I’ve Never Been Attracted to My Wife; Shall We Divorce?

05 December, 2019
Q Assalamu alikum.

I have been married for more than a year and a half now, and I was engaged for 6 months. As it was an arranged marriage, I decided not to talk to her over phone/messenger prior marriage because it is haraam. Though I saw her in a few pictures with hijab and visited a couple of times after engagement, I did not speak to her or see her in person closely neither did I really think about doing so.

I assumed she is very good looking, pious, with a good character and that she is the girl which I always look forward to marrying. When we got our nikah done I spent the first couple of months happily. However, I slowly realized that she is average in looks.

From a very early age I always wanted to marry a beautiful girl and that’s why I did not had any haraam relations with girls even if I found them beautiful because I controlled myself. This has been affecting our marriage very badly. I did not have any intimate relation with her for about 9 months nor did she initiate with me.

She concealed this from her parents thinking that I love her a lot and that sex is not important, but nowadays, we have regular intimate sessions. With time, I think she started feeling that I always dreamt of marrying a pretty woman. She would always ask me why I don’t leave her to marry a prettier girl. She says I did not accept her as my better half as I don’t show affection and I am not romantic.

In a confused state I always think about the past, thinking about what I could have changed and how the situation could be different if I waited more for another girl. Sometimes I think I must live with this problem permanently. My feelings of regret don’t leave me.

Besides all these things, she is loving, very caring, responsible, understanding, has a good character, is supportive, honest, I am her highest priority in anything, and she is a doctor. These are my concerns:

1. I cannot share my concern with her and tell her that I don’t love her even though I care about her and it’s not her fault. I don’t feel like she is the result of my search.

2. She often asks me if I am happy with her or why am I boring and unromantic, and I lie every time. If I explain the whole scenario will it lead to more problems? If I tell the truth she will get hurt. Am I being selfish?

3. One day when I took her on a trip, she was looking upset, and when I asked her why she asked me to leave her. She compares with other couples and thinks there is no compatibility. She explained to me that she often feels I don’t love her. She asked me if I am living with her for formality or forcefully. Even her parents keep telling her that I will leave her after 2-3 years of marriage and marry someone else.

4. Every time I tried to appease her to make situation better, we sat and talked but she always questions me: "why do you need to try hard, why it can't come naturally?". I don’t have an answer but still I try. This pulls me down to the very first point.

5. I did not share my concern with anyone, not even my parents, thinking that they will feel depressed about our relation and they already know something is not good between us.

6. Every morning I wake up with feeling of regret of my decision, thinking hours and hours long alone about this issue. Due to this, many aspects of my daily life have been affected. I stopped pursuing my hobbies, or activities which I like, and I don’t feel like doing anything interesting.

7. I need a permanent Islamic solution as I cannot live with this problem for the rest of my life. At the same time, I cannot ignore her qualities. She is average in looks, how I can overlook her physical appearance?

8. I reconcile and try to understand every time the fact that beauty is temporary and that it will fade with time, but for now, I easily get attracted to beauty which is affecting my behavior towards her. Why can’t I love her naturally like she deserves to be? I am an average-looking guy. I personally think people generally get attracted to looks then later personality after living with a partner.

9. Parents from both the sides are asking for a baby. She wants to perform umrah with me before planning for a child. I really don’t know how to handle this, are we ready for that? Will it create more problems in our relationship?

10. Eventually, after every brainstorming I concluded that I am solely responsible for this decision and I will suffer from it. Leaving her for such reasons will displease Allah (SWT) and lead to more bad consequences for her in the future.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•Please, discuss your concerns with your parents. They are, after all, the ones who arranged this marriage. Perhaps they can offer some useful tips to help you both.

•Brother, you seem to be depressed. Counseling on an ongoing basis can help to sort out your feelings and reduce the stress you are experiencing.

•If after marriage counseling the two of you still cannot bond as husband and wife, you may wish to discuss divorce.

