IT IS A hard position to be in. You want to connect with someone at the deepest level of intimacy spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally. And yet, because of your decision to try your best to stick to the guidelines God has revealed for intimacy, you’re still single and possibly lonely.
Some of you are constantly being asked by your families and your community members and your friends who keep wanting to get you married, “What’s going on? Is something wrong with you? When are you going to settle down? Don’t you [*ahem* especially sisters] know that your biological clock is ticking and time is running out?”
If they could only understand the internal pressure you’re already dealing with! Having to figure out ways to constantly evade or explain away your singledom is not another issue you should have to deal with.
So, what do you do?
1- Consider: Would You Marry You?
A blissful marriage is a great gift, but it requires consistent and persistent work from both spouses. Not only are the two who join together imperfect, but they bring into a relationship their own insecurities, fears, confusions, and mistakes.
Sometimes, young folks may say something like, “I want to marry someone better than me so that they can help me become better.” But if single folks are not personally working on self-improvement now, how is it to be expected that it will be easier with the additional baggage of another individual who is also imperfect?
How can a single person bank on it that their spiritual and personal development improvements will simply come through marrying another person? Do you notice your own flaws, shortcomings and imperfections? Or do you only notice the glaring problems in potential suitors?
Consider the question: Would you want to marry you? If not, how can you get to where you should be? If yes, how can you increase in your good qualities to get even better?
2- Realize this: Marriage is not the End All, Be All
Getting married isn’t going to miraculously fix life problems. It isn’t always an out to loneliness or an escape from current situations. Sometimes, marriage can actually be one of the most painful life experiences.
So don’t rush into a marriage that you’ll find out was perhaps not the best life decision. Don’t romanticize marriage, the concept of being married, the wedding day, or a possible partner to the point where you do not see blatant red flags.
Be aware that a purposeful, peaceful marriage is a great blessing but that life can also be full of other types of incredible blessings if you are single.
3- Pursue Your Dreams
Since you don’t currently have the obligations and accountabilities in a marriage, follow your dreams and goals and passions without the pressure of such responsibility!
The Prophet ﷺ taught us: Take benefit of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you’re preoccupied, and your life before your death. (Al-Ḥâkim)
Get so caught up in your family, your career, your activism, your travel, your community work and your volunteerism that you don’t have time to sit around and wonder when and if your spouse will ever come into your life. Be ready for when he/she does and actively look for him/her (Point 6), but until your plate really is full with the responsibilities of marriage, use your time to pursue your passions.
What are all the things you would love to do now, when you don’t have the responsibilities of a relationship? Take this time to explore yourself and your relationship with the community and society further and begin to challenge yourself to find different ways to find self-fulfillment.
4- Tell Yourself and Others That it is Your Life
Other people may try to pry or pressure you because they care about you, but you have to gently let them know that their continuous probing is more damaging than helpful.
Many a young person settles for someone they do not even feel comfortable with simply because they want to make their parents happy. But a few months into the marriage, when they realize that they married the wrong person and their parents are now pressuring them to have children, they recognize they should have made decisions best for their lives, instead of the lives of others.
Be honest with yourself and have open, honest conversations with your parents. If they are unreasonably overbearing, bring in mentors to help your parents understand your perspective.
And parents: Recognize the pressure your child is constantly facing. Help him/her maneuver their singlehood in a way that celebrates this time God has given them instead of lamenting that they’re not yet hitched. They need your support in navigating a likely already painful area. Become friends on this journey for them instead of becoming those they fear and avoid.
5- Cultivate Emotional Fulfillment
The reality is that being single can be extremely lonely. But being in a difficult marriage can actually be even lonelier.
It’s important to find a supportive system outside of a relationship. You need solid, genuine friends or family members with whom you can connect–from spiritual upliftment to a celebratory posse to a supportive group through mourning, it’s important to have people you connect with on a deep level to help you feel emotionally fulfilled.
No, this is not the same as the profound personal connection had by two partners who truly love, care for and work well together. But it’s a very important second option.
6- Be on the Lookout and Keep Your Options Open
The Prophet ﷺ taught us to tie the camel and put our trust in Allah. (Tirmidhi) In other words, while the final outcome is with God, we are required to put in the work.
So many people share with me that they want to get married, but then they specify that the potential spouse must be from a specific race or a specific career path or they must meet them in a specific way. If you are so busy looking for Mr. or Ms. Perfect, you may miss Mr. or Ms. Right.
Do your part in finding the right partner; start going to more events, joining more volunteer organizations, putting your profiles on marriage sites and sending your information to friends who could keep you in mind while they interact with those who could be possible potentials.
You may already be doing all of the above and more, and you may be emotionally exhausted by the constant disappointment. Take a deep breath, take some time off, plan some ‘you’ recuperation time in which you work on self-care. And when you’re ready, re-open your heart to being vulnerable again.
7- Have Certainty that God will Answer You
God says: And when My servants ask of you concerning Me, indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:186]
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us: Ask Allah with certainty that He will answer your prayers. (Tirmidhi)
You may have been asking for years and feel that God is not listening. But nothing is further from the truth. What’s the benefit of praying, crying, begging God–and then thinking in your head and in your heart, “Allah isn’t going to listen to me. He’s not going to give me what I want. He’s going to give me the opposite of what I’m asking for.”
Where is the blessing in that? Why would Allah answer you when you don’t even have confidence that He will?
God tells us in a Qudsi Ḥadîth: I am as my servant thinks I am. (Bukhâri)
In other words, when you pray, believe He WILL answer you and give you not just what you want, but what’s even better than that and what’s best for you!
Sit down and write out what you’re going to pray for and at what times. If you do not already have your five prayers down, make it a goal to get them in and beg God for your blessed partner during those prayers.
If you already got that and more, start waking up during the last third of the night, when God is closest to us and calls out: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?’ And thus He continues until the light of dawn shines. (Bukhâri)
Translate your disappointment, your frustration, your need, your sometimes bleeding or numbed heart, into fervent, sincere, passionate duʿâ’. Put your emotions to use; see them in action in their relationship with Allah.
Cultivate your relationship with The Giver and The Answerer of your wants and needs and have certainty that He will answer at the right time and in the best way.
Honestly, that may not mean through marriage. And that is a very difficult concept to accept. But trust that He knows you best, and He knows your future better than you ever could. Haven’t there been times when you’ve been disappointed, only to realize five years later that the ‘failure’ of yesterday was one of the greatest blessings of today?
Trust in His decision and hope in His response. No matter what, He will undoubtedly choose what is best for you.