In this counseling answer:
“It is necessary to be aware of the negative/difficult side of the choice. Then you will need to decide whether you will be able to cope with those difficulties and to accept them from the position of a strong, responsible individual and not from the position of a helpless, weak victim.”
As-Salamu `Alaikum dear sister,
I would start my answer by a few questions that I believe could be helpful to reach an answer. How do you want your life to be like? How do you think you could shape your life in a way that would bring you peace of mind and serenity? What are the things that are missing in your current life? What would make a positive transformation in your life? What would make you content and peaceful from inside? What is the decision that you can take at this moment and that would result in a situation which is for your own good and the good of your children?
I know dear sister it could be difficult to answer such questions in your current emotional state; however, at some point, it could help you a lot to reach some solid answers to such questions so that you could lead the life you want, that would bring the best out of you and make you and your loved ones happy and content.
Everyone is responsible for his own decisions and choices in life and should bear their consequences. What is your responsibility to decide about is seeking what is best for yourself and your children (who are a shared responsibility between you and their father).
So, according to your situation as you have described, it seems that there are certain options you could choose from. You have to bear in mind that our options in life would have their positives and negatives. It is necessary to be aware of the negative/difficult side of the choice. Then you will need to decide whether you will be able to cope with those difficulties and to accept them from the position of a strong, responsible individual and not from the position of a helpless, weak victim.
Also, when you take a decision to choose a certain situation, you still have the opportunity to work on the situation as much as you can to improve it and limit its negatives.
One of the options is that you decide to stay in this marriage in order to be with your children. You will not have a real, fulfilling marriage relationship, and this will not be new as you already say that your relationship is over and that you only consider him as your children’s father.
The other negative point is that you will have to accept the fact that your husband has a second wife. However, if you think of this last point, what would be the harm for you as long as you already consider you have two separate lives and that each one of you has a right to seek his/her own happiness, which could be found in new relationships with different persons?
On the other hand, you could consider the possibility of trying to work on your marriage and see how it could be transformed into a true relationship. For that, the best option is seeking marriage counseling which could build a stronger relationship between you both, in sha’Allah, if your husband is also willing to participate in the process. If he refuses, I still encourage you to seek the help of a marriage counselor to be able to cope with the difficulties and make the best decision in your situation, in sha’ Allah.
Another option is to leave this marriage and accept to live away from your children, although I strongly doubt whether he has the right to take your children. Please seek the help of a local lawyer or imam who can assist you in this issue.
Our scholar says: “Both the husband and wife should try their best to avoid divorce, which is the most hated permissible thing in the sight of Allah, and fix their differences in a loving family atmosphere. It is not acceptable for the husband to threaten his wife or to stipulate that he take custody of the children in case of a divorce.” For the complete answer of the scholar, kindly see this link.
In case the children go to him, the negative part is that you will be away from them. But of course, there would be an agreement between you and your husband on seeing them and on how their life would be managed. That is your right.
This option would give you the freedom from staying in an unhappy relationship and from coping with the existence of a second wife. You will be able to start a new life and maybe choose to get married to another person with whom you could have a fulfilling and happy marriage. This option may seem to be selfish and not considering the interest of your children; however, it could be that when you lead a happy, fulfilling life and hence be a positive, peaceful person, you would be a better mother for your children as one of the main emotional needs of children is to see their mother happy and strong.
Still, under this option, there would be a possibility of working to make it better through reaching a better agreement with their father on the method and amount of staying with your children. This could be reached through opening a channel of effective communication between both of you for the best interest of your children. As you describe him, he is a responsible father and hence he should be aware of the importance of quality time with the mother on the well being of his children. This could be done also with the help of a trusted member of your families or with the help of a professional counselor or a sheikh.
In addition sister, always make du’aa’ for Allah as and make istikharah before making any major decision, in sha’Allah.
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