Islamic marriage advice and family advice

I found out my husband has psychosis just 1 month before marriage

A little introduction about me - I'm 25yr old born bred in the UK and have been married for 1 yr and 3 months now. My husband is my mother's sister's son - we are first cousins - our marriage was arranged. I initially had refused the proposal when I was younger but was blackmailed into it and felt like I should give it a shot if this is what my parents want.psychosis

At the time I refused him, he was young, immature and still in high school but there was nothing bad about him - it was just that neither of us were ready. Then few years later he seemed to have changed, gotten more mature I guess? (the reason I doubt this is because NOW seeing he has illness - he had not become mature he had just become quiet and different - which are early signs of mental illness). The other very important thing is that we lived in different countries - he in Pakistan and I in the UK.

I know a lot of people who got married to their cousins back home and have had successful marriages, and that's why I was optimistic even with all the difficulties in a long distance relationship and language barriers and different upbringings. (I have completly different view now).

Anyway our nikkah was done a year before our wedding (rukhsati) - and at that time no one said anything. When the wedding came up,  I  found out he was taking anti-psychotic medication and it was too late to cancel the wedding because we were already "married" plus it would look really bad if I broke it off because of finding some medicine in his bag. If my parents had known such thing - trust me even if he were the last person in the world- they would not let me marry him.

But mental illness is not like that - its very very very dificult to see... if you read about mental health you will see how it took years for families to realise a certain family member had a problem. It takes years to become a real issue. Because he came to live in the UKwith me and left his parents behind - everyone thought and still thinks this is reason behind his mental imbalance - him being alone here.

My parents (being doctors) were/still are sympathetic towards him, I have told them many times to please stop providing so that he may learn by himself but seeing his state of mind and the way he does things you just know he can't be left on his own. Its only been a year in our marriage and they keep telling me to try and work at it-but they also said the minute I cannot tolerate anymore they would finish it- I just dont want to finish it because it will look like I have abandoned a mentally ill person. I really don't believe he is acting and using me and my family as ransom - although it does feel like that many times but he has shown care and affection as well. He is now earning and slowly taking up things into his responsibility and sending money home to his parents. To us he still acts immature not being able to take responsibility and not being able to discuss matters - he appears very simple minded - but then again it may be because of difference in upbringing.

My husband isn't acting paranoid 24/7 , he does care for me - hugs me, gives me a kiss when leaving and coming back from work, he helps with household chores, helps me without me asking sometimes. Thats is his REAL nature - to help and care. But unfortumately his paramoia gets in the way and because of it's intensity it wipes out all his good points and makes him look very bad. When I think hard about his illness - I ask myself that whether he really is sick or he has some inferiority complex. That really is possible but then again it would make sense of him admitting to hearing voices. He has himself admitted he "heard" sometimes friends voices, sometimes abusive words - and all I can make out is that - he thinks the voices are real and connects it to the next person he sees... and thinks that person has said it.

Recently he admitted to hearing his fathers voice saying something like "I want to leave his world" which depressed him a lot. He cannot tell between reality and voices in his head.

I have stayed up many nights explaining to him ( I have done Bsc psychology so I do know quite a bit and understand what he is going through).He seems to get the gist but forgets it all within a day or 2. My parents and in laws all think that Allah made me study psychology and got us married so that I would help him - they think it was meant to be.  Because I have always wanted to study psychology from young age and had to wait until university to study it - and even after refusing his 1st proposal from hubby we still eventually got married. Either it was very dumb or very weird.

Currently I am just miserable - I feel lonely - my husband hardly talks to me or shares anything...he just wants to come back from work and sleep and sleeps til next day goes of to work. I feel depressed and used - I feel like I'm in the marriage just for his sexual satisfaction. I'm confused what to do - I have been given many duas and zikhr from differnt sheikhs molvis but I don't know what else to do.

I need to be firm with him and that is what I am going to do whether or not he has illness he needs to know what the limit is.

Sorry you have had to deal with depression in family members many times - I believe everyone gets depressed once in awhile... but some get addicted to it and just stay miserable. I definitely don't want that happening to me - and this is exactly what scares me - because at present future is very shaky. I don't have much confidence in hubby or in myself nor in future. I have so many memories with him that it will take me more than a lifetime to forget them- so there is no way I would be able to separate and live happily-all I can do is hope and really really pray that hubby will wake up and realise reality and get better real soon inshallah.

