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I’m Not Good Enough for My Husband

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Nov 23, 2017

Question

Salam. My husband and I have been married for 30 years. We've been having marital issues for the past 8 years. A few years ago, he gave me talaq but took me back a day before my 'iddah would have ended. However, since then he does not want to have any sexual relationship with me. We have not been intimate for more than 3 years. We also hardly communicate and when we do, he starts raising his voice, yelling at me and using inappropriate language towards me at times. We ended up getting into a fight even in front of the kids. I was a staying-at-home mom for years. I was doing my duty taking care of the household chores and the kids until he gave me talaq. Then I had to get a job because I wasn't sure if he would take me back or continue with the divorce. The other reason for me to start working was because I asked my husband to give me some money but whenever I asked he told me to go and get a job if I wanted money. Alhamdulillah, Allah provides us with all the necessities. My husband took care of the rent and bills and he used to buy groceries but ever since I started working he said it should be my responsibility to take care of groceries. He also said cooking, cleaning etc. is my responsibility. I tried to explain to him that maintenance of the household has been put on the man in Islam and I'm not responsible to buy groceries or paying bills even though I do help out in buying groceries. I also pay my own bills e.g. I pay my own phone bills, car payment, gas etc. I don't ask my husband to pay my bills nor do I ever ask him to spend more than he can afford. All I asked him was to do what is required of him according to Islam. I am in my 50's and I have 4 children who are of the age that they should be able to help out around the house with household chores, even cooking. When I told my husband that he should help around the house whenever he can, he said that he paid the bills, therefore, he does not need to help out with chores and that household chores are my job even though I am working now. It's very frustrating because I feel no matter what I'm doing is never good enough or right in his eyes. I feel that since everyone in the household are not young children anymore everyone should be able to do their fair share of helping out around the house. As far as bills go, I agreed with my husband that my two older working children should chip in. I only work part-time. Every time we had a fight he would tell me that we needed to end the marriage because he couldn't stand living in the same house with me. He said he wanted he a woman who would do a fair share of taking care of a household. Why did he take me back after he had given me the talaq 3 years ago? Please advice, what should I do? One of the reasons I have stayed was because of my two young children who are teenagers now. But my youngest always tell me that she doesn't want us to separate because she doesn't want to have to choose who she lives with. Sorry, for the lengthy question. I just don't know whom to talk to. Jazakallaah Khair.

Counselor

Answer


I'm Not Good Enough for My Husband

In this counseling answer:

“I would kindly recommend that whatever your decision is, you get counseling to deal with the stress and sadness you have been going through. Start your journal insha’Allah for clarification.  Delegate chores and some of the bills to your children. Seek refuge in Allah and spend social times with uplifting Muslim sisters. Also, prior to making a decision about staying or divorcing, please do make istakhara prayer seeking Allah’s guidance. Allah knows best.  ”


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry to hear about your situation with your husband.  You sound like a very loving, patient wife as well as a good mom and a wonderful woman who is strong, capable, intelligent as well as ambitious. After 30 years of marriage, I am wondering why your husband has treated you so poorly. Surely, he has seen more than anyone all the goodness in you.

You stated that a few years ago, “he dropped talaq but took me back a day before my ‘iddah ended”. I am guessing you went back to him for the sake of the children. However, sister, while we desire our children to be raised in homes which are intact with both parents, please also understand that your happiness matters too – and your home environment does not sound healthy at all.  As indicated, sister, your children are almost all grown and you need to look for your own piece of mind and happiness. You are worth it.

As I understand, your husband refuses to have sex with you; there is little communication, he yells at you and often uses inappropriate language. He expects you to buy groceries; he won’t help out around the house (even though both of you work); he is emotionally and mentally abusive; he refuses to get counseling and states the marriage is dead and has been dead.

Sister, it sounds as if you have put a great deal of time, love, and efforts into this marriage. While I do not know how long this has been going on, nor how the two of you drifted apart with him turning into an angry, bitter man, I do know that it cannot continue.

Allah in His great mercy made marriage to be a union of mercy, comfort, and enjoyment. Over the years, something has gone wrong. It appears something has caused your husband to behave in this manner. If he truly wanted to divorce you, he would have. If he is so unhappy with you, he would have left I believe. In fact, he came back to you after he dropped talaq! So, why did he come back, one must wonder.

He came back because deep down he knows your worth and your value as a pious, loving wife. You are the “rock” of the family, sister, the one that always appears to be standing strong, when in fact, you need to be loved, to be held, to have intimacy, to be complimented, appreciated, desired and treated with respect. However, your husband is incapable of giving you this. In his incapability, there is possibly a fear.  A fear that is so strong it propels him to act out in anger and disgrace.

