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Getting Married with Mental Illnesses Was a Mistake

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Apr 17, 2018

Question

As-Salamu Alaikum.

I am married for 2 years and discovered a year ago a range of mental problems after starting a therapy. I am diagnosed with complex PTSD because of childhood trauma, borderline, anxiety, and panic, insecure attachment, and hypersensitivity.

Before I got married, I knew I have some problems, but I denied my abuse and that I was a victim. Now that I have the clarity I know that people with such conditions often choose the wrong partner. And this is exactly what I feel.

I married before getting clarity on all those things and now I am "stuck" with my husband who is not a very good fit for the supporter role of someone with my conditions.

In the past, I already attracted people who did not fit as a supporter (I am a revert).

I really do not know what to do. Is it better to divorce as I really feel he is not the right fit? He makes me even more anxious and triggers me a lot. Or should I bare this suffering and pray to Allah?

I believe there are some people who can support the partner with mental illness much better than others and my husband is not of those. But as we did not know the gravity of my condition in advance, I feel so stuck with him.

Counselor

Answer


Getting Married with Mental Illnesses Was a Mistake

In this counseling answer:

  • Give your husband a chance to learn how to support you.
  • If he refuses, please do pursue your right to health and happiness via a divorce.

As Salamu Alaikum sister,

Thank you for writing it to us regarding your concerns about your mental health and your marriage.

I can imagine how traumatic you felt dealing with all the trauma, anxiety, and panic that you’ve been going through. Experiencing mental health issues and not knowing what is going on can be scary, to say the least.

I’m really happy that you have sought out mental health treatment and have now engaged in therapy.

I’m not sure how long you have been experiencing the symptoms of mental health issues. However, suffering from mental health symptoms can have an impact on our personal lives, how we feel about ourselves, how we interact socially, and academically.

One of the most important factors is how we feel about ourselves. This includes our self-esteem, feelings of adequacy, self-worth, and security in our decisions, relationships, and environment.

Certainly, we want to feel good, but often times when we can’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong, it is difficult to know which path to take to heal.

You have sought out the treatment. It is the first big step, as you know. With this comes a certain clarity as you did describe in which we discern between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Rejecting unhealthy things in our lives is part of the path to healing.

These things can include destructive habits, negative thinking, self-sabotaging behaviors or even people who are negative or not conducive to our growth and recovery.

As I can imagine, your condition may have caused some issues with your husband. As you are relatively newly married and did not know exactly what your mental health issues were when you got married, I am sure it led to confusion as well as difficulties in your marriage.

It is understandable that before you had a diagnosis and started therapy, due to your thought patterns and related behaviors, the relationship with your husband was harmed. You did not know what was wrong, nor how to fix it.

The Outcomes of Child Abuse

Oftentimes adults who suffer from childhood trauma do have PTSD.

It is a complex situation. You may really want to bond with your husband and feel like everything is okay. However, because of the trauma you’re unable to do that. This is and was not your fault, dear sister. It is sadly an outcome of your abuse.

You also mentioned that you also were diagnosed as having borderline PD, insecure attachment and hypersensitivity. These mental health issues can also be related to trauma/abuse and PTSD. Naturally, they may have affected your relationship with your husband.

Additionally, as you know, most people with PTSD do have issues with sensitivity, security, and trust. However, with treatment, you can overcome a lot of these issues and begin to heal and have healthy relationships.

Sister, you stated that before you got married you knew you had some problems. However, you denied your abuse and that you were a victim which is a common feature.

I’m very sorry that this has happened to you. My heart goes out to you and all the other millions of children who have gone through traumatic, abusive childhoods. It is a travesty and Allah sees ‘s all.

While you did not state what type of abuse it was, whether it was sexual or physical, the effects are often the same. As you must know,

You are not to blame.

It was not your fault, and in sha Allah through therapy, you will heal and become whole again, happy, and able to move on with your life. Insha’Allah you will reach a point wherein you know that you are a survivor as well.

