Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I was married to a boy chosen by my father. After marriage, I found out that he is completely different from my expectations. He is not religious, he doesn’t understand my feelings or my needs. Soon after marriage, he started to yell at me about small small things.
I wanted to marry someone else, but because he is from a different caste, my father rejected him, after threatening to disown me.
Now I am unable to accept my husband, and have any physical relationship with him. I am being pressurised by my family and my in-laws to return to him. What should I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for the delay.
Dear sister, I am sorry that you are struggling in your new marriage. Please know that even in the best of circumstances, the first year of marriage is a challenge.
Yours is a very complex and painful situation. You wanted to marry someone else, but your father threatened to disown you. I am sorry this happened. I pray that when you become a mother some day, you will treat your adult children with more kindness and respect, especially when they disagree with you.
Despite the rocky start to your marriage, it is still a sacred covenant that you and your husband have made before Allah. You have the opportunity to make this work. So many of us were not taught how to successfully navigate marriage, nor were we taught that the point of marriage is growth. Through these difficulties, you and your husband can attain deeper self-knowledge, closeness to each other, as well as Allah.
Your husband’s cycle of yelling at you and then asking for your forgiveness is deeply problematic. What lies beneath his anger? Perhaps he is struggling with feelings of shame and inadequacy. Read about the anger iceberg. Both of you need to learn better ways of communicating with each other.
You can learn how to send boundaries with him – make it clear that yelling at you is unacceptable. You describe yourself as not needing your husband, and this is part of your challenge. Healthy dependence is important in a marriage.
It is not too late for you to create shared meaning in your marriage. Learn how to build your Love Maps together. Teach your husband how you want to be loved, and he can do the same for you. This can only happen if you are both calm and committed to saving your marriage.
Conflict is a normal part of any marriage. If handled poorly, it can break a marriage apart. If handled well, it can strengthen a marriage. Like any skill, conflict resolution takes practice, and I pray that over time, you and your husband will learn how to manage conflict better.
I also encourage both you and your husband to do the SeekersHub marriage course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.
I encourage both of you to attend marriage counselling with a culturally-sensitive counsellor. if your husband refuses to, which is common, then please still go on your own. There is still a tremendous amount of good you can do through your own emotional growth work.
Your father means well, and no doubt he feels responsible for the difficulty you are in. However, he cannot ‘change’ your husband. Your father may try to speak with your husband and persuade him to change, but ultimately, only he can decide to do that. Only your husband can change his own behaviour. Only you can change your own behaviour.
You are a strong, kind and capable young woman. Please know that this heartbreaking experience is a trial from Allah, and if you handle it well, you will grow as a person. I cannot tell you what to do because this is your journey. All I can do is offer suggestions, and encourage you to look deeply within yourself.
Take responsibility for your choices that led to this. You are not a victim. You chose to marry this man, and now you have the choice to make this marriage work.
Please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, every night, and beg Allah for ease. You describe your husband as not being religious.
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that: the Messenger of Allah said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Please do everything in your power to save your marriage, and consider divorce as a last resort. As unbelievable as it may seem right now, with much dua and honest emotional growth work, your husband can be your closest companion. He may not be the husband you wanted, but he is the husband you have.
Perform the Prayer of Guidance as many times as you need, to help you decide whether or not to stay in your marriage. A negative sign could be your husband’s refusal to change his ways, or your heart continuing to harden against him. A positive sign could be your husband’s willingness to change his behaviour, or your heart softening towards him.
I pray that this has been helpful for you. I pray that Allah grants you the courage and wisdom to choose the path that is most pleasing to Him.
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.