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Home, Work, & Baby; My Life’s Like a Factory

Questioner

J

Reply Date

Apr 29, 2018

Question

As salam 'alaykum. Thank you so much for your wonderful site. My husband and I have been married for over 10 years. We have basically grown up together. We have been through a lot of good and bad, and we have always been able to get through our problems. However, everything became harder after we had our first child.

We had our first child almost 2 years ago, but he was born prematurely which put a lot of stress on both my husband and me. With constant worrying, problems with breast feeding, pumping breast milk, long hours of feedings, being up all night, not being able to care for my needs (taking a shower, exercising, etc.,), not losing weight, and then returning to work as teacher, I started suffering from Post Partum Depression. I thought I was a bad mom, daughter, wife, teacher, etc. My house was not always clean, I was not always clean, and I was trying to fix these problems, but they were hard. My husband felt that I was changing on purpose, and I doubted his support and love, and it put a lot of stress on our marriage.

My husband is old fashioned and thinks that a wife needs to take care of the house and the children while the husband works. I have always been fine with that, but for me I was working a full-time job (7:45-3:05), I had responsibilities at my job (correcting homework, tests, making lessons), taking care of the baby, staying up all night feeding and pumping so the baby could eat, and being expected to carry so much weight on my shoulders. It was just too much.

Finally, after a year of tension between us, we had a blow-up and a lot of issues came out, but not before my husband divorced me once. But he felt bad and we continued as husband and wife. That was almost a year ago. However, about a week ago, he told me that he did not like my body and that he loved me as a person and was happy with some things, but not in others. That if something happened between us, it would rip his heart apart. But I was upset and hurt, and I told him "Then why do you say to me that you don't like my body", and he divorced me again for the second time.

We talked, and we know that we want to stay together as we do love each other and care for each other. I am making changes to lose weight and we are refurbishing and fixing our house. But my problem is this. I told my husband the night after we made up that the 2nd divorce might not count because he was pushed into saying it. He said no that he knew what he was saying. I told him you had already been thinking about it and he said yes. But I can't believe that he thought about divorcing me that day, and I do not think that it would have been uttered if we did not have the argument we had. But for me, know I am scared because we only have one chance left, and that I could lose my best friend, my husband, my son's father, my life, everything!

I do not like being in this position. Usually, my husband and I are happy, we talk, we do not usually go out with each other because we have the baby, we both work full time, but we try to spend time together. However, there are some issues that we have been trying to deal with. Like my mother's intrusion into our lives, my husband wanting a clean house, a clean wife, etc. I am trying to make improvements on myself, but sometimes I feel the change is coming from one side. He has also been trying to help by taking the baby once in awhile, but once in awhile is not enough.

Is there any advice you could give me to help me save my marriage and help me be a stronger wife and a woman. During my depression, I stopped praying, but I believed that Allah was there and asked for His help! What can I do to strengthen myself, my marriage and become closer to Allah? I feel my life has become home, work, and baby! Thank you!

Counselor

Answer


Home, Work, & Baby; My Life's Like a Factory


In this counseling answer:

• You will need it to make the kind of change that you need in your life.

• Your husband and the rest of the family can help a bit more towards a more sustainable family system that is beneficial for all.


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh, 

It is not surprising that after having a baby as well as breastfeeding, pumping breast milk and hours of feeding, being up all night, not being able to care for your needs (taking a shower, exercising, etc), not losing weight, and returning to work, you would suffer from postpartum depression.

Somehow, somewhere, some women and men, seem to have it imprinted in their brains that women can do everything without fuel (love, compassion, rest, relaxation, food, leisure, support). Your depression is a natural response to what was expected of you by you, and your husband – but it is not natural, believe me! To a boy growing up, it might seem that mother never slept and did everything for everybody 24/7, but that has never been a sustainable reality.

In the country in which you live:

Two recent studies reveal that majority of American women are finding the holy grail of happiness more elusive. Researchers were startled to find that women now report less happiness than in the early 1970’s.

Men

  • are spending less time on paid work and relaxing more
  • spend less time on activities they regard as stressful or unpleasant than 10 years ago
  • do  little more housework

Women

  • spend the same number of hours working at a workplace as well as at home as in the past
  • Working aged women spend more time on paid work, caring for adults, watching T.V. than cooking, ironing, dusting, entertaining, and reading than in the 1960’s
  • Cooking and cleaning are hired out (Americans spend $26bn more on restaurants than groceries).

What helps to make you feel more helpless about it all is self-worth. You have measured yourself against something that has no value, and so you feel disempowered to change anything because you have assumed that it had value in the first place. How many times have I come across a mother raising young children in a western country, feel burdened and depressed because mothering was easier when they were back in Iran, Pakistan, India, Caribbean etc., because mothering was not a lonely task.

As much as we complain about extended families, once upon a time, we were more tolerant in general. From the mother’s point of view, when mothering is a shared responsibility amongst family and community members, the child is happier. They have more reference points, more playmates; they can always get the kind of attention that they need because they are not totally dependent on mother 24/7. From the mother’s point of view, simply, she has more time be herself, mother, wife, daughter, sibling etc.

How is the balance on your scale of self-worth now sister, because you will need it to make the kind of change that you need in your life. Al hamdu Lillah, your husband is helping a little, now he and the rest of the family can help a bit more towards a more sustainable family system that is beneficial for all! Don’t panic sister, maybe, just maybe, your husband has been valuing you less because you value yourself less. In other words, I am more than sure, that your husband will wake up a little bit once you stop treating yourself as a product with a sell by date!

May Allah help you,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

I’m a Wife, a Mother & the Breadwinner

Exhausted of Being a Working Wife & Mother

Can a Husband and Wife Both Work? (Video)




About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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