Questions to Ask a Prospective Husband
When choosing a partner, there are numerous issues which may lead to friction and conflict. Following the principle that prevention is better than cure, it seems wise to air these issues before a match is finalized. Some of the issues may appear trivial or mundane, but the stuff of everyday life is also the stuff of arguments! Other issues are more serious, and may be indicative of the potential for a stormy and abusive marriage. Each marriage will have its ups and downs, but settling some of these matters may avoid the emergence of major, insoluble problems and consequent heartbreak.
These are all questions that may be asked directly or else "researched" by observation, asking his relatives, members of the community, etc. The prospective bride may ask some of these questions when the couple meet, but many women may feel too shy to ask outright. Family or friends can also help with the research - in many Muslim countries, relatives of prospective partners often visit to check the person out!
Asking/answering such questions is not gheebah or backbiting, and people should not hesitate to tell the truth when it concerns a possible marriage; the intent is to establish whether these two people are compatible. Avoiding a poor match will save all concerned from much heartache. At the same time, whether the marriage proceeds or not, any information thus gathered should be kept confidential - any "faults" uncovered should not be generally broadcast in the community!
These suggested questions are derived from two sources: an article entititled "Spousal Abuse and its Prevention" by Br. Abdul Rehman in Islamic Sisters International, and the feedback I received during a workshop I led on "Choosing a Marriage Partner" at the ISSRA Conference on Health and Social Issues, Toronto, May 25, 1996.
The Big Issues:
(1) What makes him angry and how does he deal with his anger?
Does he blame everybody but himself?
Does he stop talking to the person involved?
Does he bear grudges ("I'll get him back one day!")
Has he ever physically or mentally abused anyone with whom he was angry?
Does he get angry when those who may be wiser disagree or suggest an alternative point of view?
Does he ever forgive those with whom he was angry?
(2) How does he behave during a crisis?
Does he blame everyone except himself?
Does he become hostile towards an uninvolved member of an ethnic group which is known to abuse followers of Islam?
What steps does he take to face and deal with pressure?
Does he remain optimistic that things will get better, and that after every difficulty comes ease?
(3) How does he feel about women's rights in a Muslim home?
Did he ever observe abuse from his father towards his mother?
Did he ever act to prevent abuse at home? How?
Did he believe that his father was always right?
Does he believe that all women deserve abuse?
How does he make decisions? Does he rely on his own wisdom? Does he consult with close friends?
Will he be willing to consult with his spouse on any decision?
Does he stick firmly to his decisions?
(4) How does he deal with money matters?
Does he save his money for the future?
Does he give money to charities?
When he decides to buy something, will he consult his spouse in making the decision?
How does he describe his own spending and attitude towards money?
(5) What does he expect from his wife and children?
How would he react if his expectations are not met?
What is his vision of family life?
Would he pitch in and co-operate in family chores and the upbringing of children?
Would he be willing to change to accommodate your views?
(6) What are his family like?
Are his family religious, or will you be the only one in hijab?
Does their approach to Islam differ from yours - will you be the only "fundamentalists" in a family whose Islam is more "traditional"?
If this is a mixed match, are his folks open to outsiders, or will you face clannishness and exclusion?
(7) What is his medical background?
(Many Imams in the US are now refusing to conduct Nikah until they see proof that the couple have undergone blood tests and been given a clean bill of health)
Has he ever had an AIDS test, and what was the result?
Is there any history of major illness in his family?
(8) What are his views on education of women and children?
Will he allow you to continue and/or return to education?
What are his views on education and schooling of children? If you have strong views on Islamic schools, home schooling, etc., find out if his views coincide with yours.
Will he take part in the children's upbringing and education? Will he teach them Qur'an?
(9) Where does he want to live?
Does he want to settle in the country where you now live?
Does he want to return to his homeland? Does he want to move to a new country altogether?
Will the family have to move frequently because of his profession?
Will he take your feelings into account when deciding where to live?
Does he aspire to a large and luxurious home, or will he settle for less? Does he want to live in the heart of the city, in the suburbs, or in an isolated rural setting?
Some of these are individual preferences - what may deeply concern some may not even be an issue to others, but if you have some strong feelings on a matter, it is better to get it out into the open before you make a commitment:
Do you agree on the "halal meat" issue - some people will only eat halal-slaughtered meat, whilst others will eat any "meat of the Jews and Christians" as long as it's not pork.
Does he insist on only eating the food of his own ethnic group, or are his tastes more eclectic?
Will he insist on having every meal cooked from scratch, or will you be able to have convenience food or take-away on busy days?
Does he have some strong preferences for meat, or will you "go vegetarian" some days?
Does he smoke? Do any of his family or friends smoke? Will he let people smoke in your non-smoking home?
(3) Going Out:
How does he feel about women going outside the home? studying outside? working outside?
Will he want to "check out" your friends and only let you visit those of whom he approves?
How does he feel about women driving?
Are either of you very keen to keep pets at home?
Do either of you have any allergies, dislikes, or phobias when it comes to animals?
Taken from Bent Rib: A Journey through women's issues in Islam by Huda al-Khattab
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