To those who are thinking of getting married
Interpreting the verse: “Marry those among you who are single” as “write an article leading those who are thinking of getting married”, my friends had been urging me to write for a long time. After Tarkan, Twin Towers, etc, it was time to write about that issue. I have my advice to the young people who are thinking of getting married. What I have written should not be regarded as my own advice; most of the therapists will agree on my advice.
Know that you are lucky. When I was young, people would not talk about that issue, nobody would give any advice. The married and mature friends of us always talked about more important issues; they would keep quiet when the issue was marriage. Those issues were not covered in religious magazines lest the minds of young people should be distracted. Therefore, we would whisper about it among ourselves: “Do you think we should marry?”, “What kind of a person should I marry?”, “There is a girl that I like but she does not perform prayers, will it be a problem?”, “Do you think I will be happy if I marry a girl that my parents will find?”
I hope you will not experience such dilemmas. Today, those issues are talked about more easily. If what I write helps you to make the right decision, I will be happy.
IS IT NECESSARY TO GET MARRIED?
Nobody is Robinson Crusoe. Even he became very happy when he found a friend. Our Prophet (pbuh), who was the most tranquil person even when he was on his own and who could be the addressee of his Lord directly, sometimes said to his wife, “O Aisha, talk to me!”; it is reported in the books. To talk, to share and to help others and be helped are perhaps the most important needs of man who comes to the world of testing on his own.
In Bediuzzaman’s words:, “What satisfies man’s needs most is the presence of a heart corresponding his heart so that both parties will exchange their loves and enthusiasm and will become partners in good things and help each other in troublesome situations.”
“Yes, a person who feels hesitant about an issue or who has deep thoughts about and contemplates something wants someone to come and share with him that hesitation and contemplation even if it is imaginary.”
“The most sensitive and affectionate heart is the heart of a woman, the better half.”
Besides, marriage unquestionably has been given great importance in every century and culture, it has been regarded as necessary and it has even been regarded holy because it does not only meet those humanitarian and lofty needs but it is also an institution that meets man’s basic needs including sheltering, feeding and reproducing. However, marriage is also the institution that is complained about the most. The people who have problems, who do not go well, and who have not been able to realize their ideals in their youth usually complain about their marriage. They complain as if they were happy when they were single or as if they were going to realize their ideals if they were not married. They get married and they complain about it, they complain about it but they do not give up their marriage. The bachelors are harmed by it. They get confused: “Should we or should we not get married?”
Do not heed them. Do not even heed me. Sometimes, I say humorous words like, “A single man is half, when he gets married, he is finished completely.” However, I know very well and I see very clearly that my life, which passed like an aimless and fruitless pursuit when I was single, underwent a transformation like sitting at a workbench and starting production after my marriage and whatever I produced in material, spiritual and social fields all happened after I got married. (I would like to thank my wife here!). When I have a look at my old pictures, I sometimes see that young person who talks to himself, who feels distressed because of being lonely and I thank Allah for my present situation.
I participated in the National Psychiatry Congress. I saw many colleagues and friends that I had not seen for a long time. Since I had two more children one after the other after the last congress that I participated in, during the talk of most of my friends with me, we generally talked about issues like marriage, wives and children. Naturally, I was dragged to that issue too. Who got married, who remained single, who got divorced, and who has how many children? It caught my attention; whenever I asked someone “How are you?”, he smiled and said “fine” if he was married and happy and peaceful and if he had realized his aims. Whenever I asked someone who did not have a regular family life, and who walked around unhappily and confused in terms of their occupation, he answered, “ So, so, as you know, no change.”
Therefore, I agree with the words of Badiuzzaman: “Being single is the state of the people who cannot make ends meet.” Besides, he has a more truthful statement than my humorous words: A single man is two-thirds of man and one-third of child. A single woman is two-thirds of woman and one-third of man.” That is, marriage is necessary for men so that they will get rid of naughtiness and become mature, and it is necessary for women so that they will settle their personality.
How will you choose the person whom you will marry?
