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Mental Health Challenges in Marriage

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for participating in the session.

Please find the 4 questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.

Question 1. Depressed Husband

I am married to my husband since almost 30 years and figured out only few years back that I had been emotionally abused by him all these years when I got physically sick, My mental health started to get affected due to being continuously made to walk on egg shells around him. I have adult kids, a boy 23 and a girl 19 living with us. I decided to separate from my husband after failing to get him counselled, he was given depression meds by my family doctor which he stopped using after sometimes and he refuses to take counseling. I feel very lonely at times, I work part time and do earn enough to afford a separate accommodation and I am scared to live alone.
My son is married and wants to separate after he gets the right job as he is still studying and my daughter is going to start uni soon. My other fear is that if I leave, he will start abusing my daughter as she is weak.
Please help.

Salam alaikom, dear sister,

Thank you for contacting us with your question.

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I am sorry to hear that you have been going through hard times in your marriage.

Mental health problems, unfortunately, cause troubles not only for the person who suffers from them but also for his immediate surroundings, mainly the family.

If your husband is suffering from depression and/or other mental health issues, that can be quite challenging, especially if he does not adhere to medication and if he has difficulties admitting his problem.

Denial, negation, and refusal to seek help are unfortunately common issues and can cause further difficulties not only for him but also for his family.

So, with this being said, sister, it is very understandable that all this has taken a toll on your mental health too.

Have you been to individual counseling about this?

If not, I kindly advise you to seek a counselor and take a few sessions where you can discuss the effects of this situation on you. A good counselor may give you tips on how to deal with your own situation.

You say that you feel lonely sometimes, and may Allah ease your loneliness. I am wondering what you can do in order to tackle these feelings.

It is understandable that seeking a solution to marriage or a possible separation occupies your time and energy, but what about involving yourself in some form of activity? Do you have any hobbies? With what or with whom do you like to spend your time? With kids, family, or do you have some special interests? Arts and crafts, nature, or good companionship?

What about scheduling programs in order to have positive experiences that can balance your feelings of loneliness?

Sometimes, in our marriage, we lack true companionship, but we can find it elsewhere. These things may uplift your mood and help you explore other venues for inspiration and good vibes.

Also, this lack of companionship may be a temporary issue when a spouse, for some reason, is not available. This can be an illness, an absence due to work, a long family visit, etc. We need to be patient these times and see how we can make the most of this solitude Allah has granted us.

So, sister, just trust in Allah and in His plan, and try to focus on the blessings you have in your life.

Regarding your husband, I am advising in this response in the light of his possible mental illness.

Try to be understanding of his condition. I mean, if he deals with depression, probably his attitude and thinking are affected. But try to approach his negativity as part of his illness; it is not him, himself, but an external cause; his illness makes him behaving this way. So, once he improves, probably his outlook on life will improve too.

Try to forgive him for all his shortcomings and treat him well for the sake of Allah. By no means do I mean here to endure oppression or abuse, but to overlook and excuse mistakes that may be beyond his control. But if you or your daughter is facing some form of abuse, you need to get help and deal with this situation accordingly.

If he deals with depression, finding motivation and meaning can be really challenging, but you may see how to help him with that. What you can try to do is see how you can support his healing.

Try to be encouraging and assure him of your support in whatever he needs. You can kindly point out that there is a possibility to live without these problems and that both of you have the right to live in mental and emotional well-being, and you both have the “duty” to find the means and work on them. Try to find examples, if you know any, of those who successfully combated this condition. Encourage him to adhere to treatment, as medication and therapy really make a difference. Do it for the sake of Allah and with a loving attitude, so he can feel valued and worthy. 

He also has to know what consequences there can be if he chooses not to make efforts. He might lose his family and his wife as a result. Mental illness cannot be used as an excuse for ill—treatment, as he still has accountabilty for his deeds, if he is sound in mind. Try to help him see the good things, give him positive reinforcement for his achievements, help him take care of himself, and take action little by little, always with pure intentions, for the sake of Allah.

