Before Marriage Spouse

Want Your Marriage to Last? Get Premarital Counseling

Originally posted in February 2012

I spent my time at a recent wedding listening to people’s marriage problems. As the guests danced the night away in celebration, I sat in the back of the hall talking about shattered dreams and unfulfilled expectations. Sometimes, we had to scream to hear each other over the music. There was the young woman whose husband wouldn’t let her finish her education. Then, a friend wanted advice about dealing with her in-laws. And a mother cried as she shared her worries about welcoming her daughter home as a divorcee.

What a night! The reception ended with the passing of favors and du`a’ (supplication) for the newlyweds. I remember making extra du`a’ for the bride and groom.  Dear God, please bless them with a lasting and healthy union. Ameen. I left the wedding in deep thought and had trouble falling asleep that night. I was so moved by the irony of that experience.

In just the past few months, a significant number of marriages in my community have ended in divorce.  I know many more couples are on the verge of separation. Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that divorce can be a healthier, and sometimes necessary, option.  But why are so many marriages ending so soon? What needs to change to foster a culture of commitment and responsibility?

All the stories shared with me that night had a common theme: None of the couples had premarital counseling before they got married.  No one had prepared them for the challenges of marriage, and many of their problems stemmed from issues that were not discussed before the wedding. A recent study1 about divorce in the Muslim community found that none of the divorced men and women in the study had formal premarital counseling, other than a brief meeting with an imam. Many of them wished they had been offered more extensive premarital counseling, and that they had easier access to counseling services once they were married and experiencing problems. It’s a sad testimony to the lack of marriage preparation in our communities.

When a couple announces their engagement, we rush to celebrate. Have we stopped to consider how much preparation and support the new couple will need for this decision of a lifetime? How many couples truly know what they’re getting into when they’re smiling for pictures on their wedding day? The love and excitement of the new relationship often blinds them from comprehending the reality that marriage is a sacred covenant with God. Wouldn’t it make sense to prepare for this spiritual partnership?

How is it that we invest so much time, money, and energy preparing for the wedding celebration and not for the marriage? We consider the smallest details for that special evening; yet we ignore the essential reason for our celebration—a commitment to spend a lifetime with another human being.  As one woman said to me, “I had two months to plan for the wedding. I was in love, and didn’t have time to think about any issue!”

Many couples mistakenly believe that they don’t need counseling before marriage and that conflict should be avoided. However, a certain level of conflict is healthy and necessary, and premarital counseling can offer an opportunity to discuss potential problematic issues.

Consider premarital counseling before you make a commitment for marriage.  According to Lisa Kift2 , a marriage and family therapist, premarital counseling will help you:

  1. Discuss role expectations. It’s important to talk about the responsibilities of each partner in marriage – who will take care of the finances, chores, etc? Discussing roles early on will clarify expectations for the future.
  2. Explore your spiritual and religious beliefs. What are your views on music, hijab, zabiha meat, and following a certain madhab (school of thought)? Discussing these issues ahead of time will help determine your compatibility and help you learn to manage different opinions.
  3. Identify any family of origin issues. Much of what we learn about relationships comes from our parents and other family members. Identifying our early influences and discussing our learned behaviors will help us understand how this might play out in marriage.
  4. Learn communication and conflict resolution skills. Couples that communicate effectively can resolve conflicts more effectively. This will allow you to spend less time arguing and more time understanding.
  5. Develop personal, couple, and family goals. You are committing to share a life with someone. Isn’t it important to discuss what you want your future to look like together? Where do you want to be in three years? How many children do you want to have? Outlining a plan for life can be a wonderful way to learn about each other and to strengthen your commitment to each other.

Premarital counseling can protect couples from much heartache and conflict. Since prevention is central to our deen, many imams and community leaders now require premarital counseling and education prior to the marriage ceremony—a guaranteed investment in happier couples and healthier marriages.

What’s your take?

  • Do you think that premarital counseling would be helpful to prospective spouses?
  • What issues should be covered/ discussed in premarital counseling?
  • How can couples be encouraged to attend premarital counseling?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Macfarlane, J. (2012). Understanding Trends in American Muslim Divorce and Marriage: A Discussion Guide for Families and Communities. Available from []
  2. Adapted from Getting Married? 6 Great Reasons to Get Premarital Counseling []

About the author

Amal Killawi

Amal Killawi

A Detroit native, Amal Killawi is a Clinical Social Worker with a specialization in mental health and marriage education. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan, where she is also currently pursuing a Certification in Sexual Health. She is also a researcher focused on addressing health disparities among American Muslims and providing patients with culturally-competent care. Currently, she is employed as a researcher focused on addressing health disparities among American Muslims and providing patients with culturally-competent care.

Amal’s past experiences include working as a counselor at the University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services and ACCESS, the largest Arab American social service agency. She has also served as a case manager and community educator for Muslim Family Services, editorial assistant for the Journal of Muslim Mental Health, and research coordinator for a study on domestic violence in the Arab American community.

As a community activist, Amal serves on the board of several non-profits, particularly focused on cultural competence, mental health, marriage and family life education, social services, and youth empowerment. She has been involved with the Muslim Students’ Association at the local, regional, and national levels. Amal is a fellow of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI). God-willing, she hopes to make a difference in this world. Amal formally contributed to the VMCounselors advice column designed to answer readers’ personal questions.


