In this counseling answer:
• Simply listen to his opinion and try coming to an agreement that satisfies you and him.
• One of the best ways to overcome this is to learn about the cultures of each other
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,
As you say in the final paragraph, your query is partly regarding fiqh and partly counseling. I’m not qualified to answer questions in the fiqhi perspective, so I’ll leave you to pursue the answers to these with a scholar.
I did, however, seek guidance from a scholar on the main element of your query relating to if your husband has to provide for you and the answer is yes, he does. Regardless of whether you are working or have savings of your own, he still must provide for you.
“O Messenger of Allah, Abu Sufyan is a stingy man and he does not give me enough for me and my child, except for what I take from his wealth without him realizing.’ He said: Take what is sufficient for you and your child, on a reasonable basis.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
“Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner.” (Sahih Muslim)
Beyond this, I can advise you on ways to consider dealing with the situation from a psychological perspective.
When a couple gets married there will always be differences of opinions to some extent. They have been raised in different environments and have been exposed to different upbringing from backgrounds of different values and beliefs. These can be very simple differences, or more complex as in your situation, especially in matters of religion.
In your situation, you are faced with the added difficulty of living apart which adds to the burden. In order for a marriage to successfully manage these differences, there need to be elements of understanding and compromise.
The first step in managing these differences is to…
Respecting the opinions of others
In your case, this can be achieved by simply listening to his opinions. Rather than arguing about them or putting his opinions down, simply let him know that you acknowledge that he has a different opinion on the matter and you respect that.
If you approach him politely in these matters, then he is more likely to be prepared to listen to your own opinion. This then paves the way to make compromises that will satisfy you both at least to some extent without completely disregarding the opinion of one of you.
In order to further make this part of the difference of opinion easier for you, you should try and understand things from his perspective too. This does not mean that his way of thinking is correct and yours is not. In cases of difference, if we don’t look outside of our own opinions, then we will remain closed minded and unable to make necessary compromises.
If you are able to at least try to see things from his perspective, it will soften your heart towards his side of the story. It will also help him to develop more respect for you for trying to see things from his perspective and respect his opinion. Again, this will hopefully encourage him to do the same and be more sympathetic to your perspective too and be more willing to make a compromise that will be more pleasing to you.
For example, as a man, he knows that it is his role to provide financially for you and his other wife, as well as for other family members potentially too. This places a lot of pressure on him and is probably causing him a lot of stress. If this is the case, then the mere mention of financial matters, especially those that he is responsible for only heightens the level of stress for him. This may result in him talking to you as seemingly disrespectful as he is.
Most people do tend to take out their stress on those that are closest to them, often their spouse, as they know that they will continue to love them and support them unconditionally. Despite the fact that they disrespect them, they will usually stick around.
Additionally, perhaps he is feeling frustrated that he cannot live with you as husband and wife as you should be due to your present situation.
These potential alternative explanations for his behavior toward you may or may not be correct, but simply illustrate that there may be reasons behind his behavior you didn’t think of that are more innocent than you would realize. Even if they are entirely out, it will at least give you the space to consider alternatives and feel more positively towards him which will make it easier to converse with him politely and pave the way for more positive relations with one another.
Compromise on a difference in opinion
The two of you have to be prepared to make some kind of compromise in order that you can both live happily in this marriage. Once you have achieved the first level discussed above, this should ease the way to compromise between the two of you as you become more receptive to each other’s opinion.
For example, maybe you could come to an agreement that for now, whilst you’re living apart, you will take care of paying for half of the necessities, and he will pay for the other half. This way, you will be able to both get your way to some extent, whilst satisfying the other also.
When you have reunited in the same country again, then he can step up and provide everything that he should be. At least, once you are living together in the same country, according to his own beliefs, he is responsible to take care of you financially.
Managing cultural differences
What your husband has said regarding your thoughts being ‘poisoned by society’ highlights how cultural differences can place an added burden on the relationship, on top of religious differences that also exist.
Naturally, the European way of life can be quite different to the Asian way of life, It can result in clashes of opinion solely relating to the culture in which that person lives without actually considering the person and attributing their behavior to being that of the culture in which they live. For example, something is seen as disrespectful in one culture is not in the other, and vice versa.
One of the best ways to overcome this is to learn about the cultures of each other. This way, it opens your mind to other ways of life as well as prepares you for how best to deal with certain situations respectfully according to the other culture.
It also allows the other party to look respectfully on you for being respectful to their own cultural values.
Overall, make sure to seek scholarly advice regarding the fiqhi matters.
Regarding the psychological aspect of your situation, it would seem that much of your difficulties are a result of differences in opinion due to upbringing and current cultures in which you reside. The fact that you are living apart is contributing to the problems which will in sha Allah be ironed out once you are reunited again.
At this time, you should try and focus on respecting each other’s opinions and be willing to make compromises where necessary to strengthen your relationship and bring ease in your specific difficulties.
May Allah bring you ease in your marriage and make you both the coolness of each other’s eyes in this life and the next.
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.