I know that it is not as easy as it sounds, and this may require a lot of patience. But know that Allah will reward your efforts. You may not get the wanted and rightly desired loving words from your husband now, but you can surely expect the reward and blessings of Allah for your goodness.

Meanwhile, make sure that you also take care of your own well-being by practicing proper self-care, recognizing your efforts, finding contentment in other activities, in your children and other family members, and in the remembrance of Allah. Your own well-being also matters, and you deserve good treatment and kindness in your marriage.

Kindly consult this situation in more detail with a counselor, as well as your plans for separation, to see what you can do to have the best outcome possible for you and your family.

Here are some further tips:

I am married to a depressed husband

May Allah bless you. Ameen.

Question 2.  How do I make family OK

Home is very emotional abusive. Very scared I’m gonna hurt and break family as I did when I was in a mental health hospital for 9 months then they became so upset and depressed.

Been trying to escape since I called so many people agencies police 10 times so much more just to get out. I was gone for respite short placement as they know how difficult it was for me and when I refused to leave they asked my parents to sign a section. My social worker to let me go and we’ll work on issues but my family keep hesitating. I don’t want my families hurt to come back and the intense depression and I think it’s real even if however they mean it I cannot stand home but I don’t want to hurt family the placement is until a reunion. I really want to go and the found no evidence of sm wrong it’s just usually my disturbance I can’t stay in auntie’s etc. I don’t want to explain why family said they’ll sign and it’s hurting them and very difficult and hesitant and it’s gonna be different and I want to be part of a “daily life” and see siblings grow etc. btw I’ve tried everything to reason with family

I want to go but I’m so scared they’re gonna get hurt and signing the form will be so difficult for them and intense when the social worker will come they say they’re going to and it’s up to them but I’m scared they won’t sign and I can’t stand home I can’t go visit when I want my mum has been taunting me fr past 5 hrs I’ll be never part of family btw I’m the eldest daughter and granddaughter so I’m very important. My auntie and grandparents know a bit but not that I’m going. and none listen it’s too much idk what to do? I’m so scared do bad will happen to them visiting will be very structured and I don’t want to feel emotions. I feel like so like my family is and that they’re broken and it’s all my fault. I feel so scared I don’t want it to be like hospital I want it to ok and family are happy not super depressed. Even if not very nice my entire family dream for me as the eldest to be at home.

How do I make family less depressed, should I even go, what do I do?

Salam alaikom, dear sister,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us. May Allah bring you peace and ease, settle your affairs, and heal you, ameen.

It seems that you have been going through a very confusing and difficult time. May Allah help you with that.

What I understood from your letter is that, for some reason, you do not want to go home; something has happened that makes you feel scared of being there. Also, social services and authorities are involved, according to my understanding.

At the same time, you would like to be with your family, be part of the family, and blame yourself for the things that happened. It seems that you are afraid that something wrong will happen to them as a result.

Sister, I am not sure what has been going on, but let me assure you that Allah is with you and will protect you. If you trust in Him and in His justice, know that real harm cannot happen to you.

The authorities, social workers, and psychiatrists are there to help and protect you from a perceived threat, and surely they are doing a great job. Without sound evidence, they are not going to do anything, and they cannot do anything that would unfavor your family. Their job is to work on your improvement and health and give you proper protection, if needed. Maybe the best thing right now is that you are away from your family right now, especially if you have experienced at home some form of conflict that you preferred not to talk about in your letter. It is maybe better for your well-being if you are distanced from them right now, from them until you get better.

I am also sure that your family loves you and won’t blame you for any harm; they surely want to see you well and healthy. And if, right now, hospitalization is needed in order to be better, then this is the best thing to do.

Whatever harm happened to you, sister, it is not your fault. Furthermore, what may have happened to your siblings is neither your fault nor your responsibility, even if you are the oldest one. Sure, you are worried for them and want the best for your loved ones, but you also need to trust in Allah and in the others around you who are there to help you and them. So, the first and most important thing is to calm down, rest, and try to focus on your health and improvement.

Try to cooperate with the doctors and adhere to the treatment, so, in sha Allah, soon your thoughts will be clearer and you will be able to see things with a better outlook.