  • great article mash’Allah
    reminds me of the book ” Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married” by Munira Ezzeldine…

    • I thought of a similar book by Hedaya Hartford entitled “Initiating and Upholding an Islamic Marriage.” I think it’s critical for people considering marriage to spend time going through books like these, attending seminars / classes, seeking advice from married couples, and as Amal is recommending, exploring premarital counseling.

      If anyone’s interested, here are links to the two books:

      Initiating and Upholding an Islamic Marriage by Hedaya Hartford–Intiating-Upholding-Hartford/dp/9957230638/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1328594413&sr=8-6

      Before the Wedding: 150 Questions for Muslims to Ask Before Getting Married

    • This article is great. It explores the true nature of relationships. That being communication. In truth any relationship whether they be parent/child, husband/wife, business, or even one’s siblings requires transparency, open lines of communication that don’t just flow from the husband down to the wife, or from the parents down to the children. Such an expectation is not too much to ask from someone whom one is bonded physically, mentally, spiritualy, and emotionally. I am a man and I would not be threatened by my wife’s openness with me. Rather, I would welcome it and encourage it.

      Look at communication and understanding like things that relieve pressure on a pot that has been sitting on a stove. They, communication and understanding, relieve the pressure of day to day life, relationships, and misunderstandings which we build up thereby allowing the relationship to be one full of love and faith, and long lasting. It is true that Allah S.W.T. permits divorce, however he loves that we complete our deen by working on our marriage and treating our mates with respect, understanding, and appreciation.

    • what about reading Yasmin Mogahed’s article on marriage about love and respect. women don’t realize that men need respect. sometimes just communicating comes across as a lack of respect for them. one has to be aware of this as well.

      • and it’s also his right to tell you not to complete your education. why is that supposed to be a cuase for unhappiness? why in one article we talk about obedience to the husband, and in the other we present his giving a decision as a negative thing? why the double standards? he is the leader of the wife. he has a right to prevent her from getting an eduation. what needs to happen is that we wives learn how to accept such things and not get so upset at a man’s playing his role.

        • I don’t think the main point was whether the man had a right or not to tell his wife to end her studies. The point I think is that this issue would have probably been highlighted if the couple had premarital counselling. Then they would have both been able to discuss it openly then and shared their expectations…instead of having it be a situation where someone is exercising their right (yes I agree with that) at the expense of the happiness of his wife (and inevitably his marriage).

  • Excellent eye opener. I had just passed thru a potential groom who had a difficulty communicating. I tried my best to be patient and believed it was nervousness. Now I see it was a major red flag that we werent compatible due to communication problems. I am more open to dicussion but this potential groom believes that meeting someone for once or twice then praying istikhara to make a disicion which i thought was a bit odd

    Al hamdulillah ala kulli haal


    • wow! i wish i had taken more time to think things through before i got married. everything was so rushed and my vision was blurred by everyone ranting and raving about how great my husband and his family were. my husband sounds exactly like this potential groom u looked into. we met a few times and did istikhara but had no real communication and i accepted that it was ok. being the girl, i didnt want to seem so forward and say ‘i want more time to get to know him better’. i thought people might think badly of me!! now i wish i really had! i guess its too late.

      • Sister F,

        SubhanAllaah. It’s good you’ve noticed this. As you know communication can be nurtured and a marriage union should be nurturing, for both spouses. So if you feel you are a better communicator then you may be able to train your spouse up to be the communicator you wish for him to be.

        You said it’s too late but it really isn’t. Skills can always be acquired and developed further.

        I pray your union is successful and fulfilling.

        • Was-salaam,

          Excellent article, MashaAllah.

          I agree w/MAK, communication is a skill that can be picked up, may require some work. For men, its different. They are not nearly as communicative as women are. Half the time they are not even attentive especially when they are doing something. Women, on the other hand, are rarely direct which causes frustrations to a man.

          But all of this stuff is learned behavior, no one is born with it all. Women have things to know/learn and men have things to know/learn.

          I was talking to a sister and “tripped” over the communication line, things didn’t work out because we weren’t “compatible.” Now I am reading every book on the shelf about women, their psychology, communication, motherhood, you name it. I could write my own book at some point.

          Moral: You marry to gain Sakn in your life. That Sakn comes from fulfilling each other in numerous ways. If any thing, commit to “learning and understanding” those ways.

          Alhamdulilah Alaa Kulli Haal.

        • it’s also healthy to leave some issues to Allah. see how He actually resolves the thing you were going to communciate about, for you, without the hassle and possible conflict of having to go to a human to seek your need.

  • finally. this is an issue that needs to be addressed. insha’Allah, i plan to act on this when my kids are ready to be married. isn’t the whole purpose to learn from our lives and pass it onto our kids?

  • Jazakallah khair for raising this very important issue! I completely agree that premarital counseling is a very useful tool for ensuring a succesful marriage. I love the point that you made that some people spend lots of time planning the wedding but not really planning for the rest of their married lives.

  • Perhaps if our communities weren’t so obsessed with squashing anything that even hints at “inappropriate communication” between genders, prospective couples could naturally get to know each other at least a little before committing themselves for the rest of their lives. If the conversation between the two BEGINS with “so I want to marry you…” you cannot expect the subsequent interactions, with all that pressure and weight, to be truly forthcoming.

