I was married for around 15 months before we separated for 6 months and got divorced. We’d only lived in the same house for 3 weeks. He was a student, so I was looking for a new job to move to a different city.
I knew I should have ended it sooner when problems started arising on day 1. I found out that everything he said to me before our marriage wasn’t true, and that he’d hid a lot of information from me which my father had asked him to disclose. This kind of information would have given me at least some idea of his mentality.
It was an arranged marriage, but we spoke before, and I thought he was a decent person. Once I discovered how small-minded he was, I knew it was a mistake. I decided to try to make it work for my family's sake, but every time we saw each other, things just kept getting worse and worse.
Nothing has happened between us since I found out, and he hasn’t really tried getting closer to me either. Even on my wedding day, he didn’t bother to compliment me. There were some incidents where he had outbursts and I thought he was going to hit me, and I even told him that I felt unsafe, but he just brushed it aside.
After those incidents, I started having panic attacks all the time. Finally, when I’d had enough, I came back to my parents' house. I feel a great sense of guilt as my father is really against divorce and this is the first time in my life that I disobey him. I knew that in the long run it would be better, so I do feel that I’ve made the right decision for me, but Allah knows best.
During the divorce, he couldn’t find anything else to blame me on, so he decided to tell everyone that the marriage was never consummated. It wasn’t a problem for him until I left him, as when I moved there I did ask to live in a separate room because I was afraid of him and was constantly having panic attacks when he was around.
I also asked him if he wanted to go to counseling, but he declined. I respected the relationship enough to not go around and complain to everyone, but he chose to tell anyone that would listen that I didn’t let him touch me, and now it seems that everyone knows about it and thinks there is something wrong with me.
A part of me is angry with him for destroying my life, as I went into the marriage openly and honestly and just expected to be respected but he couldn’t even give me that. I still feel a sense of anger toward him for not just hurting me but hurting my family and making them go through so much because of me.
Sometimes, my feelings are so overwhelming that I can’t even focus on anything and it’s affecting my work and life. I have cut myself off from everyone and everything, and now I’m so alone and lonely. I’m afraid I’ll never find anyone and will always be a disappointment to my parents. They want me to get married more than anything and have been trying since I was 18.
Now that I’m 31, the chances are slimmer that I’ll ever find anyone. To be honest, I’m okay with not getting married again, but I want to do it for Allah and for my parents.
I just feel lost and it feels like nothing has improved in my life for a long time, but I know it’s not true and I just want to be able to be more positive and be happy with what I have. I had to leave my last job as my performance was getting worse when I was going through the divorce. Alhamdulillah, I was able to find a new job, but I am unhappy.
The person I have to work with treats me very badly and I already have very low self-esteem. All day, I apply for new jobs, and I know it takes time and I need to be patient but it’s just becoming so overwhelming. Since I’m in a new city, I don’t know anyone.
I feel like I’m too old to make friends and there is nothing interesting about me for someone to like. I feel like I don’t deserve anything good and that my family is being punished for my sins, so I pray to Allah for help to find a better job so I can take better care of my family. My family doesn’t bring him up anymore so I don’t know why I can’t stop feeling guilty.
I moved in with my sister as watching my parents go through the pain was unbearable for me. Please pray for me and my family to Allah to grant us some happiness as my parents are good people who take care of everyone but themselves and I just want to be a good daughter to be able to make them happy.
What should I do? Please advise me.
In this counseling answer:
In this situation, the first thing I would encourage you to do is work on your self-esteem.
Get involved in something that you love to do and be amongst people who do the same. Mixing with people of shared interests will help you make friends.
Get involved with your local Muslim community.
Socializing will help to build supportive friendships which will help to boost your self-esteem as well as providing you with much needed social interaction and support during your recovery.
Focus more on the positives and the good people and things in your life.
Don’t allow the guilt you feel towards your parents place a barrier between you and them, so it’s important to try and put this aside and move past it.
If you feel comfortable and you think it would help, you could even talk to them openly about it and tell them your feelings on everything that’s happened. Sometimes, that can be a way to pass through the stage of guilt.
This is an unfortunate situation that you have ended up in and now you are suffering the consequences which is making life very difficult for you. The marriage was not working, and it seems he had deceived you.
