In this counseling answer:
•Talk to him and help him to see that his son misses his father dearly.
•Think of activities that he can do with his son to help him to establish a relationship with him.
•If it is possible, let your son spend some time with either your in-laws, your own family, or other friends or relatives so that you and your husband can have some time alone together.
•You need to talk to him frankly and communicate to him the gravity of the situation.
Thank you for writing to us with this very difficult situation. We make du`aa’ to Allah Most High to grant you guidance and patience as you attempt to bring this issue with your husband to a resolution.
Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
First, Allah Most High has commanded us to marry and granted husbands, wives, and children comprehensive mutual rights and responsibilities. We emphasize two key aspects, namely that the rights and responsibilities are comprehensive and that they are mutual.
The comprehensive nature of the rights and responsibilities implies clearly that all aspects of the family’s well-being are to be addressed by the husband, wife, and the children.
There is no such understanding in Islam that a man can marry, have children, and then neglect the family totally except that he provides for them financially.
While it is commendable that your husband fulfills his duty to provide for you and your child, his understanding of his duties needs to be expanded so that it is perhaps based less on personal interpretations and more in line with actual Islamic teachings.
Books on the seerah, or the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), give plenty of examples of the Prophet of Allah spending time with his wives, of helping with the household chores, and of being playful with his children and grandchildren.
In addition to being comprehensive, the rights and responsibilities are also mutual. Every member of the family is accounted for when he or she fulfills a responsibility because one member’s responsibility is often a right of another member.
It is the husband’s responsibility to spend quality time with his wife, apart from physical intimacy. In this principle of mutuality, the wife’s right is to have a share of her husband’s time just for herself. And similar examples could be given for the relationship between parents and children.
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Second, we are torn between commending you for your patience and questioning your judgment for not putting a stop earlier to the very immature and neglectful behavior of your husband.
Based on what you have written, it is unclear to us just how much effort you have made to make it clear to your husband that his behavior is not acceptable, period. Who does he think he is to talk about marrying another woman when he is guilty of neglecting you and your son?
Since whatever it is you tried to do before did not seem to change your husband’s behavior, we suggest strongly that you sit down with him now and help him to understand how detrimental his behavior is on you and on your son. He seems to have a warped understanding of his responsibilities and is more concerned about what his needs are than either your needs or those of your son.
If he is spending so much time with his friends and does not eat at home, he is essentially not a part of the family picture.
- Talk to him and help him to see that his son misses his father dearly.
- Think of activities that he can do with his son to help him to establish a relationship with him.
- If it is possible, let your son spend some time with either your in-laws, your own family, or other friends or relatives so that you and your husband can have some time alone together.
- You need to talk to him frankly and communicate to him the gravity of the situation.
- He seems not to feel threatened at all that he will suffer any consequences due to his behavior. Change that by talking to him about the worst-case scenario: divorce.
- Propose a plan to him with a timeline to help him change his behavior.
If he does not wish to listen or cooperate, involve your respective families. In addition, you can involve the local imam or other trusted, knowledgeable elders.
Your goal is to help your husband to change his behavior so that ultimately you both can work together to save the marriage.
Finally, we appreciate your writing to us and make du`aa’ that, in sha’ Allah, your husband will heed your warning and change his behavior. He does not seem to have had a good orientation as to what married life is supposed to be like. He might simply not know the above discussion on rights and responsibilities.
Work with him, help him, and make du`aa’ to Allah to guide him. Remember that you are special and have needs, as does your son. If your husband continues to neglect both of you and shows no desire to change his behavior, do not delay having a serious conversation with him about the future of your marriage. Make the Istikharah Prayer and seek the guidance and help of Allah Most High before making any final decisions.
And Allah knows best.
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