It started with a wink

wedding picture

It started with a wink.

My husband David and I met on when he showed up in my weekly report of new guys on the site matching my preferences. He had an awful profile picture (think: taken with a cell phone camera in a moving car), but I loved everything else about his profile, from the description of himself to what he was looking for in a partner. So, I virtually winked at him. He sent me a message the next day

Fast forward 16 months and I was moving to Chicago as his bride.

It sounds easy enough but my road to the altar was a long and arduous one.

At the time, I was in my early 30s – long past the age that I thought I’d have met the person I was to marry. For many years it seemed hopeless. I had one disappointment after another, and dealt with pressure from my family and accusations from others that I was “too picky.” It was during this time that I wrote my piece for Love, InshAllah, where I lamented my decision not to hook up with my hot personal trainer in Sri Lanka. I thought, if I had known at 25 that I’d be single into my 30s, I may have made a different decision.

But when I met David, I finally knew why things had worked out the way they did.

The three most annoying words to a single person looking to get married are, “Just. Be. Patient.” Because I know firsthand how frustrating – and limited – that advice can be, here’s some unsolicited (but practical!) guidance from my own search:

Live your life

You may be looking for a partner – you may desperately want to get married – but what do you until then? What if you never get married? What happens if you do, but it doesn’t work out? Life doesn’t start when you get married – life is now. So make the most of your time. Travel. Connect with old friends, and make new ones. Volunteer. Go hiking. Join a book club. Watch Breaking Bad. Pick up some tools and build a table (here’s a picture of one I made from an old door).


Be open and honest

Consider everyone who comes your way. Don’t make hasty decisions based on biodata, a photograph, or even a bad first date/phone call/e-mail exchange (not everyone makes a great first impression).

Character, values, support, and a shared vision for your future are what’s important –not height, weight, and profession (all of which can and will change over the years, thank you old age, shrinkage and expansion). At the end of the day, when you’re tired and there’s a sink full of dishes, you know who is nowhere to be found? Your parents’ friends who were so impressed by your husband’s fancy degrees and your buddies who totally approved of his taste in clothes and music.

Be honest about what it is that you want, how that matches up with the expectations of your family and communicate that early and often. I was blessed with parents whose only wish was for me to marry a kind Muslim man. Race and pretty much everything else were unimportant. They trusted me to find the right person for myself, and supported me when I did.

Have an open and honest conversation with your parents about what it is you’re looking for in a partner. Start that conversation now so you’re all on the same page (or, at least, so you have time to wear them down and get them on your page).

Push past your comfort zone

Try something new – even if it makes you uncomfortable – whether that means a setup by an aunty who has been pestering you for months, a coffee invitation from that slightly strange but sweet friend of a friend, or singles’ events at the local mosque or community center.

For years, my mother pleaded, “Just get online, there are so many websites that help you find a husband!”

“No way,” I countered, “Internet dating is for losers.”

I was social and active in a number of Muslim communities and organizations, so I figured it was just a matter of time until I ran into the right guy. But, I didn’t. So, eventually I sucked it up and went online.

Meanwhile, David was working and going to school full-time. Unlike me, his Muslim circle was confined to the small congregation in the basement musalla he attended for Jumma prayer. He didn’t have time to attend the large gatherings or social events that connect young Muslims – but he wanted to meet someone, so he turned to online dating. We had no friends in common, so had we not given online matchmaking websites a chance, we would never have met.

P.S. – To this day, my mom loves to remind me that Internet dating is for “losers.”

Break down your walls

It’s human nature to protect ourselves from getting hurt. As we get older, many of us start building walls to protect our egos and our hearts. We’ve all had the experience when someone we’re talking to falls off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again (it’s those instances that make me believe there’s life on other planets – sometimes they’re called back). Or, when a friend suggests a guy who she thinks you’d be perfect for and he kind of agrees…until he sees your picture and is like, “Uhh, no, I don’t think we have anything in common.”

Look, no one wants to be rejected, but don’t take it personally (I know, I know, easier said than done). Yeah, the guy may have turned you down, but that just means he wasn’t the right person for you.

