In this counseling answer:
“Sister, you have to do some searching in your own heart to determine if you want to continue on with this marriage. As you are with your parents now, take this time to heal, to rest, to try to figure out what it is that you truly want. Ideally, I imagine you would probably want your husband to do the right thing to pray, fast, to love and fear Allah; to work and take care of you and the children-to-be respectful and loving. This is natural. However, as it has been 21 years and he has really not put in many efforts, he may be accustomed to living this way. However, he can change if he wants to, sister, but he does have to want to sincerely change.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important issues. As I understand, your husband was never able to provide for you and your children consistently; thus, your parents have been helping you out for many years financially. You have been working for the past 10 years and now he thinks you are having an affair. While I am not sure how your husband felt or feels having his wife’s parents support his family, most men would not feel that great about it. However, as it has been a little over 20 years, perhaps he accepted it as it means he does not have to step up to the plate and fully take care of his family. It appears that it was an ideal situation for him. May Allah forgive me if I am wrong.
Sister, as you know, most men take pride in being able to support their families and feel weak and rather useless if they are unable. As there are situations such as illness, disability, or other life-altering circumstances wherein a man cannot support his family, it seems as if your husband just did not and still does not want the responsibility even after 21 years.
It is understandable when a young couple is just starting out in marriage to maybe need some time for the husband to get acclimated and secure in his job. In this case, it is a blessing when parents help out. However, to let it drag on for decades is unthinkable.
Sister, I do not know whether or not your husband has any medical issues or what is his reason for not supporting his family. However, this is in the past and you must move forward. While saving a marriage is important in Islam and one should seek all avenues if possible to do that, in your case you do have grounds for divorce as he is not supporting you and he is accusing you of haram things.
It is possible that he is accusing you now of cheating due to his own guilt for not supporting his family. Perhaps he is jealous that you are independent, go out to work every day as well as care for the family while he is not. I do not know your husband so I cannot say for sure, but I am just giving you some feedback based on what you said as I am sure his accusations have hurt you deeply, especially as you have sacrificed so much and had to step up where he fell short.
While divorce is an option, sister, if you feel he would be willing to go for marriage counseling, I would kindly suggest that you try it to see if your marriage can be saved. I would also kindly suggest that you tell him that as you both are Muslim, you desire an Islamic marriage and would expect him to start praying, start going to the Masjid, and begin renewing his relationship with Allah. If he is not willing or you decide you no longer want to accept this situation you are within your rights to divorce.
As you stated, you left your eldest daughters with him, I am wondering how are they doing and do you plan on having them come back to you? While I understand you are trying to make a point, to try to make him responsible, in the long term you may want to think if this situation will be best for your daughters.
Also, you mentioned your mother in law wants you to either come back and run the home or take the girls with you. I am not sure if she was living at the home with you and your family. However, it does sound like she recognizes that her son, your husband cannot manage without you.
This leads to a question about finances. If you leave, will you stop paying the bills there or will you continue to support him? This may sound like a silly question, however, it may come up, especially if you plan on an extended separation. I would kindly suggest that you consult with a lawyer, especially as you (and your parents) have been the key financial supporters ever since you were married. I am not sure what the laws are there regarding this.
Sister, you have to do some searching in your own heart to determine if you want to continue on with this marriage. As you are with your parents now, take this time to heal, to rest, to try to figure out what it is that you truly want. Ideally, I imagine you would probably want your husband to do the right thing to pray, fast, to love and fear Allah; to work and take care of you and the children-to-be respectful and loving. This is natural. However, as it has been 21 years and he has really not put in many efforts, he may be accustomed to living this way. However, he can change if he wants to, sister, but he does have to want to sincerely change. I would kindly suggest that you make istakhara prayer for guidance. Read the Qur’an and make du’aa’ for clarity as well as to draw closer to Allah.
Sister, I can imagine this has been so hard for you and my heart goes out to you. You stated that you felt “unwanted and so valueless”. I can understand why you would feel this way, but in reality, just the opposite is true. You are valuable and wanted. You are valuable and wanted by those who love you, those who see you struggling to provide and be a good wife and mother. They admire your courage and strength, see your beauty and piousness as well as your intelligence, determination, and patience.
While some people (such as your husband) may not tell you and, in fact, act and say the opposite, you can be sure that he does see all these good things in you. He probably just wishes he had these good traits as well, but he does not at this point. He probably feels frustrated with himself as well as possibly depressed over his own insecurities and inadequacies.
You can also be sure, sister, that Allah who created you, loves you and protects you, and wants you to be happy. So please, in sha’ Allah, whenever you feel unwanted or valueless, remember that just because your husband (who is weak right now) has the ability to make you feel this way does not mean it is true. It is just the hurt and pain talking to your mind.
So, in sha’ Allah, sister, please take this time for you for healing, getting closer to Allah as well as really thinking hard and asking Allah for guidance regarding your next step. Whatever your decision is, I am confident that in sha’ Allah you will have a much more blessed and satisfying life once this long-standing issue is resolved – one way or another. It has been a long time. May Allah bless you for your patience and struggle.
Please, let us know how you are.
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.