•Brother, given your current issues with not loving your wife and not being attracted to her I would kindly advice putting off having a child at this time.


As salamu alaykum dear brother,

Thank you for writing to us again, presenting your issues. As we can see from your list of concerns and dilemmas, sadly the situation did not get resolved. It appears that you tried very hard to move past the attraction issue, but generally, either attraction will develop after some time or it won’t. 

As mentioned previously, the attraction is an important component in a marriage. Whether one places emphasis on physical, intellectual or spiritual attraction, it should be present. A mutual attraction is what bonds two people. If an attraction does not grow, it can cause issues as you are experiencing now.

As you have been trying to create attraction to her and it has failed, I will address your concerns as you have outlined them:

Question Session

1. I cannot share my concern with her and tell her that I don’t love her even though I care about her and it’s not her fault. I don’t feel like she is the result of my search.

Brother, if you share that you do not love her it may hurt her.  You are right in concluding that it is not her fault.  Perhaps this is something you may wish to keep for yourself because as Muslims, we do not want to hurt others unnecessarily.

I’ve Never Been Attracted to My Wife; Shall We Divorce? - About Islam

As it is not her fault, it is not your fault either. As this was an arranged marriage, the two of you really did not have the opportunity to get to know one another in a halal way (this is permissible in Islam). Therefore, had you gotten to know each other perhaps the marriage would have never taken place, and all of this hurt and pain could have been avoided.

2. She often asks me if I am happy with her or why am I boring and unromantic, and I lie every time. If I explain the whole scenario will it lead to more problems? If I tell the truth she will get hurt. Am I being selfish?

Brother, you are not being selfish. You are attempting to protect her feelings which is honorable.  While we should not lie, we should frame things in a way which is not harmful to the other person. She asks you these questions because she is probably aware that you are not attracted nor interested in her from a romantic standpoint.

It seems she is also trying to get validation regarding her marital status. Perhaps she already knows you are not attracted to her, yet she cannot accept this. Perhaps she thinks you are cheating on her, thus your disinterest in her. 

3. One day when I took her on a trip, she was looking upset, and when I asked her why she asked me to leave her. She compares with other couples and thinks there is no compatibility. She explained to me that she often feels I don’t love her. She asked me if I am living with her for formality or forcefully. Even her parents keep telling her that I will leave her after 2-3 years of marriage and marry someone else.

The situation you described appears that she and her parents already know that there is no love in this marriage from your side. When she looks at other couples and see’s that there is a lot missing in her own marriage, she is correct! Through no fault of her own, she is letting you know that other couples appear bonded and happy, while you and she do not. 

This observation is a possible sign of her recognizing that her marriage may not be working out, or that it was a mistake. Hopefully she is not blaming herself or feeling she is not attractive because if she were not married, surely there are a lot of brothers who would find her very attractive and feel blessed to be her husband. 


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Attractiveness is a personal construct. While you may not find her attractive, other men may. Sadly, she has picked up on the feeling that you are married to her because it was arranged by your families, otherwise you would not have married her. In situations such as these, the spouses usually do not take it personally as it was a blind marriage in which one did not know the other.

4. Every time I tried to appease her to make situation better, we sat and talked but she always questions me: “why do you need to try hard, why it can’t come naturally?”. I don’t have an answer but still I try. This pulls me down to the very first point.

May Allah bless you for trying, brother. This is a most unfortunate situation that did not have to happen. It appears that both of you are trying to make sense of it all and trying to make it work, despite major incompatibility issues. In your conversations, neither one of you have an answer to this, leaving you both feeling sad and unsure what to do next to “fix” things between you.

5. I did not share my concern with anyone, not even my parents, thinking that they will feel depressed about our relation and they already know something is not good between us.

Please, discuss your concerns with your parents. They are, after all, the ones who arranged this marriage. Perhaps they can offer some useful tips to help you both. You may wish to explain to them that while you respect her, and while she is a good wife, you do not feel attracted to her nor compatible with her.

