10 Ways to Avoid Marrying the Wrong Person!

Dr. Nafisa Sekandari and Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.  Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.”    ~Quran [30:21]

There is a right way and a wrong way to get to know someone for marriage. The wrong way is to get caught up in the excitement and nuance of a budding relationship and in the process completely forget to ask the critical questions that help determine compatibility. One of the biggest mistakes that many young Muslims make is rushing into marriage without properly and thoroughly getting to know someone. A common myth is that the duration of a courtship is an accurate enough measure of how compatible two people are. The logic follows that the longer you speak with someone, the better you will know them. The problem with that premise is that no consideration is given to how that time is spent. Increasingly, young Muslim couples are engaging in “halal dating,” which is basically socializing with each other in the company of friends and/or family. This includes going out to dinner, watching a movie, playing some sport or other leisure activity, etc. Depending on the family or culture, conversations are either minimal & chaperoned or worse, unrestricted and unsupervised. When you consider these limitations it makes one wonder when exactly, if ever at all, would the critical conversations take place? Unfortunately, for many, the answer is never and they live to suffer the consequences. If you or someone you know is in the “getting to know someone” phase, the following guide offers advice on exactly what to look for and avoid:

“…and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are not affected by what people say: for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honourable.” ~Quran[24:26]

1) Do Not Marry Potential: Oftentimes men consider marrying a woman hoping she never changes while a woman considers marrying a man she hopes she can change. This is the wrong approach on both accounts. Don’t assume that you can change a person after you’re married to them or that they will reach their potential. There is no guarantee, after all, that those changes will be for the better. In fact, it’s often for the worse. If you can’t accept someone or imagine living with them as they are then don’t marry them. These differences can include a number of things such as ideological or practical differences in religion, habits, hygiene, communication skills, etc.

“Enter Paradise, you and your wives, in happiness.” ~Quran [43:70]

2) Choose Character over Chemistry: While chemistry and attraction are no doubt important, character precedes them both. A famous quote follows, “Chemistry ignites the fire, but character keeps it burning.” The idea of falling “in love” should never be the sole reason for marrying someone; it is very easy to confuse infatuation and lust for love. The most important character traits to look for include humility, kindness, responsibility, & happiness. Here’s a breakdown of each trait:

Humility: The humble person never makes demands of people but rather always does right by them. They put their values and principles above convenience and comfort. They are slow to anger, are modest, and avoid materialism.
Kindness: The kind person is the quintessential giver. They seek to please and minimize the pain of others. To know if a person is a giver, observe how they treat their family, siblings, and parents. Do they have gratitude towards their parents for all that they’ve done for them? If not, then know that they will never appreciate what you do for them. How do they treat people they don’t have to be kind towards (i.e. waiters, sales associates, employees, etc)? How do they spend their money? How do they deal with anger; their own anger and their reaction to someone else’s anger?
Responsibility: A responsible person has stability in their finances, relationships, job, and character. You can you rely on this person and trust what they say.
Happiness: A happy person is content with their portion in life. They feel good about themselves and good about their life. They focus on what they have rather than on what they don’t have. They very rarely complain.

“The man dreams of a perfect woman and the woman dreams of a perfect man and they don’t know that Allah created them to perfect one another.” ~Ahmad AlShugairi

3) Do Not Neglect The Emotional Needs of Your Partner: Both men and women have emotional needs and in order for a partnership to be successful those needs must be mutually met. The fundamental emotional need of a woman is to be loved. The fundamental emotional need of a man is to be respected and appreciated. To make a woman feel loved give her the three AAAs: Attention, Affection, & Appreciation. To make a man feel loved give him the three RRRs: Respect, Reassurance, & Relief. It is the obligation of each partner to make sure the other is happy and this extends to intimacy as well. As long as each partner is fulfilled by the emotional needs of the other, the intimate relationship will thrive. When a man takes seriously the emotional needs of his wife she will feel more encouraged to fulfill his sexual desires. Likewise, when a woman takes seriously the emotional needs of her husband he will feel more encouraged to give her the affection, love and appreciation she wants from him. Working together in this way encourages both giving and receiving.