You did the right thing in trying to make it work by attempting to get him to attend counseling, but unfortunately, he didn’t comply, and you continued to feel threatened by his presence. You did make an effort and, alhamdulillah, you are now free from the marriage.
However, now you are suffering poor mental health as a result of what had happened. The fact that your parents, who are good people, also seem to be suffering the consequences, makes it worse for you.
Boost Your Self-Esteem
In this situation, the first thing I would encourage you to do is work on your self-esteem. Your situation has caused your self-esteem to drop, but now the event is over and it’s time to focus on yourself and boosting your self-esteem again so that you can pick yourself up and move on.
After everything that happened, you seem very much focused on all the negative things in your life. The way the people around you are treating you only seems to be reinforcing all the bad things you are feeling towards yourself at present.
Instead, you need to focus more on the positives and the good people and things in your life.
Get Involved with The Community
Right now, you are cutting yourself off from everyone and everything, which will only be contributing to your dip in self-esteem. I encourage you to break free from this and get involved in things for the sake of you mental and social health.
Get involved in something that you love to do and be amongst people who do the same. This will make you feel better about yourself as you accomplish new things. Mixing with people of shared interests will help you make friends with whom you have common grounds for discussion and encouragement.
It might even be particularly useful if that is conducted in your local Muslim community. Such activities are more likely to be ones that will help to boost your faith and connection with Allah, like charity work or Islamic studies.
This will help you see that it is entirely possible to make friends with new people after all, especially when you are working together for a common goal. The good Muslim women amongst the group will be free of judgement towards what you’ve been through as they act in accordance with Islamic principles.
‘O mankind, indeed, We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.’ (Qur’an, 49: 13)
Furthermore, being with others in this capacity as you get to know them may open doors of opportunity for getting a new job.
You may also get involved in a hobby or something completely new that you’ve always fancied trying. As you master this new challenge and achieve new things, your self-esteem will increase. It will also reinforce to you that 31 is not that old at all, and that you can still achieve plenty of things in your life.
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Involving yourself will help to build supportive friendships which will help to boost your self-esteem as well as providing you with much needed social interaction and support during your recovery.
Continue to Support Your Parents
After what happened, you feel immense guilt towards your parents, yet they continue to stick by your side. This guilt made you move to live with your sister so that you don’t have to face it every day. However, since your parents haven’t raised the issue, they are possibly less bothered by it than you think.
As your elders, they have probably also faced challenges at your age, so they completely understand what it’s like to be in your situation, and therefore are willing to accept the situation and move on. They probably don’t want to upset you by making it an issue between you and them.
Take advantage of the fact they are being so calm about the issue and continue to do all you can to make them happy. Allowing the guilt you feel towards them places a barrier between you and them, so it’s important to try and put this aside and move past it.
Try and give back to them like they have given.
‘And your Lord has decreed that you do not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (Qur’an, 17: 23-24)
Visit them frequently, or at least call them if visiting is difficult. Take them to places they like and allow them to enjoy themselves. Surprise them with a gift or take them out for a little family getaway. The guilt may still hang there for some time but continuing to run from it will only make it linger even longer.
If you feel comfortable and you think it would help, you could even talk to them openly about it and tell them your feelings on everything that’s happened. Sometimes, that can be a way to pass through the stage of guilt. It doesn’t always help and sometimes time alone is the best healer, but if you think it would work then you can give it a try.
May Allah bring you to ease in your affairs and guide you to what is good and free you from that which is bringing you heartache. May He grant your parents a long life in good health and happiness. May He bring happiness and contentment between you and your family.
You have been through a very stressful past couple of years and it had an impact on your self-esteem and relationships. This has led you to a negative psychological state which you need to try breaking free from. You can do so by involving yourself in the community and doing things you enjoy, as well as trying something new. You might also seek counseling if you find it hard to break from this negative psychological state.
This will heighten your sense of achievement and provide you with much needed social support. It is also equally important that you don’t let the guilt you feel towards your parents interfere with your relationship with them.
Remember that they are probably more understanding than you realize what you have been through based on their own life experiences. You could try addressing the issue with them openly if you feel that it would help. Otherwise, maintain regular contact with them, and do things with/for them that would make them happy.
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