How Should a Woman Respond to Her Abusive Husband?

16 July, 2020
Q Every morning my husband wakes up nasty and complaining. He complains about everything, even when he contributes to the house finances. He is not bad, but he is very controlling and demanding, he is very self-centered and arrogant and can be very nasty and mean. Even the children do their best to avoid him. He goes out of his way everyday to remind me I’m not a perfect Muslim. What do you do as an Islamic wife without being disrespectful?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Don’t accept abuse, this is not part of being a good Muslim wife. Abuse is never, ever your fault.
  • The way you have described him, he is not a normal human being. It could be drug abuse, depression, or a personality disorder causing his rage. All of these need professional treatment. 
  • Putting up with him is not going to help anyone involved; it will only contribute to making things worse over time for you and your precious children.
  • You should also not allow yourself to be victimized. 
  • Seek out a wiser, older man to advise him, and if things don’t improve, divorce is the best option.

Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

I’m sorry this is how you feel about your husband.

Certainly, a Muslim marriage is supposed to be built on tenderness and tranquility. So, it’s sad when the sacred bond of marriage turns into a source of pain for the couple and their children.

Practicing good manners is the true manifestations of faith in Islam. So, a good Muslim husband and father should be compassionate, responsible and supportive.

The Prophet’s life with his family is full of examples on how to conduct ourselves at home.

The Prophet said that the best of men are those who are the best in manners with their wives and families. And he defined a Muslim man as someone whom people feel safe from his tongue and hand (i.e. verbal and physical abuse).

You and the children seem to be avoiding your husband because of the harm he causes you daily. This is actually at odds with his calling himself a Muslim and accusing you of being a bad Muslim yourself.

Was he always like that or did something happen to cause his repulsive behavior?

Putting up with a problem will not solve it

Indeed, blaming others, constant complaining, and waking up in a nasty abusive mood every morning is not normal.

However, it could indicate either a substance abuse problem such as addiction to alcohol or drugs. Or a psychological condition such as depression, which could be caused by severe stress or physical illness, or a personality disorder.

All of these need professional treatment.

Putting up with him is not going to help anyone involved; it will only contribute to making things worse over time.

It’s alarming that he complains about “contributing” to the house finances, which is supposed to be his responsibility as a Muslim husband and a father.

Is he educated, employed and earning enough money to support the family, or is he leaving that role to you and complaining about it too?

You don’t mention how you married your husband. Or, how compatible you are and whether he had always displayed those same behavioral patterns. But, you do say you have children with him who seem to be old enough to do things on their own, which means you two chose to stay together long enough to have them and raise them.

Have you been putting up with your husband this long without seeking help or advice?

All of these factors may contribute to your serious communication problems.

“Avoiding him” is not going to solve anything, you two need to be able to either address your problems openly and maturely or seek help to resolve your conflict.

Your Emotional Confusion

You call your husband controlling, demanding, nasty, mean, self-centered and arrogant. Then you also say he’s “not bad”.

This shows how confused you are about your feelings towards him.

At best, you see your husband as “neither nice nor bad” and that is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage and build a stable family.Abused by My Husband, How to Respond Islamically

You also say that your husband “goes out of his way to remind you everyday” that you’re not a perfect Muslim.

Whether he is blaming you for his mistakes or trying to make you feel guilty or inferior by accusing you of being a lousy wife or a bad Muslim, this is unacceptable psychological manipulation.

His role is to be supportive and tender, to help you be a better Muslim. And most of all, to set a good example for you and your children by being a good Muslim himself.

None of us are perfect; we’re humans not angels. So, we can only strive to be as good as we could, by following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad and the guidelines of the Quran.

We’re allowed to make mistakes as we learn to grow, and we’re given the chance to start over by sincere repentance.

Recognize domestic abuse and refuse to be victimized

If he’s demeaning you intentionally, calling you names, shouting to intimidate you and the kids, or physically assaulting you or them. This falls under domestic abuse, and you need to recognize it for what it is to be able to seek professional help.

I suspect that your self-esteem is being badly damaged by the toxic relationship you’re enduring.

You need professional counseling to regain control of your life, and rescue your children and your marriage from this unhealthy environment.

You ask what you could do as a Muslim wife without being disrespectful to your husband.

While I commend you for your feelings, I must also remind you that he is being disrespectful to you, your marriage, and your children.

So, while you shouldn’t act the same way, you should also not allow yourself to be victimized.

Don’t accept abuse, this is not part of being a good Muslim wife…

Furthermore, you need to be aware of your rights as well as your duties. And the same for him: his rights are earned only if he fulfills his duties.

Relationships in Islam are balanced so neither partner should assume all the responsibilities while the other enjoys all the rights.

This injustice is unacceptable in Islam.

Consultation

Please consult the local imam or an older and wiser Muslim family member or neighbor, friend or colleague . One who might be able to talk some sense into your husband and act as a mediator between the two of you. At least for the sake of your children who have a right over you in Islam to give them the best life conditions you possibly could.

Divorce

Finally, if all else fails, divorce becomes the only solution…

Islam doesn’t bind you against your will to an abusive husband who refuses to change.

God gives you the right to seek a divorce to protect yourself and your children and regain your self-esteem and well-being.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Wishing you peace and happiness.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/domestic-violence/husband-abuses-me-and-my-kids-and-blames-me-for-it/

The Truth about Domestic Abuse and Children’s Development

Tips on How to Deal with an Abusive Husband

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/domestic-violence/want-get-rid-abusive-husband/

About Sahar El-Nadi
Sahar El-Nadi is an Egyptian freelance journalist who traveled to 25 countries around the world and currently based in Cairo. Sahar also worked in many people-related careers in parallel, including presenting public events and TV programs; instructing training courses in communication skills; cross cultural issues; image consulting for public speakers; orientation for first-time visitors to the Middle East; and localization consulting for international educational projects.