Dealing with an Insanely Jealous Husband

19 June, 2017
Q I spoke with my husband so much time about how I feel, but it seems he can't control himself. Every time I convince him to take me out with him, he makes a real disaster. He starts imagining that someone looks at me. If we are in front of a shop window and some man wants to take a look at some clothes in it, he starts imaging that man came near the shop because of me. Therefore, he avoids taking me out because he is extremely jealous. When I try to convince him to visit a doctor, he rejects saying jealousy is a good thing, and it’s his obligation to be jealous toward his wife; it’s a command from the God. This always turns out to be a never-ending discussion between us. He asks why I need to spend time out, why I am not happy with him at home when he comes home. Yes, I’m happy with him at home, but he is often out, or at work, or with his friends and workmates, and when I finish housework, I am bored. If I go to the market, he would start asking me whether someone disturbed me, looked at me, etc. I’m getting tired of this. He is from a religious, conservative family, and I guess they treat women in his family this way. He argues that this should be the way a Muslimah lives - house, house, house, house. He even brings his cousin, who is an imam, into our house to explain to me that he is right for being jealous and that there is no active place for me in the society. If I feel depressed, I should read and learn about Islam. I simply gave up. I don't know how this will work. He doesn't understand me. Actually, he doesn't want to understand me. His family, too, looks me as I am asking something unusual.


In this counseling answer:

The issue with extreme jealousy is that it is not about love, but more about the fear of losing control. To remedy that, the counselor advises the wife to continue to go out with her wife, build trust amongst each other, and continue to communicate her feelings with him openly and honestly. Remember that things are not going to change quickly.

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum Sister,

Thank you for writing us. Marriage certainly is not easy, and it sounds you are certainly experiencing a lot of barriers to get your message across to your husband. You have mentioned that your husband is adamant about his views and does not believe that his extreme jealousy is a negative thing for your marriage. You, on the other hand, can’t imagine your life to be the way it is long term. You have spoken with him several times but in vain.

It seems from your message that you have already made a decision that your marriage will not work as long as things are this way when you say I simply gave up. I don’t know how will this work. He doesn’t understand me, Actually, he doesn’t want to understand me.” It must be devastating to feel that your partner in life does not want to empathize and attempt to compromise for the sake of your happiness. This is truly a test of your patience.

However, I wouldn’t advise that you rush into ending your marriage at this time. Making a decision while you are angry and/or emotional is never a good idea. Remember that marriage is a sacred covenant that you agreed to enter into with this man, and, therefore, it should be taken seriously and is certainly worth fighting for its preservation. Keep in mind that there are a few proactive things that you can do to change the situation that you are in.

Firstly, focus on improving the quality of your marriage. Be committed to perfecting it. Nurture your relationship with your husband and spend positive time with each other. Make memories with him and get to know him better. You mentioned that you have only been married for one year. That certainly is not enough time to get accustomed to one another and to fully understand each other’s behavior, personality, and ability to adjust to one another as husband and wife. These first years of marriage are also a good time for you to set the tone to your style of communication as a couple and to create a certain “culture” as a couple and a family in the process of being established.

Take action, be proactive, and have a mission to how you want your marriage to be. Establish certain habits such as the both of you eating dinner together every day, exercising together, etc. Even though you are uncomfortable going out with him to public places because of his jealousy, stay patient and continue to go out with him anyway. This requires patience, but your intent is to have him understand that spending time outside of the house is important to you, and with time he may start to get more accustomed to it and actually enjoy himself with you. The point of this stage is to increase positive interactions, increase good memories, and to increase trust.

The issue with extreme jealousy is that it is not about love, but more about the fear of losing control. He may fear that he is losing control of you when he feels that other men may be looking at you. This certainly is not Islam and could be an indicator of controlling and overpowering behavior. To remedy that, continue to go out with him, build trust amongst each other, and continue to communicate your feelings with him openly and honestly. Remember that things are not going to change quickly.

Given the fact that he grew up with a certain expectation of women’s roles that are different than yours, attempting to have him understand your point-of-view could be a very lengthy process. You do not have the power to change a person, but the only thing you can do is to attempt to connect with them so they can empathize with you. Once the both of you become close “friends” and establish a stronger relationship, at that point, he may or may not start to understand what things are important to you as an individual and willingly try to make you happy. Again, it is important to emphasize that this is a long process and requires your patience and perseverance.

After a period of hard work, reassess your relationship with your husband and continue to communicate your feelings to him. If things are still rocky, consider marriage counseling. Marriage counseling could be an effective way to help the both of you reassess your expectations of each other and of your marriage in an open and honest manner.

If that is not an option, at least bring a trusted member of your family and a member of his family to help as mentioned in the Quran:

“And if you fear dissension between the two (husband and wife), send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted.” (4:35)

It is interesting to note that Allah (swt) said, “If they both desire reconciliation, Allah (swt) will cause it to them.” This indicates that people must open their hearts and minds to change the situation for the better instead of being arrogant and only expecting the other person to change and for them to stay the way they are.

May Allah (swt) help you through this and grant you patience to overcome your hardships.


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.