I cannot divorce him because I will not be able to live knowing that I left him alone with his illness but I also wish that I could separate from him because it is affecting me and my family badly.

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14 Responses »

  1. Salaam,

    May Allah bless you for the efforts you've shown and your seeking guidance during this very difficult time.

    I honestly have no idea what advice to give, it's one of the few instances where I really do not know what is the right direction to point someone in.

    However one thing stands out, "I feel used," No one would say this if they were in love and felt like they were love, that in itself is the single most important feature once a marriage has developed. The rest is up to you.

    May Allah give you comfort and guidance, May Allah help treat your husband's mental illness so that you may live a truly happy life together.

  2. Dear Sister, Asalaamualaykum,

    Have you considered referring your husband to a counsellor, psychotherapist etc? I know you have study this field yourself, but you are too personally involved to be taking on the role of wife and therapist. If possible, try to convince your husband to see someone professional and inshAllah this ma open doors for you.

    I can imagine this must be so difficult for you. May Allah make this test easier for you.

    SisterZ Editor

  3. I am responding because my husband also suffers from psychosis. My husband and I also come from different cultures. I am from the USA and my husband is from Mexico. Currently my husband is staying in psychiatric hospital for an undefined amount of time. Unlike you, I knew full on that my husband had problems with his mental health. When I first met him he has a very serious break down that required him to be hospitalized for about 3 months, and it took him 2 years to recover to the point where he could work and be a functional member of society again. (I met my husband 10 years ago, and he just now after 10 years has relapsed) I also married my husband because I love him more than anything and despite his sickness we are truly good for each other. Yet no matter how much I was aware of it, no matter how much I though about it, nothing could have prepared me for what my husband and I have been through in the last week (when his psychosis relapsed). Psychosis is no easy thing to deal with in any marriage.

    I will humbly tell you what helps me in my marriage, however please recognize i am in no way preaching or you or telling you what you should do. I just feel a kinship to you as my husband also suffers from paranoia and hallucinations and delusions etc. I hope my experience is at least comforting to you to know that you are not alone trying to deal with a spouse's illness.

    1. Take care of yourself first. For me, this can be hard as I see how sick my husband is and I constantly want him to feel better. However I've realized it's impossible for me to take care of him unless I take care of myself first. Also if I neglect myself to much, he (husband) starts to worry and gets even sicker while I am worrying about him I start getting sick. My husband also has always shown love for me, no matter how bad it all got. (even when he was so paranoid he thought I was a threat! He still was good to me) This is all dysfunctional, so I've learned to do what I need for myself and make sure I am okay.

    2. Don't try to fix, or treat, the husband. It's really neat that you have a B.A. in psychology, but I can't imagine even trying to treat my husband even if I had a PHD In psychology, and was a professional in treating psychosis! If you're husband is to get treatment or lean to deal with his psychosis, it would need to come from someone who didn't have such a close personal relationship with him. In short, it is not your job to help him with his psychosis. Don't try and take that sort of burden on yourself, his illness may effect you immensely, and it may effect your relationship, but it's actually his responsibility. It's very hard to watch my husband suffer and see how sick it is, but I have had to accept that any change has to come from him, not me. The only acceptation is when I has to call the police and have him forcibly committed to the hospital. But in truth, I knew that's what he wanted and needed me to do for him. The only thing that is required of me as a wife is to simply love, respect, and care for my husband. I can't make him better, and it's not my job to cure him. Love does not mean trying to fix someone or suffering for them, and that has been a hard lesson for me to learn. His parents seem to think by the grace of God I was sent here to help their son, but that's a delusion even crazier than my husbands! My husband has improved, but that was his doing, or Gods, or whatever. However it's been helpful that I haven't tried to control his illness. It let's him be who he is without the pressure of judgement, he knows I am here for him and I love no matter what and am not pressuring him to get better. It's his choice, and it's simply my job as a wife to love him.

