Husband Wants to Impose His Arab Culture on Me & My Children

06 May, 2018
Q My husband and I are both Muslims; he by birth while I became a Muslim 6 years ago. The last few years have been rather unhappy for me, but since we have two kids, I try to hold on and show a brave face.

My husband keeps his Arab culture very strictly, and he has a terrible temper. For instance, he has threatened to kill my sister, and he denied me contact with my mother for almost 2 years. He has also threatened to kill me, and I really believed he would go through with it. In addition, he has talked me into taking large loans, leading to financial disaster at the present. He also stopped working a year ago, saying he is tired. This is, of course, one side of the case.

On the other side, he is also very charming and social. He helps his friends willingly. But in the house, he does not lift a finger. It is all my responsibility even when I became sick or worked. I know that divorce is a terrible thing in Islam, but I have started to feel very tired and sick, and I do not know how much longer I can carry on. I am worried also; what kind of life will I have been alone? Please give me some advice. Thank you.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• We suggest at the outset that you struggle to improve your married life rather than contemplate divorce.

• Let him know how unhappy you are. You don’t need to blame him, but you have to help him realize that he has to be an active part of resolving these problems.

• Be very assertive in dealing with your husband.


Wa ‘Aleikom Salam,

Inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages are one of the greatest blessings of Islam, yet they are not without challenges. In your case, an additional blessing is that you have reverted to Islam.

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We suggest at the outset that you struggle to improve your married life rather than contemplate divorce. Right now it might seem that your husband is unable or rather unwilling to change. His adherence to the Arab culture might also seem like something which he will not let go of easily.

However, based on what you have written, your husband seems to be a classic case of a person who is living under the myth of return. Such persons think they can simply superimpose all aspects of their culture of origin on the dominant culture of the country they migrate to. In addition, such persons live under the myth that they will someday return to their country of origin. As your children become older, he will be confronted with the reality that neither is he returning to his country of origin nor do the children relate to his Arab culture.

We suggest that you really focus on helping your husband to understand the reality of the situation. Let him know how unhappy you are. You don’t need to blame him, but you have to help him realize that he has to be an active part of resolving these problems. Your goal is to somehow help your husband to consider that he cannot impose the Arab culture on you or your children – especially those elements that are not even Islamic!

Instead of arguing with him about the Arab culture, you might try to emphasize aspects of the Islamic culture. This way, he has little to argue against. If you feel you are not having success getting through to him, then consider getting him to seek professional counseling.

Finally, be very assertive in dealing with your husband. You should not allow him to talk you into taking any more loans or accruing debt. Neither should you accept his lack of support for household affairs? Let him know that his threats to hurt or even worse kill you or your family members will be taken seriously and that you will have no choice but to report him to the authorities. He needs to realize that you cannot live in a state of fear as it will affect your physical and mental health.

Make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) Most High to help you to improve your married life. Increase your voluntary prayers and charity.

And Allah (swt) knows best.

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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.

Read more:

Before Entering into an Intercultural Marriage

Intercultural Marriage: Muslim Women Narrate Their Stories

Parenting in Mixed Marriages

About Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah
Dr. Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Study’s Community Education and Youth Studies Laboratory, Universiti Putra Malaysia. He received his B.A. from the University of Delaware (U.S.), his M.S. from Columbia University (U.S.) and his PhD from the Institute for Community & Peace Studies (PEKKA), Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005 in the field of Youth Studies. Abd. Lateef is an American who has been living in Malaysia since 2001. He is married and has 2 children.