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How Can I Save My Marriage & Help My Narcissist Husband?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Nov 15, 2017

Question

Assalamualaikum. I need help with my husband. I am his third wife. He has been divorced 2 times before. He almost married three other women but they left him or he left them. He has been abusive and has serious anger issues. He comes from a family where he grew up with a lot of abuse: verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual. His mother did not protect him and did not get him help. They live in denial and cover up for her husband who was responsible for most of the abuse. I have been outcasts as the devil. I should say, they're are not Muslims... just to put things in perspective. After much heartache and pain and a lot of reading, it seems as though my husband is a narcissist. I may have some codependency issues. I too grew up in a crazy house. However, I have a daughter now with my husband and I do not want her to grow up the way we did. My husband leaves us all the time, sometimes for days sometimes for weeks, months even. He wants to blame everything on me and refuses to accept any responsibility for any of his other previously failed relationships. I believe this comes from his family as his mother enabled her husband who has been a drug addict. Before we moved back home, the other families my husband talk to me about his family and I know deep down he understands that they have issues and that they are wrong about things. There have also been moments when my husband has broken down and admitted that he has problems and that he needs help. However, he is at his mother's now and she tells him not to come home. My daughter and I are suffering. I cannot allow her to have her father come in and out of her life. It is too painful and I don't want to teach her that this is acceptable behavior. His mother told him to call the police on me and I have never hit him or done anything to him. The police are frustrated with coming to our house. His mother even called the police on me when I went to her house to talk to my husband with my little daughter on my arms as we both cried for my husband and her father. This was on Mother's day. I've been broken, but I'm still trying to be a better person and I'm asking Allah to help me every day. Before we moved back home my husband was interested in my religion. He was not perfect but he is much worse now up here. In the past he has contacted his EX's with who his sister is friends with every means in contact with. He is going online to pursue other women in the past. He watches pornography and looks at other women while I am right in front of him. But deep down I know I think I know he wants to be a good person. I'm asking God to help me be a better person a better mother a better wife and a better Muslim. I do not want to give up on my husband or my marriage or our family. I've been trying to read about psychology and the religion. I can't seem to find anything in this land that helps me or can they wrecked me and how I should go forward dealing with my husband. When I tell you I fell to the floor everyday begging and crying God help me, it is no exaggeration. I ask him to help my husband. I don't know what I should do or how I should handle this. If we divorce my husband will leave my daughter to his mother to take care of her and I do not trust his mother for she denies that her husband has any issues even though both her daughters have come forward and told her that he used to touch them inappropriately. When I confronted them about this they got angry and Outcast me. My husband's daughter spent the summer at her grandmother's and when she was there she started to exhibit strange and sexual behaviors. I do not and will not risk that with my daughter so my daughter is not permitted to go there. Please help me and give me some advice on how I can deal with my husband and how I can help heal him and bring him closer to me to commit to our family and to commit to God.

Counselor

Answer


How Can I Save My Marriage & Help My Narcissist Husband?

In this counseling answer:

“What you are seeing may be a result of the abuse he has been through. I would tell him that you would like to save the marriage if possible but only on the condition that he gets counseling and begins to work on his issues. If your husband does not want to seek help to deal with his problems and live an Islamic life, you may have to divorce for the sake of your daughter.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. I am sad to hear about what is going on with your relationship with your husband.

You stated he was married 2 times before and almost married a few other women before you.  You also stated that your husband comes from a very abusive family and went through sexual, physical and verbal abuse. From what I am understanding, to this day, his family is still messed up and dysfunctional. He has never received counseling for what he went through.

You also said that your husband is abusive and has anger management issues.  Of course, this is not surprising given the kind of childhood he had wherein he was abused sexually, physically and emotionally. However, it appears that these issues are turning into an inter-generational pattern as he is abusive as well. The Australian Institute of Family Studies found that “some evidence suggests that adults who were abused or neglected as children are at increased risk of intergenerational abuse or neglect compared to those who were not maltreated as children”.

Sister, while I cannot diagnose your husband, I can say that adult survivors of abuse, trauma, and neglect often suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders as well as psychosis. Issues with violence and anger are also common. As you already know, what you are seeing may be a result of the abuse he has been through. 

Sister, while you love him and seek to save the marriage, it will take more than that to be able to do so and live in a safe, happy, harmonious Islamic marriage. Seeking and wanting something is different than actually being able to attain it. It will take dedication and hard work from both of you. Your husband must want to seek help, address his issues and change. He must also be willing to do it.

I would kindly suggest that you sit with your husband when things are calm and tell him you love him but that you will not put up with abuse, his leaving all the time as well as living un-Islamically. I would tell him that you would like to save the marriage if possible but only on the condition that he gets counseling and begins to work on his issues.

