Though this sacrifice is often voluntary, many women complain that their husbands, who were very supportive of their education and career prior to marriage, insist that they drop out of school and give up their career and dreams completely after they are married, especially once children are in the picture.
However, their frustrations do not stop there. Many women complain that their husbands, particularly those men who consider themselves religious, go as far as to micromanage their dress and religious practices.
And because these women wish to be good, righteous wives, they feel obligated to listen to their husband’s demands, even as they see no Islamic need to adjust their hijabs and religious opinions.
Unfortunately, though “swallowing your pride” and obeying the husband seems like the right thing to do, if the woman’s concerns are left unaddressed for an extended period of time, she may become extremely frustrated such that she ultimately wants out of the marriage, or even out of Islam itself.
Can a Marriage Contract Help?
Too often when women are negotiating the marriage contract, they focus on what they want from the man or the relationship (such as “no polygamy”) as opposed to what they want and need for themselves.
In the case of Renee above, though her insistence on a no-polygamy contract is well within her rights (as it is for any woman), perhaps it would be best for her (and other women) to shift her focus to matters that would benefit her life, mental health, and spirituality regardless of the choices her husband might make down the road.
What if, when writing the terms of her marriage contract, Renee focused on her desire to live as mentally and spiritually independent, successful woman, as opposed to her desire to never share her husband?
In other words, what if women used the marriage contract to think long-term regarding their own actions and choices as opposed to those of their husband?
A Suggested Marriage Contract
Here are some suggested marriage contract stipulations that women might want to consider, even if they do not foresee any serious obstacles or disagreements with their future husband:
-I have the right to continue my education, and I will have my husband’s full support, such that he will not seek to deter or prevent me from this. If there are any concerns regarding the care of the children, we will come to a mutually agreeable arrangement that respects the rights of both the children and myself.
-I have the right to own my own business or to pursue a career path of my choice, and I will have my husband’s full support, such that he will not seek to deter or prevent me from this. If there are any concerns regarding the care of the children, we will come to a mutually agreeable arrangement that respects the rights of both the children and myself.
-I have the right to practice Islam in a manner that I believe is most correct in front of Allah. Under no circumstances will my husband compel me to understand or practice Islam differently from what I believe or understand to be right.
-In religious matters in which there is a legitimate disagreement amongst scholars, my husband will not compel me to follow the opinion that he favors, as I have full right to follow the point of view that I believe is most correct, even if it differs from his.
-Regarding any personal or religious matter in which my husband and I disagree, we agree to first seek a mutually agreeable conclusion between ourselves. If this is not possible, we agree to seek the counsel and input of an arbiter whom we both respect.
-Above all, we agree to put Allah first and last in everything and let the ultimate decision rest in His hands through seeking righteous advice from others and making du’aa (sincere supplication) and Istikhaarah (the prayer for making a decision) before coming to any final conclusion.
If women wish to add the stipulation of no-polygamy, they can feel free; but it is perhaps best long-term to make the primary focus of the marriage contract on the their own needs and goals, as opposed to the men’s desires and choices.
First published: December 2012Pages: 1 2