The Plight of a Distressed Wife
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I am an American born Muslimah who has been married for four years to an Arab. During this time, I have given all I can to this marriage only not to have him reciprocating even a little. I can honestly say I have NOT grown one gram (emotionally, financially or spiritually); as a matter of fact I think I’m worse off. There is NO WAY I can spend the rest of my life with him. I don’t believe he is a bad person, but he’s just not the one for me. As much as I’d hate to admit failure, I have to. I made a mistake and think that the only answer is dissolution of this marriage. We met through the personnel of an Islamic magazine, so there was no real ‘getting to know you’ period. At that time he was working outside the US, I was here in the States. After about nine months of talking and writing weekly (as well as sending an in depth questionnaire (which I later realised he didn’t completely understand), I went to his home country to meet him and his family. And we were married two weeks later even though my instincts were not completely at ease. But I’d come so far; how could I have gone back home and admit my folly? Soon it became evident to him that I could not live  the cooped up life in the vastly different Arabian Peninsula. We’d planned that we should move back to the States. After a few months we came here. He had no real skills to secure any well-paid job, and in fact has worked in retail ever since, never making enough so that I would not have to work also. Well after a year and a half of marriage I got pregnant unexpectedly and he was devastated! I was shocked! I figured a good Muslim would be thrilled. In my mind, a good and decent man would have made whatever sacrifices that were necessary to help me be comfortable and carefree during that time. He basically ignored my pregnancy until he couldn’t anymore: about 8 1/2 months! And it was also at that point, on our second anniversary that it became painfully clear that there was no way we could remain together for eternity. He was never supportive of how or what I felt. Although I asked repeatedly, he would never read about pregnancy or talk to the other few Muslims men he knew. I don’t believe he told his family about it until they heard her cry once and he has never sent pictures to them even though I have hundreds! Because he came here the easy way, and because I knew the ins and outs of maintaining a household having lived alone for the previous four years I did everything with the expectation that in 12-18 months or so he’d be adept enough to take care of most of it. But now four years later, I’m still doing everything: paying the bills, doing the shopping, cleaning, caring for our daughter, maintaining the car, making money ... everything!! I have asked him over and over to at least take over some of these responsibilities, particularly the management of the money because I’m not good at it (I can be impulsive), and it would more evenly distribute the weight. Out of 46 months, he’s done it at most five times and never for a complete month cycle. I even made him a spreadsheet with the expense, date, amounts, last mailing date, etc. and he just ignores it. It’s fallen on deaf ears!!! And of course at the end of my 16 hour day, he thinks I should be happy and more than willing to get intimate!!! On the occasions when we do, I usually have to fantasise about another man (no one I know) to endure it. Though we have discussed it over and over. He REFUSES to take responsibility for the things he needs to ? Being the leader of the household, he is incapable of making the simplest of decisions like finding a new apartment or finding a more profitable job. Speaking of which he has never made a real concerted effort to find better or part-time employment to ease the stress on me and our financial situation. But every month, no matter how stretched our budget


I feel very sad after reading the ordeal that you are facing. However, I have a last ditch suggestion which may be very difficult for you, but there is a slight chance that it might improve matters. Besides praying very hard to Allah, try to become a model wife for at least one month. In fact, given your condition, you might have to pretend and act (and maybe over act) for this. Do not show the slightest reaction to any of your husband’s bad habits. On the contrary, treat him as if he is the best husband in the world. Encourage him, laud all his good habits even if he does not have much of them. Tell him that you love him very much and that you pray that no troubles come his way. Assure him that if he does not feel like doing a job, he should rest TOTALLY and that you will take over (this is the hardest part but may work; you are already doing it!). Also think of other ways and means to please him to the utmost. Cook his favourite food. Take him out for a dinner: Give him a present. In short, do all you can to bring out your moral superiority and pray to Allah that this might awaken your husband’s conscience.

This is a bit of psychological treatment which has the potential of working with such husbands. Who knows, it might work in your case. May Allah set right your spouse for you and that you live as a very happy family.


For Questions on Islam, please use our