Family Relationships

What to look for in a Life Partner.

The scary business of choosing a life partner.

Making the decision to choose a life partner is the toughest decision of one’s life.   It has to be a decision which is straight from the heart – preferably, keeping both head and heart in sync. It is even tougher if you are choosing one for your child, or helping your friend in the process.

Excuse me, all you married folks, this blog post isn’t for you. Go, do your other things in life. This one isn’t for you. Though you can read the book I’m recommending at the end, it is called Love Smart.

Some days ago one of my readers  wrote to me:

‘Salaam. Read your recent article! Beautiful.  (that article was ‘How I brought up my Daughters’) Kindly write something about what to look for in a son-in-law/husband.’

I could write a book on this topic, but let’s make do with this blog post.  (Perhaps it would be of use to me too?) After all, this one is for all of you singles …. And the ‘re-singles’ (divorcee, and the widowed.)

As Ms. Batool Shahid Zulfiqar once mentioned to me, ‘you spend around twenty years in your parents’ home, and twice or three times that time with your husband. So, we are talking about your next forty to sixty years of life. How can you leave this vital decision to others? It is you who is going to live your life with him and his family. So give it all your attention, and careful thought.’

Please note: when I’m mentioning ‘girl’ it also applies to the ‘boys’. We are talking about a life partner here.

Right now, we have to think of the guy with whom you can live 24/7 for more than one year at least, and then the rest of your life.

Whether you met him accidentally, intentionally, or in an arranged situation – result is the same – marriage. Then you are going to think it was ‘preordained’ or ‘destined’ or ‘made in heaven’. Otherwise, you will think it was a ‘curse’ or ‘someone’s baddua.

Well, before the process begins, it is important to clarify your own requirements. You need to be sure about what you are looking for in your life partner.

1.      Looks:

Any preferences regarding looks? Complexion, height etc. Do check out what the girl/boy considers as ‘good looking’ – the criteria may not match yours. Each to his/her own. But you know what I mean. Your girl feels he wasn’t handsome, another scruffy looking hero was more handsome. So, please, it is her marriage not yours!  Looks are a very personal matter. Just let it be a matter for her or him to decide.

 2, Communicate with the candidate:

It is okay to decide to speak to the candidate a few times, in a public place of course, before making the decision. I have friends, whose daughter spoke to the young man on Skype. That is how the marriage was arranged. So, now they are happily married in Australia, with two beautiful daughters.

  1. Give the process your full attention:

I know of persons, who just like to visit homes and getting entertained with half-hearted intentions. This isn’t being fair to anyone. Neither yourself, nor the persons concerned. So, only visit someone’s home, if you are really serious. It is important to put aside some of your other activities, to help you to make this important decision in life.  Whenever, I felt my daughter isn’t serious, then I wouldn’t entertain anyone.  After all, why waste their time, and your own? In such matters you have to be honest.

A time comes when both parties or families, realize ‘this is the one.’ So, then, once the proposal has taken place or intent is expressed, then you go into the next stage or process for an arranged marriage.

These factors are important in an arranged marriage:

  1. It is good to be with a family with whom you feel comfortable, and be yourself. Look at the family, and the person. Do, they match with yours? Do you have to ‘pretend’ when you are with them?
  2. The young man’s credentials, qualifications and experience (- in the career!!). Check out the guy from his boss, his colleagues and especially from his subordinates’ point of view, if you can. Knowing his friends too can be of some help, but they would be prejudiced.
  3. Looks do matter, as long as there isn’t a major issue.
  4. It is best to marry within your own socio-economic level.
  5. Ideally speaking the reason for choosing the person should be the person himself, or the girl herself. (No ulterior motive should be there from both sides: g. status, business, etc.)
  6. A matching sense of humor.
  7. If you have a choice of proposals or options, choose the one who is closest to God/ Allah. He and his family need to have good values of honesty etc.
  8. Do make sure the young man is capable of taking care of your daughter financially, and be able to provide for her.
  9. As far as I’m concerned, my biggest criteria are that his parents and he must earn ‘halal’ money or honestly earned source of income.
  10. The two should ‘click’, or be comfortable with each other.
  11. Be extra-alert during the meetings, and note body language and each word spoken. Do read between the lines.
  12. Do watch out for the ghunna candidate, who doesn’t participate in discussions and is just busy observing everyone. He just silently observes everyone, and doesn’t say a word. It maybe that he isn’t that serious, or has been forced  by mother to come.

