In this counseling answer:
“There are independence and wholeness that comes through this kind of suffering, strength, and extra abilities that only those who walk through this kind of fire can know. The level of spiritual attainment that a woman gains through this kind of suffering is beyond what I can describe here. You will understand that true interdependence on any level is achieved only after a certain level of spiritual independence is achieved. You may then find a man who is capable of entering into that holy union of interdependence that a woman, who is close to Allah, requires. In sha’ Allah.”
Wa ‘Alaykum As-Salam,
Dear sister, I hear your plea, I understand your predicament, and I care.
I hope that I have followed your story accurately. It sounds like you are currently separated from your husband with whom you have three children. It also sounds as if this man is suffering from a severe mental illness and that his family is also extremely dysfunctional. Possibly, there is a lot of mental illness in his family.
It also seems that the children you have with this man are currently in your care. I sense that you are suffering emotionally because you want to have a happy family with your children and a husband and father for your children. Yet, you are attached to a man who has a severe mental illness and who will not likely be able to provide for you. I can sense that this is heartbreaking for you and I would not be surprised if you are also very afraid to move forward in life as a single mother with three children and no support.
Indeed, I will share with you that long time ago, before I began my own journey of healing. I was a single mother of three children whose father had a severe mental illness and abandoned us. Allah did provide for me and for my children. It was not easy, and sometimes I felt quite lonely, but I was never alone because Allah has been with me all the days of my life.
I share this with you because I do not want you to lose faith or hope. Allah will heal you and your children. Your life may not be as you would want to design it, but it is special and filled with a light that Allah wants you to bless the world with and that is your purpose. Please, do not hold on to something that may not happen. Your husband will be unstable and unable to provide any sense of normalcy and stability for you unless he remains in intense therapy for many years.
Whether or not you remain married or divorce, he is not able to be there for you in the way you want and need. The reality of the situation is that it is very rare that another man will step into a situation such as yours. I am not saying this to discourage you, and I am not saying that it is not possible that another man will help you as a husband, but it is rare. Only Allah knows what His will for you is. What I am saying is that you can survive this with dignity and grace, and you will come to know from the very core of your being who Allah is, and you will know Him.
Yours is the most difficult journey that a woman can bear, but you will be blessed with His guidance. You will be healed from the pain that you are suffering from, inshallah. I can tell you this. If you draw near to Allah and pray to Allah, and turn only to Allah for everything in your life, you will do well. You will be blessed even beyond the woman who has a loving husband and blessed in ways that are beyond your understanding at this point. Trust in this; I speak from literal experience.
There are independence and wholeness that comes through this kind of suffering, strength, and extra abilities that only those who walk through this kind of fire can know. The level of spiritual attainment that a woman gains through this kind of suffering is beyond what I can describe here. You will understand that true interdependence on any level is achieved only after a certain level of spiritual independence is achieved. You may then find a man who is capable of entering into that holy union of interdependence that a woman, who is close to Allah, requires. In sha’ Allah, you will have the kind of support you seek in a marriage, but you will not find this with this man whom you call your husband at this time as he is not capable of being that for you. You may choose to remain his legally married wife and to provide the kind of support that a mentally ill person requires. You will no doubt be rewarded for this if this is the path that Allah guides you to.
On the other hand, you may realize that it is in the best interest of all concerned to legally divorce. Allah will help you make that decision. The gist of what I am telling you is that either way, your path is with Allah. Turn to Him for your emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs, and follow the guidance that you receive from Him. You must turn to Allah for everything; for support, for comfort, for guidance, and to bring you friendship in this world so that you will not be all alone. You need to turn to Him for everything. He will change your situation and your circumstances, and He will provide you with a path and a way for you and your children.
You will have to develop very strong boundaries and show your husband how to get the help that he needs. Your husband needs to make his own decision about whether to live with you as a family, or with his own family, or the other woman, and he needs mental health services to help him decide.
Meanwhile, stay to yourself and refuse to give in to him anything until he is healthy enough to take the steps to develop his own wellness and recovery plan. He needs to know how he is going to work out his own issues and obligations with Allah while taking care of his own mental health issues. You cannot be responsible for that. Your husband has to take responsibility for his own stability. He most certainly cannot provide you with stability if he is not stable.
Again, you are on your own with Allah and with a great responsibility toward your children. That must be your focus. Shift your focus to getting your own sanity, your own stability, and being responsible for yourself and your children. Do this by praying and asking Allah to help you. Get into a support group if you can find one.
Also, Google NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health) and seek out resources for family members and loved ones of those who suffer from mental illness. Google your local Health and Human Resources for support groups for wives of people who suffer from mental illness. This will be a beginning for you to give you a support system so that you can organize your own life, carve out some stability for yourself and your children, and move forward. You will begin to learn what you can do for your husband and what you cannot, and what he can give you and what he cannot. You will learn where you can get the help that you need for your own sanity and your own emotional support and spiritual growth. You will know where to get the help that you need to help yourself and your children find some stability.
My prayers are with you. I truly empathize with you! I do have an authentic understanding of the path that Allah has put you on. Being on the other side of that journey, I can tell you that the struggle you are working through will result in magnificent spiritual insight and growth. Inshallah, you will have a relationship with Allah that will, upon reflection, make you realize that you may, indeed, be the most blessed. You will be given many gifts for this work that you are doing as a mother, as a survivor, and as a woman who seeks to be close to Him.
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