“Among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility with them and He put love and mercy between your (hearts) : verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”     ~Quran Ar-Rum [30:21]

4) Avoid Opposing Life Plans: In marriage you can either grow together or grow apart. Sharing a common purpose in life will increase the chance that you will grow together.
• You must know what the person is into. In other words, what are they ultimately passionate about? Then ask yourself, “Do I respect this passion?” “Do I respect what they are into?”
• The more specifically you define yourself, i.e., your values, your beliefs, your lifestyle, the better chance you have of finding your life partner, your soul mate, the one you are most compatible with.
• Remember, before you decide who to take along on a trip, you should first figure out your destination.

“When I am with you, we stay up all night. When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep. Praise God for those two insomnias! And the difference between them.” ~Rumi

5) Avoid Pre-Marital Sexual/Physical Activity:
• Recognize that there is incredible wisdom in why God has ordered us to refrain from intimacy before marriage; they are to prevent great harms as well as to keep sacred what is the most blessed part of a relationship between a man and a woman.
• Aside from the obvious spiritual consequences, when a relationship gets physical before its time, important issues like character, life philosophy, and compatibility go to the wayside. Consequently, everything is romanticized and it becomes difficult to even remember the important issues let alone talk about them.
• Intellectual commitment must be established before emotional or sexual commitment.

“When talking about marriage, Allah says your spouses are garments for you. A garment may or may not fit perfectly-but either way, it covers imperfections, protects and beautifies.” ~Yasmin Mogahed

6) Avoid Lack of Emotional Connection: There are four questions that you must answer YES to:
• Do I respect and admire this person? What specifically do I respect and admire about this person?
• Do I trust this person? Can I rely on them? Do I trust their judgment? Do I trust their word? Can I believe what they say?
• Do I feel Safe? Do I feel emotionally safe with this person? Can I be vulnerable? Can I be myself? Can I be open? Can I express myself?
• Do I feel calm and at peace with this person?
If the answer is “I don’t know, I’m not sure, etc.” keep evaluating until you know for sure and truly understand how you feel. If you don’t feel safe now, you won’t feel safe when you are married. If you don’t trust now, this won’t change when you are married!

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times always with the same person.”

~Waleed Basyouni

7) Pay Attention to Your Own Emotional Anxiety: Choosing someone you don’t feel safe with emotionally is not a good recipe for a long-lasting and loving marriage. Feeling emotionally safe is the foundation of a strong and healthy marriage. When you don’t feel safe, you can’t express your feelings and opinions. Learn how to identify whether you are in an abusive relationship. If you feel you always have to monitor what you say, if you are with someone and you feel you can’t really express yourself and are always walking on eggshells, then it’s very likely you are in an abusive relationship.

Look for the following things:
Controlling behavior: This includes controlling the way you act, the way you think, the way you dress, the way you wear your hair/hijab and the way you spend your time. Know the difference between suggestions and demands. Demands are an expression of control and if the demands are implied, than you must do it or there will be consequences. All of these are clear indications of abusive personalities.
Anger issues: This is someone who raises their voice on a regular basis, who is angry, gets angry at you, uses anger against you, uses put downs, and curses at you, etc. You don’t have to put up with this type of treatment. Many people who tolerate this behavior usually come from abusive backgrounds. If this is the case with you or someone you know, get help right away. Deal with those issues before getting married or before even thinking about getting married.