You may also point out that you have tried to resolve this situation in many ways but to go on in a marriage that you do not want will only hurt her further, as well as you, the families, and any future children you might have. It is you and your wife’s right to either stay married or to divorce, regardless of any parental objection to either choice.

6. Every morning I wake up with feeling of regret of my decision, thinking hours and hours long alone about this issue. Due to this, many aspects of my daily life have been affected. I stopped pursuing my hobbies, or activities which I like, and I don’t feel like doing anything interesting.

Brother, you sound like a good Muslim with a conscious. You wish to resolve this, but it appears that the two of you are not compatible. You want to do the right thing without hurting anyone. However, now your wife seems to know there is no attraction or connection and you cannot force one within yourself.

At this point, you sound depressed, brother, and I would recommend counseling as this is interfering with your daily living. Counseling on an ongoing basis can help to sort out your feelings and reduce the stress you are experiencing.

7. I need a permanent Islamic solution as I cannot live with this problem for the rest of my life. At the same time, I cannot ignore her qualities. She is average in looks, how I can overlook her physical appearance? 

Brother, it seems you have tried to get over the fact that she is not a 10 in terms of beauty. As this is very important to you and you cannot change this need, it is hurting her, you, and your marriage. I would kindly suggest that you both seek marriage counseling as an effort to save your marriage. 

If after marriage counseling the two of you still cannot bond as husband and wife, you may wish to discuss divorce. It is allowed in Islam for incompatibility as long as you tried to save the marriage and it is a last resort.

8. I reconcile and try to understand every time the fact that beauty is temporary and that it will fade with time, but for now, I easily get attracted to beauty which is affecting my behavior towards her. Why can’t I love her naturally like she deserves to be? I am an average-looking guy. I personally think people generally get attracted to looks then later personality after living with a partner.

It is true that beauty and good looks are very temporary. However, looks are often what initially attracts us to another and then personality, as you mentioned. It can also be that personality attracts first, then one becomes attracted to looks based on personality and bonding. It just depends on the person. What is clear though, is that after two years of trying to bond physically and create attraction, if it hasn’t occurred, maybe it will not. Allah knows best.

9. Parents from both the sides are asking for a baby. She wants to perform umrah with me before planning for a child. I really don’t know how to handle this, are we ready for that? Will it create more problems in our relationship?

Brother, given your current issues with not loving your wife and not being attracted to her I would kindly advice putting off having a child at this time. You and your wife need to resolve this issue prior to having children. If it is not resolved and you divorce, what will become of the children?

Parents on both sides should be respected, but pressure to have a child right now is not conducive especially given this issue in your marriage. As both families kind of know there are problems, it is surprising that they are pushing for a grandchild. Having children will not resolve this issue, it will only make it bigger.

10. Eventually, after every brainstorming I concluded that I am solely responsible for this decision and I will suffer from it. Leaving her for such reasons will displease Allah (SWT) and lead to more bad consequences for her in the future.

Brother, this is your decision as well as your wife’s. However, both parents play a role as they set up a marriage without ensuring there was compatibility and attraction. Sadly now, you and your wife must suffer. After you have tried marriage counseling, I kindly encourage you to seek advice from your imam at the masjid.

If marriage counseling does not help, divorce in Islam is permissible once all other solutions have been tried and failed. Allah does not want you and your wife to live miserable lives, that is not what marriage is for. Marriage is not a prison.

It would be best if you both divorced now, rather than later. You both deserve to be happy and loved. Your wife deserves a husband who is attracted to her and loves her, and you deserve a wife who loves and is attracted to you. Insha’Allah this can be resolved, and if not, may Allah bless you both with compatible and loving spouses in the future.

We wish you the 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:

I’m Not Attracted to My Wife, Help!

Not Attracted to His Wife Without Hijab

My Wife is Not as Attractive as I Expected

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.