Question: I am the first wife. Before my husband married a second wife he used to treat me badly just because he wanted to marry the second wife until I felt no love towards him. But soon after marriage, he became caring and loving towards me. I fail to return my heart to him. Please help.
Answer: Assalamu alaykum sister,
This situation is very difficult indeed. I empathize with you having to be in an unhappy marriage and having the challenges of living as a co-wife.
I want to commend you for staying in the marriage. Dealing with what you have dealt with is enough to break a heart and make life very difficult. Despite this, you have stayed in the marriage; may Allah reward you for that.
You may dislike something in which there is good.
Allah, Most High, says, “You who believe, it is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will, nor should you treat your wives harshly, hoping to take back some of the bride-gifts you gave them unless they are guilty of something clearly outrageous. Live with them in accordance with what is fair and kind: if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something in which God has put much good” [Qur`an, 4:19].
Allah, Most High, does not command that a married couple love each other. Rather, He commands that they dwell with each other in tranquility and be a garment for one another. This entails having all the qualities of a garment with each other: warmth, protection, and concealment of faults. They also have a duty towards each other and must be kind and merciful to one another. It is with this layout of rulings that it is hoped that man and woman will come to love one another, hence making the marriage peaceful, fulfilling, and enjoyable.
It’s not just about love
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics, he may be pleased with another” [Muslim].
Also, `Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said to a man who wanted to divorce his wife, ‘Why do you want to divorce her?‘ He said, ‘I do not love her.‘ He said, ‘Are all families based on love only? What about care and decency?” (`Uyun al-Akhbar, 3/18).
One more chance
Mending a broken heart is not easy, but deep down, I feel that you should give him one more chance. There could be many reasons for his change of heart. Perhaps he regrets how he treated you? Perhaps he realizes that you are the best wife for him? Perhaps he has come to know how much he loves you?
Every time you smile at him, are kind to him, or do him a good deed, you are being rewarded by Allah and stepping on your ego (nafs). This will empower you, refine you and build your character; good character is the heaviest thing on the scales on the Day of Judgment.
Turn to Allah
Fulfill your five daily prayers on time, pay zakat on time, eat only the halal, cover correctly, read some Qur`an with the meaning every day, and learn your personal obligatory knowledge. Pray the Prayer of Need often and ask Allah to guide you through this marriage. It is important to realize that Your husband does not belong to you, He belongs to Allah, and so do you and your children. Never look at him as your property. Look at him like a person with whom you have a transactional relationship, which is soon coming to an end. Treat every moment of your life as worship and soon you will see the bigger picture.
A bit of jealousy here and there is probably inevitable, but you have a much greater and bigger thing to prepare for than to busy yourself with jealous thoughts: Meeting Allah with your religion intact and your heart pure.
“Truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace” [Qur`an, 13:28].
May Allah help you through this difficult time.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied Aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, 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 recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.