In this counseling answer:
“I don’t believe you are obligated to stay with them and put your life “on hold”. The help you can offer is really limited. You might be an intermediate, and you can advise them, but in case they are reluctant to talk about and seek help, there isn’t much you can do besides praying for them and trusting in Allah (swt). Encourage them to get therapy.”
As-Salamu ’Alaikum Sister,
All the praises are for Allah (swt). I am sorry to hear about your family situation. Unfortunately, this is a common set up in some families in our Ummah. A lot of couples live miserable lives together either because they are afraid of the divorce stigma, or they think it is best for their children, or simply because they think divorce is a major sin no matter how unhappy they are.
It is clear that your father has been emotionally abusing your mother over the years, and it is understandable that she can’t handle this situation anymore. I am not sure what your mother’s intentions or hopes are, but she does not need to be married to a man who cheated and has been treating her bad. I believe if you really ”hate to see them like this”. You should have a clear conversation with your mother and help her understand her rights according to Islam and the legal system as well.
Expect that your mother might prefer to stay married to your father considering the years they have been together. It is very hard for elder couples to understand all the meaning of a separation. Often, they prefer to stick with what they are used to. In that case, they can look for professional help and try to work out their issues. I believe the best way to help your parents isn’t necessary to live with them (unless you wish) but to try to have a clear and respectful conversation with both of them. Actually, by this way, you will show them kindness and love while trying to intermediate a solution for their problems.
We all are aware of the teachings of the Quran regarding our parents. One good example is Surat An-Nisa 4:36:
”Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, (…)”.
We can also find plenty of Hadith that reinforce and reiterate the virtue of kindness and respect towards one’s parents as well as warning against inappropriate disobedience or mistreatment of them for any reason whatsoever. Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said:
“I asked the Prophet (PBUH), `Which deed is most liked by Allah (swt)?’ He said, `Prayer offered on time.’ I asked him, `Then what?’ He said, `Kindness and respect towards parents.’ I asked him, `Then what?’ He said, `Jihad for the sake of Allah (swt).”
I can see that you are trying to be a good Muslim and daughter; however, I don’t believe you are obligated to stay with them and put your life “on hold”. The help you can offer is really limited. You might be an intermediate, and you can advise them, but in case they are reluctant to talk about and seek help, there isn’t much you can do besides praying for them and trusting in Allah (swt). You may also be enabling them to live separately if you stay and keep playing the role of the messenger and server for each of them. Bottom line, they need to each step up and carry their own mistakes and take responsibility for their marriage.
Both parties always have a role in a marriage. Your dad may have a larger role than your mother, but your mother is not purely a victim. You cannot fix it for them. You can only make their lives a little easier by being around. They are the ones that need professional support to cope with the affairs and anything else that has happened in their marriage. Encourage them to get therapy. If they do not want to have therapy, then they both have made the decision to live the way they live and keep harboring anger and resentment. Then, you will have to decide if this is the environment you want to be.
Regarding your relationship with your father, remember that on the Day of the Judgment, we will be only responsible for our own acts. He made mistakes and cheated on your mother, and this is one of the greatest sins, but you did not mention that he is a neglectful father. Try to keep both roles separated in your mind. Support your mother as she needs, but don’t leave your father behind or make him the absolute monster. In sha’ Allah, he will realize his mistakes and repent sincerely to Allah and seek forgiveness from your mother. Remember, the best way to get over hurt is to acknowledge it, seek forgiveness, and then act differently to create new, better memories.
May Allah (swt) guide you in your journey!
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