A Marriage of Compromise

I made the first compromise of my marriage before I was even married. Had you asked me four years ago where I thought I would be in my life right now, I would have given you an answer that in no way would have reflected my current situation.

I had big plans to move to New York by myself and pursue a completely different career than the one I have now.

I changed these plans because I instead chose to marry a man who was pursuing a PhD, and that meant where he got accepted, I went too. It also meant that for my entire life, where I lived would be dependent on where my husband would be able to find a job as a professor. Coming to terms with that being my life– which I would have to put his career before my own, was a huge moment for me and it was not one that I came to easily. There was a point where I actually considered breaking off the engagement. However, by the end of that night I realized that I cared so much more for the future that we could build together than one that I could build alone with any career.

It was not that I chose to put my husband’s happiness before my own, it’s that I knew that I would be happier with him than without and that I too wanted his dream of being a professor to come true. I didn’t choose his life over mine because it was all one life that we were building together. And I know that he has also made huge compromises, including not applying to his dream schools because it would mean delaying our wedding, which neither of us wanted.

I’ve learned that marriage is a series of compromises. Some of those compromises are life altering. Some of those compromises are about pizza toppings. It’s choosing which of his habits I can live with and which would drive me crazy after forty years of living with it. Because once I committed myself to this man, I committed myself to a future. I committed myself to building a family with him and becoming a part of each other’s family. Every Eid and every holiday is a compromise in spending time with our families. We’re blessed that our parents both live in the same small town so that we get to see everyone, but that comes with it’s own set of problems. We have 72 hours in one weekend to split between our families. Each set of parents wants to spend as much time with us as possible. If we spend too much time with one set then the other may get upset and understandably, we each want to spend more time with our own family. But our families are important, and so we make it work. Even though I don’t like having to lug our suitcase from one house to another through the weekend, it’s what we do to keep everyone happy.

There is one aspect of my life that I know I will never have to compromise in my marriage and it’s the reason why I married my husband—my religion. With everything that we have altered, with everything that we have adjusted for each other, this is something we have never had to change. Alhamdullilah, my husband and I see Islam as the foundation of our lives together and, because we both take it equally seriously, it has never been a place of serious disagreement.

Instead, we have strengthened each other’s deen and have both improved so much in the past months that we have been married. I will admit that praying every prayer has not always been a strong suit of mine but since we began praying together, it has become a much more regular part of my life. Waking up for fajr has become easier now that I have someone to wake up with. The idea of growing in my deen just seems like an easier task because I have someone to grow with. And, for me, that means that do not worry about my future. Now, I have a partner to grow with. A partner who I know cares about my current and afterlife as much as I care about his. The compromises we make now only make us stronger because we know that we’re working towards a much brighter future than we could have without each other.