I really want to thank you for the great website and the great advice I have received from you in the past. I also want to thank you for all the help you provide to people. I pray all the time and make du`aa'(supplication) to Allah to help me and make things clear for me so I can make decisions, but so far I am still stuck. I have a big problem. To start with, my relationship with my husband is not too great. We are great friends, but as husband and wife, we do not really get on, but I do not want to get into this in this letter. My husband came from a troubled home, which I knew before we got married, but I was young, immature, and inexperienced. To me a troubled home was ‘ mama yells too much,’ or something like that. I had no idea what the magnitude of his trouble was.
At first, I thought I could save him or help him and I romanticized the whole idea, but I really did not know what I was getting into. I was blinded by his looks and the attention he used to give me. Through the years I have grown wiser, and, along with my son’s birth, I realized what I want from life. I want to live a clean life. I said earlier that I was inexperienced when I first got married. Well there are some things I wish never to experience and wish I could go back to that time. During the last year or so, the relationship between my husband and me has got worse and I have to be blamed for that. I discovered things in his character, beliefs and morals that really do not match with mine. We both have a different understanding of what marital life should be like. We do not agree on the role of the husband and wife and this has made my life with him not as happy as it should be. Subconsciously, it has made me discontent. Some of his problems from the past have re-surfaced, and they are really bad, to the extent that I hate thinking about them, but I cannot stop. I could mention many things, but the worst and latest thing that has come up is that his father sexually abused his brother and he doubts that he was abused too, because he keeps having flashbacks.
My husband and I come from very different cultures and true, bad things happen everywhere, but it really is not part of my world and I do not know how to deal with such issues. Yes, I maybe naïve, and may even be shallow, but I am a simple person who wants simple things in life. I do not want drugs and abuse and stuff like that to be around me or my son. I am not heartless, I feel for my husband greatly and I sympathize with him and know that none of this is his fault. I cannot believe someone could be so cruel to his own children as my husband’s father was to him. The bottom line is that I do not know what to do. I was toying with the idea of separation before, and now I seem to want it even more. Again I do not want to appear heartless. I know my role as a wife is to help him, but there are so many other things involved that I do not know what is right or wrong anymore. I feel guilty and feel bad, because I want this problem out of my life, rather than to try to fix it. I cannot stop thinking that his father is my son’s grandfather! I do want to help him because after all he is my son’s father and I want him to be the best person he can be. Although I acknowledge he is not the one for me and truly believe my life in the end will be better without him, I still fear separation, partly because of the life I will have after that, and mainly because he will have nobody to turn to. Now that this latest problem has come along, I feel even worse, because I know I have to help him deal with all this. But his past has been haunting us since we got married 5 years ago.
He is trying his best, but we are really going nowhere. I have come to believe that he needs someone different, someone more from his culture, because obviously I am not helping too much. I know no marriage is perfect and all marriages have problems and I admit I am not giving this my 100% effort, but honestly I cannot. I cannot control my emotions. I have seen him in situations that have made me lose respect for him and I cannot seem to get those thoughts out of my head. I do not know how to deal with such issues. I tried but failed. Now I realize that I am in over my head and honestly, I am tired and have had enough. Yesterday, I tried to have a talk with him, but instead of focusing on that issue, he started telling me how selfish I am. He always turns the conversation around to make it my fault. He claims I do not help and do not do enough, but I think he is wrong because I spend on my son and myself. Since we got married, more or less the only thing he has done for me is put a roof over my head, other than that I do everything for myself. Now my son and I believe that this is helping, but to him this is not enough. I think this is a major cultural difference; anyway, I could go on and on….I feel that I stay with him because I feel sorry for him.
I fear separation because he will have nothing after me. But what are my rights as a person? Shouldn’t I be able to live and have the family and life I want? I know I will be better off without him but feel I have a responsibility. I do not feel I have a husband I can count on and rely on. I do not feel secure with him and I feel I have no backbone, nobody supporting me. He feels we do not have major problems, but I feel the core of our marriage is a problem. He is dragging me down and complicating my life. Sorry if I am not making complete sense, I just feel so hopeless right now. Please help me.
In this counseling answer:
• You should not judge him on his past, but rather on who he is today.
• Make the Istikharah Prayer (supplication for guidance) and ask Allah (swt) to guide you.
May Allah Most High reward you for your compliments about the AboutIslam Counselor service. We make du`aa’ to Allah to help us improve! Ameen.
You are experiencing a range of emotions regarding your relationship with your husband, but perhaps the most pressing issue right now is whether or not you should separate from him. We want to be very frank with you by saying that, based on what you have written to us here, we advise you not to separate from your husband for several reasons.
First, it is not entirely clear that you do have irreconcilable differences with your husband that would warrant a separation. Yes, we agree that inter-cultural marriages are very challenging, but those challenges on the most part can be overcome.
Second, no matter how bad his past was, you should not judge him on his past, but rather on who he is today. He is your husband now and unless he is involved in “really bad” things today, then you should do your best to be forgiving and merciful towards him. Support him to improve his life and to become a better Muslim.
Third, unless couples have had extensive pre-marital counseling, it is not uncommon for them to have varied outlooks on the respective roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife. Still, this in itself is not a reason for separation. What exactly is the nature of the differences in outlook? How much effort have both of you put into trying to understand where each of you is coming from? Have you studied what Islam says about the roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife?
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Fourth, you should not stay married to a person because you feel sorry for him, but rather because you accept him as a part of the overall test from Allah (swt). Your husband appears to have had a very challenging childhood. He needs professional help whether or not he himself was abused by his father. Just knowing that his brother was abused is enough reason for him to seek help for himself. The choice you have to make is not whether or not you will separate from your husband, but rather to what degree you want to be involved in helping your husband deal with his past. If you cannot handle it because his past is too much in contrast with your own cultural background, then support him in other ways.
Fifth, we strongly suggest that you and your husband seek out a marital therapist and attempt to reclaim your marriage before it is too late. Allah Most High has tested you with this marriage and you have to ask yourself whether or not you have exerted enough effort to pass the test, or if you are sidestepping the test altogether. You have the right to a helpful, supporting, loving, kind, merciful husband; however, those rights are mutual and become your responsibilities towards your husband. Unless you firmly believe that you have exhausted every avenue of helping your marriage, you will live in regret after you separate, because you will never really know if the marriage could have worked out or not.
Finally, we do not know all of the circumstances that are prompting you to consider separation. We have outlined some reasons we believe you should stay in the marriage. Even if you believe that separation is the best solution, we want to encourage you to turn back to Allah (swt) and truly seek His guidance. Make the Istikharah Prayer (supplication for guidance) and ask Allah (swt) to guide you to what is the best for your faith, your family and your future.
Allah (swt) knows 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.