FIRST DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT
Everybody knows that it is very difficult for a person who says, “I will do any job” to find a good and suitable job. As a matter of fact, It is difficult for him to find a job. However, if he determines what he wants, he will find a job more easily because he will know what he wants. The same thing is valid for marriage. To decide what kind of a person one wants to marry is to finish half of the task. However, in order to be able to do it, you should determine your personality, tendencies and needs first. That is, you should know yourself first.
What is important for you in mutual relations and family relations? Is it peace, sharing, support, excitement or trust? What are your priorities that you cannot give up and what are the things that you will never accept? You should determine them correctly. List your needs, expectations and conditions in at least ten sentences; have them with you and in your mind.
Of course, you should not exaggerate while doing it.
A man asks his friend:
—Will you get married?
—I will, if my conditions are met.
—What do you want?
—I want someone who is beautiful, clever, religious, rich, cultured, affectionate, serious, obedient and humorous.
—O my friend. You know that it is forbidden to marry more than one woman!
However, the joke should not make you forget my offer. You must determine what you want. Ten sentences please.
HAVING IDEALS IS NECESSARY BUT IT IS NOT ENOUGH
One of the most important points that needs to be taken into consideration while choosing one’s better half is having the same ideals. It is one of the most important issues to be taken into consideration how the person you will marry sees life, what his/her aim and standards of judgment are.
Will you lead a life in joy and pleasure or following some ideals and showing self-sacrifice when necessary? Will you aim to lead a better life with the money you will earn or will you spend it on charity and good causes? When you have a child, how will the child be grown up, what kind of education will he receive? With whom will you have relations in social life? Harmony in those fundamental preferences is an indispensable condition for a good marriage.
If your wife listens to your ideals that you can sacrifice your life for without paying any attention, if your wife starts to sleep when she listens to the books that you read every line of very carefully and try to practice what is in them and if your wife goes to bed without performing the night prayer while you get up at night for tahajjud prayer, let alone love there will be no respect between you.
I read an interesting survey. The most common answer given to the question “What are the conditions of happiness in marriage?” by both genders was “the unity of belief and ideal”. (The other two common answers were love and sexual harmony). Therefore, the first point to take into consideration in the person you intend to marry should be whether you have the same ideals or not. That is, your spouse should be your companion in life.
Do not deceive yourself by saying, “He/she is not as I want him/her to be now but he/she will be alright in the future”. Remember the lesson taught by the verse: “Thou wilt not be able to guide everyone whom thou lovest: but Allah guides those whom He will.” Do you have a guarantee that he/she will change? Or can he/she give a guarantee? Or do you like gambling? Or do you like danger?
However, do not go over the limit while taking the harmony of ideas into consideration. It is the most important point but it is not the only important point. It is necessary but it is not enough. There is a common mistake that people who belong to the same group in terms of ideas and who live in accordance with their ideals make: to marry an inharmonious person just because one shares the same ideas as you and without discriminating between good and bad. There are a lot of people who say, “There are few people who share the same ideas as me; if I find someone who shares the same ideals, I will marry him/her without considering his/her character and qualities.” However, we should not forget that Hazrat Zayd and Hazrat Zaynab had the same ideals but it was not enough for them to be a happy couple.
Do different people not live the same ideal differently when we come to think of it? For instance, staying at home reading books and writing articles is kind of working for your ideals; so is traveling continuously and taking part in talks and activities. However, there are great differences between them. Do not make a mistake by heeding only the unity of ideals abut ignoring the harmony of personality? You will definitely find one whose character and qualities are similar to yours among those who have the same ideals with you.
AFFECTION IS NECESSARY, LOVE IS RISKY
It is almost like a classical issue of debate: Is love necessary in marriage or not? As a classical answer, everybody says, “Yes, it is.” In my opinion, affection is necessary but love is not; love is even risky. Do not oppose at once; first, we need to define the terms. Affection, in the sense that I use, is feeling the need of the person you are with, being happy to be together with him/her and tolerating his/her deficiencies. Love means to need him/her, not to be able to do without him/her and not to see his/her deficiencies. Is such a love not an unhealthy mood? How can one set up a healthy togetherness with an unhealthy feeling? Do you know that some kinds of medicine used to cure depression also decrease some exaggerated feelings of love? Love at the level of obsession can also be regarded as an illness.
