In this counseling answer:
I noticed you are from the U.S. I am wondering if your husband is a US-born. I would like to know more about that so that I can put your situation in context in my mind according to the influence of culture. Were you married in the US? Is this an arranged marriage? I am also wondering how old your husband is.
There are a lot of things that could be going on here. It is possible that your husband is not ready for this level of responsibility. We have a “clash” in cultures at times when we attempt to adhere to the traditional norms but live in a post-tech country.
In the USA, the average couple these days waits to have children until they have completed school and have a steady job. The economy does not support the more traditional arrangements. The individuals in the West usually mature emotionally at a slower rate also. There are many years spent simply adjusting to adult life here because living in the West is so complicated. I see this happening in the East more and more as technology increases and infrastructure and societal structures become more complicated. There may not be a lot that you can do to change your husband’s behavior at this time.
Consider focusing on your own personal development and on enjoying your children and this very short time that you will have with them. Take your focus off of your husband. Men in the West will tell you that they resent having their wife be their “mother”. It seems absolutely wrong of them (and I get mad about it sometimes, too), but they will only get worse if you try to control them or tell them what they should or should not do.
Even if your husband is Eastern born, he is now under the influence of the west. And, honestly, I have met many eastern-born men who have ideas about the west that don’t help things at all. They can become more stubborn and more irresponsible than the Western-born ones who have grown up with western ladies lecturing them about good behavior.
Now, of course, this isn’t all eastern-born men who live in the west, but the climate is “ripe” for them to want to explore. We don’t have societal control over people in the west. Good and mature and responsible behavior is expected to come from the inside. In addition, there are enough “bad” influences here (since we don’t have societal control) to tempt a person who wants to know what it feels like to be “free”.
What I am trying to tell you is that this may not be as simple as saying that your husband has a bad character. I am more inclined to believe that he is “finding” himself within the context of this culture. He may be confused at times. He may not know what he is giving up. He may actually believe there is something “out there” that is better than living the traditional family life. He was probably very young when he married also.
Patience is my recommendation. Focus on yourself and keeping your family stable. Be inviting to him. Let him know that his children want to be with him. This is crucial. If you do nothing else, work on developing that bond between your husband and his children. Let him know that he is the head of the family and that his family needs him. Ask him to make decisions here and there. When he asks you why you are bothering him with that, tell him that it is because he is your husband and the father of the household and that his “bottom line” matters to you.
As your husband takes over a responsibility, you will have to be willing to let go. That is the hard part. In addition, let him make mistakes. It’s ok. At the end of the day, you will survive, and you will find that this effort is worth it. Your husband will mature with time.
Having faith in Allah (swt) and following your husband is different than putting all your faith in your husband. What I mean by that is that you can have faith that Allah (swt) will guide your husband and that if your husband makes a human error, Allah (swt) is most forgiving.
Your husband will be more willing to take on responsibilities that scare him if he knows he is going to be unconditionally loved even if he makes a mistake. So, make room for him to try on the shoes of a husband and father and see what happens.
Until he is ready for that, just make the room and continue caring for your home and your children. And don’t forget to care for your husband also. We do not love to get love; we love for the sake of Allah (swt). That is the only kind of love which will ever make us happy because that is the kind of love that connects us to Allah (swt).
What I am saying is, love your husband. Do little things that make him feel loved, needed, wanted, and appreciated – just small things.
Also, take care of yourself. Have a list of things you will do for yourself to keep yourself busy and your mind off of your husband’s attitude and anger when he gives you the silent treatment, be it writing, artwork, sewing, etc. Take this time especially to do something “touching” for your husband so that he knows that even when he is being his “silly” self, you still love him.
It may not be easy, but if you are able to accept things as they are, you will be less burdened with anger and more detached from the situation. This, in turn, will reduce your feelings of urgency and need to control the situation. For example, the next time your husband asks you if he can stay out longer with the boys, respond, “What do you mean? I am your woman, not your mother!”
That will probably leave him a bit perplexed. He might still stay out. Keep reminding him that you are a woman. Guess what? Women have needs that only a man can fulfill. Maybe he will start to think straight after awhile of your reminding him that you are a woman.
Mothers don’t have needs, right? At least our children are used to getting their needs met from us, not the other way around. A child can’t imagine that his mother needs him. You don’t want a child; you want a man, and I suspect that is where your frustration is coming from, so be a woman, not a mother.
Here is a secret: men have a natural instinct to provide and protect their woman. Young boys and mature men have that instinct for their mother. The young boy is ok with asking mother for permission for everything; the mature man has an agreement with his mother that this is no longer necessary and he is there for her, but the adolescent boy is rebellious against his mother.
Men who resent their responsibility in their marriage are a lot like rebellious adolescent sons. You don’t want that kind of relationship with your husband. He doesn’t need your permission for anything, establish that. After some time, he will come to realize you as his woman, and he will desire your consultation on important matters. That is when you know your hearts have truly connected.
Until that time, be a woman, not a mother. Relax, enjoy your children, take care of your home and yourself, and lean back to see if this man might come forward to you – one day at a time.
I pray this “food for thought” has been helpful. Write back and tell me how you feel about my response.
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