Perhaps the decision that will have the greatest affect on not just your financial well-being but your overall well-being is the decision of who you marry.
The following are a few tips that inshAllah will prove useful to you whether you’re looking to get married, you’re already married, or you’re going through a divorce.
Prior to marriage, when you’re in the engagement period, you’re typically head over heels about your partner.
You’re a couple of love birds and in your eyes your partner can do no wrong.
My advice in this period is to have fun, of course, but also try to do figure out the following as well:
How does my partner think about money?
- Do they not check prices when they make a purchase?
- Do they equate the love you have for them with the money you spend on them?
- Are they putting pressure on you to spend more than what you can afford?
- Do they have some expensive habits? Can you afford these habits?
- Are they only happy when they are spending money or do they have a great attitude and can make the best out of any situation?
Be tactful about how you figure out the answers to these questions. Don’t just point blank ask them: hey, do you measure how much I love you by how much I’m able to spend on you?
You will probably offend them and you’re not going to get any real information from their answer anyway.
Most people will just answer with whatever sounds the best.
Additionally, don’t go into a marriage thinking you’re going to change your partner after you get married.
This rarely works.
It’s hard enough to change yourself let alone anyone else.
When you go into a marriage you should be of the opinion that even if this person doesn’t change at all, you can still be happy living with them for the rest of your life.
What does their balance sheet look like?
If your partner has debt and you marry them, guess what?
You are married to that debt.
I’m not saying this should necessarily cause you to walk away from marrying the person but it is definitely something you should consider and have a plan for dealing with.
On the other hand, if you have a large amount of debt to your name, I think it is important and consistent with Islamic morals that you disclose this fact to whosoever is considering you for marriage because it is their right to know.
Again, be tactful about how you both acquire and disclose this type of information.
Be honest about your lifestyle.
It’s important not to give off the impression that you’re richer than you actually are.
Be honest about your finances and the lifestyle you are able to afford.
This is especially important for guys to remember.
If she’s ok with your lifestyle then great.
If she isn’t then it’s much better for her to know prior to marriage than after.
You don’t want to start a marriage with the wife discovering that she was lied to.
Have a budget.
Together with your partner, keep track of exactly how many dollars are going into your household and have a clear assignment for each dollar.
Have financial goals.
By what age do you want to be debt free?
How much do you want to have in savings/investments by each age?
When do you plan on buying a house?
When do you want to retire?
Together with your partner, write these financial goals down along with how you plan on achieving goal.
Revisit and update these goals periodically.
Don’t keep your partner in the dark.
In Islam it is the duty of the husband to provide financially for the household. However, this doesn’t mean that the wife shouldn’t know what the finances of the family are.
Both partners should understand what the balance sheet of the family looks like.
This can help both partners stay on the same page in terms of what they can and can’t afford.
Additionally, in case something were to happen to the husband, the wife has the knowledge and experience she needs to manage the finances of the family.
It’s also less stressful for the husband if they are not alone in their knowledge of the family’s finances.
By the way, some feel that the husband and wife’s finances should be separate. Basically, the woman takes care of herself and the man takes care of himself so there is no dependency between the two.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this line of thinking.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with dependencies existing between the husband and wife.
In fact I think that’s how things should be.
The husband is dependent on the wife in some matters and the wife is dependent on the husband in other matters.
If each spouse is entirely independent and in no need of the other you don’t have a husband and wife relationship in my opinion, what you have is a roommate.
Marriages go through natural ups and downs and if there are no dependencies in the relationship, it makes it much easier for either side to just walk away whenever the going gets tough. Dependencies in a couple’s relationship makes this relationship, in my view at least, much more resilient.
In case of divorce
InshAllah you never have to go through a divorce. It can be rather painful but it is an unfortunately common occurrence nowadays.
There’s a single point that I’m going to stress here:
Have fear of Allah when you’re dealing with the other side during this process.
Don’t behave based on spite. Behave based on how you think Allah SWT wants you to behave.
You’ll always end up a winner if you do things this way.
Specifically, what I want to emphasize is that you should honor your Islamic marriage contract. Regardless of whether or not the courts in the country you live will enforce it.
Whatever money you extract from your spouse which you were not entitled to under your Islamic marriage contract is considered stolen money according to Islamic law. Put more bluntly, you’re a thief for taking that money.
Whether or not your spouse was good or bad to you is entirely irrelevant to this fact.
Most people, when they get a divorce, don’t think highly of their ex-spouse and think the divorce was their spouse’s fault and that they are the victims.
Very rarely does someone think: yeah that was entirely on me I was a real jerk.
If the laws on divorce in Islam only applied when the couple getting divorced thought highly of one another they would never apply.
As a Muslim you have a duty to honor your word, period.
Remember 50 years from now we’re all dead or at least we’re getting close to checking out. Make sure when the time comes to check out you don’t have a bunch of baggage that you don’t want to take with you.
There are few baggage items in the afterlife that are worse than the baggage of money a person took that they were not entitled to.
Something to consider, and you’ll want to tread rather carefully here because in some cultures this is simply unacceptable, is a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail.
This agreement may be a good idea especially if you’re entering the marriage with substantial assets. Even if you don’t have much it may be a good idea in case you want to remove any ambiguity regarding the rights of each party in case of a divorce.
In any case I hope you never have to go through a divorce and if you have I hope you’re in a better spot today.
If you are currently going through a divorce remember to fear Allah SWT in how you treat your spouse. It’s the best strategy in this life and the next.
Thoughts expressed are my own, I am not your financial adviser or marriage counselor.