In this counseling answer:
• If he feels overwhelmed at the thought of moving in together and the responsibilities that come with it, then making it a gradual process will ease that burden.
• Understand that having only just gone through this challenge, he needs your support and comfort.
• If you don’t tell him the way you feel, then he will never know. He will not make any changes if he is not aware of how he is upsetting you.
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuh sister,
It is a difficult situation when someone feels like their needs are not being met by their spouse. In this case, it would seem that this is the situation for you. The continued threat of divorce only adds to the burden.
If you live in different states altogether, then you just be living far apart enough that you see very little of each other. Maintaining a marriage in such a situation is difficult. But it is possible to try a few things to try and ease and improve the situation.
Compromise and gradual change
Being unaware of the circumstances as to why you are apart in the first place makes it somewhat difficult to make specific suggestions. However, broadly, perhaps you could be working towards moving in together.
If he feels overwhelmed at the thought of moving in together and the responsibilities that come with it, then making it a gradual process will ease that burden as you get used to family life more slowly. Perhaps begin by spending whole weekends together, or depending on the distance between you, this may be more like every 2 or 3 weeks.
If it is that you are both committed to working in your states, then maybe you could look for work closer to him (or the other way around). At first, it may be that you continue to live separately, but at least you will be living close.
If you don’t want to leave family behind (or he his) in the states in which you reside, then make sure to make arrangements to see them on a regular basis. This way you can feel secure that you (or he) will see them often still and to move away is not abandoning them.
Overall, it may be that you both need to make some compromises. However, this is part of marriage – having both party’s needs met.
Understand his situation
As he already has children, he must have undergone a difficult scenario going through a divorce and fighting for custody. This on its own is very stressful.
Understand that having only just gone through this challenge, he needs your support and comfort. Such emotions can take a long time to get over. Having been through this before, he is perhaps wanting to take his marriage with you more slowly and cautiously to avoid the same situation as well as to help he heal from past wounds me effectively.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an, 30:21)
Help and support him
It seems that he has only just been awarded custody, so this role as a full-time father is now very fresh to him. It takes time to adjust.
He is probably just as hurt as you that they are non-believers. He may be going through denial or avoidance of this fact. Or maybe he just needs to take some time first of all to adjust and to allow them to adjust also.
To dive straight in with heavy messages about Islam may not be the best idea at this stage. As everything settles, they will see Islam through their father, and you even. They will get to see the beauty of Islam in practice. This may be a more effective form of dawah rather than putting it on them at this early stage, by being kind and compassionate to them in the manner of the Prophet (SAW).
Abu Huraira reported that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw Allah’s Apostl) kissing Hasan. He said: “I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah’s Messenger) said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him.” (Sahih Muslim 2318 a)
Talk to him
Often, we can get so caught up in our emotions that we think and expect others to low what we feel. This very often is not the case.
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Maybe he doesn’t know that you feel neglected. It could be that he is so caught up in his new role as a full-time father to his children and attending to their needs that he is unintentionally neglecting yours.
Hopefully, it is just that he needs some time to adjust and work things out. But if you don’t tell him the way you feel, then he will never know. He will not make any changes if he is not aware of how he is upsetting you. He needs to know that you feel neglected and that you are fed up with waiting for him to fulfill his promise to move in.
The next step
You may want to give him a certain amount of time to make these changes and movements. Give him sufficient time to fix his affairs and adjust to his life with his children.
Putting a timescale on the situation like this might make him take it more seriously and, therefore, make moves towards the target in the agreed upon time.
Of course, this is something to plan together, not just you deciding when it should happen. But talking openly about it gives you both the window to state your opinions openly and come up with a plan together.
Living apart, as well as him having other children from his previous marriage in his custody naturally comes with its challenges. However, there are some ways you can approach the situation that will, in sha Allah, bring some ease to you all.
Understand things from his perspective; he now has children to take care of, which is a big change in itself and one that requires a process of adjustment.
Moving in forward, it may be that you need to make compromises and gradual changes towards a married life living together.
Talking to him will help to establish your issues and understand his feelings. It will also give you the space to express your concerns that he may otherwise be unaware of.
May Allah bring peace and happiness in your marriage and guide you both to improve the situation.
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.