However, as a result of the imposition of the clichés of the modern age, many young people regard the marriage of love as their greatest imagination. Most of those people do not see the deficiencies and inharmonious aspects of the person they are together with when they are in love and they make wrong marriages by being the slave of the enthusiastic feelings and leaving logic aside. For a person who is in love, the person he/she loves is the best person in the world, he/she is faultless and has been created for him/her; if it were not for him/her, he/she would be unhappy throughout his/her life. However, since love is a feeling and since feelings are transient, the mistakes that have not been noticed before will be seen when love starts to cool. Generally, a relationship that starts with enthusiasm ends in disappointment.
As a matter of fact, that feeling that has so many risks for the lover is very disturbing for the person to be loved. Just think of it; you say a random sentence like, “I want to get off, driver.”but your lover says, “You have made such a nice sentence.” You do something casually, your lover says, “You drink the soup so nicely.” Do you not think that to be regarded greater than you are disturbs a person? Does it not destroy the naturalness of the relationship and the sincerity of the act?
Is it not because of it that the ones loved crazily do not usually respond to love and make their lovers suffer? Do the songs that start with, “I loved crazily, I gave my heart” not always continue as, “He/She did not love me, He/She did not give me his/her heart”? It is not a coincidence. No sane person would like to be regarded as greater than one is and he/she does not be happy when he/she receives more interest and affection than he/she deserves-except for a pleasure lasting a short time.
What is more, those kinds of unrealistic loves and exaggerated admirations place the anxiety in the loved person’s mind: “I am not as perfect as he/she thinks. What will happen when he/she notices it?” Someone who loves like that puts the loved person into hard pressure. Those who exaggerate and exalt their loved ones cannot be moderate when they see that what they imagine is false and mortify their loved ones this time. Great expectations cause great disappointments.
If the person you are with regards you to be more valuable than you are, sees you as perfect and loves you very much, keep away from him/her.
Is a lover who loves you moderately and sees your mistakes but forgives them due to your good aspects, who does not expect exaggerated things from you, who does not force you but supports not better?
ARE YOU HAPPY WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN?
There is a famous proverb in Turkish: Two naked persons can only be in a public bath. It means when two unhappy people come together, they do not become happy. If you are not happy alone and if you can be happy only by depending on someone else, do not do so. Besides, you cannot do so. That kind of dependence will harm you. If your spouse becomes a bit ill, you will have a greater disease. When you depend on him/her much, he/she will be hurt.
Therefore, it may seem strange to you but, if you are a happy person when you are single, you will probably be happier when you get married. If you are unhappy and have a lot of problems and discontent when you are single, your dream that you will be happy when you get married will not be realistic. You should put your life in order before thinking of getting married. Do not forget: a good marriage does not put a bad life in order; a good marriage can only be made in a good life.
I may destroy the nice dreams of some people but it is a great mistake to think that all of the troubles will end miraculously. It is both illogical and risky to attribute so much significance to marriage. The person you will marry is a human being like you; he is not a prince on a white horse.
The most common outcome of that deceiving expectation in the long run (as we have mentioned above) is to blame one’s spouse if marriage does not bring happiness. I have had the following dialog so many times up to now:
—I am very distressed and unhappy, doctor.
—What do you think the reason is?
—My spouse. He has never supported me since we got married.
—Were you very happy when you were single?
—Well, I had some problems. In fact, I received a treatment when I was young.
Since those kinds of people expect their troubles to end when they get married – affected by their dreams and tales -, the continuation of the same troubles cause serious disappointment and fury. As a matter of fact, if we do not change, tomorrow will be no different from today. There is wonder in marriage but there is no miracle.
Therefore, first learn to be happy on your own and then marry. Happiness increases as it is shared.
