Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked if it is permissible to divorce a spouse who consistently refuse to help with childcare and household chores.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
My husband and I have been having arguments on and off for the past few years. My husband doesn’t help me with house chores, nor does he help me care for the kids. He expects me to do it on my own, without any support from him. I get exhausted and overwhelmed from everything I have to do.
I’ve talked to him about helping me out more and I’ve addressed my concerns several times. He seems to just brush it off. I can’t keep going like this. I’m starting to hate him, due the way he treats me. I’m considering divorce, what should I do?
Wa alaykum assalam, wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Narrated Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him: “When the following was revealed: ‘Whoever works evil will have the recompense of it.’ (Sura al-Nisa 4:123) That worried the Muslims, so they complained about that to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said: “Seek closeness and be steadfast, and in all that afflicts the believer there is atonement, even a thorn that pricks him, and the hardship he suffers.” (Tirmidhi)
Dear sister, please know that you are not alone in your struggle. Allah is testing you with something so painful as a way to open your heart to Him.
Please know that you are being very reasonable in your expectations from your husband. Children need both their mother and their father. You also need support from your husband to go through the ups and downs of marital life. The Prophetic household was one of love and mercy, something for all of us to strive for.
What was your husband’s parents’ marriage like? Was your father-in-law a hands-on father, or did he leave everything to your mother-in-law? Unfortunately, this was very common for our parents’ generation. Women were expected to do everything, without complaint. As a result, many men and women missed out on nurturing from both parents, causing problems when they become adults.
For example, a common flow-on effect are husbands expecting their wives to do the same as their mothers. We live in a different time, where women are more educated and empowered. We know the value of husbands who are more present in their children’s lives. Unfortunately, this means more effort on their part, and it is easier for many to just stick to the problematic default model. It takes courage to break out of that. Please perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to soften your husband’s heart.
I am sorry that your husband is not listening. That must feel very frustrating for you. You cannot change his response or his behavior, but you can change your own thoughts, behaviors and beliefs.
Please speak to a culturally-sensitive therapist to learn better communication and coping skills. If that is difficult for you, then there are many Muslima life coaches online, who can schedule calls with you. Sister Megan Wyatt from Wives of Jannah could be an excellent resource for you.
Please get support through this trying time. Do you have close friends and family you can lean on?
I don’t know how old your children are, but if they are still young, please ensure that you schedule regular time for yourself. You need that time to recharge.
Even if they are not younger kids, do take that time out every day and every week to recharge yourself. This is especially important because your husband is not supportive. The more nourished you feel, the more emotionally generous you can be with everyone else. I find these meditations very helpful when I feel overwhelmed with my multiple roles: Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises.
What are some ways you can physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally recharge yourself, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? Please write them down and stick them up on your bedroom wall.
It was narrated from Abd Allah bin Umar that: the Messenger of Allah said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
There is a problematic dynamic in your marriage, but before you go down the path of divorce, I encourage you to exhaust all options first.
Please perform the Prayer of Guidance about what to do next. A sign to stay in your marriage could be your husband softening and deciding to change his ways. A sign to leave could be your husband’s refusal to change.
I pray this has been helpful. Please know that Allah loves you. May He offer you solace through this time, and bring you closer to Him.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.