Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Dealing with an immigrant husband

unwanted houseguest, lazy man, too much tv


I have been living in UK for a while. Making ends meet was not easy initially. I had to work and study hard to get where I am today.  About two years ago, I decided to marry someone who lived in Pakistan. He came to UK after marriage, and I thought he would get a job since he has a degree from there, and everything would be fine. But since then I realized he pretty much can't do anything on his own. His degree is useless. I know more about his subject than him.

We tried to find him a  job, but not much luck. He now works about 16-20 hours a week with minimum pay. He sits at home, watches tv all day, or plays games. He tried to go back to  college, but he couldn't learn even the basics and failed over and over. He sometimes gets depressed and does weird things or says hurtful things as if it's all my fault. He also wants a lot of things, but of course I have to pay for all of it.

I am in a pickle right now, and not sure what to do. I do really love him, since he supports me emotionally at times. Living without him alone would be difficult as well. What do you think is best thing to do? I try to be a good wife and attend to all his needs, but he is not really the kind of husband a wife needs. Divorce is also not always the best option, so I am trying hard to save this marriage. What to do with a husband who is  inferior to a wife intellectually, financially, socially, and professionally? I do appreciate him praying and fasting. How long can a wife support a husband and his house?


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15 Responses »

  1. OP: "What to do with a husband who is inferior to a wife intellectually, financially, socially, and professionally?"

    What do you think a husband should do if his wife who is inferior to him intellectually, financially, socially, and professionally?

    After you moved how long it took you to get where you are now?

    Some people without college education becaome good businessmen especially if they live in western countries. He may already be feeling depressed, don't make him feel more inferior.

    May be he should learn a trade, like a/c repair, electrician, auto mechanic by starting working as a helper.

    good luck

    • sounds like a laborer job, but why not if its Halal most important is she save the marriage. And please note those laborer Pakistanis working as a/c repairs, electrician, etc.. are very strong they can carry single handedly 1 room airconditioner without any help compared to most office people sitting talking all day and drinking out the day with tea or karkari! haha

  2. Assalaamualaikam

    I think the first thing you need to do is to stop considering your husband to be inferior to you. The two of you are a team, and right now he needs you to support and encourage him, not to look down on him. He's travelled halfway around the world to be with you, so say Alhamdulillah that your husband has made such a big step for your marriage.

    The jobs market in the UK isn't the best just now, so it may well be harder for him to find a job, particularly if his degree isn't at a standard in some areas that UK employers would expect (although again, say Alhamdulillah - he has shown commitment to his studies and having a degree in almost any subject demonstrates transferable skills that employers like to see in candidates). But despite this, he has managed to find employment - and remember that even minimum wage in the UK is substantial compared to people working elsewhere in the world.

    If your husband is looking to improve his education, but is struggling with college courses, it might help him to work on his English language skills; many colleges will run introductory courses, and if you can't find one at your local colleges, you could try asking your local council, as quite a few councils offer classes in English that are aimed at people who have recently moved to the country.

    You mention that he is spending a lot of time watching TV and staying at home: why not encourage him to attend the local mosque, or take a class there - some mosques or community centres offer classes in languages other than English so if that's an issue for him he could always go to one of those? InshaAllah that would help him meet more Muslim brothers with whom he can socialise; that would hopefully help his self-esteem and give him more things to do with his time.

    Midnightmoon editor

    • Salam sister Midnightmoon,

      "He's travelled halfway around the world to be with you, so say Alhamdulillah that your husband has made such a big step for your marriage."

      With all due respect I think most people from back home are dying to come to UK. They are not making a sacrifice! They see UK/US as the land of opportunity. They look forward to the free benefits, jobseekers, income supprt, child tax credits etc etc.

      There are millions of stories about people coming from overseas and reaping the benefits from the social system. Being a couch potatoe and getting paid for it too! either by government or wife.

      • Well. This is what your parents did when they left an Islamic country for a non-Muslim country.Better education, better life. Magical words. May be this is what Hijrat in 21st century is. An highly intellectual woman would solve her marital problem on her own. I feel.

        • Intellect does not equal trouble-free life.

          Life experience can be just as valuable as intellect.

          Besides, this sister's situation isn't any different than many of the women living in Islamic countries. Girl's families are still expected to pay a dowry, pay for the wedding, gift gold to the boy's family, live with her in-laws, fill the in-laws house with new furniture and kitchen appliances and the list goes on.

