In this counseling answer:
• I know it may be difficult and it’s a painful situation for you, but I would pick a time when things are calm and ask her what she wants from the marriage.
• If you want to save your marriage brother, I will kindly suggest Insha’Allah you first work very hard on forgiving her.
• Once you reach an agreement that you want to work out the marriage, I suggest that you both sit down together and outline some expectations, hopes, qualities, and other things that are conducive to a marriage in building trust.
• Engage in marriage counseling.
As salam Alaykum brother,
Thanks for writing to us regarding your situation with your wife. As you indicated you caught your wife chatting with a married man on Facebook. As it turns out she had met this person on Facebook even before you were engaged, and you were engaged for three years. She did state that she had a crush on him at one time but has no feelings now. When you confronted her, you further found out that they were sending pictures to each other. According to you, they weren’t nude, but they were inappropriate and allegedly they were having phone sex.
Painful Outcomes of Cheating
Brother, I can imagine how devastated you must have felt. When we get married to someone, we believe that they come into the marriage with the intention of only wanting us, naturally so. We do not expect to find out that there has been somebody in the picture all along. This is one of the dangers of chatting with unknown people in the social platform. It can develop into a cyber relationship wherein the two people engage in haram things.
Even though they never met, it was still a haram interaction. While we live in a pretty much virtual world right now, it is a lesson for everybody to learn that they must be careful when getting involved with social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Your wife should have stopped this long before she even knew you, as it is haram. Sadly, she still did not stop the relationship when she got engaged, nor did she stop when she got married.
Brother, I’m not sure how long you have been married to her, you said you were engaged for three years. I am wondering how long you were married until you found out this information. I would encourage you to get to the bottom of how she really feels insha’Allah. I know it may be difficult and it’s a painful situation for you, but I would pick a time when things are calm and ask her what she wants from the marriage. Tell her that you love her and you’re very hurt, however you both must move forward. It is very important that you are both honest with each other about how you feel currently. An important point is: Where would each of you hope to see the relationship go and how do you get there.
What if it were you?
Insha’Allah she will be receptive to talking about her feelings. I kindly suggest dear brother that if you do approach her, Insha’Allah, do so in a loving manner. If you try to initiate a conversation which is accusatory and judgmental, she may not respond. When people have done things that are hurtful and wrong and are approached in a negative way, they tend to close off. When approached in a neutral or loving way, they may be more willing to listening to what the other person has to say. This can lead to being more receptive to correcting their behavior as well Insha’Allah.
While this approach in no way excuses your wife for continuing this relationship while she was engaged to you (and especially when she was married to you), it does provide a possible option to save the marriage and begin to heal. Brother Insha’Allah, when you talk with her, please do have some points that you would like to discuss. They may include questions such as does she love him? Does she love you? Does she want to be married to you, and if so, does she plan on continuing to speak with this man. You may also want to ask her that if the situation were different and it was you who was talking to a woman and having phone sex with her- how would she feel?
Empathy, Compassion, & Forgiveness
If you choose to try to save the marriage by talking to her, Insha’Allah approach her with realness. Just be honest but not brutal. Ask the types of questions that may insha’Allah help her to develop empathy as to how you are feeling right now. Empathy and compassion are very important ingredients for a good marriage as is respect and honesty.
If you want to save your marriage brother, I will kindly suggest Insha’Allah you first work very hard on forgiving her. This is a difficult part. But we know that Allah is most merciful. Allah loves to forgive. If we seek forgiveness from Allah, we should seek to forgive others. While forgiving a betrayal such as this may take time and hard work, insha’Allah it will be worth it. Additionally, as you’re working on forgiving, please do have the conversation with her regarding what she wants as well.
Once you reach an agreement that you want to work out the marriage, I suggest that you both sit down together and outline some expectations, hopes, qualities, and other things that are conducive to a marriage in building trust.
Check out this counseling video:
I also kindly suggest dear brother that you both engage in marriage counseling as well as participate in individual counseling for the trauma you have been through. Lastly and most importantly, it is imperative that you and your wife begin to draw closer to Allah SWT. Go to the Masjid together, pray together, and read Qur’an together. Get to know other Islamic couples whom you both can spend happy times with going out for dinner occasionally or plan quality activities with. In other words-together increase your worship and your social lives in an Islamic way.