At this point, your health is the first priority, so try not to think about others too much. Once you are better, there will be opportunities to discuss and clarify issues, and you will realize that surely there is no blame or accountability on you for this.

So, please trust in Allah and in His plan and help. If He sent these social workers and mental health professionals to protect you, you must be in good hands there.

Please try to be patient and know that Allah is on your side. Try to remember Him and find peace in that.

May Allah make it easy for you. Ameen.

Question 3. Career/Marriage made impossible, will Allah swt ever provide for me?

Salam aleykoum

I’m in a difficult situation. I’m going through a trial of rizq where it is withheld from me. Before this trial I went through severe sickness so its trial after trial.

 I graduated from university almost 3 years ago in business field and I have not been able to find a job within this domain. I have tried searching but to no avail. The market is completely saturated. Now something else happened and I need to do my high degree school from the beginning in addition to university.

I have also tried looking for a partner. I have asked my siblings for help, my mother, but they are unable to as they don’t know anyone. My sister who is 28 is in the same situation. I have tried making lots of friends, been active in the Muslim community, volunteered. I have also tried the online method but it is extremely difficult. I have asked sisters if they know but they don’t themselves don’t know anyone and REF me to online. I keep facing cruel rejection and heartbreak from the online search that I have decided I will not use this method ever again.

There have also of course been instances where I had to reject. I tried to lower my standards regarding educational background /age / children but my family/friends think I should not.  I don’t know what to do anymore. I have prayed to Allah for 3 years, I have asked several people to make dua for me in hajj/umrah I have done lots of sadaqa and good deeds and prayers during all the times where dua is likely to get answered. But to no avail. I feel completely lonely and I cry myself to sleep often. I’m afraid of committing huge sins because of this like people I know of. Recently a friend of mine was blessed and got into a nice education and then was proposed to by a man she knows. I have lost the motivation to pray to Allah and have not done so since a couple months back as I know he won’t answer me and accepted that my situation makes things impossible. I don’t know what to do anymore. This experience has resulted in a resentment /disappointment for Allah and despair. I have read books about dua and how it works and qadar. I felt that Allah made promises that he would answer but he hasn’t shown any sign at all of answering any of my duas. I read hadeeths about the importance of marriage yet some of us are unable to even if we want to. How to have the patience? How to protect oneself from zina? How to accept that one will likely never get married emotionally /psychologically? I try to distract myself with activities but these thoughts have replayed every day for years in my mind.

Salam alaikom, dear sister,

Thank you so much for reaching out with your struggle. I am really sorry for what you have been saying about your feelings and experiences.

It is really heartbreaking to read about your disappointment and about your feelings of losing hope.

It must be very hard waiting for something to happen and constantly perceiving that things don’t occur the way we expect them to.

Masallah, you said that you have tried many things—learning, dua, etc.

Unfortunately, I cannot say or predict what is in store for you or when Allah has destined it to happen. This is the unique domain of Allah (swt), who is the Delayer and the best Planner.

But I was wondering whether you have tried one more thing: changing your perception and interpretation of the events that are occurring (or, better say, not occurring) with you.

Remember the Quran verse:

Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” Quran 13:11

What if you tried to find other explanations for your situation?

For example:

  1. Allah knows what is best for you, and you deserve a good and righteous person with the proper education and mindset you need. With those rejections, He might have protected you from any possible harm that those relationships would mean.
  2. Online matchmaking works for some people, but surely there is a huge risk due to the uncertainty and possible misleading and fraud. If you decide not to pursue the marriage search this way, it is for your own benefit and further protection from deception, alhamdulillah.
  3. Being active in the Muslim community and volunteering, masallah, will result in reward from Allah, especially if you do it with the right intention. It may not bring you likeminded people and true friendships, but the inner contentment of being in the servitude of others and of your ummah.
  4. Maybe the rejected works were related to fields that would require serious compromise on your deen or values; therefore, Allah withheld those opportunities to save you from those risks. He is the Provider, so surely He will take care of you.

