In this counseling answer:
“What you are seeing may be a result of the abuse he has been through. I would tell him that you would like to save the marriage if possible but only on the condition that he gets counseling and begins to work on his issues. If your husband does not want to seek help to deal with his problems and live an Islamic life, you may have to divorce for the sake of your daughter.”
As-Salamu ‘Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I am sad to hear about what is going on with your relationship with your husband.
You stated he was married 2 times before and almost married a few other women before you. You also stated that your husband comes from a very abusive family and went through sexual, physical and verbal abuse. From what I am understanding, to this day, his family is still messed up and dysfunctional. He has never received counseling for what he went through.
You also said that your husband is abusive and has anger management issues. Of course, this is not surprising given the kind of childhood he had wherein he was abused sexually, physically and emotionally. However, it appears that these issues are turning into an inter-generational pattern as he is abusive as well. The Australian Institute of Family Studies found that “some evidence suggests that adults who were abused or neglected as children are at increased risk of intergenerational abuse or neglect compared to those who were not maltreated as children”.
Sister, while I cannot diagnose your husband, I can say that adult survivors of abuse, trauma, and neglect often suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, personality disorders as well as psychosis. Issues with violence and anger are also common. As you already know, what you are seeing may be a result of the abuse he has been through.
Sister, while you love him and seek to save the marriage, it will take more than that to be able to do so and live in a safe, happy, harmonious Islamic marriage. Seeking and wanting something is different than actually being able to attain it. It will take dedication and hard work from both of you. Your husband must want to seek help, address his issues and change. He must also be willing to do it.
I would kindly suggest that you sit with your husband when things are calm and tell him you love him but that you will not put up with abuse, his leaving all the time as well as living un-Islamically. I would tell him that you would like to save the marriage if possible but only on the condition that he gets counseling and begins to work on his issues.
You can offer your support sister as you are his wife, but I would kindly suggest that you end the enabling behaviors. It only serves to re-enforce his negative behaviors, and it removes accountability. While yes, he has been abused in the most horrific ways while growing up and it is a tragedy, he now is charged with a wife and child to take care of in a kind and loving manner. As he has admitted in the past that he knows he has issues and he knows he needs help, it is time for him to stand up and get the help he needs.
I would kindly suggest dear sister that when you talk to him and if he agrees to get help, you make a list of prohibited behaviors (i.e. violence, abusing, leaving home for days/weeks, yelling, cheating, pornography, etc.) as well as a list of conditions and terms which he can agree to. I kindly suggest that you go to the masjid as a family to pray and to seek out like-minded couples for friendships. You also may want to read Qur’an together as a family and go to Islamic events. Study Islam together and pray together to seek a closer relationship with each other and with Allah.
To strengthen yourself and deal with your issues such as possible depression, you may also want to get counseling for your trauma as a result of growing up in an unstable home and as a result of what you have been through with him. In sha’ Allah, I would recommend a Muslim counselor, but if one is not available in your area then please do seek someone who is open to Islam and the way of life you wish to create for yourself and your family. In the future, if you both are going to counseling and progressing, marriage counseling would also be beneficial as well.
Sister, I do not know how old your daughter is or if she has been exposed to any of this trauma that has been going on. I hear your heart crying when you say you do not want her to grow up in a household filled with uncertainty, possible abuse, angry outbursts, your husband acting erratic as well as you possibly being depressed and spending days crying and begging at your in-law’s doors. This is no life for a child. Allah blessed you with a beautiful child. You will be held accountable to Allah for how you raised her as well as your husband.
Sister, if your husband does not want to seek help to deal with his problems and live an Islamic life, you may have to divorce for the sake of your daughter. Your daughter comes first. Her safety, her happiness, and her opportunity to grow up in a loving Islamic home supersede everything.
You stated that if you divorced, his parents would raise your daughter. Why? I would kindly suggest that if it comes to divorce that you go to your parents or another safe place with your daughter. A counselor can help you with that if your family is far away or if it is not a healthy environment either.
I would recommend insha’Allah that if you divorce, you retain a lawyer to gain custody of your child in case there is an issue. If you cannot afford one, there are free legal clinics that you can go to. No judge in his/her right mind would award custody to him or his family with the history that they have of abuse and drug addiction. This would also mean though that you would have to reveal all you know and possibly provide proofs. I don’t know, I am not a lawyer but please do seek counsel.
In fact I would recommend In sha’ Allah that you begin to look into this now in case your in-laws are quietly planning to try to get custody. I am not trying to scare you sister, just trying In sha’ Allah to help you keep one step ahead of them as they do not seem very nice at all.
Additionally, I would kindly suggest that you stop going over there. It causes nothing but pain and drama. You need to start to cut that out of your life.
Should it be that your husband does want to work things out and will go for counseling, I would kindly suggest that you both minimize contact with his family as they are a detriment. I am not saying to cut off all ties as that would be haram. What I am suggesting is that you both remain kind to them and help them if they need help, but I would not hang out there or spend much time with them at this point. Once In sha’ Allah your husband is stronger and on his way to healing and has a closer relationship with Allah (if he so chooses), you may want to increase the time. However, right now, it is too toxic. This is also a protection for your daughter as you suspect your husband’s other child was sexually abused when she went there.
Sister, please draw close to Allah through prayer, dhkir, reading Qur’an as well as going to the masjid. Include your daughter in as much of your Islamic pursuits as you can. Try to get involved with other sisters at the masjid and spend nice social time with them. In sha’ Allah, there will be playgroups for your daughter wherein she can have Muslim playmates. There are lots of Islamic resources out there, sister. Please, utilize them so you and your daughter can begin to grow in this beautiful deen together and draw closer to Allah. You will find much peace in this In sha’ Allah no matter what the outcome is regarding your marriage.
In sha’ Allah, ask your husband to get counseling to save the marriage (and himself). Get counseling for yourself if he is willing. Please, do get marriage counseling. Try to spend less time at your in-laws and more time focusing on you and your daughter in relation to building Islamically and getting closer to Allah. Seek out legal advice in case you need it, and please stick to a plan of action that will be beneficial for you and your daughter as you cannot force your husband to do anything.
Perhaps it is good that he is at his parent’s home now. This will give you a time to regroup, have some peace and decide what you need to do. Some things we must just let go of and trust in Allah.
Please let us know how you are doing.
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.