          The problem isn't the place WHERE you live, it is the WAY you live.

    • He's travelled halfway around the world to be with you, so say Alhamdulillah that your husband has made such a big step for your marriage.

      midnight moon, he didnt do it because he wanted to be with his wife and start living like a family. he came precisely to settle in Uk and marrying someone from Uk was the easiest way. keeping minimum wage job is the easiest way, sitting on that sofa and not making effort is the easiest way.

      if he really wanted to be in pakistan he would have married someone from there. he married someone from UK to get out of pakistan, which is fine but his lazy parasite behaviour isnt.

      right now he needs you to support and encourage him, not to look down on him.

      isnt it what she has been doing uptill now.

      rest of your advise is helpful bt you kind ofmad it sound as if she is the problem and not thankful enough.

      • Assalaamualaikam

        I think it's a bit harsh to call this man's behaviour parasitic. If he wanted to, he could stay at home and claim benefits and not even try to establish himself. But instead he's found employment (which is an achievement in itself - the jobs market in the UK is still quite difficult, and you often find university graduates applying by the dozen for minimum wage jobs), he's tried to do college courses, and is praying and fasting. It sounds like things have not been going well, and I would imagine that these setbacks would be significant knocks to his self-esteem. Add on top of that that he may well be aware that he is considered inferior, and it's not hard to see reasons for him to feel depressed and discouraged.

        Approaching the situation from a starting point of considering him to be inferior isn't going to help improve the situation - both parties might end up resenting each other - but from what I've seen, approaches based on teamwork and respect are more likely to lead to positive outcomes. It might help for the poster to remind herself of her husband's good qualities and try not to let their current problems taint her whole perception of him.

        Midnightmoon editor

  3. Sister Maryam,

    I totally understand how you feel. This is problem is most common with girls who marry a husband from "back home". There are a lot of differences. The wife is usually more educated then the husband. Its natural for a women to desire a husband who is more intellectually capable then her and who earns more then her because after all the husband is the leader of the household. The husband is the one eho is responsible for fiancially taking care of the wife and family so it makes more sense.

    But this is not important for every women. I married my husband from back home. He was not educated at all. He barely knew how to read or write in English. But I was not that professional myself so it did not bother me too much as long as he loved me and cared for me and was a good muslim, that's all that mattered to me. But sometime I did get frustrated when I had to keep writing his letters and going to the bank, Doctors, shops for him. But he was not lazy he was very hardworking person, and tried his best to learn English and get a good job. I also helped him out a lot . He was very ambitious. He wanted to do a lot very quickly. And had plans how to get their and quickly. He made friends and sought advice from others on how to get there. But again I helped him out every step of the way out of love. He always appreciated my help and showed me more love and affection.

    Fast forward to now. Things are different now. This was in the good old days. When everything was rosy and we were in the honeymoon period. But later on he took advantage of my love and good nature and took me for granted. That's another story!

    The point I am trying to make sister is that men who come from back home are not going to be the same as the men here. You will need to babysit them a lot and help them out a lot because their English will not be in the same level as everyone else. Also I do not know what type of man your husband is. As there are some men who come to UK to love a life on benefits. They want everything for free. They come here to relax to have an easy life paid by the Government or the wife. I hope Insha Allah that your husband is not one of these.

    The concerning thing in your story is that your husband seems to be lazy. He should be trying his level best looking for jobs, studying and making friends to learn more about the country and how to get jobs etc etc instead of sitting in front of the telly. That's where you need to safeguard yourself and act with caution. You need to make sure that he does not take you for granted because you can earn more then him. Make sure he does not use you as the breadwinner for the family while he lap's up the benefits and uses your cash to have fun.

    Don't give him any money for unnecessary stuff. He needs to earn his own money and pay for his own things. Let him know that he should be providing for you not the other way round as per Islam. He should feel embarrassed to ask you for money as you are his wife. Let him meet other men like him who have immigrated to UK and have settled in and got jobs. He can get good advice from them on how to move forward. Get him into a college to study further to change his Pakistani degree to a recognised degree in the UK. He can work fulltime and study in the evening. He needs to get used to life here. Its tough he can't just expect his wife to sort everything out for him. He needs to take the initiative be passionate to get a good job and study harder to provide for you financially. There are some men from back home who have never worked before in there life. They have been spending their dad's money. So he needs to get used to working and earning for his family.