“None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner,

and none but an ignorant treats women disgracefully.” ~Hadith

8 ) Beware of Lack of Openness In Your Partner: Many couples make the mistake of not putting everything on the table for discussion from the onset. Ask yourself, “What do I need to know to be absolutely certain I want to marry this person?” “What bothers me about this person or the relationship?” It’s very important to identify what’s bothering you, things that concern you, and things you are afraid to bring up for discussion. Then you must have an honest discussion about them. This is a great way to test the strength of your relationship. Bringing up issues when there’s conflict is a great opportunity to really evaluate how well you communicate, negotiate, and work together as a team. When people get into power struggles and blame each other, it’s an indication they don’t work well as a team. Also important is being vulnerable around each other. Ask deep questions of each other and see how your partner responds. How do they handle it? Are they defensive? Do they attack? Do they withdraw? Do they get annoyed? Do they blame you? Do they ignore it? Do they hide or rationalize it? Don’t just listen to what they say but watch for how they say it!

“And still, after all this time, the Sun has never said to the Earth, “You owe me.”

Look what happens with love like that. It lights up the sky.” ~Hafez

9) Beware of Avoiding Personal Responsibility: It’s very important to remember no one else is responsible for your happiness. Many people make the mistake of thinking someone else will fulfill them and make their life better and that’s their reason for getting married. People fail to realize that if they are unhappy as a single person, they will continue to be miserable when they are married. If you are currently not happy with yourself, don’t like yourself, don’t like the direction your life is going now, it’s important to take responsibility for that now and work on improving those areas of your life before considering marriage. Don’t bring these issues into your marriage and hope your partner will fix them.

The most perfect believer in faith is the one whose character is finest and who is kindest to his wife.” ~Hadith

10) Watch Out For Lack of Emotional Health and Availability In Your Potential Partner: Many people choose partners that are not emotionally healthy or available. One huge problem is when a partner is unable to balance the emotional ties to family members, the marriage ends up having 3 (or more) people in it rather than two. An example of this would be if a man is overly dependent on his mother and brings that relationship into the marriage; this is no doubt a recipe for disaster.

“A good husband wipes her tears, but a great husband listens to the story of whys she’s crying.” ~Unknown

Also important to consider are the following:
• Avoid people who are emotionally empty inside. These include people who don’t like themselves because they lack the ability to be emotionally available. They are always preoccupied with their deficiencies, insecurities, and negative thoughts. They are in a perpetual fight with depression, never feel good, are isolated, are critical and judgmental; tend to not have any close friends, and often distrust people or are afraid of them. Another clear indication about them is they always feel their needs are not getting met; they have a sense of entitlement and feel angry when they feel people should take care of them and they don’t. They feel burdened by other people’s needs and feel resentment towards them. These people can not be emotionally available to build healthy relationships.
• Addictions can also limit the level of availability of the partner to build a strong emotional relationship. Never marry an addict. Addictions are not limited to drugs and alcohol. They can be about addictions and dependency on work, internet, hobbies, sports, shopping, money, power, status, materialism, etc. When someone has an addiction, they will not and can not be emotionally available to develop an intimate relationship with you!

“And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.'” ~Quran [25:74]

Additional Points to Consider:
1. The fact is no one looks 25 forever. Ultimately, we love the person we marry for more than their appearance. When we get to know someone we love and admire, we’ll love them for their inner beauty and overall essence.
2. Once we find someone, we consciously or subconsciously want so badly for it all to work that we decide not to question or see what is clearly in front of our eyes: they were rude to the waiter, speaks ill of others, is rude to you, etc. We don’t stop to ask, “What does all of this mean about their character?”
3. Never separate someone from their family, background, education, belief system, etc. Asking clear questions can clarify this. Ask questions like, “What does it mean to have a simple lifestyle?” “What are your expectations of marriage?” “How would you help around the house?” Compare your definition with theirs.
4. Be flexible. Be open-minded!
5. Giving in a happy marriage should not be confused with martyrdom. It should be about taking pleasure and seeing the other person as happy because of your connection with them.
6. Morality and spirituality are the qualities that truly define someone in addition to beauty, money, and health. The morally upright and spiritual person will stand by your side during adversity and hardship. If someone isn’t God-conscience and doesn’t take themselves into account with God then why should you expect them to fulfill their rights owed to you? The ideal partner is someone who considers giving a gain and not causing a loss. Having a mutual and shared spiritual relationship will foster a successful marriage. Furthermore, a successful marriage is one that keeps the laws of family purity which require a certain degree of self-control and self-discipline, as well as the belief that the physical side of the relationship includes the spiritual and emotional side as well. Finding commonality and balance between the spiritual and emotional aspects of a relationship is a strong key to a healthy and thriving marriage.

