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My Husband, a Serial Cheater

05 July, 2017
Q I have been with my husband for 15 years. In 2001, he cheated on me and infected me with a treatable disease. Over the years, he has been with other women and young girls about whom I usually come to know innocently. When I asked, he told me that it was just sex. We have been facing problems regarding intimacy since 2007. He told me that I repulse him sexually to the point that he cannot even come close to me. He has been (emotionally as well as physically) abusive towards me, and he is quite arrogant towards my family and friends to the point that they stopped visiting us in our house. Now, at the age of 45, I cannot live such life that lacks physical contact, satisfaction, and companionship. We have two children, but he only provides with what is necessary while avoids participating in any family gathering with us. I told him that there was no love in my heart anymore for him and that I wanted to leave. Please advise!


In this counseling answer:

The foundation of any marriage must be based on love and mercy otherwise it would be unbearable. Therefore, the counselor advises the sister to seek help from a marriage counselor to fix their marriage as well turn to a psychologist for individual counseling. If nothing works, the counselor advises to seek a divorce and move on with life.

As-Salamu `Alaikum Sister,

Thank you for sending us your question. May Allah (swt) grant you the wisdom, strength, and courage to choose the best route for your situation.

I am sorry to hear about the hardships that you have been experiencing with your husband. Usually, when a person gets married, they are interested in sharing their life with another person who loves and respects them. Allah (swt) describes marriage in the Quran as follows:

“He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy.” (30:21)

Allah (swt) recognizes that a human being naturally wants to feel at peace with their spouse. They want to feel loved. The foundation of any marriage must be based on love and mercy otherwise it would be unbearable. It is the responsibility of every husband and wife to strive to make their marriage based on love and mercy, no matter what hardships they may face.

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However, many of us women do not know the difference between hardships that we should be patient with and hardships that we should have no tolerance for. There is a difference between being patient with a husband who is ill with cancer and being patient with a husband who brutally abuses his wife. The first example is a hardship that came upon the couple beyond their control. The hardship will most likely cause friction within the family unit but both the husband and wife should be patient and support each other. The second example is a hardship that was caused with the intention to humiliate and hurt the other. Allah (swt) created us to go through hardships in order to become stronger people and to turn to him for help. Allah (swt) did NOT create us to go through hardships in order to be humiliated.

As I read your question, I can sense that you have gone through a lot of pain, humiliation, and suffering, and you are tired of it. You write that you can’t go on like this, and you have every right to feel this way. The reason you feel this way is because of your husband’s lack of love and respect towards you. He had emotionally, verbally, and physically abused you and has made you feel inadequate and unloved by his constant cheating.

You have also mentioned that your sexual relationship has been in shambles since 2007. Have you and your husband been to a sex therapist or some kind of a professional to work on this serious issue? No doubt that there are a lot of unresolved problems from the start of your marriage that needed to be worked on long ago.

It seems from your description that your husband is a serial cheater. He may have a strong sexual urge that he finds difficult to control. The diversity in partners gives him a lot of gratification. You mentioned that he started cheating in 2001; does that mean that he was faithful during the first few years of marriage? If so, what happened in 2001 that made him start cheating?

I am very saddened to hear that his cheating has gone so far that he had inflicted you with a treatable disease. Whether this disease was treatable, no partner should ever be put in such a dangerous and humiliating situation. This type of behavior certainly raises a lot of red flags because it is exceedingly reckless and may indicate that he in need of professional help.

The first thing I would advise you to do is for you and your husband to participate in marriage counseling. It is clear that there has been a lot of problems that have not been discussed between you and your husband since possibly the start of your marriage. Counseling will enable the both of you to talk about your relationship openly and honestly and identify the points in your relationship that need to be changed.

It is also evident that you both may need individual counseling. Each one of you needs to reflect upon your feelings and actions separately in order to attain an inner peace that you currently lack. If change does not occur after the both of you invest your efforts into your marriage, then life will continue to be unbearable. If that occurs, know that you need to make a change by moving on with your life. You need to take care of yourself and your children. A relationship will never be healthy if there is any form of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. In your question, you stated that you are a victim of all three types of abuse, and they all must be eliminated from your marriage.

As mentioned earlier, Allah (swt) did not create us to be patient in a relationship that demeans and humiliates us. He created us to worship Him and to strive to be at peace with ourselves and society so we can raise our children to become positive and confident adults.

Your mental and physical well-being is more important than staying in an abusive relationship that has no hope of improvement. You will not only be doing yourself harm by staying, but you will also be exposing your children to a very toxic environment that will affect them throughout their childhood and adulthood.

May Allah (swt) strengthen your heart and mind and guide you to the best solution.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information that was provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, it’s volunteers, writers, scholars, counselors, or employees be held liable for any direct, indirect, exemplary, punitive, consequential or other damages whatsoever that may arise through your decision or action in the use of the services which our website provides. 

About Aliah F. Azmeh
Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.