    • i totally agree with you. i feel like all these shaykhs who give lectures on marriage are very unrealistic with how they present getting to know someone. No lecture really delves into the issue of compatibility..

      I feel like a fool for believing in the whole dating comes after marriage concept! I myself didnt believe that a prospective husband should be visiting so many times without an official engagement. so just a mere 2 meeting we agreed to an engagement, bc lets face it, how many more questions can you ask??…and of course once an engagement is announced the families rush to plan the wedding.

      I would like to tell anyone who is on the way to marriage that please dont believe that you will have a list of questions, ask them and hear an answer and it is that easy to decide if you will get married to that person or not. You will be living with this person, take time to get to know them, ask the person’s family how they are, go out to eat, and see them in different environments other than in your house trying to impress you.

      And yes, marriage is just as complicated as everyone says it is and you will not be immune to this bc you are so in looove with each other.

    • i don’t agree. actually, we did that in our community and you know what, the way ppl act in public, no matter how many times you see them and even interact with them, you’ll never know them until you are living under the same roof. that’s the reality people. at some point, it’s also a matter of accepting your Qadr and knowing Allah meant for you to work on these issues/work through these problems – whether your spouse’s or your own. that’s why marriage is half of faith – because it’s to make you GROW in faith, through challenges.

      • because of this, it is so important to equip each partner to know that marriage is not about happiness alone, but about holiness. it’s a journey to make you a better person, and one has to be ready to roll with what comes. to learn to be patient, to turn one’s problems over to Allah – to learn to communicate with Him. one cannot always go and communicate with a spouse like he’s a colleague at work. it’s way more complex.

  • Well said, alhamdulillah. A few years ago some of our friends thought it would be wonderful to put a pre-marital packed together for the Imam to use prior to performing the nikkah.

    It could simply be a booklet that each couple reads with some worksheets and discussion points. Once they have both read the booklet and have had their discussion then the imam would perform their nikkah.


  • I completely agree. If I had read this article 8 months ago before I got married, I would have said that pre-marriage counseling is beneficial, but not necessary, hence I didn’t actively pursue it for me or my spouse. Now after 8 months of marriage, while alhamdulillah things are going well, I must say that pre-marriage counseling should be a must for couples looking for a spouse.

    No one ever told me how hard marriage is! After marriage, and after my talking to friends/family about certain doubts, that is when everyone tells me the first year of marriage is the hardest and things will get better. I keep thinking: why didn’t anyone tell me this before?! Maybe it would have helped prepare me mentally for all of the changes and rough patches that come with being a newly-wed couple. There are so many factors and adjustments that a couple has to go through after marriage, and I understand now why marriage is half of our deen; it puts all of the qualities that we as Muslims tend to espouse to the test, such as patience, gratitude, trust in Allah, respect for parents and families etc.

    So my advice to anyone looking for a spouse is to follow the advice given in this article. It will help create a forum of on-going communication between you and your potential spouse and give you a both a vision for what you hope your married life to be like, inshallah. It won’t get rid of all the tests that come in marriage, but will make them more manageable and put them in perspective for you as you both start your new life together. Jazakillah khayr sister Amal for a great article!

  • shukran for this valuable article. many married sisters i know are suffering in their marriages because they were too smug about getting married 10 years ago, and did not take into consideration that marriage is a long-term commitment. now, 10 years later, they wish they were single. premarital discussions is important to have a solid marriage. insha allah, i wish our ummah a lifetime of blessed and happy marriages.

  • It’s also very sad when one partner is desperate for counseling/therapy but their spouse refuses because they “just don’t believe in it” or are too “old fashioned” or think that it’s not the “muslim way”. I think more people would enter into counseling/therapy if they were aware of other couples that have used it successfully to navigate their troubled relationship. But again…it’s like admitting to the fact that your relationship needed help and I don’t think people are comfortable with that…myself included. My husband and I have used it, but I would feel very shamed if this was public knowledge.

  • Good article, Alhamdullillah.

    Premarital counseling or courses may help.
    However as time passes, certain thing that was learnt will be forgotten.
    Continual learning in Islam which foster Islam as way of life will insyaallah create a continuous and blissfull married life. Hence, a way of life in Islam for both husband & wife (continuously), inshallah will be the ultimate solution.

    • There was divorce among the Companions radi Allahu anhum, and they were the most upon the way of Islam.

      Islam calls upon us to learn in all aspects of life for success. Preparing for marriage is a path to Islamic knowledge. simply memorizing more classical fiqh books or taking more classes will not magically solve anything, regardless of how religious two people are.

      it takes hard work and practicing those things learned so that they become habits.

      excellent article sr.Amal. May Allah swt bless and reward you!

  • Assalam alaikum wr wb,

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. At this time more than any when we’re preparing for our wedding, I feel our elders are leaving us out in the cold and we have no one who will take us seriously. I feel we are going into the most important commitment of our lives with very little idea of what to expect and a lot of very false notions. Sitting down and talking things out with someone who knows what the most common problems are in the first year of marriage would soothe a lot of my worries for sure.

    Jzk for the article. I think pre-marital counselling would be a real boon for young couples.

    So…any counsellors in the house?

    Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

    • a great counsellor is Megan Wyatt of wives of Jannah dot com. check out her website and facebook page. she does counselling.

  • اسلام عليكم

    I really do think that pre-marital counseling is essential. I wish I had such advice and counseling when I was getting married – that was 16 years ago.

  • Pre-Marital education is important. Preventative and strategic education in the form of workshops or activities for youth (not just facts) but practical issues like this article will be of high benefit

  • Excellent article Amal mashaAllah. Premarital counseling should be mandatory. Period And to that list of areas to be discussed should be the legal ramifications of marriage. There are so many legal rights AND RESPONSIBILITIES that trigger the moment you sign that dotted line – be it a nikkah contract or a civil contract. So many people have unresolved legal issues they bring in to marriage (debt collection, previous child custody or divorce, immigration issues, previous incarceration, current probation, etc.) Throughout my legal practice I have found that most people don’t have a single clue about the legalities of marriage. This ignorance is not blissful.

    Furthermore,we need to encourage more brothers and sisters to go into the fields of counseling. Effective counseling is a science and requires education not just good intentions.

  • as some of you said, in our community we have zero knowledge about this issue and don’t think its necessary, and sometimes when you realize you need help your partner says we don’t need it and you are so desperate to get help. our scholar should help us do it because as a Muslim that is where we get help when we need it.

    • I have taken over 5 courses in marriage and even did a complete outline on what courses are needed to solve these issues. The problem is it is very difficult to find people who are willing to help put these courses together. Our scholars are amazing but they are very busy that they can not focus on one issue. For example I have read in normal North American relationships most couples (80%) will not seek counseling when their marriage is in problem. Same will be true for muslim couples. Plus we have a model where we expect these services can be provided by the mosque. The Imams does not have time to spend few hours per couple. Ok you both have a degree. You both are engineers. But you have never read a book on communication in your life. It is a life long journey. Before one gets married its time to learn communication. In this society man have problem telling woman what they want. So if you as a couple can not communicate and do not know each others expectations you have not started the journey. Then one has to either fulfill those expectations or change those expectations over time.

  • I am new to the Muslim community but am surprised that per marital counciling is not more common, especially since most couples don’t know each other well enough before marriage. I agree with the previous comment that we shouldn’t be so adverse to letting couples get to know each other. Let me tell you, anyone can say what someone wants to hear for a couple months and impress families. But it is much harder to disguise after several months of talking and getting to know each other. I thInk counciling can help in this area as well to bring to light true feelings and desires in life. You don’t want to get stuck with someone who is pulling the wool over your eyes or just incompatible.

  • I totally believe that pre marital counseling is necessary

    when we get into marriage we hardly know what is going to befall us even if we have some idea it may not necessarily be enough.

    If we would be taught as to how to communicate with our spouses, in laws better it would be a great help.

    it is important to encourage young people who are going into the sanctity of marriage to attend pre marital counseling.

  • JAK for sharing this article! As the author of “When Muslim Marriage Fails: Divorce Chronicles and Commentaries” (Amana, 2010), I agree that we need to address this issue of declining marriages with prevention in the form of premarital counselling. We are in the process of opening such a center here in NJ in the Spring insha’Allah and pray that Allah (swt) will make it a benefit to all bi’ithnillah. JAK again for shedding light on this issue!

  • Wonderful! Thanks to the author for this article and for welcoming comments. Yes to all of the above.

    It would be useful to investigate best practices in this area, including what other faith based groups do.

    For example, the catholic church has very detailed marriage preparation programs that even include detailed discussion of their approved family planning methods! Some of the programs have features like having couples who have been married for several decades mentor engaged couples.

    The Gottman Relationship Institute offers a lot of workshops and materials based on scientific research about what makes marriages last.

    Just some ideas – the point is that we should make sure that the pre-marital counseling is well-researched, uses best practices, and is effective.

    I really liked the comment about teaching the legal aspects of marriage too. Plus financial training, budgeting. And finally it is imperative that couples get some understanding about conflict resolution, divorce procedures and custody before they get married.

    Tackling issues like confidentiality and family dignity in the counseling process will also be important to lift the barrier to seeking premarital counseling.

    • I have been married and divorced twice, even though I actually did make an effort to name my issues before marriage. The problem was, he didn’t keep his agreement. As soon as the wedding was consummated, he acted offended that I would bring up his promise. Some things you just can’t predict. I totally agree that counseling pre-marriage is a good idea, but the problem is: a lack of adequate counselors. Within three months of the marriage we were in counseling with an imam, but all the imam could advise was that he should watch porn if he had trouble feeling sexual interest. I was (and am) a beautiful woman. The problem is he was very nervous about sex, and very worried about other people’s opinions about interracial marriage. The interracial issue should not be ignored. Muslims have all these pamphlets about how Islam is not racist BUT that means we respect other people’s nations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone wants their son to marry your daughter. My husband’s sister pressured him by saying he was betraying his people by marrying me. So he never gave himself permission to love me. It’s very sad because I think ultimately, he loved me deeply, but he never got the permission to love me. So the divorce could only have been averted by serious psychotherapy as well as his willingness to leave his tribe and just be an American. He couldn’t do it because he couldn’t give up that “us” vs ‘them’ thinking. It’s way beyond marriage counseling. I realized that if we had just gone on a couple dates, we would have realized we had NOTHING in common. We didn’t need to involve the whole community. There wasn’t even any love story. I did not know who he was when he proposed to me, on email.

