As-Salaam ‘Aleikom sister,
It sounds you are going through a very stressful time with your spouse. In sha’Allah, I will try my best to advice you what to do in this situation.
You got married to your husband when you were only 17, and your parents were not so happy about this marriage. Sometimes parents can sense that something is not right about the person when their children are blinded in love. It takes more than love to keep a marriage intact, and unfortunately, many people don’t realize that until it’s too late. The statistic shows that the primary cause of divorce is financial.
If your husband is as you mentioned, then he is not having a good marital relationship with you. He is also contravening the order of Allah who says,
“…And live with them in kindness…” (Quran 4:19)
In Islam, greater financial security is assured for women. It is good that you wanted to help out when he first lost his job, but you should not be the financially responsible person in your marriage. No married woman is required to spend a penny from her property and income on the household. It is the man who shoulders this responsibility in the family.
You have unfortunately married a man who is uncaring, selfish, irresponsible and even abusive. It might be better for the victimized to seek for divorce/ khula, if nothing helps to change the situation. It looks like your husband is so used to sitting back and enjoying your money, and he likes that you manage the financial side of the things. He has been doing it for eighteen years. That is a long time! He is afraid to lose you and he is asking for forgiveness without showing any improvement in his responsibilities. He can’t afford to lose you as he is simply dependent on you. You have already given him so many chances to improve and he is clearly not taking it seriously. Both the kids and you are effected by his behavior which is not healthy at all. This isn’t what marriage should ever be.
Sit down with him alone when the kids are not around, and have a serious talk with him. First, there is no excuse for his irresponsibility. He must be held responsible for his role as a provider for the family. Second, you must make it clear that this irresponsibility will not be tolerated. This is a message to give to him clearly, calmly and with conviction. Your marriage needs to be transformed from responsible/irresponsible to mutually responsible. Third, you have to let go of some of the responsibility you have been carrying as this is the time for him to share it.
I would suggest that you speak to your family and seek their help and advice. It is excellent that you are a financially independent woman, but you will need support from your family IF you decide to go through a divorce with your husband.
May Allah (swt) ease your problem and make it easier for you and your children, In sha’Allah.
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