In this counseling answer:
• He has been clear that the problem is him and not you. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept being lonely in your marriage!
• If you haven’t tried just initiating what you need on your own, reaching for a hug for example and saying “I want to hug you” then consider starting there.
• If he isn’t respecting your needs as a wife, and may I say as a human being who is really missing her companion, it is time to involve someone else who can find out what’s really going on with him.
Thank you for emailing in with your question. It is a blessing that you have had two strokes and are still here with your children alhamdulilah. That is the time you are blessed with so I thought it would be good to start off on a positive note.
I also see that over the years you felt that you and your husband were both happy with each other and were able to start and raise a family with your two daughters masha’Allah.
Now, as you’ve noted, things have made a drastic shift where he is no longer available for you emotionally or physically.
I’m not sure when your strokes happened, but I’ll assume that they took place within the last several years leading to this past year being different for both of you.
First of all, it’s normal for you to miss your husband, his love, his touch, his tenderness, and his presence in your life. He is your husband and that is the role a husband plays. One that is special and unique compared to any other important relationship you have in your life.
My best guess is there is a chance he is missing you as well. If that is the case, then why isn’t he showing up for you?
Naturally, I don’t know the answer, so we’ll start with some questions for you to explore.
1) Is he scared?
Is he scared to speak to you or touch you or do something with your body because you had two strokes before? Does he think that you are fragile and as a result, he doesn’t feel comfortable around you? Have people, or even you, asked him to treat you like a sick person whether knowingly or unknowingly so that he doesn’t know how to behave around you?
2) Have you physically changed?
Did the stroke cause a change in your body? Some people end up with a change in how their face looks, how they walk or speak. Did anything shift for you that he hasn’t been able to accept yet? Something that he is struggling with and instead of working through his feelings he is simply blocking them, and you, out entirely?
3) Is there another major stressor in his life?
Is there anything else going on which could be causing him to feel stressed out and disconnected from you? Something which he hasn’t shared with you because of your condition? Might he feel overwhelmed from the changes your strokes have brought to your family life or future of your family life? Is he grieving the loss of something?
4) Does he think he is going to lose you?
Is he afraid you are doing to die from another stroke? Has he distanced himself in order to avoid being hurt because the stress of worrying about your condition has left him afraid to open his heart to you and love you like before?
If you notice, each of these questions assumes something positive about your husband. That he isn’t trying to punish you for having had strokes. Instead, he is struggling in some way to connect with you and communicate with you in a meaningful way.
I understand that reading these you might think, “How is this even fair? I had the strokes, I am the one who hasn’t been well! He should just be there for me because he is the one who is fine and healthy and has nothing to be scared about.”
But one thing I know as relationship counselor is that two people are always impacted by whatever is happening with the other.
Check out this counseling video:
Two people have feelings, two people can have fears, two people can be frustrated, and two people can struggle to deal with a consequence given to only one person but one that affects them both.
So, the focus in this response isn’t on what is fair but what can help you achieve a solution towards improving your marriage.
Making space in your heart to accept that something is troubling him allows you to accept the test you are in rather than feeling angry at him.
You can make du’aa’ to Allah to help your husband to turn to you once again so that you can rekindle your relationship as a couple in whatever way that looks for both of you right now.
He has been clear that the problem is him and not you. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept being lonely in your marriage!
Let him know you miss him.
I’m not sure if you’ve been direct and said “I miss you. Can you please lay next to me tonight” or if you’ve simply waited for him to initiate time with you.
What happens if you go up and embrace him? Hold his hand? Massage his shoulders? Does he shrug you off and pull away entirely? Does he say go away? Or lets you be near?
When making a request, my curiosity is whether it comes in a positive way or in a way that reminds him of what he isn’t doing right for example, “you never spend time with me” or “we haven’t been intimate in months.”
If you haven’t tried just initiating what you need on your own, reaching for a hug for example and saying “I want to hug you” then consider starting there.
If you’ve already tried all of that, then the next step is seeking support.
Seek mediation help from trusted family.
If you’ve tried all that and his response and distance remain the same, then it may be time to consider asking a member of your family and his, two people you both trust, to help you both overcome this hurdle.
There is no need for both of you to not be turning to each other in your marriage and enjoying the comforts you can offer each other. Having two strokes are no doubt a major test for both of you, but you are both able to continue to build your relationship and live your lives together.
If he isn’t respecting your needs as a wife, and may I say as a human being who is really missing her companion, it is time to involve someone else who can find out what’s really going on with him.
If it’s been ten months and he doesn’t want to talk about it, then find another person whom he trusts and respects that you can involve from your side of the family and also he can go a long way.
This shouldn’t be done in an accusatory manner. Rather a request for support as it seems you both are drifting apart since you’ve been sick, that you are feeling really lonely, and it’s been almost a year and your husband doesn’t want to speak to you about anything, spend time with you, and so forth.
No one likes reaching out but at times like this, when so much is at stake, it becomes necessary.
The Qur’an advises a couple seeking help in the following ayah:
“And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].” 4:35
But do not neglect your needs and care. Your needs matter, you are worthy of being loved, and you deserve to be treated with love.
Up until the last moments of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s life, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his wife ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, was by his side caring for him. Through his illness to the end. No one is ever too sick to be loved and cared for.
I pray that Allah grants you both a way to be there for each other and in the information, individuals, or experience that will reunite your hearts together for each other. Take care of yourself and ask Allah for the help and guidance you need while enduring so many different tests at once.
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.