How Do I Deal with a Neglectful Husband Who Volunteers All His Time to Others?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My husband has been doing voluntary work at a local masjid for two years. He also takes all house DIY jobs as unpaid favors for others. He lost his part-time job recently. He can’t find a job that suits his daily volunteering, which is most days now. I work full-time and am alone most evenings, feeling neglected and responsible for some of our biggest bills. He says I should remember the purpose of life and give to others by increasing my own voluntary deeds as well. We used to have a great friendship now he is hard-hearted and harsh towards me, constantly relaying politics of the masjid committee to me, giving me life lessons, and being harsh when I want to do what he calls worldly things, like buying a car or going on holiday.

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your patience and may He shower you with blessings for your endurance, and devotion as a wife.

Duties

Please remind your husband that you paying the bills is voluntary, because paying all of the bills should be on his shoulders. Unfortunately, your husband doesn’t see the big picture that he is doing sunna before fard, and voluntary over the obligatory. This is a great sin unless you have agreed with him that you will pay the bills while he volunteers all day. If you had no such agreement, then you should sit down and tell him that you want to stop working or work less and that he needs to do his end. If he argues, tell him that this commandment is from Allah, not from you.

Relationship

I am sorry that your husband has become harsh over the years, this tends to happen in marriage, but it can be stopped. I can’t advise him, but I can advise you. Please look at the resources below and make a concerted effort to change what you can in your own behavior. Although it’s not easy, your new behavior will change him, by the grace of Allah.

Course Suggestions:
40 Hadiths on Successful Marriage: Key Teachings of the Prophet on Beautiful, Loving, Caring Married Life
Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage
Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages: Practical lessons that explain the Prophetic Spirit of Marriage

Answer/Article Suggestions:
Istikhara Prayer
Prayer of Need (Salat al-Haja)
How Can I Fix My Empty Marriage?
What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
My Husband Neglects Me. What Do I Do?
25 Years’ Worth of Marriage Advice: Hina Khan-Mukhtar
How Do I Deal With an Unhappy Marriage?
Am I Destined to Suffer in an Unhappy Marriage?
Should She Stay In an Abusive Marriage?
Should I Stay Married Even Though I Hate My Husband Because of His Bad Character and Irreligiousness?

Book Suggestions:
Chapman, G: Five Love Languages Revised Edition
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
Handbook of a Healthy Muslim Marriage

Turn to Allah

The best way to change your husband is to beseech Allah Most High first.

  • Turn to Allah through patience, prayer, and supplication, especially during Ramadan
  • Pray the Prayer of Need before dawn and the Prayer of Tasbih regularly
  • Read Quran daily with the meaning and give charity regularly, even if only a little to increase the blessings in your life and prevent calamities
  • Make dua for him so that the hearts may soften
  • Try praying with him, and pretend to be interested in the stories he tells you, it will pay off
  • Although you are already doing so many things right, try to embody this hadith because he will notice and start to change in sha Allah. It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything with regard to herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.

[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.