My Brother Refuses to Support his Parents

Complaining About Spouses to Parents and Managing Marital Finances

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: Assalam Alaikum,
I heard a shaykh say that a husband doesn’t need to tell his wife how he spends his money. He said that a wife has a right to a portion of it that fulfills his duties to her, but everything else is up to the man’s discretion.

My husband has taken this quite literally and tells me I can’t tell him how to spend his money or disapprove of how he spends his money. This negatively has affected our marriage as naturally, a girl tries to plan for her future (kids, studying abroad, paying back loans, saving, etc). How much should a husband consult or notify his wife about how he spends his money as we all know spending even a little here and there ends up being a lot at times.

Also, how much can someone share information to their parents about marriage? What if a husband believes it is okay to share with his parents arguments he has with his wife, but the wife believes it is best to keep marriage a private affair and to ask proper people for advice but not to include relatives as it affects the in-laws perception, attitude, and behavior of the daughter/son-in-law?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum.

Thank you for your question.

I’ll answer your last question first. Husbands and wives need to be very careful about complaining–or having the appearance of complaining–to their parents about their spouse. It can generate ill-feeling and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, if there is an issue, they should mutually agree to seek advice from someone who can be neutral. However, if spouses insist on talking to their respective parents, they should be fair and present the other side of the story.

Your first question is also very important and perhaps can be addressed from two angles.

1. From a fiqh standpoint, i.e., the letter of the Sacred Law, no, a husband does not have to tell his wife what he does with his money, as long as he takes care of her and their children. However, no marriage can be run strictly by a fiqh manual. That would make for a rather unhappy marriage in most cases, especially given that personal-law-type fiqh rules, generally speaking, are applicable when there’s a conflict and and are not intended to dictate the daily nuances and details of everyday married life. This concept leads to my second point:

2. A husband and wife can certainly sit down and determine how they wish to manage finances, whether they are technically his, hers, or theirs. It would, in fact, seem prudent to do so, considering that you’ve mentioned having children, paying off student loans, and studying abroad. There’s no way you can tackle these issues if you don’t, as a couple, come to some common ground. And to reach this common ground, you’ve got to have the money talk.

Now keep in mind that if you had any debt coming into the marriage, then, technically, your husband does not have to pay it off. And, technically, he can go blow all his money on a purchase and doesn’t have to tell you. But the “I don’t have to tell her/him” attitude doesn’t get one far in marriage, and won’t bring you two any closer to your mutual goals.

May Allah make things easy for you,

Zaynab Ansari