Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I am a mother of small children, feel very suicidal and am self-harming. My husband has been unfaithful to me for many years, refuses to change his ways, leave the house, get a job, or accept help from my family. His family doesn’t want him either – as he is a convert to Islam. All he does is use me for sex, yell at our children, and play video games.
My husband and I met online and I wanted to include some conditions in our marriage contract like not speaking to his ex-girlfriends, not taking on another wife. He agreed to those conditions, verbally, but the imam did our nikah stipulating the conditions in our actual contract. Am I still married to him?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Validity of marriage
Dear sister, please know that you are still married because the conditions were not stipulated in the actual contract.
The fact that you are feeling very suicidal and self-harming shows me how utterly overwhelmed you are. Having two small children to care for is already exhausting enough, let alone the stress of your husband. I cannot imagine the mental, emotional and spiritual burdens you are carrying. Please, dear sister, is there anyone you can reach out to for help?
You deserve better than this. You are worthy of love, safety, and belonging. Your husband is breaking you, and he is not worth dying over. Your children need you.
Please perform the Prayer of Guidance to be sure about leaving your marriage. From what you have described, I do not see anything left to salvage, except for your sanity, and your children. May Allah place courage and wisdom in your heart, and help you to take the steps that you need.
As often as you can, please perform the Prayer of Need and plead for Allah to give you the strength to do what needs to be done.
Helping your husband
Unfortunately, you cannot save your husband from himself. He may have an undiagnosed mental illness – Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) – that contributes to lack of insight and refusal to change. It is not your responsibility to fix him. Only he can choose to get better. He is an adult, and is responsible for his actions. He is hurting you and your children, and most probably will not stop if you stay married to him.
This is far easier said than done, but you need to work out a plan to keep you and you children safe. Please work out an exit plan with a culturally-sensitive counsellor. You will need legal help too, as he is refusing to leave your home. He is behaving like a child, and since change will not come from him, it will have to come from you.
Play therapy for children
When possible, I encourage you to seek counselling for your children. Play therapy is a wonderful way to help them overcome and release trauma.
Where is your family in this situation? Can you lean on them for support? Even if you feel guilty and unworthy, please reach out to them. You know your practical situation best, but think of ways to leave your kids with trustworthy family members so you can:
1) Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea.
2) Do a short 5 minute meditation, like Dr Kristin Neff’s self-compassion break.
3) Go for a walk in nature.
Once you have taken the edge off your anxiety, then you can build up to meeting counsellors and seeking legal help. This may feel like a mountain to you right now, but know that with Allah’s help, even mountains can be scaled, one step at a time.
I wish I could be there with you in person. Please know that my duas are with you, and most importantly, Allah Most High is too. May Allah send you the best of helpers, and bring you back into a state of balance, joy, and contentment. May this terrible time be a distant memory for you one day, and a means for your closeness to Allah.
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I Am Divorced, My Life Is Finished. Can You Help Me Not Leave Islam?
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.