In this counseling answer:
“If your husband just doesn’t care about you and the kids, you have a right to a divorce and maybe you should get one. In either case, you will need to choose to divorce him or suffer it out, hoping for your reward from Allah in the Next life (and maybe in this life too by getting your emotional needs met by having good friendships with your friends and family rather than him). If you feel you need more than just the companionship of your family and friends, and especially if you are afraid you will commit zena, divorce him!!!”
As-Salaamu ‘alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhum
Miskeena! Because we cannot control other people’s behavior, I cannot advise you as to how to “solve” this problem. I may be able to help you find a way to “deal with it” without divorce, as your family suggested (I may not agree with them, I am not sure because I don’t have enough information to form an opinion—it is my duty to hear both sides).
One thing that may help you deal with it is to understand it. Do you know why your husband stays away? Is he just shirking his responsibilities or is there a reason that has to do with you, or him, or someone else? Even if there is a reason that has to do with you, his responsibility to you in the marriage is to talk to you about what is not working so together you can try to solve the problem—not leave you and his children and not take care of you and them!
If the problem is with him—maybe he has a history of mental illness or some other problem—has he told you that? What is his reason for leaving—if you knew the answer to that question, maybe you could deal with it better, or help him solve his problem or resolve his issue. Knowing that would give you understanding about what it happening to you in your marriage and life—then you could make a more informed decision about if divorce would be the right way to go or not?
Have you talked to him about your displeasure with his behavior? What did he say? Did he justify it and act like it was okay in Islam and you were the one with the problem or did he say he knew it was wrong? Or, did he explain it so that you could understand how it makes sense, given the circumstances?
If your husband just doesn’t care about you and the kids, you have a right to a divorce and maybe you should get one. In either case, you will need to choose to divorce him or suffer it out, hoping for your reward from Allah in the Next life (and maybe in this life too by getting your emotional needs met by having good friendships with your friends and family rather than him). If you feel you need more than just the companionship of your family and friends, and especially if you are afraid you will commit zena, divorce him!!!
Have you gone to the masjid to consult with a scholar? Many times, men think that they can do whatever they want in their marriages. That is what they think it means to be a “man”. A scholar could set him right about that, if that is what he believes.
If you think it would help, try talking to him about how marriage could be a place of “sekinah” – peace of mind – for him (for the two of you, as a couple)—that is what marriage in Islam is supposed to give to us? I can only assume that sekina is what he is trying to get from fishing (that sort of feeling)—I don’t like to fish, so I don’t “get it”—to me fishing is boring beyond belief.
Also, his children have rights over him that are super important—on the Day of Judgment! AND in this life. Kids need a father. It has been shown that children who grow up without a Dad who is involved in their lives have much higher incidences of mental illness and criminal behavior. May Allah Protect your children! Have you talked to him about that? Please don’t assume that growing up without a Dad means that a child will become a criminal—our Prophet (peace on him), was an orphan and turned out to be the best man ever to walk the earth.
May Allah Make it easy for you
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