I had an arranged marriage to my cousin in Pakistan when I was 17. He never really seemed interested in me, but he impressed me greatly with his sense of humor and general personality.
I found it difficult to accept that he wasn’t romantic towards me and wondered how to impress him. When he got his UK visa, I got pregnant immediately, but the arguments continued. Family members got involved as he was interested in earning money and sending it back home, but not in his need to provide for his wife.
This continued for years, with me trying to impress him and us having arguments. I was never good enough at ironing or cooking, but fine to clear the loans. I got more income than him and he expected me to pick up a lot of the finances, which I did, especially since he was always in debt.
In the past few years of our marriage we’ve had no intimate relations. I tried to talk it out and broke down because I didn’t know what I’ve done wrong. He always replies that it’s nothing, and that everything is fine.
The silent treatment has turned into rudeness towards my family or complete avoidance. Yet, he still insists he has no issues. I spoke about separation and he made it into something only I wanted, and he always talks as though I’m making a problem out of nothing or that I’m dissatisfied although nothing is wrong.
He doesn’t understand and I’ve now just given up. I no longer even pray for us to be happy together and I’m at a point where I don’t even know what I want. I don’t know if I’m in the wrong here, and it’s making me very emotional and confused.
My son and daughter-in-law think it’s very awkward and don’t understand why I’m staying in this situation. I’ve failed to make him love me and in all 27 years of marriage. He’s only ever reciprocated if I said something first, almost like an obligation to respond.
He pays his monthly contribution to finances and that’s it. He doesn’t offer to do anything around the house, he just does his own thing. It’s not a marriage at all; we just share the house with the kids. I very much doubt he would seek counseling and I’m not even sure I want to.
People have either told me I’m doing the wrong thing by staying with him or that it’s my test on earth. Talking about him to other people has is also now tainting my imaan. He’s very indifferent on the whole matter and never says anything.
I don’t know if I should continue this marriage. Please advise me. Thank you.
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.