As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Sister,
I am sorry to hear about your problems. Unfortunately, adultery is a scum of today’s society. Allah had prohibited it on his Holy Book and the punishment is clear:
“And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.” (17: 32)
Knowing the intensity of the problem you are facing, the question you need to ask yourself: do you want to stay married to him?
I understand all the consequences of a divorced woman, having to support herself, the stigma of the community and fear of not getting remarried. I see in our community that many woman stay in abusive or disrespectful relationships because of fear and believing that it is the only option. It is not sister. Even though the elders advise you both to renew the nikah, I need to point out that the reconciliation period was over, and he came back months later. Despite the respect and obedience we devote to the elders and our families, you MUST agree to this reconciliation. If you do agree, then you have to get couples therapy to work through the process of rebuilding trust and meeting each other’s needs in a balanced and healthy way.
“And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things.”(4: 35)
I did not understand what exactly went wrong on your talaq (pronouncing divorce) that made you go back to your husband, and I am really not sure from your narrative if it was what YOU wanted to do. Instead, what I am reading is that HE wanted to come back not for love, not for his children, not for you, but because HE felt guilty. You need to ponder if it is enough of a reason to stay in this relationship. If the answer is yes and you want to give him another chance, he has to sincerely repent and be committed to stop sinning. Here are few steps that you should share with him:
Stop the sin: He needs to understand that what he did was horrible and try to recognize what lead him to commit sin. He has to take responsibility to improve not just feel guilty. Have an open conversation about his expectation from this marriage and what can be improved to fortify your marriage and avoid any temptations to commit Zina.
Allow guilt: Your husband needs to understand the feeling of regret or guilt might not go away. It is actually a sign of faith. When regret leaves him, he will become more susceptible to fall in sin again. Guilt is a reminder that what he did was wrong and that feeling is his punishment. He needs to seek forgiveness with Allah, and the closer he gets to Him, the more his life will be filled with joy, and over time he will overcome the pain.
Never return to sin: He needs to make intention repeatedly to never commit zina again. The person who has sincerely repented should always remember the grave consequence of his sins, how painful punishment is and how weak a person is when committing such sins. He needs to be aware of this and work on himself to never do it again. It has to be a daily exercise, a jihad between him and his nafs.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know.” (3:135)
In conclusion, if it is your desire to stay married and overcome the past, you and your husband should have a clear and honest conversation, listen and try to understand why he has been being disloyal, be firm and let him know that it can’t happen again. You also need to work on removing the resentment from your heart if you really want to be with him and begin to look ahead and not in the past. You must to be sincerely committed to move forward. I would encourage couples therapy as it provides a professional space to begin and take this process of healing.
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