I have been mentally and emotionally abused to the point where I lost my own self. I lost my self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem.
For 3 years I’ve been striving to please my husband in every possible way I could and to the best of my ability, through being patient and keeping my mouth shut towards his parents’ mistreatment, all because I wanted to please him and thus please Allah.
However, I came to know that he said he doesn’t love me, and he never did; that he feels suffocated with me. I have failed as a wife in every way. I could never please him emotionally, mentally, or physically.
This made him fall in love with another sister at his workplace, as I wasn't what he wanted or expected to be. I am one year older than him. He had great taqwa (piety) back then, and when we had our first meeting, I let him see my face only and I was fully covered. I still remember how happy he was to be with me, and within 8 days we got married.
I became pregnant quickly, which made me gain weight quickly as well. After I gave birth I was breastfeeding, and I honestly didn’t look after myself. I was down because of issues with my in-laws and them complaining to my husband, shaming him embarrassing him all the time.
This all made me lose myself as days passed. I was no longer happy and that’s around the time he started looking for a second wife. She is his colleague at work. They saw each other and slowly started chatting on messaging apps.
Anyway, my husband’s statuses and mine are very different. He comes from a rich background while my family is from the lower class.
He has seen beautiful girls all around his life because of his status, standards, and raising. He said he never thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with beauty trends or be able to beautify myself regularly, and I am honestly not really and expert with such makeup and I only commit to the minimum. He asked me to learn from the internet.
Alhamdulillah, the other sister is well-fashioned and rich like him and comes from a similar background. He said they have great bonding, understanding, and affection towards each other. He feels connected to her, so I agreed to polygyny.
She wanted to talk to me, and I started talking to her to make her feel welcome. However, I once made a mistake and told her father that they’ve been talking for almost a year. Some conflict occurred and when my husband found out I said that he became angry and decided to divorce me. Apparently, she also wasn’t comfortable with polygyny and my husband wasn’t that interested to continue with me anyway.
I had to deal with his affair and agreeing into polygyny under the fear of divorce for almost one year and a half, and then divorce for one year. We have a beautiful son of two years and I have had 2 miscarriages.
He says that I deserve better than him and that he is abusive, and that I should settle down, and he only married me because he loved my niqab, but not who I am inside. He said he’s never seen something disgusting like me. He body shamed me and called me a hypocrite many times. It’s hard to wake up knowing all this.
I feel suicidal at times. He looks down on me so much even in front of people. I want to move out of the country with my son, but he doesn’t let me, neither is he divorcing me. He’s not keeping me with kindness, and he is too irritated with me all the time.
In this counseling answer:
• Please, sister, if you feel suicidal at any time, call the local suicidal hotline!
• Instead of focusing entirely on pleasing him, focus on pleasing yourself.
• Take time each day to remember your blessings, especially in terms of the talents that Allah has bestowed upon you, however small they may be.
• Be with people who make you feel good about yourself.
• Find comfort in striving to please Allah by striving in His way.
• Seek marriage counseling and give the last chance to this marriage. If he refuses or if he does not want to work on this marriage, you have every right to seek a divorce.
• Please seek help from your family, the sisters in your local mosque and the imam.
Wa Alaikum salaam wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuh sister,
It sounds like you and your husband have had a hard time connecting from the very beginning. After some time of difficulties and what appears to be emotional and verbal abuse, you are ready to move on. It sounds like you would like to make it work but you feel that is not what he wants.
His attitude towards you seems to suggest that that is the case. However, at the same time, he will not divorce you to allow you to move on. It is of no surprise that you seem to be suffering from some severe self-esteem issues because of this situation.
Sister, I am so sorry that you have had to go through this. No one deserves to be treated this way. Like his wife, he should treat you with the utmost love, kindness, and respect.
Please, sister, if you feel suicidal at any time, call the local suicidal hotline! They will be able to help you a lot. Please do! No any human being is worth that you throw your beautiful life for.
As you can see though, he does not even love or respect himself based on the haram things he does. I imagine you feel very much alone right now sister, but please know you are not. There are a lot of sisters, sadly, going through similar situations.
Focus on yourself
Now, it seems like your self-esteem is tied to what your husband thinks of you. You feel like him finding a second wife is due to your shortcomings and your body image perception is particularly low as he has said he prefers to see you covered up and learning to wear makeup…etc.
