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I’m at A Crossroad in My Marriage

16 October, 2021
Q I was born in London and my wife in Pakistan. We had a love marriage.

My wife cheated on me with my cousin then I found out that she has mental health issues and took her for treatment.

I forgave her and we went for Umrah. After returning back she took the kids and left without any reason at the same time falsely accused me and sent me to prison.

Social services got involved, but after few months the charges against me were dropped. My wife sent me divorce papers and left back to Pakistan and I was given full custody of the kids.

The kids contact her through video call and get to see her.

We have been divorced twice now.

If I forgive her again would I be silly? A lot of people have advised me Muslims should be merciful, but not naive and not to get bitten by the same thing twice (in my situation more than twice).

I know I still have feelings for her, feel sorry for her due to her mental illness, and my children are not getting a mother's affection in their lives.

But when she video calls the children and I see her face, it reminds me of the horrid times she put me and the kids through for no reasons at all, and cannot even apologize.

Just even an apology would probably change my mind. I'm so confused.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Encourage the family and your wife to investigate a diagnosis with a licensed psychiatrist. Ensure she is being compliant with treatment and taking doctor recommendations into account if she wants to be around the children. 

Keep appropriate authorities aware of the situation, such as children’s services, if they are still monitoring the situation.

Maintain records of all phone and email exchanges.

Enforce appropriate boundaries.

Seek out marital counseling if you want to reconcile the marriage. Do not feel pressured that you must do this. 

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Be clear with the family that the marriage is over if you have no intentions to try again with her. 

Work with her to be positive co parents that provide stability for the children. 


Assalamu alaikum brother,

Thank you for taking the time to write in and express your concerns with us.

It is my understanding the Mother of your children suffers from mental health concerns, has been hospitalized repeatedly. The children have endured instability with custody situations, the family has not always practiced healthy communication and you are currently unsure if you should forgive and how to proceed forward. 

I'm at A Crossroad in My Marriage - About Islam

To begin with, please understand we cannot provide a diagnosis or clinical treatment via counseling questions, but based on what you said, I can deduce that your wife may be in need of regular therapy and may require medication management.

Some mental illnesses require medication, such as those that cycle through manic states and your wife may or may not have this. I need to be clear again that we cannot diagnose via these questions, I want to share some information with you to increase your knowledge.

Please consider this information and do not hesitate to bring it up with her family as something they may need to investigate with a psychiatrist. Only a licensed psychiatrist can diagnose your wife. 

Common symptoms related to Bipolar disorder:

– Racing and irrational thoughts

– Moments of very low depression with other moments of high energy and irritability. Low-lows with high-highs 

– Poor decision making

– Hypersexuality and flirtation, especially in inappropriate situations or people

– Moments of spending excessive amounts of money during manic states

– Unusually talkative

– Depressive mood

– Insomnia

– Risk-taking behavior

– Impulsive behaviors

– Paranoia

– Delusions/Psychosis

Proper Treatment

You mentioned your wife having relapses with her mental health. Please be aware many mental health concerns can never be cured, rather they are managed. This means she will require mental health treatment periodically for the rest of her life.

She may experience depressive or manic episodes every few years or every few months, we really cannot determine that on here. I strongly encourage you to speak with her family about the fact she needs proper medical care.

This does not mean she has to be hospitalized, that is only for emergencies, it means she needs a regular psychiatrist and regular therapist who ensure she has appropriate medications (if needed) and appropriate therapy. Your wife sounds like she is ill and as such she should be shown mercy and help with her illness. 

That being said, her mental illness is not an excuse to hurt you or hurt the children. You should set appropriate boundaries with her and ensure she is aware that she cannot cross them. For example, it is healthy for her to be a part of her children’s lives, but she cannot take the kids against your will or threaten to hurt them again.

She needs to understand it is not acceptable for her to be aggressive or threatening with any of you. You are not wrong for being fed up with her behavior and as a Father you have a duty to protect your children. 

I encourage you to keep all text message and email exchanges. Ensure children services and authorities involved with the kids are always kept up to date on the family situation.

If you feel your wife needs further medical care at some point and is having another episode, immediately notify applicable authorities and her family.

I do not believe your wife ever intends to harm her children, but when she is in one of these mental states she may require help from family and her doctor to help her and ensure the children are around a stable environment. 


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Stay or Go

It is between you and your wife if you will seek to reconcile this marriage or it is over. Please understand simply saying I divorce you 3x does not mean you divorced 3x. You divorced once; does not matter how many times you say the word.

The legal aspect of all of this is really the least of your concerns. If you want to fix your marriage then you can try, if you do not want to fix it then do not. 

Do not feel pressured by her or the family to fix this marriage. If you cannot be happy with her or simply do not want to risk all of this again, then do not be with her. You are well within your rights to say no I do not want this marriage. 

If you decide that you are interested in reconciling this marriage, I strongly encourage you to seek out marital counseling alongside her personal counseling. This will help both of you learn healthy communication styles and what is harmful versus helpful.

I would also ensure you do not live with this cousin again. I believe the issues with your cousin are a part of her mental illness, but it is best not to make this more difficult. 

If you decide that this marriage is done then ensure the family knows you are not going to try and reconcile, but that does not mean you cannot learn to be good coparents and friends.

The best situation is for the children to have both parents in a stable way with positivity. You can facilitate this with the Mother whether you are together or not. 

Final Thoughts

Here is a summary of your next steps moving forward. 

  • Encourage the family and your wife to investigate a diagnosis with a licensed psychiatrist. Ensure she is being compliant with treatment and taking doctor recommendations into account if she wants to be around the children. 
  • Keep appropriate authorities aware of the situation, such as children’s services, if they are still monitoring the situation
  • Maintain records of all phone and email exchanges
  • Enforce appropriate boundaries
  • Seek out marital counseling if you want to reconcile the marriage. Do not feel pressured that you must do this. 
  • Be clear with the family that the marriage is over if you have no intentions to try again with her. 
  • Work with her to be positive coparents that provide stability for the children 

I know this is heartbreaking to endure this type of treatment and behavior with someone you love. It is a blessing your parents are helping with the children, alhamdulillah. May Allah (swt) heal both of you and protect your children, ameen. 

salam,

***

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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/family-life/requiem-of-a-marriage-struggling-with-divorce/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/divorce/can-recover-divorce/

https://aboutislam.net/family-life/husbands-wives/divorce-and-children-the-difficult-question/

About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"