If you already love the guy, is he husband material?

  1. Is he truthful? (Remember, truth always comes out, so be watchful.)
  2. Has he ever been deceitful or cheated you in any way?
  3. Is he of a pleasant personality with everyone, even with those below him in status?
  4. His source of income is through honesty and not by lying and cheating others?
  5. Does he love you by his actions and behavior too?
  6. Does he give you full attention, or keeps staring at the mobile phone as you talk to him?
  7. How is he with money? When you two go out, does he pay up always?
  8. Does he remember what you say off and on, or forgets it all due to inattentiveness. This means, you don’t mean that much to him.
  9. Has he got a stable job for at least a year or two, if not, why not? (Changing jobs too often, shows an unstable personality.)
  10. Paradoxically, if he is in same job for too long, it could show he isn’t venturesome. So, whatever the case, check it out.
  11. If he keeps pets, that is a plus, it means he is used to caring for others, and taking responsibility.
  12. How is he with the women folk in his life, his mother, his sisters. If he is on good terms with them, it means he has respect and regard for them.
  13. How does he behave, with regard to women in general.
  14. Is he punctual when he commits to meeting you? (Believe me, if a person doesn’t respect your time, he doesn’t respect you.)
  15. When things go wrong, does he take responsibility, or blames others.

Remember, according to Dr. Phil, it is an 80/20 ratio. No one is perfect, neither him nor you. But if eighty percent of the ‘stuff’ is good, I’m sure you can manage with the other 20 % !


A very special prayer, when you call for Divine  help in making this decision:


It is a special prayer, which is very basic. At the end, do pray for someone better for both parties, if it doesn’t work out. Also, do not expect a dream, usually your heart becomes very clear. The situations start flowing towards ‘the right one’. The most important thing is that the one who is to make the choice must read it herself or himself. Do not ask someone else to read for you. At the most, the mother can read for you, but you need to say the prayer yourself.

How to say ‘no’ to the family whose candidate isn’t accepted :

Once a decision is made for one proposal. Then the ‘regrets’ need to be said to the other families. It may also be that you have no other proposal at hand, but are sure that this one isn’t ‘the one’. Then the mother or any elder of your family, usually, has to be the one to convey this news to the boys’ parents. As my friend Fairy said, ‘Of course you will have to say ‘no’ to the others, your daughter can’t marry all!’ I was feeling so bad having to say no to quite a few families. Here is the best way to say the ‘no’, as suggested by my wise friend Farida Nazar.

  1. Choose a time of day which is early on, so it is not too depressing for the recipient. It isn’t right to let them know during the late evening hours, so it may spoil their sleep. Tell them preferably in daylight hours.
  2. Read two naffals for the other family, and pray they find a good person instead, for their son.
  3. Do not give any reason – or they will counter it – so, just say something like, ‘perhaps my daughter and your son weren’t meant to be for one another.

Best book to help you choose Mr. Right:

Do read the book Love Smart by Dr. Phil. available on It can be found in different bookshops throughout Pakistan and the world. I think it is the best book for all those who are already in a relationship, as well as for those who are looking out for their own Mr. Right. It shows you how to be more smart in choosing the right one. To be able to read between the lines when a guy is trying to make you believe he is perfect. Also, what signs to look out for, when you have some doubts.


These days, YouTube has a lot of experts guiding you.

Once, while traveling from Seattle to Los Angeles the American passenger sitting next to me told me he had been married for fifty-seven years! I asked him what advice would he give? He said,

‘It is a daily struggle!’

Yes, we have to work on a daily basis for the most priceless of relationships. (After all, don’t we work at our jobs, mothering, home-making etc. on a daily basis?)

I’d like to end this topic with something that my son-in-law Ahmad Bilal said to me, ‘It is not the decision, but what you do with the decision that matters.’ So true and so wisely put.

Stay blessed, my dear Reader, whether you are single or not. 😉

Note: All these amazing photographs are by Waliya Najib Khan, with thanks.

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  1. Mobeen Sarwar says:

    very good article

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Thank you, Mobeen!

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