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Different Personalities in Marriage; How to Work Together?

06 February, 2018
Q I have been married and living with my husband for over four months, but we have not yet consummated our marriage. Although we tried once, it hasn't happened. My husband is a nice person, but he has much insecurity which puts great mental stress on me and prevents me from developing emotional feelings or attraction to him. I feel that he depends on me in ways that a woman should depend on a man. For instance, in the case of protection; he’s scared of a lot of things and has low self-esteem. At the beginning of our marriage, it felt that I had to make all the first moves, and when we tried to consummate our marriage, he lost his drive, became frustrated, and stopped. He has now left it to me when we should try again, but I feel I have no physical desire for him or emotional longing. He has a reserved personality and is socially quite awkward around people, even with his close relatives, which leaves me feeling uncomfortable and distressed. We don’t share much in common and have very different personalities. Although he has many good character traits, I don’t have any physical inclination towards him, and I am struggling to develop a liking of his personality also. On the other hand, he has very strong feelings for me and wants to be a good husband, but I find it difficult to overlook some of the weaknesses and insecurities he has. I have communicated some of these problems with him, but it often upsets him and I end up feeling really bad. I’m not sure what I should do, how I should be towards him, or what to think of this all.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

“Ask yourself if you may be contributing to the problem. A man’s ultimate need in marriage is to feel respected. Does he feel respected, appreciated, and looked up to? Does he feel that you need him to take responsibility?”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum dear sister,

Thank you for your question. Although the marriage has already taken place, I would like to mention this for the sake of other brothers and sisters who may be reading this. Before the marriage takes place, it’s extremely important to look out for signs or ‘red flags’ for characteristics, or flaws in the other person that you do not think you will be able to tolerate or compromise on.

You mentioned that you do not share very much in common and have different personalities as well as him being reserved and socially awkward. These are usually matters and characteristics that would have become apparent before the marriage took place. It is once again very important for any prospective husband or wife to be mindful of the characteristics that they think are important in a spouse while remembering that they are not perfect as well. You may wish to read through some more information on this topic on www.findingloveandmercy.com, or refer to Dr. Ikram and Rida Beshir’s books on marriage.

Now that your marriage has already taken place, here are a few suggestions.

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  • Having a reserved nature and being introverted could, indeed, be a temperament that some people are born with and has its advantages and benefits (You may wish to read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts That Can’t Stop Talking”). It is always important in any marriage to look at not only the negative but positive characteristics that each spouse brings.  For example, you mentioned that your husband depends on you for things that a woman usually depends on for a man.  In this case, does he also depend on you financially, or is he able to provide for you?

 

  • As for being reserved and socially awkward; like everything, if it becomes extreme to the extent that the person cannot function and perform their regular duties, whether they be duties of an employee, or in this case a husband, this is where it may become a reason for concern. Being born with a certain temperament does not mean that it cannot be adjusted in order for the person to perform or function at a more optimal level. In this case, your husband’s insecurity could have been fueled by some negative relationships in the past with family or with people in general. Therefore, it may be the best to suggest couples counseling for your husband and then individual counseling for him, although it is understood that this may be a difficult option for him to entertain right away.

Therefore, initially, you could do the following:

Ask yourself if you may be contributing to the problem. A man’s ultimate need in marriage is to feel respected. Does he feel respected, appreciated, and looked up to? Does he feel that you need him to take responsibility?

You have mentioned that when you speak to him about how you feel, he gets upset. You could try writing to him or sending him articles that you feel are appropriate and won’t hurt his feelings. Suggest assertiveness books for him to read, or even assertiveness training which could be found through a local college, or training provider as well as online.

You could also become involved in a community activity together that you are both interested in. This would help him become more comfortable in social settings.

Also, try to be more loving and affectionate.  Insecure people usually need more love and affection to overcompensate for their insecurity, and touch can go a long way to help them overcome any insecurity they may have.  It is understood though that a woman can find it hard to continue giving love if she is not receiving love. However, if you are interested in trying your best to keep this marriage going, then making this investment and contributing to his “emotional bank account” is important.

If there are certain behaviors he is exhibiting that you cannot tolerate, or unreasonable expectations being placed on you, then it helps if you give a very specific list of those things. Insist that they need to be changed in order for the relationship to continue, while of course trying to be as patient and kind as possible.

  • If you find that after the following steps it is still very difficult with him, you may wish to ask him to see a counselor or a psychologist as a final option before considering more drastic measures such as separation. Also remember that marriage is a sacred union that should not be broken easily, but that it is also a place where love, mercy, and tranquility need to exist.  And as always, pray the istikharah prayer (supplication for guidance in making a decision) and make du`aa’ (supplication) that He helps you and facilitates what is best for you. Remember that going through a separation is also a difficult experience which could have long term implications, but is permissible for cases where the marriage can no longer continue.

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.

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