It sounds to me that your husband is either angry at himself for some reason (and has been for a while now) and/or he is depressed. He may also have difficulty functioning sexually; hence, he does not want to have sex with you. Thus, it is not you, as you know, but rather it is your husband’s possible issues with sexual functioning, depression, and/or anger which are the root of the problems.  Sadly, he refuses to acknowledge his issues nor address them.

Sister, you do have several options. However, I would kindly suggest that first, you take a good look at how you feel and what you truly want. You can begin this process by keeping a journal in order to document and process sequence of events, changes, and other variables that are important in your life regarding your marriage. Write down the things that made you fall in love with your husbandThen write a list of the qualities he has now that you love. As you are hurt, it may be hard at first but please try.

Next, write a list of your good qualities you had when you met your husband and then qualities which you have now. In sha’Allah, as time goes by, we should increase in good qualities. Look at both lists of yours and your husband’s and see if there are any matching qualities.

I would like to ask you also to recall the last time that you and your husband shared a beautiful, loving, intimate time together. Please note how long ago it was, how did you feel, were the two of you close at the time, was there laughter, joy, tenderness. Next, write down the last time you had sex. Again, note the same as in the first scenario. Compare the two, how are they different and how do the two times you described conflict or contrast with the lists you made for both of you regarding good qualities then and now?

While it may seem mundane, sister, the purpose of this exercise is to look at why you feel in love with him in the first place and how you both grew and changed in the course of the years. This exercise helps you to revisit how your closeness and intimacy was beautiful and fulfilling at one time.

Once you have done this, sister, I kindly ask that you make a list of your needs, future hopes and plans as well as what you desire from a husband. Write down your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis.  This will help you redefine your thoughts into a concrete plan of action that in sha ‘Allah, you can take steps towards later on no matter what the outcome of your marriage is. In sha’Allah, this journal will serve you as a friend and confidante as well as a visual map of your journey towards healing and attaining the happiness you so deserve.

Often times when we are abused, put down, discarded, rejected and hurt, it is difficult to see past our pain to get in touch with our true feelings, needs, and abilities. This may help give you some direction.

Concerning your husband, sister, perhaps he has experienced this from his job, or maybe his social circle or elsewhere. You do not know. All you know is the abusive anger and discontent he is displaying. Most of the time those who act out in anger and cruelty do so because they are in pain.  This does not negate how he is treating you, sister. It is just some insight to ponder.

So as you know, you can stay or you can go. If you stay, I would kindly suggest that you stop expecting things from him – for now. He is just not going to give it. Maybe he can’t, I don’t know.

At any rate, please engage the children by giving them lists of chores to do and the older ones a list of bills that they can help with.

Try to ignore the mean things your husband says and in sha’Allah when you stop reacting, he will stop doing it. Feeding into a negative behavior tends to increase it.

Try to find joy in little things. If your husband sleeps elsewhere and you have your own room, paint it a different color or buy new things for it. Create your own space and peace. Go to the Masjid for prayer and educational courses; go out with sisters to watch a movie or dinner. In other words, sister, start to live your life with joy despite your husband’s refusal. In the face of oppression, our best resistance is by living!

I also encourage you to delegate chores and bills to your children and free up some of your time and money to enjoy some time for yourself. In sha’ allah, one day your husband will change or seek help, but sister you must go on with your life. If you stay, while you may find new interests and joy, the intimacy part will be sadly missing as you will still be married.

If you decide to leave, it could be a separation or you can file for divorce, it is within your rights. The children will adapt over time insha’Allah and you will have peace. As you are working, you should be financially fine with your income as well as half of his income (as he stated).

Sister, if you do divorce, it will open up a whole new life as well as opportunities for you. There will also be challenges – as there are in everything. Divorcing will mean you can remarry, but I would kindly suggest you take things slow and heal first.

Insha’Allah, I would kindly recommend that whatever your decision is, you get counseling to deal with the stress and sadness you have been going through. Start your journal insha’Allah for clarification.  Delegate chores and some of the bills to your children. Seek refuge in Allah and spend social times with uplifting Muslim sisters. Also, prior to making a decision about staying or divorcing, please do make istakhara prayer seeking Allah’s guidance. Allah knows best.

Well, you have a lot to think about, my dear sister, I am confident you will make a good choice. I pray to Allah that things will get better for you so you can once again experience peace, happiness, and contentment. May Allah bless your efforts and grant you ease.

Salam,

***

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.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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