      • Yes, you are right, many issues needed to be sorted out way earlier than pre-marital counseling. Short of dating, maybe we can have a courtship ritual that is structured to provide a filter without the near-commitment that pre-marital counseling implies.

        Somehow we do not have adequate filters in place. The sisters are vulnerable out there. We are often marrying complete strangers.

        What you said is spot on about there being a lot of changes that take place after the nikah. A lot of the agreements fly out the door. I’ve heard sisters describe how they enter the imam’s office for the nikah with one brother (loving, kind, discusses everything) and left after the ceremony married to a completely different brother (aggressive, mean, wouldn’t talk to them, barking orders). Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. What do you do with that?

        And the race, ethnicity, and national pride issues surrounding marriage are just very strange.

        So many things have to change. Seriously, if people are getting the kinds of imams encouraging porn viewing to get aroused for one’s wife I’m really wary of the quality of pre-marital counseling that’s going to be out there. Porn addiction is such a big problem in marriages now, not a solution.

        • What we need is a group of sisters to come together. They need to have some time on their hands. Like 2 to 3 hours per week. We need to create a profile on individuals in our society. Just like linked in but more confidential. Some things that will say a man has to get x, y and z training before getting married. Same with the sisters. You will not know a complete stranger unless you have a frame work. Why can not we provide free pre-marriage counseling to sisters? Sisters can counsel other sisters. All you need is an email address (With Imams oversite). How the whole process will unfold I have a complete plan. Looking for some commitment here. Lets work to solve the issues we all are facing. Why can not we have a reference service to dial up before a sister gets married. We should be a community not individuals. If a brother is abusive and a sister gets a divorce from him. There should be a service so that 1. Brother can get help. 2. Next sister can get advice and know about it before marrying him. Imams do not have time to setup such a service but if we have a commitment form 10 to 15 sisters we can get started. Then we can write up a proposal for the imams to look at. If they back it up or ask for some changes so be it. Then it can be implemented. We have to take action to solve our problems. A degree is of no use if we can not use it to solve our problems. We have so many brothers and sisters who have the skills but we are not using them to solve the issues of the society. These are our issues and we have to solve them. Our Imams can guide us but we have to do the work.

      • i am amazed to find that imam asking you to watch porn to induce sexual intimacy. You have ruined your life by dealing with wrong people then. please consult correct scholars from next time onwards in sha Allah.

        • there is a dearth of healthy resources on sexuality from a muslim viewpoint. i recommend muslims research spiritual sexuality from other traditions to get beyond the consumer mentality and porn mentality that has overtaken our understanding of sex, even amongst muslims. try tantra – it’s much closer to the spirit of Islam than victoria’s secret or whatever else is out there – all has been deeply infected by the virus that is porn – even pop culture, magazines, and self-help books. too much focus on the physical and none on the spiritual growth that can be there in intimate relations.

  • I have always said this is the best way to approach marriage. Once must understand that at first no matter how much in ‘love’ you are with a person, you must look at things realistically. A major issue that must be discussed before marriage is each others approach to bringing up children. One partner may want thier child to have the freedom to choose who they marry but the other may be adamant that they must marry within thier own ethnic group. Or one parent may deem it as normal and ok to allow thier kids to study at a different city for uni whereas the other might want a tight grip on thier child etc.

    One thing that I understand is that marriage isn’t just your life and your partners but it is the life of your children too. When speaking with prospective partners, give each other different scenario type questions and see what thier reactions might be. A scenario type question allows a persons personality to come through, so even if the actual scenarios have nothing to do with you….it’s good to see thier reaction. Plus…..don’t forget…you are in control of your own life, ,however…your children might bring about some difficult circumstances so you must see how your partner would react in those circumstances.

    Finally……remember it’s not gonna be a walk in the park……but you must ask questions……don’t shy away and hope that the person will agree with your thinking once your married…..that is unfair to think like that.

  • I am absolutely stunned. What imam advises a husband to watch porn to stimulate his interest? Authobillah…these are the leaders and advisors we have to resort to these days???

  • I find it interesting that only a few men have left comments about this article….are men willing to do premarital counseling? And what do you do if he’s not willing to do it?

    • Well said!
      Right on! I guess if they are happy with the way their marriage is i.e. they get what they want from it why would they change or put the effort?
      I had the same problem in mine.

      As for porn, I am not surprised to know an Imam didn’t see a problem with it.
      I had a friend of mine who was in the process of converting and was put in contact with this Imam, he made inappropriate comments to her over the phone telling her how she can dress the way she wants inside the house, wear a bikini, that the prophet used to take showers with his wife etc….this almost turned her away from Islam. I asked her to complain about him but I don’t think she did.

      Imams are no saints either…just like some coaches who are supposed to be role models end up abusing children…I am not saying that Imams do that, but I am saying we have to be very careful whom we approach to seek help.

        • um. first of all, the shower back then is not how it is now. it was scooping water from a bucket, and the Hadith is talking about how they were scooping water from teh same bucket, to make ghusl. to GET into a state of purity, not to stay in a state of impurity….Sayyida Aisha radi Allahu anha said that she and the Prophet peace be upon him never saw each other’s private parts.
          don’t know why tehre is such a misundertsanding of that Hadith.
          may Allah guide us.

