Boy Trouble

So I'm dedicating this post to one of my friends. It's advice I'd give to anyone thinking of taking the plunge into married life. Since I'm muslim my advice won't be any use to anyone unless you take a very conservative view. A quick disclaimer is this will be based mainly on Libyan society. I'm sure many Libyans will find this story familiar. It's really a tricky topic to write about since there's so many variables, that's why I have to generalise.

Most young men and women in arab societies are looking to snag themselves a life partner. That's the goal. Find that one person, get married, and then have kids, simple! So here's the issue. It really isn't simple at all. It's not like those times where everyone lived similar lifestyles.  The mentality in the arab world then was based on 'hey this is my fate, I'm going to deal with what I've got'. If it was completely unbearable they got divorced.  Let's assume it worked for most people. Life now is a lot more complicated. We have people coming from all corners of the world, radical differences in lifestyle, financial backgrounds, religious views and so on.

In Libya most people find themselves in relationships to someone at school, work or introduced by a friend or family member. They get talking, flirting and then if they get through the whole wedding planning hurdle, they get married. When discussing anything practical, it's all a bit up in the air. The guy promising the world, while the girl soaks in the admiration. They perhaps hide or gloss over any unattractive qualities. The whole love daze is generally making most decisions for them both. What will life actually look like once they're married isn't made clear. Most red flags are just a blur in the background, as they move forward in the relationship. So here's the problem. From what I can see in a lot of cases I hear about, is this. The desire to get married, along with the feeling of 'love' is the main driving force. You find many Libyans desire for marriage stronger than finding the right partner. Somehow they idealise the wrong people just to make it to the finish line. The wedding day is somewhat of a 'Yay we made it!' celebration.

Sadly marriage is not the finish line, it's the start of either an easier life or a difficult one. So I thought I'd help with a few questions you can ask to see if this person you're looking to marry is right for you. Also usually a good indicator for women, is your intuition, and gut feeling. If it is no, then please be strong enough to voice it. It can be hard to reject a proposal when the suitor thinks you're awesome-sauce, but that's the right thing to do. Do not avoid red flags. Discuss them with close family and friends. Ask yourself, can I live with that my entire life if it never changes? Certain things you just can't compromise on. In that moment when you're deciding, that problem is just an option, later if you agree, that will be a part of your life.

A good point for women is ask your questions before you answer. I say this generally to avoid the suitor from just making his answer sound pleasing to you. Be also sure to state what your expectations are in a relationship. Your standards are crucial to verbalise. This ultimately tells him how high the bar is. If he's still keen, then he'll be willing to work towards them and vice versa.

Ok so here's questions to ask yourself assuming you like the girl/guy before taking the plunge!

1. How much do I really know about this person? Background, Family, Personality.
2. What are their views, or goals in life? (this can be important when discussing how you'll raise your kids etc.).
3. Am I physically attracted to them?
4. What's their idea of a good marriage? What do they think your role is? What's theirs?
5. What kind of lifestyle do they plan on living? (This is where you can ask about culture and traditions)
6. How do they deal with anger, or stress?
7. What is their relationship with family members like?
8. What are their major flaws? (bad habits)
9. What are their work schedules like?
10. Where will we be living? (Do they plan on living with family?)11. What are their religious views? How do they practice this in daily life?
12. Is their any past history you should be aware of?
13. Is their any medical issues you should be aware of?
14. What's their financial situation? (example debts)
15. How do they spend leisurely time?
16. How do they come to make decisions? Do they get advice from someone?
17. What's usually their stance when someone disagrees with them?
18. Will you be expected to take care of anyone? or visit anyone regularly?
19. Do you have any common friends or references to see this person is legitimate and truthful?
20. Do you think you're compatible with them?

Each one of these questions should give you a good view into their world. It allows you to foresee any hiccups in the relationship before it begins. So they can be discussed before any real feelings are developed. It can be hard to get someone to be brutally honest, that's why a reference person is quite crucial.  Be sure to ask them if they see any potential issues with you also. Marriage is a two way street.

This obviously isn't completely fool proof. It just aids you to making the best decision you can. If for any reason you do not know this person, it's very important that you meet in person. This is a compulsory part of finding the right partner. No matter how 'traditional' you are. If you're muslim then this is the recommended route. I'm guessing no one does blind marriages anymore, but I thought I'd add that just incase haha! Best wishes to anyone getting married. It's been such a joy to be in Libya watching the union of so many newlyweds! I hope these basic tips are helpful.


  1. Well this helped a lot!! Not seeing those red flags :P

    1. Haha well that's always a good sign :)

  2. Sadly most people will not tell you truthfully how the really think or if they are ill tempered. This is true of both partners when they are paired off in arranged marriages. Couples are in effect under stress to make a decision blindly in the best of circumstances. Even between couples that know each other well, things change once married. The questions you suggested are very practical. However, complete honesty is not always a guarantee. In the Spanish language the groom is called "novio" and the bride "novia". Some believe they originate from a contracted form of the words "no vio" (he didn’t see) and "no veia" (she never saw). It's a chance most people take in life. Also, it's important to know how many children they want as a couple (as they may have incompatible needs, and discuss if infertility is a problem if it would lead to divorce). Perhaps in a conservative society it is difficult to bring up sex and childbearing but having known several Muslim families, sometimes couples go through very difficult times due to sexual incompatibility or problems with fertility.

    1. You've made very good points. I agree there's never a guarantee. These questions were just to help. Obviously a person should bring up any points they feel is important to them. Like you said, also what if questions such as infertility can be good to know. There's no restriction on that islamically as far as i'm aware.

      As for incompatibility after marriage, it will always be somewhat of a chance. People can change, problems arise you never would have thought to have discussed and unattraction. This is where a support system comes in. You ask for guidance and advice if that doesn't help, and you've done everything you can eventually you part ways.

      I really just wanted to make this post for those that were walking into marriage blindly. Not asking the right questions, not getting references from others (if they didn't know them already).

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  4. Thank you for being brave and tackling this 'sensitive' topic, because it shouldn't be sensitive. I feel like many people can relate to this article and that knowledge and communication are key. Your voice is encouraging me to find my voice again. :)

    1. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! :)

  5. Istikhara prayer is also a must.

  6. i'm glad i was featured in this blog, along with my legs and comfy docker-like pants.

  7. Nice useful words :) Happy New Year!

  8. A lovely post and something many young girls and women need to consider before making such a life changing decision. I agree that honesty from the other party will not always be guaranteed, as stated by another reader, but that's why it's more important we ourselves are completely honest and observant of the other party.


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Maira Gall