IT IS NECESSARY TO TALK
Marriage is compromising and agreeing. As it is known, human beings compromise by talking. The person you like may be harmonious with you in terms of his/her appearance, character and lifestyle but if there exists disunity when he/she starts talking, you should be careful. Even arguing is nice if it is made appropriately but not to be able to talk is a disaster. It is very nice if your mind feels good and if 1+1 equals 3 when you talk to him/her. If you do not receive much positive contribution but you can tell him/her what you want and if you understand him/her, it means 1+1 makes two, which is all right. However, no matter how much you love him/her, it will be very hard for you if you cannot make yourself understood when you talk to him/her, that is if 1+1 does not even equal to 2, your marriage will be very difficult for you. You cannot make yourselves understood through mimicry throughout your life. If you cannot talk to him/her, you will start to talk to yourself or to others. Both of them are risky.
I do not agree with those who say, “You must marry. If you are harmonious, you will be happy; if not, you will be a philosopher.” If you marry someone whom you can address, who will enlighten your mind and enrich your ideas, you can be a saint let alone a philosopher.
WHAT IS THE USE OF FLIRTATION?
When one thinks of talking, dating and flirtation are also thought of. It is quite natural that people want to know each other. However, the period of flirtation does not always reflect the real togetherness. If flirtation takes place as if it is real life, it may give some clues as to how the marriage will go on but it is known that it has some other compensation. The period of flirtation, that is seeing each other, going out together and chatting, is a period in which a different personality from the one in real life is presented.
For instance, if a person leads a quiet and calm life for twenty-three hours on his/her own and allocates the accumulated need of chatting and walking around to the meeting of an hour, that person may act as if he/she is a very lively and entertaining person. And if the person he/she is dating is someone who is lively, outgoing and social person, he/she may seem an appropriate person. However, when they get married, that person turns out to be someone who can tolerate walking around and chatting only an hour a day and someone who loves a calm and quiet life; naturally infighting starts.
I have seen so many people who got along very well when they flirted for three or years but who were disappointed after a few months when they got married. When the life of marriage starts, it looks as if this announcement is made: “Commercials are over, now it is time for the news.”
You can say, “Well, how can one choose the person to marry without any flirtation?” As a matter of fact, in order to know somebody, so much time is not necessary. The researches show that people, especially women, can evaluate the person they meet in the first three minutes and categorize them. The features, mimics, tone of voice, speaking style and even the words that are used have important signs about the personality. Especially women evaluate those kinds of signs very well.
For instance, suppose that you asked a person, “The weather is very nice today, isn’t it?” You will receive different answers that indicate a different type of personality each.
—Yes, the weather is really wonderful, it fills man with joy. (Lively, optimistic.)
—Do you like this kind of weather? (Interested in the person one is talking to.)
—Yes. (Controlled and reserved.)
—You are right, it is very nice, isn’t it? (Harmonious, sharing.)
—It was much nicer three days ago. (Living in the past.)
—Yes and we are stuck at home in this nice weather. (Complaining, pessimistic.)
We can deduce so many clues from one sentence. Just look at him/her well, listen carefully and evaluate the clues. Thus, it is not necessary to kiss hundreds of frogs to find your handsome prince.
KNOW HIM/HER WELL
It is the continuation of the issue above but this topic has a different significance deserving to be a separate paragraph. A person should be freed of his/her own troubles and obsessions in order to know another person well. Now think of him/her. Can you describe what kind of a person he/she is? If you cannot describe his/her personality in at least ten sentences, it means you do not know him/her well enough. (You have probably understood that we will compare those ten sentences with the description we have given at the beginning.)
If you like him/her although you do not know him/her very well, it may be related to a complex of yours that you have not noticed; be careful. Let me explain what I mean through an example:
Suppose that you are a having a financial trouble. You are in a very difficult situation. You need to find some money urgently. Meanwhile, you are introduced to a writer. He has very interesting ideas. He tells you about his latest book. However, you do not listen to his views. Why? Because your mind is occupied with the problem of money. In this situation, you can only listen to him as follows: “Did his book sell well? Has he got enough money? Will he loan me any money?” You are not interested in his ideas. Your urgent need, the problem that occupies your mind prevents you from knowing him – even if you talk to him for hours.
