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Dealing with Cultural Differences in a Marriage

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S

Reply Date

Aug 10, 2018

Question

As-Salamu Aleikom. I'm facing some problems in my married life. My husband is from the UK, and I'm from Pakistan. It was an arranged marriage. We have had so many issues. Our relation has never been normal like for other couples, but I have always thought maybe it was due to the distance we have. My Husband has never really bothered to fulfill his responsibilities towards me, and he has never been much interested in me. Recently, he came to see me and told me he was gay. He said he had never been into relationship with anyone or did anything; it is just the way he feels. I was in shock, but then I told him I would stay with him and we would work on this together. But when he went back, he said he didn’t want to live with me anymore because he didn’t like me at all. If you can help me, what should I do? I'm really stressed and I don't really know what to do. Jazak Allah Khair.

Counselor

Answer


Dealing with Cultural Differences in a Marriage

In this counseling answer:

• A way to overcome this is to educate each other about your different cultural backgrounds. Talk to each other about traditions within your cultures and expectations for the man and the woman or treatment of others, for example.

• Never lose hope that Allah (swt) will see you both through, whatever the outcome may be. Continue to pray to Allah (swt) to bring the best for both of you, and if you are meant to be together and it is good for you, then give you the strength to work through it.

• It is important that we do our best to be patient with one another within the marriage.


Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam sister,

Facing marital issues can be really distressing as they often tend to spill into other areas of life, impacting relations with others due to the negative emotions experienced at home. But the truth is that every married couple will face some kind of struggles within their relationship. The important thing is the way in which the couple deal with these struggles, rather than the fact that they happen. In fact, struggles in a relationship can be a good way to forge a bond and bring love between the couple as they work together to overcome any difficulties.

In your particular situation, you have the added pressure of cultural differences. Often, when couples come from different cultural backgrounds misunderstandings might arise because both have had different upbringings where different values have been more important to those in other cultures. These kind of differences will be evident in most relationships, but especially so when there are cultural differences between the two different upbringings, too.

A way to overcome this is to educate each other about your different cultural backgrounds. Talk to each other about traditions within your cultures and expectations for the man and the woman or treatment of others, for example. Not only will this let him know that you are interested in his heritage and family background, but will help you to understand certain mannerisms that may confuse you otherwise.

Likewise, you say you don’t feel that he is interested in you, but it may just be that the way he behaves towards you is normal to him and he doesn’t know otherwise. If you don’t let him know that you feel like he doesn’t seem to be interested, he will continue behaving this way.

You say he told you that he didn’t want to be with you anymore, possibly due to his admission to being gay, although he has not acted upon it. Ask him what it is that he doesn’t like about you. It may be that the thing he doesn’t like is something you don’t even realize you are doing, but is noticeable to him due to cultural differences because it wouldn’t be normal behavior within his own culture. For example, one common difficulty in intercultural marriages is the definition of respect and how you show it to each other as well as outsiders. So, sometimes people might be behaving in a way that they don’t feel is disrespectful, but the other party does. This is why it is of added importance to ensure effective communication in such relationships.

Also, understand that your marriage was arranged and, therefore, the love between you might take extra time to blossom as you get to know each other. In many cases, couples don’t fall in love until they have been together for some time and have gotten to know each other, faced and survived challenges such as those you are going through now. But surviving these trials together will bring strength to your relationship and contribute to the development of love between you. It will take time for the love to blossom, and certainly there may be some reservations at the start, as it seems your husband is having. The following Qur’anic verse may be useful for him to remember and reflect on with regards to your marriage.

“Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

We all know that marriage is good for us. This is made very clear in both the Qur’an and Sunnah. Marriage gives us the chance to find solace and warmth in a halal companionship. It allows us to have certain needs met in a way that are acceptable, keeping us away from a multitude of sins. Therefore, it is important that we do our best to be patient with one another within the marriage to keep us safe from committing these sins as well giving us a means to meet each other’s needs, both physically and emotionally.

If you feel he does not fulfill his responsibilities, then talking with him about it can help to clarify the issue. Likewise, he may also feel like you’re not fulfilling your responsibilities, and maybe that’s why he feels like leaving. This will only be cleared up by talking about it. Talking about these things can be difficult, so ensure to pick the time wisely. But it is an effective way to clear up any misunderstandings that may be existing in the relationship.

Amongst all this, never lose hope that Allah (swt) will see you both through, whatever the outcome may be. Continue to pray to Allah (swt) to bring the best for both of you, and if you are meant to be together and it is good for you, then give you the strength to work through it. If your husband does chose to leave, then be confident that it was not meant to be and Allah (swt) has something better planned for you. This experience is part of Allah’s (swt) plan for you and will only make you stronger, if only you stay strong in faith and prove your love of Allah (swt), keeping busy in acts of worship and remembrance.

Whatever the outcome, may Allah (swt) make it easy for you to endure this trial that you have been facing and bring you comfort in the remembrance of Him (swt).

Salam,

***

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.

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About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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