    Your husband cares for you emotionally so that's a good thing. maintain a giood relationship with him. Be romantic. Spend timne doing things together. But just remember don't let him take advantage of you. Do not turn into the breadwinner and keep paying for him. Then he will get used ito it and become more lazy. Be loving and compassionate but lay down the rules firmly! sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, especially to protect yourself so that you are not used as a doormat and cash machin forever.

    May Alah make your marriage a happy one and make your husband more responsible.

  4. Read very very carefully,
    Now, here is the trickiest part you will need to play. Your husband has one plus point that is the emotional aspect. From psychological point of view, he has been so lonely all his life. That is why he has already developed an insight into things through his emotional intelligence. His mind is searching for a way out to win over things. Either his body making him lazy to doing things or he is constantly fighting with his self to overcome the difficulties which he had already faced during his past. That's why he wants to learn a lot. Watching TV is the outcome to overcome his depressed thoughts and feelings. And playing games is the emotional outcome of his thoughts.

    What you need to do now is to save him from the hell he is going through. He on his conscious level does not know all that. Which I just quoted above. And don't try to tell him all that, please. Otherwise, he will be annoyed. Buy games that instructs creativity through learning. Buy TV shows (be careful while selecting) that teaches him to develop reasoning skills. You need to do this by attaching yourself with him emotionally. Don't be too close to him (of course you can) but what I mean is that indulge him into creative learning abilities through emotional touch without giving him the hint what you are doing. I know it sounds difficult at first but since you are a female and women normally know how to deal with the emotional part of men. Since, he is already good at supporting you emotionally, so you can also be the same. You should have learnt something from him since it had been 2y.

    Eventually, he will find a way to a new healthy life. Insha'Allaah! Amen!

    Best regards,
    Allaah Knows the Best.

    • From psychological point of view, he has been so lonely all his life. That is why he has already developed an insight into things through his emotional intelligence. His mind is searching for a way out to win over things. Either his body making him lazy to doing things or he is constantly fighting with his self .......

      honestly, what are you talking about?????

    • A woman likes to feel protected and cared for. I'm not saying she should be treated like a princess, but in Islam a husband is the protector and maintainer of women.

      I think this girl has been very supportive of her husband. She buys him whatever he wants. She works, he works part time and spends the rest of the time watching tv.

      She is not his mother. She does not have to buy him games and tv shows. He chose to marry an educated woman in the Uk, move to an English speaking country. Many many immigrants go to school to learn English. He tried once and failed, but he needs to get up off that sofa, turn off the t.v., and either get a second part time job or use his free hours to re-take courses. What is going to happen when the children begin arriving? How is he going to speak with the child's doctors, the child's teachers, the parents of the child's friends?

      He must become more proactive. It's great that he fasts and prays but that is a given. I fast and pray and work full time and take care of my parents. It is possible for him to change -- but he may not want to. We all feel depressed and lonely at times, or unsupported by our families, but we must keep going. He is a husband -- his obligations are clear.

      I don't know how anyone can justify watching tv all day. It is such a waste of time and money.

      I think an imam or religious elder needs to speak to this couple. He needs to hear from an impartial third party that settling in a new country is difficult, but he has to rise to the task of being a hard-working provider. His wife lives him and she supports him. Yes, life can be lonely and we all get depressed when things don't go our way, but as Muslims we trust in Allah and continue with our obligations.

  5. Salam Maryam,

    A little story to start with: I have a neighbor who is a Mexican that can barely speak English and has a high school education level only. He learned English and took care of his children at home for the first year of his arrival. His wife is the bread winner. We like this guy as he keeps smiling at everyone and offers help to neighbors by removing snow, big furniture, etc. He tries hard to look for jobs, any jobs on his way. Now he works as a cleaning staff in a hotel.
    The lesson here is about a person's attitude. He keeps his attitude positive by making himself useful by helping his wife at home, in the neighborhood and invest in learning English.