        • actually,they were always PURE as they were the PUREST of creations!
          but i just meant that their showering was to go out from state of janaba.

  • Like I said before, when you don’t know someone well enough before marriage, scary scenarios can take place like in previous comments. Pre-marital counciling may help bring some of that to the surface ahead of time, but the real test is just getting to know someone for 6 months or so. A person’s true colors will come out after much interaction. Emailing and phone calls for a month or so will not do this.

    And I don’t mean having sexual relations, just spending time and seeing how the other person reacts to different situations, etc….Then you can judge if it is someone you want to be with.

    • The issue is where do you draw the line while keeping things Islamic? should we date? before marriage everyone is reserved. If they are usually angry, they won’t angry in front of you.

      … should we date for 6 months and be yourself, would that be Islamic?

      how much time should be spent trying to know each other?

      I’ve concluded no matter how much time you spent and whatever strategies you use and things you discuss. You have to live together, life unfolds while you live together and spend your days and nights together while dealing w/work, kids, money, etc…, keep Allah in the forefront and live your life accordingly, everything else will take care of itself.

  • You never truly know anybody the first or second meeting . The first impression is the last impression usually . As a recovering porn addict i would not want to get martied and put my wife the trouble i have caused myself in my life. Pre marital counselling sounds good . I believe you can ruin your life but dont ruin someone elses life. Please everybody make dua i leave porn and this haraam lifestyle and find peace in a woman who will help me get to jannah insh’Allah . Yours sincerly , a brother in need of dua.

  • To Abdullah,
    Having an addiction as dangerous as pornography is a torment to the soul, body, and mind. Imagine creating incisions on your skin, all over your body, with a razor blade. Now attach a feeling of gratification with each cut made. That’s addiction. In other words, the transient pleasure-inducing effect unconsciously takes a toll on valuable aspects of one’s life, such as one’s mental health and social well-being. You are experiencing ephemeral euphoria at the expense of life qualities that you currently take for granted. In a nutshell, addiction is a psychological dependency leading to physical necessity with the harsh accompaniment of assault to your own self.

    No addiction can be resolved by du’aa alone and it serves no purpose but solidifying your credulity if you believe otherwise. Take a mental step into the lanes of addicts, those of alcohol, drugs and gambling. Once a dependent-relationship is developed between these activities and the individual, quitting becomes a task as magnanimous in difficulty as an attempt at reaching the top of a mountain with one leap. It’s practically impossible.

    What can you do to leave this addiction? Realise firstly that this addiction is no different than an addiction to heroin. When watching visually stimulating material, the brain releases chemicals to which the person involved becomes dependent. It’s worse than heroin because heroin is an external addiction, you on the other hand are being addicted to your own neuronal internal chemistry. Second, you need to get help. I’ll write this in plain English: Do not convince yourself you can quit solo. Judging from your email, you are in your early 20’s. From my studies, very few young people, meaning almost no one, makes it out of this disastrous addiction without seeking constant help. I don’t advise you seek counselling from any religious body. Rather, seek professional help. If you are still attending school, speak with a counsellor. Do not be shy. There are millions, yes millions, of people in your shoes. Reason for this is pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry attracting youth such as yourself to the platter of virtual pseudo-reality. Thirdly, realise that this is the toughest challenge you will probably ever encounter in your life.

    Treat this as a serious problem, otherwise your addiction may very well ruin your life. Additionally, no marriage – no matter how ‘hot’ your wife is – will solve this issue. As a prior comment was posted, it’s important to reiterate that pornography is a substantially significant problem in marriages – and in any relationship for that matter.

    Why isn’t it illegal? When major corporations such as AT&T, Yahoo!, Wall Street, General Motors, and major hotel chains – simply to name a few – are profiting at a multi-million dollar level from pornography, the government will bend over backwards to accommodate them because as a corollary they (the government) profit from it, immensely. The same explanation lends itself to the atrocious crimes committed under the abject influence of alcohol. The reason alcohol is not banned, even though it is the most attributed factor to traffic accident mortalities, is due to the same backwards and opportunistic laws and interests that keep pornography in business. It’s all about the money.

    Bringing about change is not easy, seek help Abdullah.

  • Pre-marital counseling is a must, must to take place. It can save many lives. I strongly appreciate the idea and the initiative to propose the idea. Definitely I will do it for my kids.

  • In some cases, even if you have pre-marital counseling, it won’t make a bit of difference when the husband is controlling, manipulative and lies through his teeth. One who puts on airs and describes himself as righteous but you see him not lowering his gaze at other women right in front of you, then denies it. I know. It happened to me.

  • alhamdulilah, we in Malaysia the Governments
    make it a mandotary for newly married couple
    to sit for a pre marital courses. This action
    was made due to the incresing divorce among
    the newly married couple.

  • I’m not opposedto premarital counselling, but feel that the author has completely missed the real problem. Premarital counselling cannot change personalities and cannot replace upbringing. How many prospective partners will u have counselling with? I’ve had 1 failed marriage and 1 very successful one with my present wife and it really is down to the kind of person u r. That is why istikhara has been prescribed.

