Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil tackles the delicate matter of a wife who feels unwanted and shamed by her husband, and gives advice on how to overcome it.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I feel so unwanted by my husband. When we first got married, physical intimacy was painful for me, and so my husband started to avoid it. After a few attempts, I fell pregnant. Our honeymoon was delayed, and I am so ashamed that we didn’t even have marital intimacy once. We got into an argument because I wanted intimacy and he wanted to finish watching a soccer match on his phone.
We have a small baby, and I have gained so much weight since my pregnancy. Every time I try to approach my husband, he makes up excuses like he’s tired, he doesn’t have much of a libido etc.
What makes everything worse is my difficult past. My mother was hypercritical of my physical appearance – both because I was overweight and also because I chose to wear hijab. I grew up internalizing the sense of being a deep disappointment to her. She made me feel ashamed of how I looked, even to the point of telling me that I was so ugly that no one would marry me so I should just say yes to whomever offered first.
Now I can’t help but feel that the same thing that happened with my mother has now happened with my husband – that my mother was right after all in telling me that I was unattractive. I feel ashamed of myself and feel like a complete disappointment as a wife. What should I do?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. Dear sister, may Allah grant you a way out of this tribulation, and bless you with a healthy, loving and mutually satisfying marriage.
It sounds like you and your husband are in great need of a compassionate, culturally-sensitive counselor. Please find one in your locality. It might be a hit and miss process before you find a suitable counselor, but please, please persist. You need a trained professional to help you both find your way back together. When you are inquiring, please check that your counselor/therapist is trained to deal with sexual problems in marriage.
On another note, experiencing pain during marital relations is a sign that something is amiss. Please see a female physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic health. Insha Allah she will be able to address your difficulties issue through a holistic approach. Women hold trauma within their pelvic region, and a holistic physiotherapist can help you release that pain.
Please don’t be ashamed. Libido mismatches are common in marriage. So many couples struggle with the same difficulties which you and your husband are dealing with. This trial does not make you a failure as a wife. Please don’t despair. Trust in the Mercy of Allah and have faith that you can overcome anything through His help.
I am so sorry about your years of emotional abuse at the hands of your mother. May Allah help you heal, and guide your mother. Your wounds have not healed, and it is causing you added grief in your marriage. Please see a kind counselor who can help you learn to come to peace with yourself and your past. These demons will not let you go until you face them.
Alhamdulillah for the blessing of your child. Your son, like all children, will learn from observing his parents. Please heal your marriage not just for your sake and your husband’s, but for his sake too. Please give him the foundation of a strong and loving home, in which his parents are truly at peace with one another. Although matters of the bedroom are private, as you know, unhappiness there can bleed into all other areas of your married life.
Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to bless you with better emotional physical/emotional health, a suitable counselor, for Allah to heal your marriage, and whatever else you wish. Please do everything in your power to save your marriage, and know that these things take time and patience.
It was narrated from Abdullah ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah, upon him be blessings and peace, said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
If all else fails and you want to consider divorce, please perform the Prayer of Guidance. You can pray up til seven times, and watch what Allah unfolds for you. If He makes reconciliation easy with your husband, then that is your path. If He blocks it, then that is your path. Again, please do everything you can before considering this as an option.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani