The “engagement” period is the time after the official Nikah ceremony and until the Wedding ceremony. With all the romanticism that takes place, it is a very sensitive time that will lay precedence for the success, or failure of your marriage.
Statistics say that majority of divorces occur during the first two years of the marriage, and in many cases the first few months.
How are you able to avoid this and lay a strong foundation that sustain the marriage and keep the relationship as vibrant and successful as possible.
It’s a very difficult time, where you are transitioning from the single life to the married life.
This article will focus on where fiancés and fiancées usually go wrong, and such mistakes could be so detrimental they will ignite the downward spiral in the relationship.
As Muslims we honour all our family members, and we revere our elders. In most cases your family members want the best for you. They, involve themselves in your life wanting to guide you, and share their life experiences with you. New couples must cater to this and not be so defensive, when others give you instructions and positive pointers.
You want to get to know your soul mate, and your parents are scared that your approach be wrong, so to a certain extent they need to monitor the progress of this new relationship. When needed they can step in and intervene, helping you with unresolved problems, or keeping you away from repetitive mistakes.
However, going one step further from “involvement” to “interference” is where things get ugly. As much as parents intend good and want to nurture their children, they must allow the new couple to mature and become as independent as they need to. How can you know your partner if you don’t have your own privacy between you and learn from each other, which can only be done if you are given your own space.
This is why family members must never exceed the boundaries of involvement. You will need to make sure that prior to anything happening everyone is well aware of what the limits are in involvement, and when it will become damaging.
Don’t let your family dictate and micro-manage your affairs. Don’t inform them of absolutely everything that happens between you and your partner. Bring up supposed scenarios with your family and discuss how each one should be dealt. By doing this you are setting the boundaries between advice, involvement and interference.
When you completely block your family from being involved this will also lead to deep problems. You won’t feel that you are responsible for your actions, nor will you want to be held accountable for anything you do.
Changing them after the wedding:
The common and very wrong assumption is that once you wed you will be able to change your spouse when living with each other. An example for this from the man’s side is anger problems that lead to abuse of any sort. An example for this from the woman’s side is her quality of hijab.
Unfortunately, during the engagement period wrong behaviour and negative traits of the partner are ignored. The intention is to deal with this after the wedding, but this is grave mistake that fails in most cases.
Changing someone’s behaviour is not easy, and it needs a lot of effort and time. For a newlywed this type of time is something they don’t have. Ongoing problems as such will create that drifting away of hearts and certainly lead to a loveless relationship and also divorce.
At times changes can seem to happen, but only for putting on a show, and once things fall back into place so do their bad traits.
Everything must be dealt with at the time they arise, wisely and swiftly.
Looking at the Money:
It could be the case that some marry for the sake of the money. One becomes so enticed with the material side of things they overlook the negative and bad features of opposite. How much more evidence do we need to show that money is the least important thing in marriage and a relationship.
If your central focus in the relationship and the most frequent topic you both discuss is money, be assured that you are building the weakest of a marriage foundation.
Listening and worrying about what everyone says:
So many people hasten in commenting on the lives of others, and in many cases it carries a negative impact in how people see themselves. A new couple should create barriers that block out gossip or baseless things that people say.
You shouldn’t be easily influenced by the views of others, or be scared of how people judge you. As long as you know you are doing the right thing and both of you are investing effort in making the relationship work.
As long as you are in line with what Almighty Allah wants from you, don’t worry about anything else.
Going Straight for Third Base:
The physical side of the relationship is important, but all in its due course. Rushing into the final stage of intimacy at the very beginning of your courtship is not good at all. It’s going to remove the very beauty of your “wedding night,” which is what both families are expecting you to do as well.
Don’t forget you are both in the limbo stage and should wait for the right time to consummate the marriage.
Overlooking Red Flags:
You were told your spouse-to-be was religious and prayed on time, but you come to realise they don’t. Or they were not married before, and then it turns out vital information was kept from you.
Let’s give some simple examples of “red flags” we shouldn’t overlook:
- He/she is very stingy, never wants to spend anything and too secretive with money.
- He/she has addictions, like drugs, gambling, porn, etc.
- He/she has anger problems, uses foul language, or abuses you in any way.
Too much attached:
You’re still getting to know each other, and taking things slowly in the natural discourse of time is the best thing to do. That’s why you have to plan the number of times you communicate or see each other during the engagement period. You want to live a real life together, and work beyond the emotionally attached level. You need to meet enough times, but also have enough space so you can both have the mental and intellectual time to process and digest this new life.
Your families are also going to feel uncomfortable if you visit each other or go out too much, and that strain will leave its impression on your future together and with the family members.
Not Asking Questions:
Communication is the vital lifeline of your relationship and asking question is the key to this. Think thoroughly on the quality of questions you want to ask, and make sure you take into consideration how it will improve your relationship. It might upset your partner, or they might feel you don’t trust them, but this is the process to getting to know each other.
If this happens there will be an ongoing issue of lack of communication after the marriage. You won’t really know who it is you are going to be living with.
You will have to learn the language of understanding and know how to deal with each other in a skillful way, mutually and equally.
Some more Don’ts:
- Don’t be too sensitive and blow things out of proportion.
- Don’t change your religious or moral values to make him/her happy.
- Don’t share your secrets with anyone.
- Don’t lie or hide things or cover up about anything.
- Don’t make promises you will not commit to.
- Don’t be too self-righteous or over confident, as everyone makes mistakes, even you.
- Don’t ignore your hesitations and negative feelings.
- Don’t compare him/her to anyone else.
- Don’t put on a show or act out something you are not.
- Don’t sin for the sake of satisfying him/her.
- Don’t indulge them too much, but be realistic and moderate.
- Don’t bring back the past or mention previous issues.
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