The Benefits of Pre-Marital Coaching and Training
It is not difficult to realize the need for sincere effort to prepare for marriage, especially when “statistics indicate that approximately 40 percent of first marriages [in North America] end in divorce.” The experience of Muslim counselors indicates that the divorce rate among Muslims is not much different. It is steadily increasing in North America, especially among those who have been married five years or less.
Preparation for Marriage
Effective preparation for marriage is the first step in rescuing ourselves from these dismaying statistics. Research indicates that the quality of a marriage can improve through education. Yet the great majority of Muslim couples who seek counseling have never read books or attended any seminars about marriage or parenting. Had they received some training and coaching before marriage, they might have prevented much of the conflict and suffering that induced them to seek counseling.
There are a growing number of Muslims who are feeling desperate to find a suitable spouse. Some of them have been looking for a long time. But we have to balance that with the duty to help them find a potential match who is compatible with them. If we think only short-term, everyone will be so happy when they marry. But if we didn’t help them determine compatibility, if we weren’t diligent in that, one year from now or five years from now the married couple might be miserable and on the verge of divorce. So, again, it is a balancing act. Bottom line for me is the hadith that addresses the issue of compatibility. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Make a good choice of who will bear your children. Marry those who are compatible with you.” (Ibn Majah, Al-Bayhaqi, and others). He also said, “Souls are like troops gathered together — those who are compatible bond and have an affinity with each other; and those who are averse to each other are dissimilar and incompatible” (Bukhari and Muslim).
And we should also keep in mind that while all throughout history families helped their young people find someone to get married and didn’t worry so much about compatibility or training, the times we are living in are different.
- life is more complicated
- extended families used to provide complete support for a couple
- family ties were stronger than today
- divorce always had a stigma but that is much less so today
- people are harried and rushed, as time is speeding up
- everybody feels stressed
- many young people are conditioned by society to expect instant gratification
Given all these factors that predispose people to not being too picky when selecting a spouse, we have to emphasize the importance of preparing well for marriage. Preparing well for marriage has many benefits, and one of the best ways to prepare is to engage in pre-marital coaching with one’s prospective spouse. This allows the couple to assess compatibility in a realistic and honest way. It brings to the table for consideration some of the important aspects about each other such as differences in social status, educational level, hobbies, tastes, or personality. If an individual knows that it is extremely difficult for him or her to accommodate in the prospective spouse any of these factors, at this stage it will be easier to end the relationship with minimal emotional and psychological cost.
- Pre-marital coaching/training allows important adjustments to be made during the engagement period. Rather than spending too much time focusing on the romantic aspect of the relationship, coaching/training puts some healthy realism into the engagement period. The couple begins to look beyond physical and emotional infatuation. In fact, the desire to please each other, which is natural during this period, becomes an important asset for the couple to set rules from the beginning on how they will build a successful marriage. It is much easier to make adjustments during the engagement period because each person is more open and eager to consider other perspectives and views.
- Pre-marital coaching/training provides the tools to navigate through the many challenges of marriage. Most of us enter an engagement or marriage with some degree of fantasy, irrational ideas, destructive habits, negative past conditioning and unrealistic expectations. When we marry, these ideas, habits and thoughts may well instigate conflict. Couples who undertake premarital education are more skilled at conflict resolution. They are more capable of handling their differences and working them out constructively. Furthermore, many couples report positive changes after their education, particularly in the area of communication skills. Learning relationship skills and developing them is essential to a lifelong successful marriage journey.
- Pre-marital coaching/training provides clear understanding of Islamic rights and responsibilities. Too many couples enter into marriage without adequate knowledge and understanding of their Islamic rights and responsibilities as husband and wife. Knowing these rights and responsibilities lays the foundation for a respectful, loving, kind and peaceful relationship in accordance with the sublime teachings of Islam.
- Pre-marital coaching/training helps the future children lead a happy life. One of the best gifts well-prepared parents can give their children is the experience of growing up in a family blessed with their parents’ happy marriage. When parents love each other in a mature and healthy way, children feel safe and secure. They will have a strong foundation to face life’s challenges with a sense of confidence and optimism.
Learn more about Kamal Shaarawy’s pre-marital coaching and training.