Kill the Fantasy

Too many romantic comedies have us thinking that we’re going to run into “the One,” in the produce section of the grocery store. Or, while traveling in a far-off distant land (Ok, so that really did happen to our lovely contributor Angela Collins Telles). Or, at a very minimum, that we’ll meet someone, feel a spark, and know immediately that this is the person we’re meant to spend the rest of our life with.

Sometimes that happens…but, most often, it doesn’t. It definitely didn’t happen with me.

There were no fireworks when I met David. I didn’t know right away that he was the man I’d marry. We had very different backgrounds and personalities (extrovert meets introvert, for one). But I knew he was kind, honest, and dependable. Over time I grew to love him – I enjoyed spending time with him, admired his close relationship with his family, and appreciated his patience and support of my choices and endeavors.

When we got married, I knew he was the one. But at no point in the 16 months prior to our wedding day did I ever feel that tingle I’d felt with crushes in the past.

I felt it for the first time last month. I was sick with the flu for the second time this winter. He brought home flowers, made me chicken soup, and then set up the couch with pillows and extra blankets so I would be comfortable as we both sat together and read. And, for the first time in the two years since we met, I felt that spark.

He must have felt it too because he glanced over at me to see if I needed anything else.

I smiled, shook my head…and winked.

Nura Maznavi is an attorney, writer, and co-editor of Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and the companion anthology, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy. A California native, she moved to Chicago last summer after marrying her husband, David.

22 Comments on “It started with a wink”

  1. Asiila says:

    Lovely Nura. I”m so happy for you and your husband.

  2. K&T says:

    love this! I met my husband online too and we got married exactly 5 years and 3 months to the day we first chatted with each other. It hadnt been easy, we had to deal with long distance relationship as well as cultural differences, but we got married and are now living together. I cannot be happier 😀

    congrats on your marriage, looks like your patience was well worth it!

  3. MR says:

    Thank you for this! Your story in Love, inshAllah was my absolute favorite and am glad to hear things worked out for you Alhumdulillah. I have considered online websites, but have to admit that I had the same outlook on them – they’re for “losers.” What I didn’t consider though, was more “Western” oriented sites like!! (There are actually MUSLIMS on those!?) I had only ever considered the more “Muslim” or “South Asian” marriage sites, which were not at all appealing (to me.) You’ve really made me rethink “pushing past my comfort zone” and going online!

  4. Rabbogabbo says:

    Absolutely beautiful – I am so happy for you and your hubby. This was such an authentic portrayal of a part of our life that is so difficult to grasp at times. Thank you for writing about it – I definitely can connect with this piece. 😉

  5. Shakera says:

    Nura Maznavi, your story in Love Insha Allah was my one of my favorites. I loved your story and I find myself really able to relate to your story. May Allah bless your marriage immensely!!!!! You are such an amazing role model!

  6. Sabeen says:

    love it! so happy for you dear nura! and yes, very practical advice, indeed!

  7. Aasma Maqbool says:

    What a great beginning to a happy life! You deserve it! Love you, Aasma

  8. SN says:

    Your advise: be hosest, be open- is probably the most invaluable advice you can give a girl, especially for muslim girls coming from families that demand that the guy be Mr. Perfect, have crazy degrees, be a doctor, etc, etc. You may have a dream man in mind, but you have to be open to all types of guys or you may actually lose Mr. Right. I married a guy who is not much taller than me, a shade or two darker than me (believe it or not, but this is a problem with Pakistani parents) and only has his BA degree. BUT, he has a great job that he loves, I find him super attractive (though I didn’t on our first date) and he treats me like a queen. Also, the advice not to let first dates turn you off applied to me too…we didn’t hit it off the first time around, we felt we didn’t have much in common. I love being outdoors, hiking, the beach, etc…while he likes cars, baskeball, etc…but when I saw that he was trying (and still continues to try) to like the things I do, I try to accomodate his tastes as well. In this way, in our marriage we are a team- his character, persistance, and compassion is what won me over…NOT our common interests and looks which can change over time.

  9. Mona says:

    I love this- thank you! I did feel that spark when I met my husband for the first time BUT it still takes years of building trust and respect to make a happy marriage. A spark is fleeting and doesn’t keep you warm at night! I wish that this truth was portrayed more often.