Have you tried to brainstorm about possible alternatives? It can be related to your profession or just partly. In this aspect, try to see only the next step and not the bigger picture of what you want to achieve in life, as it may prevent you from accepting proposals that lead you there. Sometimes we reject ideas or small, seemingly insignificant opportunities because we think that they have nothing to do with our final goals. But, actually, there are learning opportunities in literally everything, and they contribute to our experience professionally and personally too.

These were some examples, and my intention with them is to show you that, actually, even in the biggest hardship, we can find contentment and Allah.

You may have heard the hadith:

Strange are the ways of a believer, for there is good in every affair of his, and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer, for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it. (Muslim)

I know that a long period of time when we feel stuck and without any apparent action can be very tiring and trying, but what I can surely say is that any of these moments should be reasons to give up on calling to Allah and losing our hope in Him.

So, I kindly ask you to turn back to your salah. Even if you feel guilty for giving it up, know that Allah really loves those who repent, and you can always start it again and come back to Him.

What you can do is ask yourself: if the things I am waiting for are not happening right now, what else can I benefit from this time Allah has given me? Surely, you may benefit from the things you actually have right now.

Maybe this is your family and their presence, which can be appreciated before everyone moves out. Maybe you have free time that you can use for something you find contentment in.

You may think about and list the blessings you actually have. What are they? Your health, if you have gained it back after an illness, your loved ones, nice and good weather, a smile, etc. Just try to embrace the feeling that these are all gifts from Allah given to you, waiting for appreciation.

So, try to be grateful for all you have, and also have your plans and dreams for the future.

Not sure whether you have some good friends or a trustworthy person you can talk to about your goals? Talking things out and discussing them also leads to further ideas and helps you get on track.

So, please, keep up the optimistic attitude, despite the moments of loneliness and desperation. Know that it is normal and okay to feel down and disappointed when things do not work out the way we planned them to.

But alhamdulillah, we can choose to focus on the positive aspects of the situations and to trust that Allah knows what the right time and place are for all.

Here are some further readings:

Accept Your Qadar – Have Hope in Allah’s Plan

Depression Affects My Marriage Search

May Allah help you with this.

Question 4. My Husband

I have been married 23 years – it was an arranged marriage and I was 20 years old.  Have two adult sons now Alhamdulillah’s. I work full time from home.
Since we moved to a new house, he has asked me to contribute to the household costs. He works too and earns more than me. but insists that I work and contribute too. I give him 65% of my income per month and the rest is for me, because he does not pay for any of my personal belongings.
He is arrogant, egotistical and vain. WE cannot go anywhere, without him taking pictures and uploading to social media. When we went on holiday, just the two of us, all he did was moan and whinge that I couldn’t take pictures of him. My response was, I can take pictures, but the picture you normally take, are filtered, highlighted and edited to reflect you in a way that isn’t reality.
He blames me that he is unhappy. He put his stressors on me saying I am not good enough for him. He is not educated whereas I am. I haven’t ever let that be an issue, but it is now. He had the opportunity to come to the UK and study. However, his family wanted spending money from him, and pay off “debts”. He did exactly what they wanted and I didn’t say a word. We lived with my parents.
His parents have come over twice – they have been served and cared for, all whilst I work and manage all household chores. Even doing this to please him, was not good enough.
He expects me to be obedient and is constantly citing elements of Hadith to manipulate me so I have started fighting back. I say that, cooking cleaning household chores are not just for me, if you are a true believer, our Prophets (pbuh) helped his wives etc. Even the kids have said, he expects all of us to obey him and he does anything he wants and I say NO – that isn’t how it works.
It has now got to the point, where we don’t speak at all. I know for a fact that his side of family are filling his ears. A while back, he threatened to kick me out of the house due to an argument caused by his sister. I told his mum, she said – don’t tell anyone, you will be ashamed!!! This is the sort of family deal with.
I don’t even like my husband anymore, he is this narcissism, vain and egotistical man who is no longer humble and has no humility. His mum, nurtures him in a way that he can do no wrong, but they do it, because they benefit financially from him and don’t have to deal with his horrible behavior which they have allowed and caused.
How can I control and keep me sane? He does pray, but I don’t think there is any Imaan there because he certainly would not be like this surely?
I said to him, he is unhappy because he makes me unhappy. My thoughts and feelings as a spouse who is treated so badly, reflects on him. Yet he refuses to acknowledge he does anything wrong and believes himself to be perfect.