  • Excellent article! And I also really enjoyed reading all the comments. I’m not married yet, but Inshallah soon..( Make dua for me)

    So many of us agree on premarital counseling but where can we find this type of counseling? Is this the same as taking a course on marriage fiqh? Which is pretty much a -z on marriage from finding a type of spouse to when having children. Different scholars take different takes on this obviously with their own experiences and stories.
    Even though I agree with premarital counseling/learning about marriage, I still think that you have to learn from your own experiences, you can’t expect everything that will happen we need to seek Allah’s guidance before, at and throughout our marriages.
    How about you live in a place where you cannot find any premarital classes then what? What are the other routes you can take?

    Jazakallah look forward to hearing your suggestions.

  • Make sure that when having these discussions, particularly on religious beliefs, if at all there is something to be resolved, both sides are in a state of mind that is conducive to reflection, not in a temporary stage of life, like during university atmosphere, or some stress that makes you think differently than you might otherwise, such as desperation in livelihood, extreme loneliness and the like.

    Walk away, no matter how painful, if you are not aligned on the purpose of life, or not yet 100% aligned. I’m not talking about minor or even less minor islamic practice matters which is a matter of growth but aqeedah, that which God Himself gives free choice to every soul. When you are in love, you hope too much. But do not settle for less than 100% certainty for aqeedah. It is kinder in the end. If it is meant to be, it will happen anyway, but later. You will not then have your spouse who once loved you so, bitterly telling you, moving to be with you was a mistake, or that he changed his mind on his faith, or doubts he had it in the first place.

    I live in the hope of a miracle, or a great mercy, and maybe it is because I needed to go through this – to realise that I loved a future that was not sure, and loved it too much that it grieves me to lose it. But if you can, don’t place yourself in need of this lesson as it’s a hard one.

  • Premarital counseling can certainly help a marriage, but it’s not guarantee of success. Sometimes, the two individuals simply have to mature and learn how to be better spouses.

  • Salaam,

    I’m young single Muslim about to get engaged to a Muslim sister and I’d like to see if anyone can recommend Muslim marriage counseling professionals in the NY-NJ area?


  • amal killawi

    i am happy to read your article. i am a masters in counselling student about to complete my thesis (tentatively titled, ‘The Lived Experience of the Challenges of Married Couples’). i came across your article while looking for journals to conclude my thesis

    in the region where i live, these are some of the stance on role of husbands and wives:

    you write well and you use this ability to disseminate thoughts and views that promote healthy marriages. thank you for doing so.

  • Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

    As wonderful as this all may seem, my issue, and possibly the issue of many others that come from a similar culture, is that the elders encourage and put too much pressure on the young to go with a particular decision. So much so, that they add to the confusion and the blindness rather than help us see clearly and make a sound decision.

    There is too much politics and pride for family to allow or even simply consider a decision to have premarital counseling, even though it is we who will have to live with the consequences of our decision! Subhan’Allah, what has happened to make us substitute sincerity, wisdom, and support for ego, whims, and status quo?

    Alhamdulillah, I married only a few months ago, but now that I am allowed to talk with my spouse freely, I have learned many concerning things that may have deterred me from saying “yes” in the first place. It’s not reason enough to consider breaking the relationship, but it will take time, patience, and understanding on my part.

    I really wish that I sought out knowledge on the subject of marriage beforehand and that I had enough understanding to expect that level of pressure from my family, but Qadar Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala.

    At the very least, I have learned that I do not want my future children to suffer through such hardship and confusion when they set out to marry.

    Now that the decision has been made, I have been trying to put my concerns behind me and focus on how I can make things work out for the best, and in what ways we can work toward the pleasure of Allah.

    May Allah guide us; may He help the unmarried of us to have sincerity and clarity of vision, and the married of us to struggle for mercy, patience and understanding.

    • Just to be clear, my example is not in support of dating. Rather, it is in support of having mercy on our children and empowering them to make the right decision rather than influencing them to make the “right decision” for us or for the family.

      We should not be a people whom cling to the traditions or culture of our society/forefathers instead of the Guidance of Allah and the traditions of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him).

  • I think we are missing something.

    All this talk about getting to know your partner before marriage may not be the key issue.

    Look at the Non-Muslim community; even among their religious community; despite years of dating they are also having troubles with their marriages

    The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
    The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
    The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%
    -enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America

    What are we missing?

    • missing upbringings that teach piople to not expect disney marriages. to seek God in their marriages. to seek God in their trials. to accept that this is all a part of God making them a better person. The Prophet peace be upon him said: silence is wisdom, but very few people are aware of this.
      Silence is so important in a relationship – to not always just say what comes to mind; to not snap back at a comment made by the other; etc. we talk about the duties of brotherhood in faith, yet our standards for ourselves, once married, are far lower. we have much less tolerance for our spouses than we do for our sisters/brothers in faith. we forget even about how doing good deeds is the whole point of life – and we start to compare who is doing “more” in the relationship – seeing it not as a chance to serve Allah and potentially get good deeds to our account every single day by the kindness we show and difficulties we endure, but a tit-for-tat kind of deal. are we selfish? also, are we expecting from our spouses to fill a space in our hearts that only God can? to fulfil needs and give us joy, that only He can?

  • I strongly suspect that any issues are less due to a lack of premarital counseling specifically, and more do to a lack of family and community support in general. What problem exactly is premarital counseling supposed to solve? What can it provide that close relationships and frank conversations with family members cannot?

