Alhamdulillah, I cannot help but acknowledge all the good Allah has bestowed upon me. As Allah said in the Quran, with hardship comes ease. My mother is, alhamdulillah, amazing and beautiful both inside and out, and many people can attest to this.
As for my dad, I'm sure he has good in him too, but the issue is that he’s an alcoholic. He stopped financially supporting us years ago. At first, it was because he really didn't have a job, but even after he started getting income, he still didn’t spend any of it on us. When I was 9, I found love letters from his girlfriend; It really traumatized me.
My father has been cheating on my mother with different women for as long as I can remember. I feel like my mom deserves so much better as she is an amazing woman. She's endured all of this yet tells us to forgive him for all he's done.
He forcefully brought a child he had with another woman into the house, yet never even tried to be civilized and explain the situation to us. It was difficult coming to terms with it, but we can't mistreat the child as it's not his fault. Whenever my dad comes home, I always feel like he ruins my mood and I can't stand hearing his voice.
I feel so guilty for having such feelings. This is the biggest test of faith in my life. I'm even scared of getting married because I fear my husband will end up being like my father. I'm not the kind of person who resents anyone; I forgive very easily and move on, but somehow with my father it's different.
In shaa’ Allah, when Allah brings me a good man who asks for my hand in marriage, how do I involve my father who treats me like I'm just a shadow? We haven't talked in years even though we live in the same house. I have a lot to say in order to put things into perspective for you, but there's only so much one can type.
I really want to let this go. Please help me. As I end this long message, I'm requesting you to please make duaa’ for my father, so that Allah may guide him to the straight path and help him change his ways. Pray for me as well that I let go of these horrible feelings inside of me.
In this counseling answer:
Work on forgiving your father as it will help with all other obstacles. Remember, forgiveness is not for him, but for you.
Consider professional counseling for you and your father, as well as family counseling.
Use rational thoughts to combat your irrational thoughts regarding your own future with marriage.
Look to other couples as positive inspiration and examples of healthy homes.
Speak with both parents when approaching the topic of a family sit-down with potential spouses.
Bring other family members into the sit-downs with a potential spouse.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us and express your concerns. It is my understanding your father struggles with alcoholism and adultery and has brought a child from one of his affairs into your home.
It is also my understanding you fear marriage as a potential husband may repeat your father’s actions. You also don’t know how to bridge the topic of marriage with your father since he doesn’t interact with you often. It seems that you want to forgive your father, but you harbor many unresolved emotions.
Dear sister, while this is a difficult situation, please take some comfort in knowing it can be healed in shaa’ Allah, and both of you can grow from this.
To begin, let’s talk about forgiveness and healing the wounds within your father-daughter relationship. To be clear, forgiveness is sometimes mistaken as condoning the negative actions that caused pain in the first place, which that is not the case.
Forgiving is not
- Excusing his actions or condoning them
- Instantly having no feelings regarding the situation
- Considering the relationship repaired with no further work to be done
- Forgetting what has happened
- For your father, rather it is for you
The first step is to speak openly with your father, which means letting him know how hurt you are by his actions and that it has impacted your view on future marriage. This won’t be easy to hear, but interventions require honesty.
You may consider involving a professional counselor or family therapist to facilitate effective communication and understanding as both of you talk through these emotions.
While it would be beneficial for the entire family to be involved, it’s important to remember that you cannot make your mother clearly see your perspective on this situation.
You can only decide for yourself
If she has decided to forgive his transgressions against her and be patient with his substance abuse, then it is her decision to make.
One conversation alone will not repair your relationship with your father, but it’s a good start. You can consider undergoing regular counseling with your father and encouraging him to seek out substance abuse counseling on his own sake, and for the sake of his family.
If all of you work through this together, in shaa’ Allah it can not only help the family heal, but also help him become sober up and accept greater accountability for his previous actions.
Please be aware that if your father is physically addicted to alcohol, then it could be dangerous for him to quit on his own.
If he is willing to work with a doctor during this, it can help make the detox process easier and healthier for him.
Check out this counseling video:
It is not your responsibility to heal your father or get him off alcohol, only he is accountable for those decisions. If he is neither willing to seek out help nor work with you on healing, please know that is not your fault and that you aren’t responsible for what he does.
My dear sister, it sounds as though you are basing your expectations of all potential husbands from your father.
Please take some comfort in knowing that most spouses do not commit adultery and abuse substances; it is not the norm, rather it is the exception to the norm.
All marriages have struggles and hardships, but those struggles typically don’t reach such extremities. The likelihood that your future husband will do such things is very low, in shaa’ Allah.
I encourage you to think about some married couples in your family that are happy, perhaps an aunt or a cousin.
Think about happy marriages you have seen with your friends. As you think about them, reflect on how their family dynamics are unique and unlike yours.
We, as human beings, are not responsible for what others do, but we are responsible for how we react to them. If you are ever involved with someone who, as a husband, does turn out to be toxic for you, you always have the choice to leave.
Your mother’s choices are her own, that doesn’t mean you should make the same decisions in that situation. Your life is independent of theirs.
Next time you have thoughts like this about your potential husband being an adulterer or involved in substance abuse, ask yourself how likely it is that this would really happen.
Rationally speaking, it is not very likely, but your emotional response is more defensive in this area due to your home environment.
Use rational thinking to combat these irrational thoughts which could hold you back from a potentially good marriage.
When considering someone for marriage, take the time to truly get to know them and their family; don’t rush it. You can have family sit downs between you and your family and the intended male and his family.
You should have more than just your father at these events. Have your mother there with you and consider other family members you are comfortable with such as a good uncle and/or aunt. This will provide you with more security and broaden your perspective on your potential marriage.
When you decide to discuss the topic of a sit down, have your mother present and make it a conversation between you, your mother, and your father, and not just between you and your dad.
Dear sister, here is a summary of your next steps moving forward:
- Work on forgiving your father as it will help with all other obstacles. Remember, forgiveness is not for him, but for you.
- Consider professional counseling for you and your father, as well as family counseling.
- Use rational thoughts to combat your irrational thoughts regarding your own future with marriage.
- Look to other couples as positive inspiration and examples of healthy homes.
- Speak with both parents when approaching the topic of a family sit-down with potential spouses.
- Bring other family members into the sit-downs with a potential spouse.
I know this is a difficult situation and it gives you anxiety about your own future happiness. In shaa’ Allah sister, your family dynamics can heal, and you will have a happy home life of your own.
May Allah (most honored, most revered) heal your family and guide all of you to the best decisions;