In this counseling answer:
• Take your time and don’t act out of anger. Consider all your options, the strengths and weaknesses, and potential consequences. Take this matter to Allah time and continue asking him for guidance.
• Let your focus be in something other than what is going on at home. If you have other family members outside of the home, you might go and stay for an entire weekend with them.
• Take up an online course and study something new or start a new hobby.
• Turn to Allah.
Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatuh sister,
It is a very sad situation; to witness your parents in this situation. It must be very painful to observe what’s going on as well as having further information about the affairs of your father which seemingly you are restricted in acting upon.
Don’t involve yourself in the business of others
You are looking out for the welfare of your mother and this is a great thing for a child to do, but to go through your father’s phone so frequently like this is a breach of his own trust also.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worst of false tales; and do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; and O Allah’s worshipers! Be brothers (as Allah has ordered you!”) (Sahih al-Bukhari 6064)
You have seen that he is up to no good so there is no need to continue to hurt yourself by continuing to go through his phone. It will only add to your sadness and frustration. Undoubtedly, what he has done is wrong, and to continue to amount evidence to support this in your mind will not do you any good. Instead, put this energy into supporting your mother.
Support your mother
It would seem that your mother is unaware of his antics, or maybe she is, but she is covering it up due to her love for him. After all, if she is still there after their frequent fighting, then perhaps she is choosing to overlook it for the sake of saving her marriage. Maybe she wants to save the marriage due to feeling that she has no one else and thus no choice.
That is a possibility, although may not be the case. Either way, she needs support and you are well-placed, as her child, to do that for her. It is not necessary to even discuss what is going on with your father, but simply being there for her, showing her love and support will give her the strength that she needs during a difficult time which will better equip her in moving forward.
(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: 24)
Contemplate your options and their consequences
Getting involved in the business of others can be risky, especially when it comes to matters like this and especially when it is the business of your own parents. You got a taste of what was going on by accident, and it has spiraled into something more serious as you have uncovered more. It is now a difficult choice for you to choose whether you completely ignore this information and pray for the best for your parents.
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However, it comes at the risk of it eventually coming out in the open with even more painful consequences as your father’s relationship with someone else has become even more committed. Alternatively, you could let your mother know what you have discovered and risk letting your father know that you have betrayed him as well as breaking your mother’s heart to uncover what has been going on. However, this exposure might encourage your mother to see the truth and make arrangements for her own good.
You could even confront your father about it, but he will almost certainly be angry in the knowledge that you have betrayed his trust in going through his phone and spying on him. However, this might also help him to see the error in his ways and make changes towards your mother.
This is a big decision to make and one which requires much careful thought. Take your time and don’t act out of anger. Consider all your options, the strengths and weaknesses, and potential consequences. Take this matter to Allah time and continue asking him for guidance.
Take mental space
This whole experience must be very stressful for you so also make sure to take mental space away from it all. Not only will this give you a psychological break from the constant demands of witnessing and processing what is going on, but it will put you in a better frame of mind about how to best deal with this situation.
This space can come from many things. If you can get out of the house and be with friends, or do something that you enjoy doing, then do so. Let your focus be in something other than what is going on at home. If you have other family members outside of the home, you might go and stay for an entire weekend with them.
Alternatively, if this is not an option, do something from home. Take up an online course and study something new or start a new hobby.
Seek third-party intervention
Without even raising the issue of the discoveries you have made about your father, it is clear that their relationship is not in a good place as they are arguing a lot. Regardless of the cause of these fights, be it because she actually is aware of your father’s activities, or is suspicious of them, or is completely naïve to them, you as their child are witness to this.
This is having detrimental effects on you as well as them. As a result, you might consider letting them know how much their fights are hurting you and suggest they seek counselling together, or at least go and speak with the local imam together to address the issues that are causing such fights in order to bring peace to the house.
It may be that such interventions will pave the way to fixing the cause of the arguments as well as nurturing the love between them once more so that respect can be rebuilt, and extramarital affairs are ended. This will allow them to address difficulties between themselves without even bringing up what you discovered on your father’s phone.
You are in a difficult situation not only being the child of parents who is experiencing difficulties, but you are aware of things that your mother is not. Contemplate your different options and take them to Allah in making a decision moving forward. Regardless of what you do, continue to support your mother through her difficulties and try to avoid going through your fathers’ phone anymore.
The information you have is enough already and has already caused great pain. Aside from the present incident, you might advise your parents that their fighting is causing you heartache and advise they seek counseling for your sake as well as theirs. Do also take time for yourself to detach yourself from the daily struggle to place you in a healthier mindset to deal with them on your return.
May Allah reward your struggles of looking out for your mother. May He bring you and your family peace and happiness in this life and the next.
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.