    First, I would like to point out that you are a very nice person as you made yourself to see the positive character of him. To be honest, when I heard that he is a lazy person that like to watch TV and play games and spend your money, my heart sinks. I hope it is due to his helplessness and afraid of new life ahead of him. Male has a self esteem which is very different from female. He knows he is "less" than you and he knows it well. He sure feels inferior than you even though you don't say it. What I can advise you to do is:

    1. Give him some space, introduce him some friends in the masjid, etc. Does he have any relatives or friends here except you? Maybe he is lonely and miss his homeland.
    2. Tell him you cherish this marriage and it is important that both of you work on it. As for his part, he has to make the marriage work by sharing responsibility. For now, it is try his best to adapt the life in UK by learning English and understand how things work here.
    3. Give him some options that he can do or study in night. Find out his strength with him. Tell him that even though working for a minimum pay job is fine but he has to make plan to move forward.
    4. You need to lay it out flat and be honest with him that you are disappointed with what is happening now BUT has hope that both of you can make it through if he is willing to work together.
    5. If he is not a person want to do something to change, sister, you need to be firm with him that he has to be responsible for himself, maybe paying his own rent and food.
    6. Do not plan any children when things are not getting any better. I think you know what I mean.

    Sister, the process is not easy, it requires a lot of patience and support from you. May Allah gives you strength and patient to go through this.

  6. Assalam alaikum Sister Maryam,

    It seems that there has been a one-sided role reversal in your marriage, and that is what you are struggling with. I say one-sided, because, you have had to put your finances forth to make ends meet whereas you are not required to, yet your husband has not necessarily demonstrated an equal change in his role given that he is investing his spare time watching tv/playing video games. I don't think coming to a new country is a viable excuse for no work for a long time - yes, he needs time to adjust, but your husband should be doing everything possible to find what he can do for work.

    I will try to be as honest as blunt as possible because I think that in order to save your marriage, you will have to avoid being an "enabler" otherwise you will end up being resentful.

    Be kind, loveable, sweet and all the things you want to be as a wife to your husband. However, this does not mean that you have to be taken advantage of (whether this may be intentional or not on your husband's part).

    1. You need to create a budget consisting of fixed and fluctuating expenses. If your husband can't afford the basic expenses, and you choose to support him, you have to discuss these matters like two mature individuals. If you decide you will pay and do not expect him to repay you, then you should also decide how long this is for--so that he knows that this is a limited time offer! It is critical that you both do not argue during this process and are honest as possible. If he truly is emotionally caring for you - you should be able to see his support here. You shouldn't belittle him during this process (and I am sure you won't because you sound very determined to remain married to him). The point of a budget should be to ensure that he is fully aware of all the expenses.

    I would strongly encourage you to NOT spend any extra money on him and I would also suggest keeping your account separate from him. Some people will disagree with me, but I have seen many girls make this mistake. Some women (in this situation) freely give their money thinking their husband will appreciate them, love them more, understand their sacrifices and when this doesn't happen, resent and painful feelings are left.

    2. Discuss the responsibilities of the household. If a woman can help her husband financially, there is nothing wrong with him helping you with maintaining work that has to happen in the house - so cooking, cleaning, etc should be shared just as much as expenses should during this difficult time. I hope he doesn't feel that these things are only for women - because we observe that The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.), used to sew his own clothes, mend his own shoes and do whatever other workmen do in their homes. (Reported by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 6/121; Sahih al-Jami, 4927).

    3. If your husband can't find work in his field or isn't sure what he should do, his job should be looking for work - which in my eyes means still getting up as if he is going to work, spending time outside looking for work, perhaps doing a labor job, going to the Mosque and meeting other men who may be able to guide him as per their experiences. The bottom line is that your husband shouldn't be spending the majority of his time at home. He would get too comfortable. In the end, he may fall into a worse depression. As time goes on and he isn't out there finding pertinent work, it will become more and more challenging for him to get into any field he wants too.

    Essentially, making life too easy for your husband will be counter-productive and will in fact create the OPPOSITE situation to what you want. This doesn't translate into making his life miserable, but it means bringing awareness to him about burden you feel. You can still love him and care about him without him losing his position as a husband, which is to be YOUR maintainer--but you will have to ensure you don't end up suffering quietly.

    You asked:
    What to do with a husband who is inferior to a wife intellectually, financially, socially, and professionally?

    I don't think you can expect to change him, but he can learn how to adapt to the expectations in the new country financially, socially and professionally--but intellectually is a different story. It isn't going to happen when he is playing games. I would say get rid of the cable and games - spend time together. Read the Quran together, learn Islam together. When children come into the picture, this whole scenario will only become more challenging, so it is important to get a handle on the matter now. I also think you should hold off on having children for a while until you both learn more about each other and you both feel more settled.

    I really wish the best for you. I know how hard this can be. There is a lot more I wish I could add, but I think I have covered at least the basics of what is important for the imminent future.

    May Allah ease your difficulties and bless you with the marriage that fills your soul with contentment and love, Ameen.

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