As a survivor of childhood trauma and abuse, once you heal you will have much to offer in the way of helping others who have experienced the same abuse as children if you so choose.

You stated that since you have started therapy, you now have clarity. You know that people with “conditions” such as you have often chosen the wrong partner. This can be true and sometimes it is not true.

While yes, perception and choice can be compromised, a relationship can also be compromised by unresolved personal issues.

Picking the wrong marriage partner often occurs when one is suffering from an unresolved mental health issue.

Sometimes though people do pick the right partner, the marriage starts off wrong because one has not received the treatment needed to be fully functional and emotionally available for a marriage.

PTSD which is left untreated can wreak havoc on a marriage.

As you stated that you now have clarity over all of these things, you currently feel “stuck “with your husband who is not a good fit for the supportive role of someone with your conditions.

Sister, often times when couples go through hard times such as you and your husband, especially at the beginning of a new marriage, there are much hurt and confusion. You need to resolve them insha’Allah before you state for sure your partner is not supportive.

I would kindly suggest, dear sister, that you find a time when things are calm and quiet and talk to him about saving your marriage. While no, you are not expected to stay in a marriage where there is no support and he is a negative factor in your healing.

Save Your Marriage

However, please do try to first save your marriage for the sake of Allah.

Ask your husband if he will be supportive of you if he will participate in learning about your mental health issues and your healing journey.

He can learn how to be supportive, and sensitive to your needs. He can learn how to be compassionate and understanding of your mental health as you go through the healing process. It is so vital to your well-being if he chooses so.

Perhaps, it is that he still does not fully understand. Perhaps he’s scared. Or possibly he just doesn’t know what to do or he is hurt due to previous issues in the marriage.

Oftentimes in a marriage when one partner doesn’t understand something fully or they are hurt, they will withdraw from it. They will become either anxious or angry. Or they try to ignore the problem.

Try to find out if he desires to repair the marriage.

This will help you regarding your decision to either divorce or to work things out with him.

Sister, I kindly suggest that you try to save the marriage by continuing with your treatment.

Tell him that you do love him and you do want to save the marriage but that you need him to be supportive of you as well.

Ask him to engage in your healing by learning, gaining knowledge of your conditions as well as how to treat you so that he can be a loving and supportive husband.

In sha Allah. he will choose to do this because you are his wife and it is his obligation insha’Allah to do his best to take care of you, make you happy, and ensure that your health is looked after which includes your mental health.

The understanding, respect and support of your mental health is the same as if you were to have diabetes, high blood pressure or any other physical ailment.

Our mind, body and spirit are like a triage and they all interrelated. When one part is hurt, the rest suffer in some way or another.

It would be a blessing for him to help you through this healing time, and to treat you kindly and with compassion. This is what Allah created marriage for. We are to be a comfort for one another.

If He Refuses to Support You

Sister, if he refuses to be supportive, then by all rights you are entitled to a divorce. He is not providing you with an environment or relationship which is conducive to healing. As you stated, it is a trigger. His “constant triggering” is not in alignment with a healthy mental health status nor with the goals to heal and live a healthy life.

Please make du’aa’ to Allah to guide you and ask Allah to guide your husband. Insha’Allah, ask Allah to put mercy between the two of you, as well as help him to understand your condition and to be more compassionate.

Conclusion:

As there may have been much trauma in your marriage relationship thus far, he may not be the supportive one for you at this moment sister.

However, if he is willing, he can be. If you divorce him before giving him and your marriage a chance, you may find out that no one can be the perfect supportive partner. It is often a learning process.

I kindly suggest that you give him a chance to learn and if he refuses, please do pursue your right to health and happiness via a divorce.

We wish you the best dear, sister,

***

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 Realized My New Wife Has a Mental Illness

How Do You Know When Your Marriage Is Over?

Survived an Abusive Marriage, But Can’t Remarry




About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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