Similarly, suppose that you have a complex about being liked and being paid attention. You think that people do not show you the interest that you deserve. Then, if a dishonest and immoral person shows excessive interest in you, goes with you everywhere and praises you a lot, he will easily benefit from you. You will think that the person will be of great use to you for your problem that occupies you but you will not notice his mistakes and wrong actions that can be noticed easily. Then, you will complain as follows: “I could not understand that he/she was such a person”. When you are asked, “How did it happen that you did not notice those aspects of his/hers although even a small child can notice the character of a person he/she meets and talks to?”, you will answer, “I do not know. I did not notice”. As a matter of fact, the answer is clear: You were not interested in those aspects…. There was only one thing that you were interested in: your obsession.
Therefore, I say, “First, you must find out about your obsessions and solve them in order to be able to make the right choice.” Then, you should look at the person you want to marry with unbiased eyes and try to know him/her. If you cannot describe the character of that person and if you cannot answer questions like “What are those aspects of his/hers like?”, it means you must make a new evaluation. In my opinion, you should make that evaluation together with the people you trust.
CONSULT SOME WISE PEOPLE
Naturally, you will choose the person you will marry but you will find it very useful if you consult people whose opinions you trust. If you are in love (as we have mentioned above), you will not be able to make impartial comments; therefore, you must ask the opinions of experienced people who can see the issue as a third person. Do they see you as a harmonious couple? Experience is more important than you think (and than I thought when I was young).
However, you must not exaggerate here and you must make the last decision. Those who make their parents or relatives choose the people they will marry due to indecisiveness and fear of making mistakes will have no right to complain in the future. How can you be sure that those who will choose for you do not have any obsessions?
I always say, ’unfortunately, we swing between the two extremes because we are a quite dependent community and we do not exercise autonomy in our relations. On the one hand, there are families that make decisions instead of their children (young adults), that try to direct their lives and that make the mistake of seeing their children as weak people that need protection; on the other hand, there are young people who surrender to others, are afraid of undertaking responsibilities and do everything based on the decisions of others, or rebellious young people, who rejects all kinds of pressure, break ties with everyone and decide everything on their own without consulting anybody. Do you think it is too difficult to find a moderate way?
Here, I especially want to address young people whose families do not accept their marriage with the people they love (or want them to marry people that they do not love). If your family forces you to do it due to some obsessions of theirs, try to make your family to confront them in an appropriate way. Say things like: “Mum, you want me to marry that rich man because you base your unhappiness on financial troubles; but your real problem is not money; you think that my father does not love you. Besides, look at such and such people. They are rich but they are not happy at all.”
If you explain them that your choice will make you happy sufficiently and logically, they will accept it. Nobody wants their child to be unhappy. If you say, “Their style of thinking is wrong; there is a generation gap; they do not understand me”, it means you do not talk to them sufficiently. They were young like you once; if you tell them about your problem correctly, they will definitely understand you.
The reason why I emphasize the issue very much is that I do not want you to leave debris behind you although you want to set up a happy family. The images of that debris will always be in your imagination no matter how good your marriage is. I state my opinions for you not for your family.
HOW IS HIS/HER FAMILY?
The proverb “What is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh” was not said in vain. It is very rare that daughters who are committed to their families become different from the style and personality of their parents. Therefore, a man must know the family of the girl he wants to marry first. We should add that sons may be different from their parents although the proverb says, “Like son, like father”.
While examining the family, it is necessary to consider the relationship of the person with his/her parents. It is a psychological truth that the relationship of a daughter with her father and the relationship of a son with her mother form the basis of the relationship with the wife or husband when they marry. A daughter who is cold and distant with his father will probably be the same with her husband. A son who has adopted the affectionate identity of a housewife mother will not bear a woman who works or whose social aspect is strong. We can give other examples too: a daughter whose father is too committed to her will expect to be exalted by her husband; a son whose mother is dominant will not be happy with a passive woman.
Naturally, it is also necessary to consider the harmony between the families. No matter how harmonious the couples are, the infighting between the families will at least cause unpleasant things between the families; therefore, it will be useful to look for equality between the families too. That is, the questions: “Can our families compromise?”, “Can I be harmonious with the family of my spouse?” should be asked.