    3. No matter how much I learn about mental illness, I realize I can never quite understand what my husband is going through. My husband knew his hallucinations were false, he knew his paranoia was irrational, but that didn't make it easier for him to bear. He saw and felt evil creatures attacking his body, he knew they weren't there, but imagine trying to live a normal life while you are being verbally and visually tortured by invisible creatures no one else saw? The fact that he knew it was fake didn't make life any easier for him. Reality became very confusing because he didn't always know if he actually heard something, or if it was imaginary. There is no way I can see or hear what he hears, or understand what he is going through. Rather It is much better if I simply listen to him, non judgmentally. He tells me sometimes about what he going through. I don't argue, or judge. I simply listen to him and accept how it is. Sometimes he does weird things that don't make sense. at one point he rearranged all the decorations in our bathroom to ward the voices yelling at him, and he randomly cleaned a bunch of things that weren't dirty. My general rule is if doesn't hurt anyone, I just sort of humor him and let him do it. If it makes him feel better, it can't be that bad. Though it did get annoying, and weird, and of course just scary. None of it really made sense to me, it was literally crazy. I just try to let him be who he is, even if it's weird. If it gets dangerous (to him or me) I call the police, which is hard.

    I guess the real decision is if you are willing to accept your husband for who he is, with his sickness even if it gets worse. It's not a decision that can be made by trying to please other people such as your parents, or him. It's not a decision to be made based off of what you think is the right thing to do. It's purely a decision you have to make based off of your own heart and what is best for you and your husband. Dealing with psychosis in marriage is no easy thing, but it can be done. My husband and I are still very happy. I have little understanding of arranged marriages (But I've known many people who have them and they've all been very successful happy marriages that lasted). But it works for us because I chose to live this life and accepted that fact that my husband is very sick and might get even sicker. I would not look down on you one bit if you decided differently, and anyone who does clearly has never been married to a psychotic person.

    Whatever happens I wish you a safe and happy life, and my heart goes out to you as one wife to another.

    • Sarah, thank you for sharing your experience and the lessons you've learned.

      Wael Editor

    • Sarah,

      It makes such a big difference when you have chosen that person yourself knowing about the illness etc. You have had time to develop a relationship with him so you love him as he is - and even though he may have seen you as a threat a times, you knew he it was a passing phase of his psychosis. I am sure it has made you a stronger woman.

      Someone very close to me who suffers from bi-polar had an arranged marriage. It was hard for the parents, how much of her illness should they reveal to the future partner? If they revealed everything, would their daughter ever get married? And if no one would marry her, who would look after her if they were not there? While on her meds, she was fine, she'd fit it to the norm and get on with life, things were a little harder, but still Alhumdulillah.

      Anyhow, the parents revealed enough of their daughter's condition to trigger questions from the prospective's family. They were told that she suffered from manic depression and was on life long medication and were given the names of the meds. But strangely, they didnt question, or probe as much as I thought one would or should have. That brought alot of doubt into my mind regarding their intentions. At the same time, I didnt think it was right 'not to tell them' the full nature of the illness, even though they hadnt questioned.

      My thoughts had no influence in the final say and the marriage took place. Recently, when the sister became pregnant, she left her meds and had a massive relapse (again). It was terrible, the first few days, weeks and months of the pregnancy were extremely stressful, but as with everything Allah made it easier, your survival instincts kick in when needed. It was a shock for the poor husband, he had no idea things could be so bad, from seeing his sweet wife turn on him and behave completely out of character - but he had been with her long enough to see her sweet, kind side and maybe thats what kept him striving. SubhaanAllah, the marriage worked. I believe it is a miracle from Allah and today when we see her gorgeous baby, it makes it all worth the while. Allah got them both through it, the sister is on her meds again and Alhumdulillah stable.


      Sara, I completely understand your feelings too, I wouldnt think badly of you or anyone about the choice they make in this situation. Hopefully Sarah's advice will help you - my sincere duas are with you both, may your marriages be your golden paths to Jannah inshaAllah, aameen.

      SisterZ Editor

    • Thank you very much for your elaboratio. I am 22 yrs old and am engaged to be married to someone i dearly love.He too is a patient of Phychosis. Your answer has helped me to understand how life would be like with him. I want to stay with him and ready to take responsibility. But will it be hard if we have children in future?
      Also my parents dont know about it. if they ever get to know they will never allow me to marry him. I am young and so make get emotional (according to my friend) in these matters. i am going through a very bad and traumatic phase. I would really be grateful if you could suggest me something. Shall i talk to my parents? Can i hide the fact that i am married to a person with psychosis forever? is it curable?

  4. Hi

    A few things you can do:

    See if you can get in touch with the local early intervention psychosis team, they will organise him to have a care co-ordinator an routine psychiatrist meetings. also if he does get worse, his care co-ordinator will refer him to the local crisis resolution home treatment team who will visit him at home, if things get worse, he can access inpatient admission for a brief period of time where he can be closely monitored and receive multidisciplinary support.

