I have been thinking about this for quite awhile now, specifically, since around the time I attended the first WTB sharing session about two years ago. That sharing session was really insightful and quite an eye-opener to me, because I had not thought much about marriage before that. But meeting the other WTBs was quite a blessing.
To be honest, H and me have always thought that we were emotionally prepared for marriage. Afterall, we have been very deeply in love for years and the only thing that stopped us from getting married any earlier is financial. Well we were partially wrong. Yes, we have known each other for quite awhile, we know each other’s character, taste, strengths, weaknesses, pasts and dreams. We may have been very bonded, well acquainted and in sync with each other’s values, beliefs and way of life. But as we grow up (and old), we are constantly changing. Our values and priorities evolve continuously. We mature and we grow. And I am ever more thankful that despite knowing each other for years, there are still a lot of things that we can learn about each other. We are no longer the same person that we were 3 years ago, 5 years ago, or 10 years ago. I am just grateful that we have been on this journey of continuously trying to be a better version of ourselves together. So our emotional preparation for marriage includes keeping an open mind about our spouse, and constantly pushing and encouraging each other to be a better person. I have actually heard a number of women saying that men change after marriage, and not necessarily for the better. After uttering the words “Aku terima nikahnya..”, that burden of responsibility that has been transferred on their shoulders turned them into a different person. So it may not be worth it for wife-to-bes to have high expectations of how their future husbands will turn out to be, post-marriage. It probably applies vice versa too. So to me, as long as my partner and I are committed to love each other unconditionally and are dedicated to continuously improve ourselves, insyaAllah everything will go well.
Our combined financial status have improved tremendously this year because H got a job as soon as he could, alhamdulillah. But like any other BTBs, the closer it is to our wedding, the more horrifying our bank accounts. It feels a little overwhelming for me because we are dealing with wedding, honeymoon and house all at the same time, which means that we are going to be super broke by end of next year. For now, the best that we can do is to cut down our expenses and tone down our lifestyle. But in the long run, some of the preparations that we have started include looking at buying insurance together and starting some savings and investments plans by insurance companies. H and I are both first child, with a total of 6 younger siblings, of which 4 of them are still studying. That’s quite a huge responsibility on us, right there. So I think it’s really important for us to start some serious long-term financial plans. There are many savings and investment plans offered by banks and insurance companies that offers good payouts. But of course, the more you want to earn from the investments, the greater the amount you have to pump in, and for a much longer commitment period (20-30 years). We have not started committing to any particular plans yet, because there are just SO MANY things to think about. Like what if we have kids (twins or triplets) and we need cash for their expenses and may not have enough to commit to the investments, what if our parents fall ill, what if our siblings need to take up study loans, what if one of us is posted to work overseas, what if mishap happens and we need $10k for a major surgery, what if our turn to go for hajj comes up unexpectedly. One more thing we are planning to do is to buy health insurance for our parents, since none of them have any solid coverage at the moment. Like I mentioned, we are both the first child, so if anything happens to our parents, we need to step up and take the lead in playing the (financial) supporting role if surgeries and hospitalisations are involved. Since we are still building our own lives, we are not sure if we can really afford to support their medical bills if there’s no insurance coverage to help us lighten the load.
I think physical preparation is more towards baby-making. We have been trying to have a healthier diet and excercise more regularly. The keyword here is “try”. Hahahaha. Nonetheless, our body is an amanah from Him, which we need to take good care of before returning it to Him, regardless of whether we are preparing this body to conceive or not. As much as I am trying to lose weight to look good for my wedding, each time I make a conscious decision to eat a healthier meal or to go to the gym, my niat is geared more towards a long-term healthier lifestyle rather than “just to look pretty on the pelamin”. There’s a lot of room for improvement for us on this aspect and I hope that whatever effort we are putting in now, they are not merely “preparations for the big day”, but hopefully they will stick with us as a lifestyle habit after the wedding in the long run.
Mental and emotional is probably similar especially the part about having to keep an open mind about marriage. But for me, this is more towards being able to adapt to life after marriage, like getting used to having a husband by your side almost 24/7, getting much lesser “me time” than before marriage, living with my in-laws and handling their expectations, dealing with society’s annoying expectations and pressure to conceive fast, and managing my own and my husband’s expectations of our roles of husband and wife. I have been reading a few books written by Gary Chapman like “The 5 Languages of Love” and “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married”. I am now reading “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted”. And I must say that these books are really really AWESOME! I have tried reading “A Gift for a Muslim Bride” which is that pink/orange popular book that everyone has been buying, but I don’t like it at all. Sometimes, an Islamic book written by a scholar may not necessarily be as insightful as any other secular
This is probably one of the most difficult to keep up with. Because people always say “hijrah is easy, istaqamah is difficult”. How true.. It is easy to start practising your 5 daily prayers, start reading the Quran regularly, don the hijab, memorise more surahs, start going for more classes. But it is extremely difficult to keep up with them in the long run. Sure, maybe we found a class that we enjoy, but one year down the road, we start giving more and more excuses and eventually stopped going for them. Same for reading the Quran, memorising more surahs and making the effort to look for a musollah or a quiet space at the staircase to do our daily prayers EVERYWHERE we go. Sometimes, arrogance gets in the way too. Like how I find myself judging people or secretly rating myself as already “higher than average” in terms of piety level, and thus making it a valid excuse to skip doing an extra good deed Astaghfirullah. These struggles are very very real. Everytime I catch myself “comparing”, I will quickly mentally slap myself. I would remind myself that it is not a competition. I don’t get to skip putting in that dollar or two in the tabung masjid when I see it just because I think I am already ahead of the rest. The fact that I “think” that I am better than the rest, already means that I am not. These thoughts and excuses are all fed by syaitan. At the end of the day, it is how pleased He is with you that matters. If there was one thing that I use as a source of motivation, it is to ask myself, whether I would be proud if my future child is as pious as I am right now. Because it is extremely rare for a child to turn out more pious than their parents, if not the same.