The above article was [in part] inspired by and adapted from a presentation by Rabbi Dov Heller, M.A.

Dr. Nafisa Sekandari is the director and founder of Mental Health 4 Dr. Sekandari is currently licensed and practicing in California and Arizona.  Dr. Sekandari is also the current founder and director of MH4M Counseling and Education Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  Additionally, Dr. Sekandari is a published author and lecturer.


Hosai Mojaddidi is the co-founder and past editor of MH4M. She has been actively involved with the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area and the southern California community for nearly 15 years.  Additionally, Sr. Hosai is a published author and lecturer.
















  1. Majhool 12 October, 2017 at 09:08 Reply

    I don’t think stability in finance or job is something realistic, unfortunatly we live in the 21st century and it’s a fast moving world out there if anybody is looking for someone for their finances then they stand on such a weak platform that can disappear in one single day and I think you mentioning that contradicts the whole “not being materialistic” point. I am not saying marry someone broke or homeless or something it is just not realistic to expect any stability from a job or a person that you ask Allah SWT for and you try your best. Otherwise great article.

  2. Lk 4 February, 2019 at 08:00 Reply

    Very biased article obvious that it was written by a woman just barely touching on what women are required to do, focusing majority of the article on how man pleases his woman try be less biased next time its not all about you. Men need to do this that right good luck with that we will see just how helful that will be for women to encourage them to be even more entitled placing all responsibility on the man.

    • Dr. Nafisa Sekandari 7 February, 2019 at 20:51 Reply

      The article wasn’t meant to be biased towards women. Both men and women should follow these steps to finding the right person. It’s not about making anyone entitled and the responsibility should not be on men to carry a relationship. It takes two to make any relationship work and the relationship would not be considered healthy if only the man is making an effort.

    • Sana 16 November, 2019 at 04:02 Reply

      We as women are always told what we should do as a wife , which sacrifises , compromises to make for your marriage . So seeing an article which is a little more centric towards the husband’s responsibilities shouldn’t be an issue , after all there are 2 people in a marriage . When bot fullfill their duties and responsibilitiws can there be contentful companionship.

  3. Sarah 24 December, 2019 at 08:12 Reply

    Good article. #10 talks about people with depression. Are you saying people with depression shouldn’t be getting married? What is your advice for people with chronic depression?

    • Dr. Nafisa Sekandari 1 February, 2020 at 15:35 Reply

      We’re not saying that people with depression shouldn’t get married but it’s important to know if someone is dealing with mental illness and whether they are doing anything about it. If someone is depressed and thinks only marriage will take care of the depression, they will be in for a rude awakening. Marriage can even make the depression or mental illness worse if the illness is left untreated.

  4. Amadi, Caleen 12 January, 2020 at 15:11 Reply

    I love this article.
    I’m a girl.
    I learnt a lot.. I didn’t find this bias at all.
    It made me realise how great my boyfriend has been a d how horrible I’ve been.
    How things are really wonderful for us and I keep making it go so bad because I overthink every thing and it makes me sad ad terrible in the end.
    I didn’t feel surprisingly that the article was written by a man though.

  5. Oum_Hafsah 21 February, 2020 at 12:06 Reply

    ALHAMDULILLAH.. I feel blessed and ready to carry-on with the marriage.. The fear in my heart has lessened. Best article I’ve read about love and marriage so far

  6. Omeiza 23 March, 2020 at 22:37 Reply

    The article was structured with a positive point. I admired it, because I gained a lot.

