Marriage is never an easy thing. We think of it as this amazing romantic bliss that we will somehow attain one day.
Sisters dream of marrying that amazing brother who has the character of the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him), the Eemaan of Aboo Bakr, the courage of Hamzah (may Allah be pleased with them), the wealth of 'Abdur-Rahmaan bin 'Awf not to mention the SWAG of 2PAC Shakur (OK maybe not the last one) but the fact still remains, everyone wants to marry that one truly amazing person and it is not much different for guys.
We wish to bump into a Hoor al-'Een that has lost her way from Jannah (we aren't too fussy about HOW she got lost...) I mean why wouldn't that ever happen? It won't happen, because you are daydreaming bro that's why.
#8 AVOID FACEBOOK SPOUSES
...And any other social network for that matter.
Since we spend most of our time online these days, it is very easy to try to fulfil all our needs online, even the need of finding a soul mate. Now don't get me wrong, there are marriages that actually do work out, and I am not by any means hating on brothers and sisters who made it work (whatever floats your boats akhis and ukthis, just keep it halaal), but let's face it, the Internet is a very weird place.
Everyone always tries to seem holier than they really are, even a Kaafir could pretend to be Muslim scholar for all you know. In the good old days people married other people who they actually knew, and life was much more smooth, in very broad terms.
But today you marry someone who comes across as religious online only to find out on your wedding night he isn't really that strict on Salaah, oh and did I mention he has tons of friends who just happen to be... girls? And not to mention he smokes ('Sorry forgot to tell you that too, my bad.') the point is, be very careful concerning ANY online proposals.
If the person is serious and a good guy, drop them your Wali's number and don't communicate with them anymore, then you'll know if the person is really a gentleman or not.
#7 BEFRIEND GOOD PEOPLE
This will open up the door for networking later on, because one of the main problems today is that a lot of people ask, 'OK, but how do I meet good potential spouses?' and they often say, 'I don't know anyone!' but in reality everyone knows SOMEBODY.
Be it that friend who you only seem to meet at the Masjid for big events, or your cousin who you don't spend much time with, there is always someone you can befriend. But keep in mind that these individuals should be good practising people themselves because then they can help introduce you to other practising people who in turn might have brothers and sisters who are looking for marriage.
#6 BE AT GOOD PLACES
In the same way that you won't find a amazing Niqabi wife at the club, dancing late into the night. You, yourself need to be looking in the right places, and this sort of brings us back to the previous point.
Attend lectures, study circles or maybe even volunteer to help at the Masjid etc, all these activities will open up the door for you to meet the right people and once you get to know them you can raise the issue of marriage discreetly.
Remember most people who are married will tell you they got to know their spouse either through family and friends, or they might have actually met whilst doing the same activities, so try to be more active and don't just sit at home feeling sorry for yourself.
#5 BE REALISTIC
Sometimes your knight in shining armour is just a miskeen dude in tin foil.
Chances are, you're not going to bump into Shaikh Sudais's son, let alone the Shaikh himself, and even if you did, I highly doubt any of them would ask you for marriage (more like 'SECURITY!') So try to keep your hopes realistic, yes we all want to marry a Haafidh, we all want a sister who knows all about pleasing a husband but never had a boyfriend before. We all want a brother who is super pious with super long beard (the longer the beard the bigger the Taqwa we think, although don't know for sure) who also owns a house and has a car, plus he should be really knowledgeable too, like Shaykh Ibn Baaz (rahimahullah) knowledgeable.
But we often forget, that when you marry someone, they still have their whole life ahead of them. Most of the wives of the major scholars married these amazing men whilst they still were 'nobodies' to the community and similarly you teach your wife (with gentleness) how to be romantic and it is all a journey. If you think that you will marry that one complete person who has everything, you will never marry and that's the harsh truth.
You might just end up on facebook surfing from one profile to the other.
#4 INVOLVE YOUR PARENTS
Most people don't like doing this, for whatever reason. Most girls are just simply too shy to bring marriages up with their parents, in case the parents look at them as a victim of teenage hormones. Others are afraid that if they involve the parents they will feel pressured into marrying someone they don't want to marry only to please their parents.
Now what I am suggesting is a middle path. Bring the topic up to your parents, or if you're too shy, speak to your brother or someone else who can raise the issue with your parents. And then ask your parents to look around for you, remember they can only suggest but the final decision still lies with you. And most of us really don't make use of this option, which is very sad.
Our parents may be the only human beings alive on the face of this earth who would do anything and everything for us, so why not consult them?
#3 ARE YOU REALLY READY FOR MARRIAGE?
As Muslims we should always aim to get married since it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him).
But sometimes, some people rush into marriage. They think just because they are physically ready (have urges etc) that they should get married, forgetting that even the Prophet (peace be upon him) actually mentioned that those who have the MEANS to get married should do so. Now having the means is not just having a mature body, or even loads of cash. Rather it also about being mentally stable and able to cope with the hardships of marriage.
Don't worry though, in marriage all you need is love to make things work (like they always say right?) so no need to over think things, love conquers all! Except that's a total lie, marriage needs so much more, and even though love is a key element in marriage it is not always what keeps a marriage going.
Remember marriage is not all sunshine and fun, sometimes you will argue, sometimes you wont love each other as much, what will happen then? Will you ask for a divorce just because the marriage isn't fun anymore?
What if there are children involved, then what? The point is, prepare yourself for marriage mentally. Read up on the rights of the Husband and the rights of the Wife, don't just marry because you're 20 and feel you have to. This husband will be either your Jannah or Hell, do you really know what that means?
Similarly this wife and future children will be your responsibility as a husband, Allaah will ask you about them, so be prepared.
#2 WOULD YOU MARRY YOURSELF?
'Ofcourse I would, I am pure awesomeness, I am the very defin...' if that is your answer then I can tell you right now that you don't really have the right mentality for marriage. We often get blinded by the search for the ultimate partner that we neglect to look at ourselves.
We cry and say why won't anyone marry me? But do nothing to change ourselves. How do you treat people when you get upset? What do you do if you hold a grudge? Do not turn a blind eye to all these important issues, rather tackle them one by one. No one is perfect but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying.
If you truly and sincerely work on your own flaws, and really do become more caring and loving then you will notice how people will look at you differently. People will start to think of you as 'wifey' material because you are good with kids, because you care for others, because you forgive people and don't hold grudges don't gossip etc, the list is long but if you take one step at a time you will be married before you know it.
Dua is the weapon of the believer, why not use it?
Because like everything in life, Allaah is the true reason behind things. Even though some people often roll their eyes and think, 'Yeah right the old, make dua brother/sister' but if you truly have faith in Allaah and know that He answers the prayers of those in need, you will never get tired of making du'aa to Him.
Take the story of Moosa ('alyhis-salaam) as an example; in Soorah Qasas we are told about how he left Fir'awn and was literally fleeing for his life, his one concern was saving his own skin. But what happened? He made du'aa to Allaah, and Allaah not only saved him but blessed him with a wonderful wife. So in short, if you make du'aa and don't give up Allaah will help you, and that is a promise!