In the Cage of Marriage with an Uncaring Husband

02 April, 2017
Q As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahamtullahi wa Barakatuh. I am Malaysian but grown up in the UK, and I married a brother who is Tunisian and immigrated to Europe. I live in London and he lives in Dublin. I met him on a matrimonial website. Looking back now, I can see that I was hasty in my decision. I introduced him to my family and though they were unhappy, they agreed to let us get married. Four days after the wedding, we moved to Dublin. At first, it felt strange, but I believe this is normal. I started feeling really homesick and tried to speak about it to my husband. He took it as an offence that I don't want to be in Dublin with him. I found myself alone in the flat when he went out with his friends. I wasn't allowed to put heating on because he didn't feel cold. He said it's abnormal for me to feel this way about missing my loved ones as a new bride. Soon he started complaining that I don't even look like a bride as I wore cardigans and warm clothes in the home because I felt cold. In addition, he even controlled the snacks I would eat in the home to promote healthy eating. I felt very isolated and numb. I was unable to feel intimate with him. He got angry at me for crying and called me 'stupid'. After 11 days, I sought his permission to go back to London to see my GP. He agreed to let me go but made me give the dowry back to him before I leave. He also took a picture of me whilst I was crying and said this was what he had to look at: an 'ugly bride'. But I didn’t care; I just wanted to go back home. I was then diagnosed with under active thyroid and the symptoms of feeling cold, low mood, etc. I stayed with my family for a while and went back to my husband. I spent 10 days with him. I didn't have access to leaving the home during the day even for a walk. I couldn't be intimate with him, I felt no arousal. He tried to be close to me, but there was no foreplay and I felt he was aggressive. He didn't push me physically, but mentally and emotionally he kept reminding me that this was his right and I’ve been failing as a wife. He shouted at me to the point I broke down in tears. I explained to him what my GP said about my stress, being unsettled in Dublin, and having thyroid which causes low libido. He also threatened to divorce me if I didn't consummate the marriage by the end of the 10 days. He asked me to pack all my stuff and leave. The morning my flight was due, he agreed to keep my stuff in the flat on the condition that I behave like a normal wife. When I returned back, I pushed myself to consummate the marriage and didn't really enjoy much of it. Although, he took me out this time and visited his friends and their families. I still felt very much controlled. He also wanted to register our marriage. I was reluctant to do so at this point as I found divorce papers from Tunisia with his name on it, though he said he was only engaged previously. When he is angry at me, he still calls me 'stupid', 'abnormal', and ‘crazy’. I haven’t registered the marriage, and before I came to London again for medical help and support, he gave me ultimatum: either I register the marriage or get divorced. I feel guilty. I failed as a wife and I displeased Allah. He has given one talaq (divorce). I blame myself a lot due to the suspicions and that I haven’t registered the marriage. Please advise.



As-Salaam ’Alaikum sister,

Firstly, you should not feel ashamed or bad for how you feel. Listen to your soul and heart for they have the ability to communicate authentic knowledge. I will try my best to address your points of concern in the following list.I am sorry to hear of your state. I hope my response provides you clarity and guidance in sha’ Allah.

– If you felt hasty in your decision and that the process of getting married was too stressful, these could be warning signs. Generally, marriage should be made easy if it is what is best. Sometimes, the difficulty indicates that we are forcing something that is not meant to be.

– Why didn’t your family approve of your marriage? Did your family have sound reasons for disapproval? In other words, were they concerned that your husband did not have good character or religion? Maybe it is time to get clarity from your parents as to why they did not approve it before you make any further decisions. Their guidance and input seem to be important to you and part of the reason why you feel bad about your marriage.

– Feeling homesick and strange after such a life transition is common. You must consider that you did marry someone you did not spend too much time with and moved to a new country right away. Humans are adjustable by nature. I would give myself one year to get used to a new lifestyle. If your doubt and feelings of regret continue, it may be because of the quality of your marriage. Your husband should not take it as an offense that you felt homesick; in fact, he should be more understanding and supportive of your adjustment. To make this easier for you, he should take care of you and help you make new friends, find work, and a community to be a part of. All of these things help us build a new life in a new place.

– Regarding your sexual intimacy, you should practice affection and foreplay for it is prophetic guidance. Your husband should not use the “sex is my right” card. This is not a mature stance and some men see women simply as a person to take needs from and not give back to. You have rights, too, as a woman, and men cannot expect to have access to sex if they do not do their part of treating their wives well. It’s also a Prophetic tenant. Both of you have the right and responsibility to be treated kindly, to care, and to help one another grow.

– Based on the several events of being treated poorly, I feel your husband sees you more as something he can use for his needs but does not necessarily meet your needs. For example, asking you to keep the heat off, calling you names like “stupid” and “ugly bride”, and most importantly when you sought support for your health condition, your husband was focused on you giving your mahr(dowry) back. Essentially, what you shared has reflected a woman in a marriage that does not feel cared for and put down a lot. This pattern will eventually lead to resentment and even contempt.

– Lastly, a marriage based on ultimatums and threats is not a marriage; it is a shaky cage that has no guarantee of long-term success.

Forgive me if I am being blunt, but the severity of the things you mentioned is heavy, and my heart feels for you as a sister in oppression. It was very difficult for you to mention the good things in your marriage which mean that you are either really upset with how things are to date, or the negatives of this marriage outweigh and overshadow the good.

If you still have hope for this marriage, then you two have to work on it right away. You two should seek couple’s counseling and learn how to communicate properly, meet each other’s needs, and resolve conflicts equitably.

It is also important that you two develop a connection to the Quran and vigilantly practice and apply the prophetic tradition of having good character and what Islam really teaches about rights and responsibilities in a marriage. The lack of Islamic knowledge and application may be one of the main reasons you two have been suffering.

If you feel you cannot go on with your marriage, then seek your parental involvement to end the marriage equitably and with ihsan (goodness and excellence). Sometimes, we marry too quickly without really knowing the person; sometimes, we marry someone that seems good but the truth reveals itself afterward. Either way, do not be hard on yourself, I am sure both of your intentions were good, but sometimes things just don’t work out.

The most solid indicator your husband actually feels love and care for you is if he is open to positive change like counseling and Islamic development. If not, then I am afraid you may continue experiencing what you have described. For now, do not register your marriage and make attempts to improve your marriage and get feedback from your parents. I am sure you will find your answers as to what you should do in sha’ Allah.


More from Counselor Karim Serageldin:

Husband Watches Porn & Ignores Me

Husband Cheated on Me & It’s My Fault

How to Tell My Wife I’m Depressed?


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About Karim Serageldin
Karim Serageldin, founder of Noor, completed his BA in psychology & religion, followed by an MA in east-west psychology with a specialization in spiritual counseling. He is a certified life coach with years of teaching and community outreach experience. His practical work and research includes developing a modern framework of Islamic psychology, relationship, family and youth coaching. He provides seminars and workshops in the United States. You can contact Br. Karim at: or