Salam alaikom dear sister,

Thank you, sister, for contacting us and relating your struggle in this marriage.

I think one of the major key points here is the “feeling of not being good enough.” But not that you are not good enough for him; he is not feeling good enough with himself, worthy enough, and this would explain many things you relate to in your letter.

The lack of self-esteem and confidence can manifest exactly the way you describe: the (semi-fake) images on social media, blaming the other and trying to put her down, trying to control, being boastful, egoistic, not admitting faults, etc.

I am sorry, sister, that you have been going through this, as you, as a wife, have an inevitable clash with the other person’s mental health challenges.

Even if you are capable, ready to cope with life situations, and have a realistic outlook on life, you can still get affected, and your own mental health and behavior can worsen.

What can you do to keep yourself sane, as you asked?

It would be important if you could keep your clarity in this situation and know that what is occurring does not originate from you but from another person. This does not, of course, lift up our own responsibility and put all the blame on our spouse.

But still, in relationships where one person struggles with mental health issues and the boundaries are blurred, when manipulation, blaming, gaslighting, etc. go on, one can easily lose track and start self-blaming for things that are not his or her fault. So, for this reason, it is important to have a clear mind about what is right and wrong and what is your fault and what is not.

With this being said, I kindly suggest a couple of counseling sessions for you, where you can talk and discuss what your boundaries and responsibilities are in this situation and what attitude is best to keep your healthy distance to maintain your own well-being.

It seems that you have reached a point where you have a strong resentment for your husband: “My thoughts and feelings as a spouse who is treated so badly reflect on him.

It is understandable, actually, but I invite you to see him with some form of “compassion.” Try to see the weakness and inability in his behavior, and maybe all this is rooted in his feelings of inadequacy. It is most probably not about you, or not directly your fault. I am not sure, but what if he feels less capable than you, without the proper education, without providing enough, without seeing you as independent, strong, etc., and his behavior is some form of attempt to be in control?

How can his self-esteem be improved, and what can you do for that?

Of course, it is something he has to figure out and work on, but try to see how you can support him with this. Probably, he has things to learn for his own self-development—how to admit mistakes, not put down others instead, etc. So, try to figure out what the best approach from your side would be that would support this development. You may ask for the help of a counselor if needed.

If you are right now dealing with resentment or some reluctancy, try to do so for the sake of Allah, putting aside his arrogance. Try to forgive him for the sake of Allah, and expect the reward and the help only from Him for your fairness and good treatment.

Try to see how you can make him feel valued and appreciated, and put those things into practice.

If you have a chance to have an honest conversation about what both of you need to be happy, it would help to see each other as a team that can work together. These discussions should not be about pointing out the weaknesses of each other or blaming each other. Rather, learn to accept each other and value your strengths, as I am sure both of you have good and valuable traits. The main question should be, for both of you: What can I do for our happiness?

Try to see in each other the best version of yourselves. Unfortunately, when others see in our eyes our disapproval, lack of faith, and respect, that can work as a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading to even more negative attitudes and behaviors. So, to avoid that, try to have your purest approach and intention for the sake of Allah, and make sure that you set aside your criticism and resentment in your daily dealings with him.

These are the things that you can do for the situation, which is definitely not only your responsibility. He has to commit to or respond to the change you initiate in your behavior. Hopefully it will happen, and when you feel closer to each other, you can have sincere conversations, forgive each other, and bond as a team.

At least you will rest assured that you have tried your best for the sake of Allah. Think about the fact that you will be held accountable for your own deeds and rewarded for all the good things you do. For all your help in the household, for all what is beyond your duty, etc. So may this be your approach in your dealings. Trust in Allah, in His perfect plan, and in His guidance.

With time, you will see whether there has been a change for the better or not, and this may help you get closer to a solution.

May Allah make it easy for you.

Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

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