  10. Anisah says:

    My husband and I met on also, and were married within 6 weeks, alhumdulillah!
    Prior to that, I had tried everything: friends, co-workers, blind-dates, arranged meetings through relatives. But nothing clicked until I met him, and we spent hours talking honestly and openly about our expectations. Not to say things are perfect, no marriage is.
    Definitely people from the desi communities need to be more open to other races– as you said, as long as he is a kind, practicing Muslim that has the fear of Allah SWT.

    And reading through some of the comments, I will add that getting married is only the first hurdle. Keeping the marriage going through communication, honesty, and the knowledge that you’re in this together for the long haul, is a HUGE part of what comes after finding ‘the one’.

    To anyone that is hesitant about trying online sites, my personal experience was better on the general ones (Match, eHarmony) as opposed to the Muslim-specific ones (Naseeb), simply because there is more diversity of ethnicity.

    Alf mabrook, Nura, and may you two have many, many years filled with laughter and happiness!

  11. Nura says:

    Thank you all for your congrats, duas, and for sharing your inspiring stories – I really appreciate it!

  12. Aliya says:

    Love this! Your advice is so on point as the number of single women crossing the dreaded 3-0 threshold (when so many of us have been led to believe is pushed offed on an iceberg status) – many dua’s for all my fellow sisters continuing their search.

  13. Nadia says:

    Congrats on finding the right partner for you. I completely agree with your advice to live life. I always tell my single friends that they don’t need spouse to be complete. I was a whole person before I met my spouse and so was he…partners should complement each other and enhance each other’s life, not complete it.

  14. Shakera says:

    Nura can you please have like weekly/monthly post on here!?!?! I really love your writing style and the advice you have to offer! You are such a talented well round Muslimah…Your writing gives me hope and faith that I will too find love one day while staying close to my deen and my likes

  15. […] are my dilemmas: Online dating is out.  The concept makes me want to vomit, although I applaud success stories. There is a lot about my life out in the world and online dating makes me feel vulnerable. A […]

  16. Jemi says:

    Nura this story is amazing. I always like the structure of your writing. You should know that you have a fan in Puerto Rico and even when I am not muslim I always always love to read everything you write about. Beautiful love story. God bless your marriage. Hugs

  17. sonia says:

    good for you…ive been on every website possible and only get losers interested in me…i hate online dating but always hear how it works out for others…good for them!

  18. sonia says:

    im a half person now… i expect to be whole once i find my partner…where do people get this stuff from anyway? loneliness is NOT human nature and most people dont want to be alone or like it…wanting a partner is a natural normal thing– it has nothing to do with completeness or noncompleteness…that is total BS and absurd… there are plenty of freaks psychos and idiots out there in relationships with partners…are they “whole” people who know themselves…i don’t think so. i dont thinka partner is there to enhance your life… people arent meant to just be ‘alone’ and be ok with it….those who are ok with it are lucky because that’s not a natural normal feeling or thing. yes it’s true you should live your life and not focus on it so much but take it from thos eof us who’ve been alone our WHOLE lives…you can’t just “ignore” it and live life….there is no more life to live….its dreary dull and difficult…loneliness… esp those who don’t have good friends…it is hard…. life isnt meant to be alone and many people feel empty without another person there….feeling whole then meeting someone makes no sense…its completely normal to be dependent on another person…it’s even healthy because that’s how nature intended it to be…nature didn’t intend for us to be half robotic creatures happily living alone and completely content with that…if that was the case then there wouldn’t be so many miserable lonely people out there without a partner…

  19. Noor says:

    I laughed out loud when I read the life on other planets part because I could totally relate! You have a great sense of humor 🙂

  20. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

    “As we get older, many of us start building walls to protect our egos and our hearts…” – Hear, hear! It’s so difficult not to, especially when you experience one disappointment after another; building up emotional resilience takes time, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring story and for your wonderful advice! 🙂

  21. redsept says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I really need to stop waiting for Mr. Perfect and live my life.

  22. […] It Started with a Wink, writer and lawyer Nura Maznavi shared her journey to the altar, along with some witty and wise […]