    And, as the hard part of marriage is not starting it, but continuing with it, where will the “counselor” be after 6 months or 1 year or 2 years when the couple hits a rocky patch? And even if they were available, what kind of insight or authority would this “counselor” have which would make them better able to mediate the situation than a trusted family member?

    I agree that people should be counseled before marriage– but if these serious, in-depth conversations aren’t already happening between both the man and the woman and their older brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and parents, then their brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, and parents are failing them. Family is a responsibility– not just to parents, spouses, and children, but ALL family.

    These ties have a tendency to get weak here in America. If there is a marriage counseling problem, I suspect this might have something to do with it.

  • We are missing ALLAH’S BLESSING. Major and minor sins are commited before, during, and after the marriage. Look at the beginning of this article where the “the guests danced the night away” for example. Is this a Muslim wedding?

    • though I would not say that doing sins at the beginning would not entitle you for the most merciful’s bless for entire life
      it’s only the same thing that lead you to sinning initially – if you don’t change it
      not to mix up symptoms with causes

  • Premarital Counseling is very important in couple’s life. The couple will understand more of what they going to face for d rest of their lifes and how to handle them. Nice article..Jazakallahu kairahn

  • Great article! I wish I read this article before I got married. We were not compatible at all and our families were certain we were made for each other… after living together we both found out we were opposites and he did not want anything to do with me cause he only married me for papers! I think if we had some sort of counseling before marriage I could’ve found out what he was up to! Well I’ve accepted this and going forward would definitely will ask questions and get premarital counseling.

  • I was worried about my husband,he carries all types of girls and when he likes is when he comes home,i have thought of getting a divorce but i could not resist a minute without him in my life,I just had to bear it on till one day i was i was searching for advise on marriage on the internet when I saw some one made mentioned of a spell caster that helped her when her husband left her for another woman the,it seems amazing to me because i not head that before but thus i had to email the spell caster called Priest Ajigar I was lucky his email was also on the site posted by the woman who share her testimony was also lucky Priest Ajigar agreed to help me cast a spell on him to make him faithful and love me,every thing was done and with a surprise i worked as he told just in three days he began to change for good and finally told me to forgive him for cheating on me,i told him to promise me he will not cheat on his wife again,quickly he said it will not happen again and even swear with his life that he will never cheat on his wife again the next day he bought me a rose flower and a beautiful gown.This is where I have to end my true life story hear is his email in case you need his help(

  • About to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary (and it has been a very happy 25 years) and the father of a son (age 22) and daughter (20), I think pre-marital counseling begins at home – provided the parents are themselves balanced, rational beings.
    The need to go to an outside source for such counseling implies the parents have failed somewhat in their duties. This not an ego issue, it simply means parents should have been discussing marital life, expectations, goals – and lots of other issues – with their children as the kids were growing up.
    Those looking at getting married could still get such counseling, but I don’t put much faith in a session or three when such lessons should have been imparted over the years. And the best lesson, of course, is the parents’ marriage itself.
    Well-meaning parents think they should be the ones to chose spouses for their kids because they are older, wiser and, of course, have their children’s interests at heart. Such parents are also the traditionalistic, dominating ones who have made major decisions about the family without inviting input from their children, or who have failed to let their children develop into adults.
    If the children have been given increasing levels of responsibility as they were growing up, and if discussions in the family were frequent and wide-ranging, the children would have developed in maturity and been making sensible decisions – about education and career, among other things – and gained in confidence along the way. So, when it comes time to marry, they would be better prepared to make wiser choices.
    The article says a recent study about divorce in the Muslim community found that none of the divorced men and women in the study had formal premarital counseling, other than a brief meeting with an imam. I would like to see a study about divorce rates among people who had formal premarital counseling (yes, I’m a cynic).
    What makes for a happy marriage? Love (lots of it), tolerance (for our partner’s minor faults) and the realization that our own flaws are probably greater.

    • Happy Anniversary Sir!
      25 years of marital happiness is something to be proud of! (Especially in this day and age) May Allah give you many more years together. N may we all learn something from happily married couples as yourself. 🙂

    • at some point, yiou just have to accept that there is a level of risk and like anything in life, it could turn out in a way you did not excpect. then you need to seek His guidance to know what it is He wanted you to learn from this experience, and what to do – to stay or leave at that point.

  • how many women are willing to see marriage as a part of their ibadah and their relationship with God, first and foremost. this is a situation God has put you in. what does He want you to learn? how does He want to use it to purify you? its difficulties are opportunities, its challenges are gifts to bring you closer to Him and farther from your lower ego desires and selfishness.
    everytime you settle for less than what your ego wants, you are rewarded by God. is marriage not the ideal grounds for being a person of God, of entering amongst the Saliheen for all you endure? (we are not talking about abuse, but the common miscommunications, harsh words, frustrations, etc. that happen in a marriage, as well as being patient and prayerful when you see your spouse’s faults, and realizing he is a mirror to you – this is the teachign of our faith – the brotehr is a mirror to the brother. ONe of the scholars explained that it means either you have the same fault you noticed in the other person, or you have it in you like flint contains fire – that is, given the same circumstances that that person is living or lived, you would manifest the same fault.

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