Should One Use an Istikhara for Marriage?
Is Istikharah good for marriage? If so, why does a marriage that had a good istikharah turn out to be bad for all parties involved?
There is a process to istikharah. The first stage is contemplation, if one cannot reach a conclusion on the matter (meaning that the marriage is good) then he should move to the next station. The second station is consultation with experts. If one still does not leave the stage of doubt then he can perform an istikharah.
If these stations are not traversed then the applicability of the istikharah will be zero, meaning it will not count at all. Therefore, they must be taken seriously. If one does traverse these stations then listening to the istikharah is recommended, but not obligatory. Therefore, if one does not act in accordance to it he would not have committed a sin.
Finally, if one traverses the stages and then the outcome is not desirable there might be some wisdom that is overlooked. For instance, there is a person who asked Imam Sadiq (a) to perform an istikharah for him regarding a business trip. The istikharah came out negative but the person went on the trip anyways. He actually made a large profit and the trip was considered to be successful. Upon his return he asked Imam Sadiq (a) why that was so and the Imam (a) asked him how many Fajr prayers he missed. The answer was 2-3 times.
This shows that it was a bad idea spiritually to travel, although that was not on his mind. Hence, there might be wisdom behind an outcome that seems to be negative that we cannot perceive at the present moment.
Answer inspired by an answer to a similar question by Ayatollah Waezi at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre of Sydney.