    But my question is, at a point that you as a man discovered that your partner to be was inherited with manner of not knowing how to ever appreciate what you offer to her. In this case that is natural occurrence, what do you have to do?

    • Dr. Nafisa Sekandari 25 June, 2020 at 16:29 Reply

      Most of the suggestions work for both genders. What area would you like us to address for men? Thanks.

  7. Nadia K 27 July, 2020 at 02:43 Reply

    what is the best thing to do if you met someone who is a good muslim with good character but you just do not feel physically attracted to the person? I cannot bring myself to give up on this person as i feel they have great qualities and would regret the decision. any advice?

    • Dr. Nafisa Sekandari 27 July, 2020 at 19:22 Reply

      Take your time and really get to know them. They may have great qualities and be a good Muslim but not compatible with your personality but also you may not know enough about them to even find them attractive. Physical attraction aside, you may actually fall in love with who they are at the core despite not necessarily finding them physically attractive initially.

  8. Sid A. 8 September, 2020 at 05:31 Reply

    That’s a really eye-opeming article about realities of married life. I have recently received a proposal and the guy has all the good qualities that I’m looking for. We arranged a meeting with the family. I did istikhara and after that I had this thought that I should ask for his picture. After I saw his pic, I cringed. I mean it’s the opposite of attraction. I feel -50% attracted to him. Say if there was a guy who had good qualities and I was even 5% attracted to him, I would choose the guy over the proposer. I feel like I’m being ungrateful to Allah Subhanahu wa-Ta’ala by rejecting him because I feel totally unattracted to him. I have no idea what to do. Half of me is like, have one meeting, observe the guy, maybe he doesn’t look that way in person (there was no photoshop on his pic, it was a natural pic), maybe his manners will be so amazing that I will completely forget about the unattractiveness. And the other half of me is like, his face won’t change that completely that I’ll stop cringing in his presence or that I have to be intimate with him at some point in my married life and the thought makes me want to cry. Please advice me, sister.
    JazakumAllahu khayran.

  9. Say 8 September, 2020 at 06:15 Reply

    That’s a really eye-opening article about realities of married life.
    I have received a proposal and the guy has most of the good qualities that I’m looking for: religious, hafiz, etc. So we arranged a meeting and my mum asked me to do istikhara. I prayed salat-ul-istikhara. I then got a thought that I should ask for his picture before asking them to come over. I practice sharae niqab and they have stated that as we live so far away, it would be wasteful for them to come over and be rejected because of something small so we should freely ask them anything that would make this matter easier. My mum asked them for a picture and they said they’ll decide about whether to send the pic or not and then let us know. We found that weird but dismissed the thought. I then got the idea that I should look for him on Facebook so I searched and got to see him. I cringed when I saw him. I am not a choosy person by nature but I didn’t find him attractive at all. As a matter of fact, I find him -50% attractive. And the thought of one day being intimate with him in my married life makes me want to cry and puke at the same time. I scrolled through his timeline and saw his interaction through his posts and comments. I didn’t like what I saw mostly but I liked what I saw somewhat. For example, he had shared some posts that say that he wishes and prays we could all be true lovers of Prophet Muhammad sallalahu alaihi wa-alihi wassallam. He has expressed his love for Madinah tul Munawarrah. And he has shared many videos where some TV talkshows are hosting ‘rishta aunty’ who puts down women looking to get married and expecting not to be dominated or trodden on, he lauded the behavior of that rishta aunty. I try to practice Islam as much as I can, in that I don’t watch movies and tv shows because most have music, vulgarity or non-mehrams dressed in an appropriate manner. I don’t interact with non-mehrams until and unless I absolutely need to. He also has many non-mehram added in his friends’ list and in one reply to a female friend put the emoji for winking. I wouldn’t dream of doing that to a non-mehram regardless of what our relation was. He states that he wants to be a practicing Muslim and be better but the posts and the comments say otherwise. I mean if he is watching talkshows where women are basically without any shawl or covering and are dressed upto the nines then saying that he wants to be a better person doesn’t make me feel like he is as practicing as I want my spouse to be. I’m thinking of rejecting the proposal because of the unattractiveness I feel for him and his behavior or piousness. I only like the fact that he is a hafiz, would allow me to obtain further education, has been for ‘Umrah and that he loves Madinah tul Munawarrah. It is not realistic to consider someone for liking Madinah tul Munawarrah. But it’s my home in every meaning of the word. I would choose to live in Madinah if I could and die there. I have been for ‘Umrah a couple of times. Missing it feels physically painful. I don’t know what to do. Any helpful advice would be appreciated. JazakumAllahu khayran.

