In this counseling answer:
• Sometimes outside pressure from family can help create an intervention that leads to open dialogue.
• The environment at home has an impact on the kids too. You have a right to ask if this is the life you want your children to live or not.
• Get you back. Take care of yourself.
• Imagine both scenarios – staying in this marriage and seeking a divorce – and decide which way you want to continue your life in.
Thank you for your question. It sounds like you have been handling a lot in your marriage trying to care for your children, provide from your family, be patient with your husband and somewhere in there attempt to hold onto yourself.
Right now, you are well aware of the situation you are currently in.
* Your husband has a severe problem with pornography.
* He engages in online sexual encounters with other women.
* He has blamed you for his interaction with other women.
* He no longer has a job and doesn’t recognize the efforts you are making to take care of everything.
* He married another woman while unable to provide for you and your children.
* You are not intimate with him and have no desire to be.
* He is not a caring father you can trust with your children.
* You believe he is lying about his situation to other people.
What you have to weigh out at this point are your long-term options and what is best for you.
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Can you involve family?
You have said that his family is supportive of you and what you are going through. Have you invited his family to get involved in order to help him come to grips with the reality on the ground that he has helped create? Is there someone that can sit him down and help him take responsibility for what is going on? Sometimes outside pressure from family can help create an intervention that leads to open dialogue.
Even if you were a terrible wife, he still would not be able to justify online sex with other women as it’s not permissible. He would need to take responsibility for his poor choices and instead look for healthy ways to connect with you as his wife. At the end of the day, each of us, as human beings, have to be able to hold ourselves responsible for the choices we make.
That is even more important if healing and growth is going to occur in a marriage.
Individuals who are addicted to pornography and other sexual outlets often struggle with actual intimacy where they are emotionally connected to their spouse. Which is why when you struggled after delivery he wasn’t able to change how he was intimate with you in a way that would make it easier for both of you and honor what you had been through.
What you are also giving the kids.
It is common for people, out of the desire to do good for children, to tell someone to stay with their spouse “for the sake of the kids.” There are some challenges with this advice.
First, it doesn’t take into account your own personal right to be treated with love, kindness, respect, mercy, and to have your own physical needs met with your husband. You are not disposable once you have children.
Second, the double life your husband is living is impacting them as well. Does he have a positive influence on the children in their life right now? Are you living in a hostile and obviously cold marriage? Is there active fighting going on? The environment at home has an impact on the kids too. You have a right to ask if this is the life you want your children to live or not.
Third, the people giving that advice don’t have to live your life. They don’t have to go to bed alone. They don’t have to find another porn website in their husband’s history. They don’t have to experience isolation or shame of hiding his sins.
Decide what you want and go all in.
Because you wrote this question, I will make the assumption that you are at some sort of crossroads right now. To decide if you should stay or make a clean break from the marriage.
What I will advise is to go all in with your decision.
If you decide to stay then know exactly what you are signing up for. In order to avoid more stress, disappointment, and hurt you will need to accept who your husband is at this moment in time. Know that he has presented to you the best version of himself that he is capable of living at right now.
From there you can decide to experiment with ways to help him improve as a person (like speaking to a marriage counselor, a family member, or an imam you both trust). But you’d have to let go of expecting results. It’s been a decade, so he isn’t likely going to change overnight.
Some women dig in and fight for their marriage and fight for the soul of their husband to become a better person. They can do that, however, when they have a strong sense of who they are and what they are worth.
From a broken place, it’s too hard to fight for someone else to heal and grow. From a whole place, you can do that. S,o in this process is to fight like crazy for yourself. Get you back. Take care of yourself. Take a class, explore your hobbies, go out with your kids, and let the rest of your life fill you and lead you with purpose.
Alternatively, you may decide you want to leave the marriage. If you decide to do this because you do not want to invest any further in your husband or this marriage, you will need the strength of fighting for yourself to go through the divorce process. It won’t be easy and depending on how he handles things, it could get messy.
You’ll need to know what is possible and have support ready to help you. Your kids will ask questions and you’ll have to be ready to answer them now and in the future. You will need to know why you are leaving “for the sake of the kids” too so that when the pressured statement comes, you know you are making the right decision for them and you.
Focus on your akhirah too
When you are hurting and in pain, it is possible to get lost in your wounds and forget that you are being tested. Why you are going through a test like this I do not know. But I know you are being tested by Allah.
By seeking His pleasure, guidance, and mercy as you decide what’s next, you’ll have your heart focused on what is most important.
Let every decision be buffered with du’aa’ and talking to Allah. Let your heart remember that patience is rewarded but you also have a right to search for happiness in this life and the next. Ask Him for clarity and to understand what it is He wants you to learn about yourself through this test.
Find strength in knowing that every test is there to serve you in some way.
“[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (67:2)
You also have a right to ask for justice regarding your marriage. Standing up for yourself and your children is not shameful so do not let people who make speak ill about you prevent you from seeking that which Allah has obligated to be provided for you whether as a wife or in seeking separation from your husband.
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” (5:8)
Make du’a for him too.
Your husband is living in a spiritually empty and painful world. To choose all the behaviors he has chosen means he is not a happy person living in contentment. He is far from Allah. Make du’aa’ for him. While you may not feel any feelings of love for him right now, he is still the father of your children. Ask Allah to guide him, to heal him, to forgive him, and to help him return back to the straight path entirely.
May Allah guide you to the answers you need and the situation that is best for your dunyah and akhirah.
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.