Are you looking for love? Have you stepped into the vortex that is the online marriage-market? If so, you know there are what seems like endless candidates and just as many ways to distinguish them. Flipping through faces, you’ll see profiles that contain information about a person’s age, education, location, and religiosity. With so much information being thrown at you, it’s best to focus on a few characteristics that are most important to you. Do you have a vested interest in having compatible religiosity? Are you looking for someone who prays the same number of times per day as you? Or do you focus on location? Can you really deal with a long distance relationship if you hate texting and phone calls?
And what about career? Have you thought about how a potential’s career goals and accompanying lifestyle will impact you? Focusing on someone’s career does not mean you should narrow in on the perfect “sugar daddy” or potential trophy wife. No sir. You’re on the wrong platform for that! When I say focusing on career, I mean that you might use the potential’s career to consider how your personalities and lifestyles will mesh. Can you handle the hectic hours that might come with marrying an ER surgeon? Are you okay marrying a struggling artist? Will your potential spouse be okay if you continue working after children?
Consider Lifestyle Habits
When two lives come together for marriage, there’s a lot of adjustment. The first few months (and even years) of the marriage are about adjusting to one another. Understanding how the other person spends their money, time, and energy is critical to the long-term success of the relationship. You won’t fully understand or feel the enormity of the adjustment until you’re living together, but asking questions before the nikkah can help. That’s where I think assessing a career can be helpful.
Understanding the demands, challenges and benefits of your potential’s career can help you better comprehend what day-to-day life together would be like. For example, a person whose job requires frequent travel or lots of overtime, could impede on the quality time you spend together. If someone is still in school or they are pursuing a career in the public or nonprofit sector, you might have to change some of your living or spending habits to adjust to their salary. Although a person’s job or career does not define success of the person or even the marriage, it may dictate (at least initially) how the couple functions in everyday life.
To get you thinking about how a career could lead you to (or away from) a potential match, I’ve come up with a few categories of people that have a very specific lifestyle as dictated by their professions.
Have you met those folks that love school so much that they keep going back? They graduate from college and then do a master’s and eventually continue to do a Phd? That’s a full time job. Being a student, working part-time as a student-teacher, and then sometimes raising a family. Dating and then marrying someone who is continuing their education might come with some financial risks like helping them pay off their student loans. You might have to be the partner that steps up to cover some of the big costs. Maybe you’ll even have to delay a big wedding until they get closer to their graduation.
It might be a longer path to wedded bliss, but that shouldn’t mean you don’t consider the grad student. If you really like this person, and believe in their end goal, their plan for utilizing this education in the form of a stable career, then you should give them a real chance. Just make sure to discuss the potential challenges with a premarital counselor.
Doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, pharmacists, dentists, all have very important jobs. They save and preserve lives. With such a rewarding job, with generally high salaries and good benefits, may come grueling hours. I’ve known several of these medical professionals that have demanding schedules. Their friends and families know that when they are “on call,” they might disappear at odd or inconvenient hours.
However, such a labor intensive profession is not a monolith. There are various sectors within each of these professions that come with a different set of expectations and hours. You should never skip over a doctor just because you think they’ll never be home for dinner. Talk to them, and get a good grasp about what type of medicine they practice and how they see their role change over the next five to ten years. Maybe you will have to compromise on the number of vacations you take per year, but maybe with such stable careers, those vacations will be the best because you cherish them more.
Have you ever gone to a coffee shop with a spoken word poet, and fell in love with their artistic ability? Do you ever daydream about marrying the next Mark Zuckerburg? You know, the guy with the really great start-up idea that gets picked up by an angel investor and then boom: fame and success. If so, you might have a thing for artists and entrepreneurs. This is good because it means you value creative people with big ideas. The creative geniuses are the ones that we all wish we could be like, or be with. And yet, so few of us really know what it takes to be in a relationship with a dreamer. When talking to an artist or entrepreneur, you need to get a better picture of what their life goals are and what their backup plans are if they don’t make it in their current ambition. Maybe they’ll tell you that they’re not sure; that they’re building an empire or riding a vision and they want you to come along for the ride. That’s fine if you’re aware of the potential pitfalls. Just try to imagine your life in different scenarios and think about how that might affect your happiness and well-being.
This category might seem silly to you, but it’s an important one. It’s possible that you may want to be with someone who wishes to quit their job and be a stay at home wife and eventually mother. Maybe she has other goals like focusing on her Islamic studies or writing a book while taking care of the children. If you’re going to be the breadwinner, you both need to understand what the household budget will look like with just one income.
On the flip side, if you’re the one searching for a stay-at-home wife and you expect a woman with a budding career to quit her job when she marries you, that needs to be discussed at the beginning of the relationship. Such an expectation is a big one and should be addressed from the start.
I hope this gave you a jumping off point for how to think about careers when you’re searching for love and marriage. Use career as an opener to a big conversation about values, life goals, and daily habits. You should never write someone off just because you think someone’s career doesn’t align with what you want. Give people a chance, but ask questions and think seriously about how their career will impact the marriage. Remember, if you get stuck you can always get advice from a married couple or a marriage counselor. Hang in there! Allah rewards those who are patient.
Writer: Nailah Dean