Of course, it is nice to look good for our husbands as it is pleasing to them, but it is also necessary to feel good for yourself. Focus on oneself, and do whatever you like, and whatever makes you feel good. This happiness and beauty you feel towards yourself will appear to others as well.
Do what you love
Instead of focusing entirely on pleasing him, focus on pleasing yourself. Think about the things you love doing and do these things. Be around people who make you feel good about who you are. You can even do something new and try to achieve something different. All these things will contribute to a more positive self-perception that will boost your self-esteem and give you more drive in life that is not attached to someone else.
Focus on your strengths
With low self-esteem and your husband’s attitude, the focus has become very much on what you do not have. Amongst this, it is easy to lose sight of your strengths and things that you are good at. Take time each day to remember your blessings, especially in terms of the talents that Allah has bestowed upon you, however small they may be.
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Find strength in yourself
It is from recognizing your strengths that you will be able to fight the negative thoughts you have of yourself and pay less attention to negative comments about yourself. This will also give the emotional and physical strength to face the tests you are going through and their eventual outcomes as a stronger woman.
Strengthen your social network
Be with people who make you feel good about yourself. People who give you a chance to be away from the environment that is presently bringing you much sorrow. This will at least give you some space to be away from this in a positive environment distracted by other things and people.
There are the people that will provide you with the emotional support that you need during this testing time. It’s not necessary to divulge the ins and outs of your marital life, but simply knowing that there are others who know and love you as you are and will be there to support you should you need them.
If you have local friends then this would be with them, otherwise, reach out and get to know people in the community through mutual interests.
Find comfort in the remembrance of Allah
Likewise, find comfort in striving to please Allah by striving in His way. This is another way to boost your self-esteem, too. Rather than working towards pleasing people, focus on pleasing Allah instead. This, in turn, will also support your self-esteem as you feel confident that you are pleasing Him, regardless of whether anyone else is pleased with you and that is what matters most.
“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
Whilst it seems like you have made your mind up unsurprisingly to walk away from this marriage, yet you are still tied to it as he will not let you go.
Please, consider couples’ counseling together to give you the opportunity to speak out honestly about how you feel in a safe environment and similarly for him too. This could be with a local counselor or even an imam who will be able to advise based on Islamic values.
By the end of this, you will both have an idea if this marriage is going to work or not; if it is worth trying again, or if it really is the end of the road. From here, you will both be in the best situation to call for divorce mutually, if this is the choice you both make, and he can let you go.
It may be that it takes this external intervention for him to realize this too and make this move. Alternatively, he may develop compassion for how he is making you feel and change his ways accordingly, to try and improve your marital situation.
However, if he refuses to see a marriage counselor with you, as well as refuses to change his behaviors, then you have every right to divorce. You deserve to be happy and to live in an Islamic environment.
Again, as I don’t know where you live and I am not familiar with the resources, insha’Allah please do seek out services in your area. They can help you facilitate a divorce, as well as counseling for yourself to begin healing from the trauma that you have been through for the past 16 years.
You may wish to consult your family physician and confide in her what has been going on and what you seek to do. Perhaps she may have some references or referrals for you.
Also, if you are close with any of the sisters at the masjid, you may wish to confide in one of them to seek out the support that you so desperately need. We all do need support in our lives from loving sources.
It is your right as a woman and as a Muslim to seek a divorce if you have grounds, and yes you do have grounds.
Whatever comes of this, you can be more confident that whatever happens you at least tried to make it work and can walk away without regrets as you may do otherwise.
You are in a situation where you are stuck as you want to move on, but your husband will not divorce you. In the meantime, his attitude towards you is seriously affecting your self-esteem negatively. It is important at this point that you try and improve your self-esteem to better equip you to manage the situation effectively.
Rather than relying on your husband’s approval, shift the focus on doing the things you love, recognizing your strengths and building on them will contribute to this, as well as focusing on pleasing Allah rather than others.
As much as you feel ready to walk away, it is best to first, at least, try to resolve issues through counselling to be sure that you are both making the best decision for all involved.
If not, you have every right to seek a divorce. Please contact your local mosque in this regard. I am sure they will help you.
May Allah guide you and make your journey an easier one. May He bless you with a life of happiness and contentment in this life and the next.
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