My Husband Doesn’t Do Anything for Us; I Feel Helpless

04 July, 2020
Q Assalamu alaikum,

My husband and I have been living separately for 2 years now. We live 2 hours away from each other and our children live with me.

He keeps saying he will sell his home and business and move in with us but never does. All I get are excuses. We’ve been married for 30 years.

Before I moved, he would spend his time working or on vacation to see his mother back home.

We’ve traveled twice in 30 years, once with our children and once just the two of us. When he takes a day off, he just spends it at home rather than taking his family out.

As a wife, I worked in our family business 7 days a week, kept our home clean, and took care of our children myself while he did nothing.

I moved two hours away to open a new business for us so that we all could live there and sell the other house and business, but the new location did not work out so now I’m stuck.

I understand that because of money he won’t leave our business, but he won’t drive 2 hours to see his family either.

When I go to see him instead, he only wants to make problems. He’s never had a relationship with his children because he’s never around.

My older boys and daughter are in college and my youngest boy in elementary school.

I’m lonely and depressed, and always pray to Allah and ask him: why?

I asked my husband to come take my son and me to local Mosque on Friday as I’m an American Muslim and I tend to be quite shy to go by myself, but he can’t even do this.

I feel so helpless and I want to give up. What should I do?

Answer


In this counseling answer:

I kindly suggest, dear sister, that you address your shyness and seek counseling if needed.

Attend the Masjid and Islamic events.

Seek Allah’s guidance and mercy as He loves you, sister.

Increase social activities and begin to maintain ongoing relationships with other sisters.

Set personal goals for yourself aside from your responsibilities. By striving for personal goals, you may feel more balanced and happier in life.

Outline the issues that are present in your marriage that need healing to discuss with your husband.

It should reflect our prescribed way of living. Set a proposed plan of action and time frame for you and your husband to resume living together and request marriage counseling to help heal your marriage. These are some of your rights.


Assalamu alaykum dear sister,

As you have indicated, you and your husband have been married for 30 years and live separately in two different homes for the past two. As each of the homes is two hours away from the other, it is difficult to see one another, and he makes little effort to see you and the children.

When you do make the journey to visit, he makes it difficult. When he visits, which is rare, he just sits around and doesn’t engage with you or the children nor take you out as a family.

My Husband Doesn't Do Anything for Us; I Feel Helpless - About Islam

Motives and Gains

Sister, prior to the new living arrangement, your husband was rather distant and uninvolved with you and the children. You stated he would take vacations alone to see his mother and leave you and the children at home, except for one or two times in 30 years. He also never took the time to be involved in his children’s lives.

Thus, his behavior and reluctance to combine households now is really not surprising. In fact, it sounds like it was set up as separation, with a new home and another business which you would run to support yourself and the children.

May Allah forgive me if I’m wrong, however, buying another house and starting another business would seem to add to expenses rather than resolve financial difficulties.

It is a feasible situation though if a couple decides to separate and the wife agrees to start a business to financially care for herself and children. As I do not know whose idea this was, it’s hard to tell the true motive of this arrangement.

Separate Households, Businesses, and Lives

As you have further described your situation, he said he will sell the home and business and move with you, but he has not, and keeps making excuses. Your husband’s situation has not changed much except that he has less responsibility and you seem to have more.

As the new business has not worked out as well as you and your husband thought, it does not make sense to not combine households. As he is resistive, perhaps there are other reasons why he does not take these steps. You stated money is the reason he cannot come live with you, yet it would be a reasonable solution to cut expenses.

Shyness, Insecurities, or Fear?

Sister, you state that you are too shy to go to the Masjid by yourself. I kindly suggest that you review the reasons why you feel shy. Also, in shaa’ Allah, examine if there are other areas in your life wherein shyness is impeding your participation.

Some shyness is a good thing, but when it prevents you from participating in normal life events it can be harmful. Please write down your feelings associated with the shyness you feel. Is it related to insecurities, fear, or other emotions? Identifying what is causing a certain feeling, can often lead to a deeper insight and resolution.


Check out this counseling video:


If you are having difficulty identifying the sources of your shyness, I kindly advise that you get ongoing counseling to help you overcome your shyness and reluctance to go out (ex. to the Masjid).

Additionally, you could find counseling helpful to guide you in the direction you wish to take regarding your husband, should he prolong the living arrangements.

Feeling Hopeless and Lonely

Sister, you say that you are finding yourself lonely and depressed. I am sorry to hear this; these are difficult feelings to deal with. It hurts, I know, but it is not surprising nor uncommon.