Wrong decisions are made at wrong times. If you are experiencing a period of crisis, never make an important decision that will affect your life. As the saying goes, “A drowning man will clutch at a straw.” We always warn our patents who are undergoing a depression: “You may not be able to make a healthy decision. Do not make any decisions until you put your life and affairs in order.” In the periods of crisis, priorities change because it becomes almost impossible to think healthily.
One of my patients who met a very active and joyful person, fell in love with her, and married her while he was in a depression, started to say, “how will I live with that frivolous and gabby person?” Another common mistake is the daughters who say yes to the first men that they want to marry them in order to be saved from the discontent in their homes; they face more discontent when they marry. As it is the case in the idiom: “out of the frying pan into the oven”.
AT WHAT AGE SHOULD ONE MARRY?
Appropriate age of marrying is also important. In terms of gender, the male matures later than the female. It is a truth that is also known physiologically. Some chauvinist men interpret it as, “Being a male is something hard.” Joking aside, it is really difficult for a man to be mature enough to undertake the responsibility of marriage before the age of twenty-five. In a society that has dependent characteristics and young people are treated as children like our society, the age of marriage can be increased to thirty. However, it should not be forgotten that marrying late increases the risks of making some serious mistakes.
Ladies seem to be ready for marriage and motherhood at very early ages. Therefore, the generally accepted age of today, about twenty, is logical. It is possible to delay marriage to a later age due to education, etc, but it is useful for ladies to marry before the personality becomes ossified because marriage necessitates flexibility, compromise and concessions when necessary. It will be difficult to be harmonious if the age is old and the living style is settled.
“I cannot change my temper that I have had for so many years!”
What is ideal is that the man should be between twenty-five and thirty, an age when he becomes mature enough to undertake responsibility and to guide his wife and the woman should be about twenty, when she knows herself and life and before her personality becomes ossified when they get married. Besides, an age difference of five to ten years is recommended, especially in terms of the future years.
SHOULD IT BE PERFECT?
What we have mentioned above are some factors that should be taken into consideration in order to have a good marriage. You do not have to take full marks from all of those factors that we have counted but it will be useful for you if you take all of them into consideration. Since this world is not Paradise and even some prophets have some difficulties in their marriages, it will be too optimistic to look for a perfect harmony. Do not wait until you meet a perfect person or a legendary being in order to get married.
There are many people who say,”this one lacks this and that one has too much of this, etc” and then end up with marrying someone that they will not normally even look at.
When talking about perfect harmony, I want to ask this question, “Will you believe me if I say ‘there is someone in the world who is just like you with his/her posture, characters, etc’?” You will not believe me, of course, because people were created in different forms and no two people are the same. We will see a lot of differences even in the people that we regard to be very similar when we examine them carefully. Then, let me ask you a different question, “Will you believe me if I say ‘there is a person somewhere in the world that is just like your ideal person in your imagination?”, do not believe it, either. Imaginations are like stars. We find our ways thanks to them but we cannot reach them. We can realize them in another world. It is a virtue to be content with what one has in this world.
Now let me formulate it: Do not expect a perfect one (one hundred percent); do not be content with fifty per cent; target seventy-five percent.
MAKE A CONTRACT
If you decide to marry after all those evaluations, I recommend you to write down the conditions of that decision (Not only I but all marriage therapists recommend it). It will be useful to write down the rules to be followed in marriage, who will do what kind of sacrifices in which issue, who will be responsible of doing what, in which city will the couple live and sign the contract. Thus, you will not have arguments like “Will what I say will be valid or what you say?” in your marriage life. “What we have written will be valid. What did we promise? Look! We have our signatures under it.”
It will not be useful only in solving the problems that will occur during the marriage life. In my opinion, it will primarily enable you to foresee the problems before they occur; it will probably prevent a bad marriage and correct it from the beginning; it will enable you to make right decisions. Many kinds of disharmony that may seem unimportant because of the enthusiasm of that period and about which you will say,” we will settle it down by talking; we will manage it somehow” may appear meanwhile.
For instance, write down the level of the relations with the families, how to use the goods to be obtained, the shares of the father and mother in the care and education of the children, the time to be allowed for private interests, even what to watch on television. Objections and evasions that you will never guess may arise.
They do not arise? Then, get married at once. May Allah give you a long lasting marriage.