In this counseling answer:
• Do things you don’t normally do but do them as a team.
• I encourage you to ask yourself an important question. Would you rather attempt counseling and see what happens, divorce him, or do nothing and stay in the same emotional state?
• It is possible your husband doesn’t know how to express his love in a way that you can feel.
• Don’t rush being physically intimate again, rather work towards it.
• Decide together whether you want to stay together or separate.
Thank you for taking the time to write in and trusting us with your concerns. It is my understanding you’ve been married for 27 years with two kids, and during this time you have noticed a lack of affection from your husband.
He prefers the silent treatment and as avoids your family. It is also my understanding this division between you and your husband is so evident that the children don’t understand why you are together.
Igniting the Spark
As you’ve stated, he doesn’t return exchanges of love unless you initiate them. It seems like you two don’t interact as a loving couple, but a business that ensures the home is running. Unfortunately, some marriages fall into this rut of the day-to-day responsibilities and forget to take time for romance and affection.
As this was an arranged marriage and he didn’t show much affection in the beginning, it seems you didn’t marry for love but for family. None of this sounds overly romantic and I get the impression that you need this in your life, but the good news is if you both are willing to try, you could spark emotions that didn’t present before.
You two could consider dating one another. Set aside one night a week dedicated to the both of you and go out on special dates. Take turns arranging the date. Don’t look at it like mandatory time with a spouse, rather see it as trying to learn another side of him.
Do things you don’t normally do but do them as a team. If you are both willing to try this, it could spark emotion between the two of you that you never experienced before.
For example, you could ride horses together on a guided trail or rent a canoe and paddle out onto a lake where you eat some packed foods and talk. Don’t go to the same restaurants you always go to or attend the same spots you have seen for years, experience new things together.
Sister, you stated: “I’m not sure I even want to seek counseling anymore”. This speaks volumes about your current emotional state regarding your marriage.
It is one thing to have struggles and doubts, but it is a worsened state when someone doesn’t have the emotional energy left to even try working on those struggles.
I encourage you to ask yourself an important question. Would you rather attempt counseling and see what happens, divorce him, or do nothing and stay in the same emotional state?
Counseling does not have to mean face-to-face clinical counseling with a licensed therapist. Another popular option is online counseling which you can do in the comfort of your own home.
This also provides you with a variety of options as they don’t have to be local. If you would like to consider an Islamic marriage counselor, I suggest Aboutislam’s Counseling Service.
If you want to consider this option, talk to your husband openly and let him know that you are not happy, and something needs to be done. While he may be reluctant to do counseling, if he understands the gravity of how you feel, he may be willing to try.
People often talk about effective communication, and though it’s very important, what they don’t talk about as often is the language of love. Just as our speaking languages can differ, the way we express love is also different.
Consider for a moment that your husband may love you very much, but he is not the type to say this or show it with romantic displays. Not everyone communicates love and affection in the same way.
In general, we say there are 5 love languages, 5 distinct ways people show and prefer to receive love. It is important to understand how someone shows love as well as how they want to receive it.
Those 5 love languages are broken down as follows:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
While each person is unique, typically we see women express love using words of affirmation more frequently than men and men typically use giving gifts as an expression of love more than women.
It is possible your husband doesn’t know how to express his love in a way that you can feel. To him, paying money monthly might be a token of love (acts of service), and he thinks this is all a wife needs to feel loved and that he is fulfilling his role.
Consider sitting down with him and asking him out of those 5, in which way would he prefer to be shown love. Also, tell him how you would prefer to be shown affection.
Check out this counseling video:
For example, some people do not like physical touch except occasionally and feel more comfortable sitting alone, whereas others need to cuddle with their spouse every day. If both of you want to work on the marriage, it is important to learn how the other wants to receive love and adapt to that.
This means that he should consider increasing words of affirmation towards you or physical touch, whichever you prefer to focus on.
Sexual intimacy is a great way to communicate love and build one’s bond, but don’t rush being physically intimate again, rather work towards it. If you two start using the dating idea and talking, more than this will naturally come in time. Let your sexual feelings happen naturally rather than trying to force them.
Lastly, we need to talk about divorce. You asked if you should leave and mention other people telling you this is a test. Sister, in the end it’s is your decision.
Ask yourself: “can I be happy if this doesn’t change?”. If the answer is no, then either you two must work towards a resolution, or work towards separation. No one has the right to tell you if you should or should not do this, such a decision belongs only to the both of you.
Please understand divorce is never easy and will take an emotional toll on both of you even if you both want it. If you take this route, I encourage you to seek out personal counseling.
Dear sister, this is not an easy situation to be in, but in shaa’ Allah it is a situation that can improve.
Here is a summary of your next steps moving forward.
- Date each other
- Consider counseling
- Talk about your unique love language
- Decide on whether you want to stay together or separate
I encourage you to tell your husband how unhappy you are and that you are serious about considering separation if things don’t change. The only way this marriage becomes happier is if both of you are willing to work on it as a team.
May Allah (most honored, most revered) guide your decisions and heal your hearts,
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.