In this counseling answer:
“At sixteen, these are questions just being figured out and tested out. She deserves the right to do that without having someone breath down her neck constantly trying to control her social connections and personal self-expression. If you are focused on clothes and make-up, you are missing the bigger picture in taking care of her as an individual.
Instead of being suspicious, why not open yourself to be her friend right now. The one person she can be honest with about what’s going on.”
Thank you for your question. I pray that this supports you in some way.
While one may want to approach this with a black and white approach Islamically, focusing on the fact that her actions are haram, I am actually going to encourage you to be merciful, mature, and seek to understand what is going on for her benefit as well as your own.
She is sixteen years old which puts her in the prime of being a teenager.
In American society, most teenagers today are not anywhere near prepared for marriage. They are still in high school, figuring out fashion, being involved on social media, making friendships, and starting to mature and figure out faint ideas of their future ahead for college or, one day, marriage.
What you expect from her, if she is similar to most other teenagers her age, is unfair. One can become married, legally on paper, but not be prepared to be a wife and understand what this entails.
I don’t have all the facts regarding your marriage, but my first question is whether or not this young girl wanted to get married or if her parents wanted her to get married and she felt forced to comply with them.
Her actions speak volumes in that she was already involved with someone prior to your marriage and wasn’t able to end the relationship after getting married.
You can save a marriage, but not a relationship that doesn’t actually exist. Relationships have to be built. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you as a person. Simply, you have married someone who wasn’t ready to be your wife or isn’t ready to be a wife yet.
Second to this is accepting who she is. If she loves social media, then stop trying to change her. If she wants to wear make-up and experiment, stop trying to change her.
A wife is a human being who is on their own journey. Especially one who is in their teenage years and still finding their own sense of identity.
She needs to find herself and figure out what she wants and what she believes in order to grow up to be a strong autonomous adult who lives Islam by choice rather than by force.
These things are small issues compared to the more major ones. How is her faith? How does she feel about Allah? About being Muslim? About her purpose in life?
Again, at sixteen, these are questions just being figured out and tested out. She deserves the right to do that without having someone breath down her neck constantly trying to control her social connections and personal self-expression. If you are focused on clothes and make-up, you are missing the bigger picture in taking care of her as an individual.
Instead of being suspicious, why not open yourself to be her friend right now. The one person she can be honest with about what’s going on.
If you care about her, help her. What does she really want? Does she want to be married? Is there someone else she loved and her parents prevented the relationship? What is going on? What is the reason she has an on-going relationship with someone else instead of you? What does she really want and need?
If you can care about her soul and her heart as just a person right now, you’ll get the truth. This requires you to be mature, selfless and giving, but I expect no less from a Muslim man. Chivalry and mercy are the codes a Muslim man should live by.
Honor her with it. If she doesn’t want to be with you, accept it, support her in finding her true happiness so that she doesn’t see Islam as that which causes her misery.
The best gift you can give anyone you claim to care about is the gift of finding Allah and knowing Him. Open your heart and mercy to her and she’ll start being honest and no longer afraid. Then, you can help her do what is best for her overall well-being. And whatever that is will be the same for you too and the future of your marriage.
May Allah help you,
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.