In this counseling answer:
• Outline what you expect from her as your wife as well as the Islamic expectations for marriage.
• Seek out a reputable counselor or go to an imam for counseling to try to save your marriage.
• Your other options are separation or divorce – if nothing else works out.
As Salamu Alaykum brother,
Thank you for writing back in regards to your question. I’m sorry to hear that your situation hasn’t gotten any better.
Maturity and Trust in Marriage
As you live in the US, you know most workplaces are gender mixed. The majority of people work together with no problems or issues. Usually, people go to work to earn money to support their families or to save for a special event such as a vacation or to advance their careers.
Most people do not go to work with an intention to meet someone. When there is trust, inshaAllah couples can adjust to this. I am not sure what your work situation is if it is mixed gender or not, but if it is I am sure you conduct yourself in a respectful manner.
The key here is that your wife must conduct herself in a respectful manner in order to ensure a smooth work experience as well as a compatible home life with you. Your wife’s desire to work may be more centered around her self-esteem and self-worth as a young woman. As she is only 17, she probably would like to feel that she has skills that are valuable to utilize in either a career or job position.
Often times working gives people a sense of accomplishment. This may be in direct conflict with cultural expectations in some countries. However, it is each woman’s individual choice.
In regards to her disrespect, tantrums throwing things, and hitting. That is intolerable behavior. Again, she is 17, and it seems as if she is an emotional and immature 17-year-old. She needs to learn self-control as well as appropriate ways to express her emotions.
You stated that in the past she has a history of infidelity in your relationship. This is a big warning sign and I can see why you would be uncomfortable with her working. However, you cannot control her behavior 24/7.
Brother, she’s going to do what she wants regardless of whether she’s working or whether she stays at home. If she’s going to cheat, she’s going to cheat-whether at home or at work. It seems that there is a deeper issue here at stake.
Perhaps she was not mature enough for a marriage and that is why she is having such a hard time adjusting. As she texted a brother saying that you were getting divorced, that it is not working out, I would be very cautious of trusting her at this point. Sadly, she seems confused and defiant and immature.
You are young too, but you are very mature. Your wife, on the other hand, is not on the same level. It seems and she needs some growing up to do. May Allah bless you for being so patient.
Options for Resolution
I would kindly suggest that you speak to your wife may be over lunch somewhere quiet. Explain to her the seriousness of marriage, how you have been patient, that you love her but her behavior has to change in order to save the marriage. Insha’Allah outline what you expect from her as your wife as well as the Islamic expectations for marriage.
Insha’Allah, she will “wake up” and realize your seriousness. I will kindly suggest as well, that you try to engage your wife in Islamic activities as much as possible. This would include going to the Masjid for prayer, attending Islamic events, reading Qur’an together, praying together and if possible, take Islamic courses together to increase your Islamic knowledge base.
Building up your marriage on the foundation of Islam is the hope for a happy marriage. But both partners have to be ready for marriage and have the ability emotionally to handle responsibilities that come with marriage.
Again, I’m not quite sure that your wife has those abilities yet. Insha’allah, she can develop them by getting serious about Islam and her dedication to Allah and you.
If your wife refuses and continues to be disrespectful, texts brothers throw tantrums, refuses to actively practice Islam and refuse to take care of you as you’ve been taking care of her, you need to give her an ultimatum. I will kindly suggest insha ‘Allah that you tell her that you both need to go for marriage counseling if you are to remain together.
Seek out a reputable counselor or go to an imam for counseling to try to save your marriage. Insha’Allah, an intervention will prove to be successful. If she refuses to go or is not successful, you do have the options.
One option would be a separation. You can separate from your wife with the agreement that you will get back together when and if she changes her behaviors, starts to take the marriage seriously and develops a deep respect not only for herself, for you but more importantly for Allah and for Islam.
If you choose this option, brother, please do write out a contract between you and your wife and set a time frame for which you will be separated, as well as conditions for getting back together. Inshallah, this will give her time to really think about things, look at her blessings and hopefully grow up.
The second option is divorce. While Allah hates divorce, there are circumstances such as yours where you can divorce. Her infidelity, lying and disrespect is haram and is not a healthy way to live, especially as a Muslim. You can see the detrimental effects of such a marriage as thoughts of cheating are in your mind. Though you fight these feelings, it may only get worse as you are not getting the love, respect nor cooperation you deserve from your wife. Shaitan is very active and you need to seek refuge in Allah from these thoughts. These issues are not worth disobeying Allah for, nor worth risking the implications from a haram relationship.
A Mercy and Comfort
Dear brother, if you have given this marriage all that you can to help her overcome these issues but it fails, please do consult with your imam regarding your options. You sound like a wonderful husband-one any pious Muslima would be blessed to have. You deserve to be happy, to have a loving, faithful wife and to be respected. Allah created marriage as a mercy and a comfort. I pray that you have that soon.
We wish you the best,
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