In this counseling answer:
“Think about the following things; What do you love about him? What did you love about him? Remember good times you had together. Why/when did you lose the spark? Is there an underlying cause? (Too much time at work? Don’t feel appreciated? Since you had kids? boredom?) Identifying the root cause can make it easier to tackle the exact cause and is more likely to lead to a successful reigniting of the spark.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh sister,
Marriage plays such a large part in our daily lives and therefore a joyous marriage will impact very positively on one’s life, but when the marriage is suffering it will also have the same negative effects on all aspects of life. It is very common after many years of marriage that it can seem to lose the spark, which is exactly what appears to have happened in your case. If you see him as a stranger and don’t have any feelings towards him then it certainly is going to impact on your sex life and make it unenjoyable and painful since you are not in the mood. However, if you can patch up your relationship and ignite the spark once more, then you will desire and enjoy it more. This might not always be possible, but we can explore ways to make this happen first, before taking the route of divorce.
Go on a date together alone
It may have been some time since the 2 of you spent some quality time alone as you likely did in the earlier stages of marriage, before having children. You could begin this practice again by having someone take care of the kids and going out for dinner together, or even cooking together at home, just the 2 of you. Try to make this a regular thing. Perhaps once a week, or once a month if possible as it generally takes more than one occasion to reignite the lost spark. Talk about old times, things you used to do together, laugh over funny memories.
Do something romantic every now and again; offer a romantic gesture, such as a note on the fridge, give him a gift, or send a nice text. Marriage can get boring because these things you once did you give up on as you hit the comfort zone. There’s no harm in going back and doing these things again. Remind each other of what you once had.
Spend some time apart
Alternatively, take some time apart. Go away for a week. This will give you the chance to give some deep thought to what you will do next and to think about your options.
It will also help to highlight the things that you love about him as you will come to miss having these qualities in your life. Sometimes being with someone day after day, we lose sight of their good points, instead of being overwhelmed by the niggly things that irritate us which end up growing out of proportion and becoming a constant irritation. It will also give him the space to go through the same process.
It may also be that during this time that you realize that you truly would be better apart and you are ready to take that step. Having this space away with no interruptions will make this thought process a lot clearer.
Think about the following things; What do you love about him? What did you love about him? Remember good times you had together. Why/when did you lose the spark? Is there an underlying cause? (Too much time at work? Don’t feel appreciated? Since you had kids? boredom?) Identifying the root cause can make it easier to tackle the exact cause and is more likely to lead to a successful reigniting of the spark.
Do you talk? Do you communicate? Does he know you feel this way? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then ask yourself how he can he change if he doesn’t know?!
This might seem like an effort at first, but if you want to fix the marriage you have to make that effort. It might feel one-sided at first, but hopefully, he’ll join in the process, and if not, you can gauge yourself if it is something you can, or is worth, fixing.
Think about the consequences of staying and going. What would be worse?
Observe things from another perspective
Maybe you can do it alone, but if there is no abuse or real reason to divorce your husband it is generally better to remain together, both for your children and their security, as well as your own benefit and protection. Now, as it stands, you probably don’t feel that there is any benefit to being married and feel that actually, you would benefit more from being apart and this is an option too, but do try to look outside of the box also for alternative perspectives.
See it from the perspective of your children. How will it be for them to grow up without their dad? Or, is the relationship that bad between you that they will grow up thinking that is normal? How would you feel if they ended up in the same type of marriage?
This would be an ideal time to get closer to Allah and make istikhara. Ask Allah to guide you to make the decision that will be best for you and your children and most pleasing to Him.
Counselling is an excellent idea and is a way to seek impartial advice from someone who is not a friend or family member. This can help you to see things from each others perspective. I would always advise when a marriage is on the brink of divorce to do this so that you can be confident you have tried all you can to make the marriage work.
It is unfortunate that your husband is not up for counselling as it would be beneficial for both of you. Perhaps you might begin by trying to convince him otherwise by really addressing the underlying reason why you should, as you are not happy, and you fear the consequences for your children.
If he still does not agree to the idea, then there is nothing to stop you attending counselling yourself. This will help you to be clear about what you really want and how you can go about making changes yourself. It is sometimes possible that changes in the one spouse alone can greatly impact in a positive way on the relationship. Again, if no changes are observed and he still does not agree to attend after this, then you can be content knowing that you did your best to make it work.
Give it time
Commonly in such situations, couples might be advised to bear the situation with patience, but understandably there is only so much patience you have before you become depressed and worn out by the situation. You might, therefore, give the situation a certain amount of time to observe a change. Certainly, any lasting change will not occur overnight but do give yourself a realistic time frame to expect change. After this time, take some time out again to reassess if things have changed for the better and if the changes are enough to eventually make the relationship work.
If it fails
If after all this, you feel the only option is to seek divorce then make sure that you get support from loved ones. It will be tough to adjust, even if you feel it’s the best thing for you, things will change and be different. Make sure to give your children plenty of support during this time also as it will impact on them just as much.
Facing marital difficulties can be tough, especially when you feel like there is no way to rectify things. Given the special status of marriage in Islam, we are encouraged to do all we can to make it work before ending a marriage. Here we discuss a number of ways to attempt this; go on dates together, doing something fun, showing appreciation, taking time away, contemplating, and seeking counselling. This will not always work, and sometimes divorce is actually the best option. In this case, however, you are advised to ensure that you have all the necessary supports in place to make the transition easy for all.
May Allah bring you ease in your situation and guide you to make the decision that is best for you and your family.
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.