Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
My husband of two years is not the man I thought he was. He does not regularly lead prayer, pray on time, implement the sunna, or take an active role in our marriage or household. He is sick often because of unhealthy habits/whims. We are both dissatisfied.
I complain often and was recently advised to think of my marriage as the most important dawah in my life and to not hold him to my expectations. I found this advice sound but would like further advice on my situation.
Is this what marriage is supposed to be like? If so, how do I keep myself steadfast and not overwhelmed? Where can I learn my roles and responsibilities as a wife and woman?
Yes, this advice that you have received is absolutely perfect. The only way to help a man change is to be by his side and support him and gently encourage him over the years. You will be required to be strong in your habits and steadfast so he can see you reap the fruits of your lifestyle.
You will also be required to hold your tongue and be less critical about unimportant things until the bigger battles are won. For example, once he is convinced that he never wants to miss fajr again, he will adjust his own eating and bedtime routine to achieve this.
Optimally, one should take a course on marriage before getting married, but it’s never too late. You can learn all of your rights and responsibilities in the following articles and courses. Please see these links:
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Marriage in Islam
Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages
Etiquette of Marriage: A Comprehensive SeekersGuidance Reader
Having children will also make an impact on your husband. He will see that good eating habits and routines must be instilled in children and may just follow suit if the whole family is living one way.
The beginning of a marriage can be rocky, but if you continue to make du’a and be kind and respectful to him, he will start to listen to you, bit by bit. I pray that your marriage lasts a lifetime and that you both change and improve together.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.