Brother as you did ask very specific questions, I will address them in order:
“Regarding Me (what should I do): “
1-Brother it seems that this is a natural response to a devastating betrayal. Most people would react and feel this way. However, your choice is this: Do you want to remain feeling like this? Or would you like to find a way out of these feelings and heal? There are many stages to healing, and anger and depression are part of the healing process-that are if we can move on to the next stage which is acceptance and rebuilding self and finding peace moving forward. It is a type of trauma that needs to be healed in therapy. As you are depressed and it is affecting your life dear brother, Insha’Allah you will consider getting ongoing counseling.
2-Often times this is a result of deep depression. Those who are depressed often withdraw, even from Allah. It is difficult to grasp because, at a time when we need Allah the most, we can’t reach out. I encourage you, brother, to pray, make supplication, go to the Masjid-even if you don’t feel like it. Force yourself to. There is healing in worshiping Allah and making supplication asking Allah to grant us ease and mercy. The more you engage, the easier it will get Insha’Allah, and the better you will feel.
3-Your constant questioning about her relationship with this man is a normal part of trying to “make sense” of it all. However, you hitting her is abuse and abuse is haram in Islam, illegal in most places and you are only showing your own weakness when you hit her. Stop hitting her. Additionally, if you hit her, why would she want to stay with an abusive husband? Please, do seek out anger management counseling if you cannot control your anger or discuss a separation for her safety as you do love her.
4-As Muslims seek sincere repentance from Allah when we sin. Did she say she repented? If she did brother, you should no longer ask her about her sins or feel she is “filthy” or a “second-hand” person because she is covered by Allah. What Allah covers one should not try to interfere or keep bringing up as it is between that person and Allah. Allah is most merciful and loves to forgive. As humans, it is harder for us to do that, but we should strive to as we want to be forgiven as well.
5-Brother, her parents have nothing to do with what you and she decide for the future of your marriage. You married her, not her parents. It is her you will either try to rebuild a relationship with and live your life with, not her parents. I understand that you love and respect them, however, marriage is an intimate relationship and decisions should be made regarding whether or not a marriage will be healthy, loving, and Islamic.
Regarding Her (are these things possible):
1-Insha’Allah, she is telling you the truth. As this happened before she met you, it was probably something she did not plan on. However, continued conversations, feelings, or crushes may grow. Human emotions can get weak as people talk more and it is easy to get “swept away” by the attention, newness, and emerging closeness that two people begin to develop. She may have felt she was “safe” because he lived in another country and knew they would probably never meet. Her “crush” may not have lasted that long, but the closeness or “friendship” was hard for her to cut off.
However, once she was engaged to you, all relationships should have been cut off. Perhaps she did not know how, or maybe she thought it was harmless but regardless of her reason, it was haram. It is reasonable to conclude that yes, she loves you very much. Insha’Allah she was weak when it came to this situation and did not know how to cut it. Insha’Allah she has repented to Allah, cut off all communication with this man, and is trying to rebuild her marriage.
2-Again, this is a situation wherein she may have been uncomfortable, or she may not have been. Only she knows (and Allah).
Regarding pictures she said at first, he was forcing her to send but slowly she got used to it and was sending the pictures out of habit only.
Brother, no one was forcing her to send pictures. She chose to send pictures. She made poor decisions and choices. Insha’Allah she has learned that by not following Allah’s commands, it can result in not only Allah’s wrath but also in other hardships such as this. I can imagine she feels very much ashamed and regretful.
3-It could be that they just happened to start chatting and it turned into something she was not prepared to handle. She may have been lonely or bored. She may have enjoyed the attention. Maybe none of these are possibilities, but that it just happened. Whatever the reason may be, “I don’t know” may just be a way of her acknowledging that she really doesn’t know how it grew into this big haram episode.
4-She said she doesn’t know what she was trying to prove herself. I’m not sure either, Usually, no one is trying to prove anything when they fall into haram conversations-it just happens. However, it could be that she had low self-esteem or felt a need to prove to herself that she was desirable. This is sad, but it can happen especially with girls who do not value themselves, they seek validation elsewhere.
5-Brother, please do ask yourself these questions to clarify: Would it make a difference if he was Muslim, single and her age? Would it hurt less? Would it be less sinful? Friendships, initial conversations, and online chats usually do not look at those variables unless one is seeking marriage.
Brother, the outcome may be based on several factors.
Your wife’s honesty, true repentance, and having cut off the man for good.
Your ability to move forward-which means putting the past behind you, and getting counseling to deal with your hurt, anger, and depression. It will take a commitment from both of you to draw closer to Allah, start implementing an Islamic foundation for your marriage, praying together, and going to the Masjid. It will require a firm commitment to start over-with love, honesty, respect, and tranquility. Forgiveness is also a part of that equation.
We wish you the best,
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.