Many people feel lonely or hopeless at some point in their lives, but it is in the active struggle to change one’s situation that blessings lie. Considering your situation and your husband’s reluctance to change it, I can imagine it must be very hard on you as you are living as a single mom.

It must feel very lonely, especially as it sounds like you do not have a support system or a balance in life. The trust, love, and expectations you had for your marriage appear to be crushed. The feelings of hopelessness and giving up are understandable reactions to a situation that has not been resolved despite best efforts.

Wanting to give up and feeling hopeless can set in, but it does not have to stay. You can change how you feel, but it will mean making choices and changes. Sister, you seem to be really trying to resolve your situation by encouraging your husband to make the move or to come and take you and your son to the local Masjid on Friday, yet he still doesn’t make the effort.

Perhaps, at this point in your life, you may wish to create a timeline for actions to be taken to save your marriage as well as decrease your feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. This is part of making choices which produce a change for a happier and healthier future.

You Have Choices

There are options for change. You can begin to take small steps, in shaa’ Allah, by going to the Masjid for prayer and beginning to actively socialize with other sisters there. Find a personal hobby or interest that you would enjoy and engage in it.

I understand that you work very hard in the family business, keep your home clean, and care for your children. This takes time, effort, and energy. However, you must care for yourself as well and seek a balance in your life.

I would kindly suggest that you try to socialize with the sisters at the Masjid. Whether it is going out for lunch, going to a movie, going shopping, or going for a walk, it is important that you do socialize so you that don’t feel so isolated. Such relationships are important because they provide friendship, sisterhood, support, and encouragement.

Balance in Life

We should all have a balance in life. This includes time for our spouses, children, chores, worship, socializing, as well as personal time. By obtaining a balance, you are more likely to experience a decrease in feelings of hopelessness and wanting to give up.

Wanting to Live With Your Husband

Sister, I understand that you want your husband to come home, however, after two years he still hasn’t. The above tips and suggestions may help you until he does, in shaa’ Allah, or until you decide to pursue other options.

I kindly suggest that you sit with your husband and develop a reasonable timeline for him to make the move to your location. Depending on the financial situation, you may want to propose that you and your son move to where your husband is instead.

He cannot expect the marriage not to suffer when you continue to live apart. It’s also unfair to you as you are all alone. In shaa’ Allah, he will agree to sitting down and discussing this economic and emotional situation regarding living arrangements.

In shaa’ Allah, the both of you can decide which will be best, either he sells the home and moves to your location or sell the home at your location and you and your son move back.

Another option would be to rent out one of the houses so you can live together as husband and wife. It is very important to set a timeframe if you make an agreement in order to have accountability and see a “light at the end of the tunnel”.

I would also suggest marriage counseling to help identify and resolve the issues in your marriage that have apparently been going on for some time now. If he refuses to do so, sister, there may be more than meets the eye as to why he doesn’t want to combine households or repair the marriage.

Perhaps he enjoys not having the responsibility of a wife and family. Perhaps he enjoys going out with friends all the time, or maybe there are other reasons which you need to investigate. In any case, he is married, and his responsibility is to you and the children. As you are a married couple, he should not be striving to live as a single man.

Time

Your husband cannot get back the time that he has missed with his children and you. That is a sad situation, but moving forward, he can create a new path with you which includes more attention, responsibility, and interaction with the family.

This could possibly include the two of you working together on a business as well as being involved in your children’s lives. You can both create a new life together as a husband and wife, which will be beneficial to your family as a unit.

It will, however, require his cooperation. If he does not desire it, or keeps putting off your reunification, you may want to consider moving forward with your own life. This could mean remaining separated or seeking a divorce.

Conclusion

I kindly suggest, dear sister, that you address your shyness and seek counseling if needed. Attend the Masjid and Islamic events. Seek Allah’s guidance and mercy as He loves you, sister. Increase social activities and begin to maintain ongoing relationships with other sisters.

Set personal goals for yourself aside from your responsibilities. By striving for personal goals, you may feel more balanced and happier in life.

Outline the issues that are present in your marriage that need healing to discuss with your husband. Please reference them in accordance with Islamic guidelines and principles, which your husband may be more receptive to as he is a Muslim.

It should reflect our prescribed way for living. Set a proposed plan of action and timeframe for you and your husband to resume living together and request marriage counseling to help heal your marriage. These are some of your rights.

These are a few simple suggestions, sister, but you have the choice.

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.

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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.