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3 Strategies for Successful Intercultural Marriage

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Sep 25, 2019

Question

Salam Aleikom dear counselor. I have some problem with my husband. I am a convert from the West, he is a born Muslim from the Middle-East. We live in the West for a few years. We don't have kids yet.

My problem is that I feel my husband is bossy sometimes and uses ways to "punish me" which are unacceptable in the West, and for me. He is a nice guy although he is quite introvert while I am more of an extrovert type of person. That is already a problem as I love going out, meeting my friends and family, do this and that, while it is really hard to get him moved out of the house. Surely, he works a lot during the week, so he feels less willing to do something at the weekend. I admit I try but fail to handle this issue as well.

But the main problem: he thinks that as a wife I must ask permission from him for everything I am willing to do. I basically have no personal choice over my life. Surely, I tell him everything, but I feel it's nonsense that rather than just sharing with him my plans for the day/week - which are completely ordinary, I mean I don't meet bad people, in bad places, or do something haram - I need to ask his permission, and he feels entitled to refuse them any time without reason.

I did not know of this part of his personality before marriage, and I would say even in the first times either. Usually, he does not refuse anything, I admit, but just the fact makes me feel like a child that he thinks this way. And when we have some misunderstandings between us, then he wants to gain back his "manly respect" by bossing around and restricting everything. I cannot meet my parents (they are divorced) because I just decided by myself to meet them without asking permission from him before; I cannot sleep over my dad when he is alone for a few days.

He threatens with divorce and has tried to throw stuff like a pillow to me when he is angry. He has never kicked me, but I am sometimes scared of him. I am confused about what to do with him, how to handle this situation. He is always mentioning that hadeeth about the husband is the head of the family, the decision-maker, but I feel we see this role from different perspectives.

Counselor

Answer


3 Strategies for Successful Intercultural Marriage

In this counseling answer:

• It can be a great experience to learn about other cultures, but it can also present many challenges.

• Making a small amount of compromise is preferable in order to continue living a life that each other is happy with.

• The only way such compromises can come about is to sit down and talk about it.

• Another way to overcome such difficulties in an intercultural marriage is to strive to learn more about the culture of the other spouse.


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum sister,

Intercultural marriages come with extra challenges to marriages from within the same culture. It can be a great experience to learn about other cultures, but it can also present many challenges, especially when it comes to crucial issues central to the home and the marriage. Both partners might have completely different perspectives on the issue. To you, the way you wish to live seems perfectly acceptable to you, and likewise to him, what he expects from you is perfectly acceptable to him. This is based on the kind of environments that you would both have been used to growing up.

Communication & Win-Win Negotiation

The key in such situations is to be able to work together to understand each other and see things from their perspective. You both need to develop a respect for one another’s opinions and try to come to some kind of agreement that will satisfy both of you. In such situations, it is likely that you will both have to make some compromises in order for this middle ground to be met. For the sake of a happy marriage and a comfortable environment, making a small amount of compromise is preferable in order to continue living a life that each other is happy with. It is difficult when these traits only become apparent after marriage, but with effective communication, it is possible to make things work, in sha’ Allah.

3 Strategies for Successful Intercultural Marriage - About Islam

The only way such compromises can come about is to sit down and talk about it. He is correct that the husband is that of the decision-maker, but there are also conditions on this. Just because he is the decision-maker, it does not mean that he should not take the wife’s perspective and needs into account. This also does not mean he should place unnecessary restrictions on the wife. He should, however, protect the wife from harm or getting into potential situations where she may end up going against the command of Allah (swt).

So, for example, in this case, it may be that he does not forbid you to go out at all, but may ask you to go out less and communicate with you what his concerns are about you going out so much. Maybe there is a reason why he dislikes it and it’s important for you to understand why he wants to place such restrictions on you so that you may discuss this and potentially come up with a compromise.

It may be that he has a genuine concern about you going out as much as you do, and if he can explain this to you, then it will be easier for you to understand why he wants to place such restrictions on you. Perhaps he is worried that, given the current status of things in the West, you might be a victim of an attack, in which case he might have a justified reason to prefer you not to go out as much to protect your safety. You may come up with a compromise that you might still go out, but perhaps less, or that you always let him know when you go out and get back so he can be sure of your safety.

It may be that he doesn’t realize how much he is hurting you by putting these restrictions on you, in which case you would have to let him know in order that he can understand how it’s affecting you. Maybe there is another reason behind his actions, but you will only be able to find out by talking about it.

Study His/Her Culture

Another way to overcome such difficulties in an intercultural marriage is to strive to learn more about the culture of the other spouse. This way, the other spouse will feel happy that you are eager to learn more about their background. It will also make it easier to understand another viewpoint and the reason people live different lives in the way they do, with different expectations. It might be that you two take time also to sit down and lay out each other’s expectations of one another. This way, you are both openly aware of what he expects of you, and likewise, he is aware of what you expect of him.


Check out this counseling video:


May Allah (swt) bring you peace and contentment in your marriage and help you to overcome the difficulties that you are facing right now.

Salam,

***

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.

Read more:

What Is So Hard About Being in an Intercultural Marriage?

Before Entering into an Intercultural Marriage

Intercultural Marriage: Muslim Women Narrate Their Stories

 




About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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