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BETWEEN RATIONAL CHOICE AND EMOTIONAL CHOICE

Life is a game of choices. Every moment you have to opt for some choice, either on a rational level or on an emotional level. Rational choice always leads to success, while emotional choice leads to problems, if not total failure. Opting for the rational choice endows one with peace of mind, while the emotional choice is bound to give rise to second thoughts later in life. This is due to the law of nature. The law of nature is based on realities, it is not based on anyone’s emotions. When a person goes through a situation and takes a decision on a rational basis, he instantly receives the support of the law of nature. However, if a person decides on the basis of his emotions, he does not get the support of the law of nature. It is this difference that creates problems. This law of nature is mentioned in the Qur’an in these words: You may dislike something although it is good for you, or like something although it is bad for you: God knows but you do not. (2:216)

The Qur’an also applies this principle to the issue of marriage. There is a very relevant verse in the Qur’an in this regard: If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike something which God might make a source of abundant good. (4:19)

The experience of marriage comes to every man and woman. There is no escape from this experience. It means that at the time of marriage, everyone faces the moment of either making a rational choice or an emotional choice. Marriage leads to lifetime companionship. Therefore, it is necessary for both partners to be very serious in this matter. They must take into consideration the long-term benefits, rather than short-term gains. Both should make a rational decision and not an emotional decision. There is, however, a problem. The time for marriage always comes when both partners are in their age of immaturity and have little experience of real life. At this stage, they are not in a position to take a decision on a purely objective basis. Then what should be done? The Qur’an gives a very practical criterion for making a decision in this matter. One who keeps in mind this practical criterion will ensure that his or her married life is a success. Those who fail to follow this criterion take the risk of turning their marriage into a problem marriage. The Qur’anic criterion in this regard is: Don’t follow your desires, follow your reason. Those who are governed by their desire only see the appearance, or take things at face value. But, being governed by reason makes one reach the depth of the matter.

Reason follows reality and decides by seeing the future rather than the present. Due to this difference, an emotional judgment creates problems, while a rational judgment always leads to success. Making an emotional choice in marriage may give one temporary pleasure, but in the long run, it is bound to turn into a life of problems. While a rational choice in this regard may seem to be a hard choice in the beginning, however in the long run it will certainly result in a good life for both partners. For example, if at the time of the marriage one sees only the appearance and chooses a smart spouse, then this is not a simple matter. A smart choice will bring with it a total culture—a culture of entertainment, shopping, and fashionable living. This choice causes a shift of focus, that is, giving importance to superficial activities such as excessive expenditure on material items, engaging in entertainment and dissipation, and leading a fashionable lifestyle.

In contrast to this, if your choice is based on the merits of the individual, the focus at home will be quite different. Importance will be given to serious discussion, intellectual development, simple living, the right use of money and energy, and concentrating on deeper aspects of things rather than on their superficial aspects. The difference between these two choices is bound to create two kinds of future. The first choice may lead to a life full of unending problems. On the contrary, the second choice will lead to a successful life. Making an emotional choice in marriage may give one temporary pleasure, but in the long run, it is bound to turn into a life of problems. While a rational choice in this regard may seem to be a hard choice in the beginning, however in the long run it will certainly result in a good life for both partners. An emotional choice in marriage promotes superficial activities at home, that is, the culture of wasting time and energy. On the other hand, a rational choice in marriage promotes a healthy environment and fosters constructive activities at home, as both partners embark on building a bright future for themselves and their children.

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