You can offer your support sister as you are his wife, but I would kindly suggest that you end the enabling behaviors. It only serves to re-enforce his negative behaviors, and it removes accountability. While yes, he has been abused in the most horrific ways while growing up and it is a tragedy, he now is charged with a wife and child to take care of in a kind and loving manner.  As he has admitted in the past that he knows he has issues and he knows he needs help, it is time for him to stand up and get the help he needs.

I would kindly suggest dear sister that when you talk to him and if he agrees to get help, you make a list of prohibited behaviors (i.e. violence, abusing, leaving home for days/weeks, yelling, cheating, pornography, etc.) as well as a list of conditions and terms which he can agree to. I kindly suggest that you go to the masjid as a family to pray and to seek out like-minded couples for friendships. You also may want to read Qur’an together as a family and go to Islamic events. Study Islam together and pray together to seek a closer relationship with each other and with Allah.

To strengthen yourself and deal with your issues such as possible depression, you may also want to get counseling for your trauma as a result of growing up in an unstable home and as a result of what you have been through with him. In sha’ Allah, I would recommend a Muslim counselor, but if one is not available in your area then please do seek someone who is open to Islam and the way of life you wish to create for yourself and your family. In the future, if you both are going to counseling and progressing, marriage counseling would also be beneficial as well.

Sister, I do not know how old your daughter is or if she has been exposed to any of this trauma that has been going on. I hear your heart crying when you say you do not want her to grow up in a household filled with uncertainty, possible abuse, angry outbursts, your husband acting erratic as well as you possibly being depressed and spending days crying and begging at your in-law’s doors. This is no life for a child. Allah blessed you with a beautiful child. You will be held accountable to Allah for how you raised her as well as your husband. 

Sister, if your husband does not want to seek help to deal with his problems and live an Islamic life, you may have to divorce for the sake of your daughter.  Your daughter comes first. Her safety, her happiness, and her opportunity to grow up in a loving Islamic home supersede everything.

You stated that if you divorced, his parents would raise your daughter. Why? I would kindly suggest that if it comes to divorce that you go to your parents or another safe place with your daughter. A counselor can help you with that if your family is far away or if it is not a healthy environment either.

I would recommend insha’Allah that if you divorce, you retain a lawyer to gain custody of your child in case there is an issue. If you cannot afford one, there are free legal clinics that you can go to. No judge in his/her right mind would award custody to him or his family with the history that they have of abuse and drug addiction. This would also mean though that you would have to reveal all you know and possibly provide proofs. I don’t know, I am not a lawyer but please do seek counsel.

In fact I would recommend In sha’ Allah that you begin to look into this now in case your in-laws are quietly planning to try to get custody. I am not trying to scare you sister, just trying In sha’ Allah to help you keep one step ahead of them as they do not seem very nice at all.

Additionally, I would kindly suggest that you stop going over there. It causes nothing but pain and drama. You need to start to cut that out of your life.

Should it be that your husband does want to work things out and will go for counseling, I would kindly suggest that you both minimize contact with his family as they are a detriment. I am not saying to cut off all ties as that would be haram. What I am suggesting is that you both remain kind to them and help them if they need help, but I would not hang out there or spend much time with them at this point. Once In sha’ Allah your husband is stronger and on his way to healing and has a closer relationship with Allah (if he so chooses), you may want to increase the time. However, right now, it is too toxic. This is also a protection for your daughter as you suspect your husband’s other child was sexually abused when she went there.

Sister, please draw close to Allah through prayer, dhkir, reading Qur’an as well as going to the masjid. Include your daughter in as much of your Islamic pursuits as you can. Try to get involved with other sisters at the masjid and spend nice social time with them. In sha’ Allah, there will be playgroups for your daughter wherein she can have Muslim playmates. There are lots of Islamic resources out there, sister. Please, utilize them so you and your daughter can begin to grow in this beautiful deen together and draw closer to Allah. You will find much peace in this In sha’ Allah no matter what the outcome is regarding your marriage.

In sha’ Allah, ask your husband to get counseling to save the marriage (and himself). Get counseling for yourself if he is willing. Please, do get marriage counseling. Try to spend less time at your in-laws and more time focusing on you and your daughter in relation to building Islamically and getting closer to Allah. Seek out legal advice in case you need it, and please stick to a plan of action that will be beneficial for you and your daughter as you cannot force your husband to do anything.

Perhaps it is good that he is at his parent’s home now.  This will give you a time to regroup, have some peace and decide what you need to do. Some things we must just let go of and trust in Allah.

Please let us know how you are doing.

***

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 Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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