage by H. Markman: Also based on the PREP approach, this book is a practical guide to build the skill of handling conflict in a relationship, and strengthen the marriage with a lasting bond. In this edited version, the author draws from the most recent developments in the field of marriage and relationship research. This is a great read for a couple that has found compatibility in the initial stages of the relationship and wants to continue exploring one another as they prepare for marriage.   

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Steven Covey: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families shows how and why to have family meetings, the importance of keeping promises, how to balance individual and family needs, and how to move from dependence to interdependence.” This book is for the couple that has decided to commit to one another; after working through one of the recommended resources that focus on building the marriage and your understanding of one another, read this book together to explore and create traditions for your relationship as it grows into a family.

 
Sex and Intimacy

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Real Questions, Real Answers about Sex: The Complete Guide to Intimacy as God Intended by Melissa & Louis McBurney: Written by a Christian couple from a Biblical perspective, this book touches on sex and intimacy from a spiritual, physical and therapeutic perspective. With the honest, humorous insight of both a man and woman, the authors answer all types of questions around sex. This book can be helpful for couples to read just before, or after marriage.

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations by Muhammad Al-Kawthari: “While being respectful and dignified in the language he employs, the author does not shy away from discussing sensitive issues. He records, in thorough detail, the guidance Islam provides regarding sexual encounters with one’s spouse.” This book can be helpful for couples to read just before, or after their marriage.

These handpicked articles cover various relationship topics that are relevant to the modern marriage.

 Which Of My Needs Can I Realistically Expect My Partner To Meet?

 Self-Interest is Not Selfish in Relationships

 The Effects of Changing Gender Dynamics in Muslim Spouse Selection

 

Videos

 Before You Say “I Do”: This free webinar by the FYI is an introduction to marriage education that shares with the audience practical tips and resources to help prepare for the commitment of a lifetime. It will help you recognize the importance of preparing for marriage, engage in self-reflection, learn how to assess compatibility, and identify resources to help you prepare for marriage.

 How to Get Married by Qalam Institute: In this six-part “How to Get Married” video series, Ustadh AbdelRahman Murphy breaks down the core components of the marriage process with advice from the Quran, Sunnah, and marital counseling experts.

 Love Notes by Yas Guru: A witty and truthful series of 1-3 minute videos about common myths, conflicts, and “rules of engagement” within a relationship.

 Before You Tie the Knot: Fictional stories to help illustrate concepts that will lead to happier marriages, based on the book “Before You Tie The Knot” by Sister Salma Abugideiri and Imam Mohamed Magid.

 Marriage Success Film Series: This series, sponsored by Baitul Maal and the Faith of Life Network, features short enactments of couples engaging in various types of behavior, with the perspective of counselors and marriage experts.

 Book Summary in Video Form: 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work: An animated summary of the book by Dr. John Gottman.

 Muslim Advice – Marriage: A candid series of videos and perspectives around marriage – before, during, and after making the commitment – by Br. Q.

 Marriage Makeover Video Series by Quran Weekly and Haleh Bannani: A five-part series on the relationship between self-development and marital bliss.

Involving Your Family In The Marriage Process

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

Troubleshooting and Additional Resources 

Prepare to Pair

For the couple that’s courting, engaged, or ready to tie the knot.

Looking for more?

Check out the Marriage Prep Toolkit for all the resources you need.

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Your feedback is incredibly valuable to us. It helps us refine and improve our efforts to better serve you. Whether it’s positive comments that motivate us or constructive criticism that guides our enhancements, your insights are an essential part of our journey. We genuinely appreciate your time and input as we work to provide the best possible experience. Thank you for being a part of our process!

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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).