    • MANJURUL KHAN 6 March, 2021 at 04:51 Reply

      Sister, as a brother I wouldn’t suggest you go for it considering myself to be in your place. I wouldn’t marry someone who I don’t feel attracted to.

  10. Sara 27 January, 2021 at 06:57 Reply

    Very similar to my situation. The proposals trough my parents were very not atractive men. I repulsed when i saw them and do not see myself opening up to them nor get intimate with them. But the clock is ticking and i want kids. But coming from an abusive narcistic household and my mom never got that loving marriage i find it very hard to have to deal with probably the same issues all over again if i dont make the right decision and marry out of love, my gut feelings never lied to me, scared i will have no other options and end unhappy alone or with one i repulse. Because its the love that will give me the strength to raise a healthy loving caring household. Any advice??

  11. Aliyu 15 February, 2021 at 06:41 Reply

    When sitting with a man and he touches your hands, you warned him never to do that again, should you give a second chance or not, is he a righteous man or is best to leave him.

  12. MANJURUL KHAN 6 March, 2021 at 04:42 Reply

    Although I don’t necessarily agree with all the points, good article overall. Problem is, Muslim men want Princess Diana in hijab, and Muslimas want Alhaj Bill Gates with a beard. Wink!

  13. Fahima 9 March, 2021 at 00:28 Reply


    I really enjoyed reading this. Covers the basics and really makes you think about the things to look for in a spouse. I have a weird few questions.

    What if you found someone who has most of these things (kind, emotionally fulfilling, has a job, drives, is loving and caring, supportive, has similar values and tried very hard to please you) but lacks some fundamentals? For example: I have met someone who seems great as a person but to me lacks the following: is not a great decision maker, socially awkward, not very good at arguing their point across, The way he speaks can be deemed to be very confusing. Also, In relation to the context of raising children seems unable to discipline children manner since he gets confused. Do I overlook these aspects? How do I make a decision?

    Any help would be great
    Jazakallah hu khaira

  14. Shawon 14 March, 2021 at 23:06 Reply

    Amazing article! You should have a email newsletter that sends out email whenever a new post is published. Its hard for me to track every blogs by going to their websites.

  15. Anum 23 March, 2021 at 00:17 Reply

    I have an issue I need to address.
    My cousin who is a guy, has liked me for the past few years just texted me that he has feelings for me. I’m not sure what I feel about him, in fact I don’t really like him, but he’s only a good cousin to me. I currently moved to Pakistan, and my sister got married in their house last month, so we interact very often. I understand it’s haram to text to a non mehram, and I tried avoiding it (I stopped after he admitted his feelings and we agreed not to text again). We ended up exchanging small gifts like headphones and chocolate and text once in a while, but for long periods whenever we did in the past. He’s not very religious, just prays once in a while, not as religious as I would prefer my future spouse to be honestly. He’s alright basically and I dont want to hurt his feelings, especially because we always meet at each other’s houses because of family. I understand i made a terrible mistake. I really shouldnt have spoken to him or given him headphones. But I dont want to give him any further false hope. I dont want to hurt his feelings either. Please help me out.. What should I do? Jazak Allah.

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