As-Salaamu `Alaikum Sister,
Jazak Allah khairan for writing back with the details of your problem. This situation does not bode well for you or your children, and living with this for a prolonged period is not healthy for any of you whether physically or emotionally.
But I am wondering what exactly your dilemma is. Are you asking me whether you should take a divorce, or how to convince yourself to live with this situation (since you say you have nowhere else to go) which is clearly not healthy for you, your children, or, indeed, your husband?
It sounds from your email that you want a divorce but lacks the support, and you are trying to find a way to remain accepting of this (unacceptable) situation. Yet, at the same time, you are weary of trying to make it on your own –understandably.
Considering a divorce is rarely clear-cut, not only because of the emotional but also the practical/ financial implications – particularly for women. Clearly, this causes procrastination and prolonged suffering to what is an already difficult process. As such, it is difficult to imagine moving on successfully from such a situation. In these thoughts and fear, you are not alone, but that does not mean they are true!
I would suggest that you try and clarify the issues you are facing in a clear and practical way. One way to do this is to look at all the advantages and disadvantages to divorce alongside the advantages and disadvantages to stay in the marriage – so you have four sets of ‘clear’ information. This method is not meant in any way to trivialize your problem, rather it will help clarify all the issues you are facing in all their different forms down on paper as opposed to spinning around in your mind.
This more rational approach takes the focus away from the emotions which can cloud your judgment and which either way you struggle with. Also, when we write things down in this way, we are more likely to act rather than waver between options and so reduce our suffering through positive action.
Do not feel forced to make a decision either way and do not make the decision in a hurry. I say this because in cases of divorce, it is the individual who has to bear the consequences of advice taken so he must feel he has made an informed decision.
In cases of domestic violence, the research suggests that when women attempt to make such a stand, the violence may increase. So make sure you have some secure environment where you can go to before you make a decision.
My thoughts on your problem as you have described it are as follows:
The situation you describe does suggest that a khula` (wife’s initiation to divorce for compensation) is a serious consideration because in the current situation there seems to be no self-reflection or movement for things to change from your husband’s side, and the problem is not emotional, but one where you are in physical danger; thus, a divorce here is certainly allowable. So if khul` is the route you consider, you are not blameworthy in Shari`a since Islam does not require that you suffer – and physical and emotional abuse is one justification for this kind of problem.
Many women are afraid to divorce their husbands because of the fear of living alone, but as I see your situation, you are living in fear either way and, indeed, putting yourself and your children in a harmful way. But Islam does not ask this of you. In fact, we are told in the Quran:
“Do not cast yourself into destruction with your own hands.” (2:195)
The rest is with Allah and your destiny is written, so there is no need for you to shoulder this burden alone or to let it prevent you from protecting yourself.
Is it possible for you and your husband to have some form of ‘separation’ to consider things more clearly? Sometimes the time apart and seriousness of separation may help realize what you want and will also remind your husband that from a Sharia perspective you have some control and choice over your life.
For example, the great Sheikh Ibn Baz (Allah bless him) stated that a woman may withdraw sexual rights from her husband if her own rights are not being fulfilled – have you considered this option? Look at what Sharia allows you in this situation and take your rights, Sister.
The obvious practical option here is to look at the advice given in the Quran. We are told in such cases to go to someone trustworthy – someone who is adherent to the Haqq (truth), not someone who is adherent to either spouses, and discuss the issues with them.
Would your husband consider doing this, or is there someone he respects who could perhaps persuade him to do this for the betterment of his family since he himself says he does not want the children to be without both parents? This will also put him in a position where he must justify his thinking and behavior. Then work through these discussions with a third party. Again, this will help you identify if there is room for resolution or not. If not, then at least you have another witness to support your case.
I am also wondering Sister where does your support lie? It seems that you are facing all these issues alone. The fact that your parents are not Muslims does not mean that you can not go to them. As long as your actions are in the bounds of Shari`a, there is no reason you must face this alone. Perhaps this may help you make a decision – having support may reinforce you to either leave or stay safe in the knowledge you have people to support your decision.
I realize that this advice may not direct you to a decision in one way or the other, but that is because ultimately the choice remains yours, and it all depends on what you can bear to live with.
Sister, you are allowed to be happy in your married life – that is your right and not one you should be feeling guilty about. Both options are difficult, but I suggest that you think about what is least painful and make Istikhara (supplication for guidance in making a decision) and go ahead. If Allah wills then He, al Wadud (The Loving One), will open a door of good for you. To change the worst of situations is nothing for Him.
But given the physical danger, I do advise that you take a decision soon. Too much procrastination is not good for you or your children’s physical and psychological well-being. You owe it to them (and yourself) to protect them whatever you decide to do.
May Allah, As-Salam (The Source of Peace), make your situation easy whatever you decide, and may He grant you both greater peace in your lives.
Many many salaams and du’as.
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