    Charities like Mind and rethink are fabulous ways to getting to know others who experience what u do, this may help to combat the sense of loneliness.

    The UK still has a while to go to develop transcultural therapy. The sadness he feels from his father's voice is very real and it may help to have some CBT with psychosis to address this sadness.

    Best place to start would be a visit to the GP tho, possibly ask for ur hubby to be referred to single point of referral where they can triage him and be directed to the most appropriate service.

    I am muslim and work as mental health worker I've worked in a forensic psych ward, community outreach and crisis team last year, Also married also 25 so have some understanding of what it may be like

    U'l be okay inshAllah, ur v brave for sharing on here

  5. Salam Ailakom

    I wish I had seen this post as soon as it was posted... Maybe it could have saved my marriage. I am going through the exact situation at the moment. My husband was diagnosed with psychosis only 4 months after we got married. I've known my husband for five years and married for one year. Living with his psychosis has been the absolute worst experience of my life! I love him with all my heart and I think I always will but his illness destroyed us. One day he's sick and the next day he's fine... It was like a sick joke or a puppet which controlled my life and his life whenever it wanted. I've cried for months over his psychosis and I can truly say I can't live like this anymore. I'm filing for divorce at the moment because I know no matter how much I try an help him or convince him he's sick he'll never believe it and my life will never have a taste of normality. This post was put up so long ago but maybe I can help someone who may be in this situation. Please know what your getting yourself into, it is soul draining and heartbreaking dealing with psychosis, it doesn't have mercy on its victims. Seeing someone you care about get sick constantly and not being able to help them is so so so difficult and terrible. Myself personally I can't cope anymore with my husbands dillusions and the fear of uncertainty (one day he's fine and the next he's creaking out). Also please know psychosis is not a diagnosis, it is just a symptom of a full blown out sickness (like having a fever when you have the flu) so it could turn out to be schizophrenia or bipolar or god knows what. The problem with these illnesses is that they are genetic... Imagine having a child who's born schizophrenic (that isn't fair on the child or the parents) please sisters take my advice from someone his been there and is still going through this hell... Don't get involved with someone who's mentally unwell, it's so difficult I can't even explain and it hurts in every way possible (emotionally, financially, mentally and sometimes physically) just talking about this topic has exhausted me, I can't say anymore. Jazakum Allah Kheirun

    • Assalaamualaikam

      I'm sorry to hear the difficulties you have experienced. However, I feel I need to add a few comments.

      Mental illness is an illness just like any other category of illness - there can be acute, brief illnesses and longer, chronic illnesses such as schizophrenia. A psychotic illness involves a loss of insight into reality and the person's own health, meaning that a person will not necessarily be able to know when they are unwell. However, medical treatment is improving, and with treatment and support, more and more people with mental health problems are able to get their lives back. I know people who are doctors, teachers, lawyers and other stressful professions who have chronic mental health problems.

      It can be extremely difficult to live with mental illness in a family, so it's important to ask for help and support - if a relative is ill, you can ask their doctor or nurse to tell you about available support for you as well as them.

      With regards genetics, mental illness does have a genetic component, but it is by no means definite that someone with mental illness will pass it on to their child - environment and life events are just as important. If you are planning to have a family and are worried about mental illness being passed on, your relative's (or your) doctor can give you advice about risks.

      We are all as Allah willed, and face tests - mental illness can be a very challenging test for all involved. May Allah protect and guide all those whose lives are touched by illness.

      Midnightmoon editor

    • Well...... I don't know what to say! I've already read your advice to NOT get involved with someone who is mentally ill, in addition to all my friends telling me the same about my current situation, so I cannot say I have not been warned. But how do I get over someone I love?

      I know I shouldn't go through with that fiance visa process or marry her once she arrives if she is reaccepted back to school on a student visa, but.... I also know what its like to watch her have to leave if she drops her classes and puts her visa in jeopardy again...

      But, if I marry, especially as a male, I'm taking a HUGE FINANCIAL RISK that I will be stuck in, even if there is a divorce, but that's another story I won't get into.

      If I didn't have to work and make a living, her psychotic behaviors wouldn't bother me so much since I would never have to worry about sleep. However, since I would have to support both of us, her talking to the voices in French all day and night (if she chooses to stop taking her shots once a month) will interfere with work and finances. She told me she will refuse to continue getting shots when she comes to US...

      I remember her voices bothered her the most at first, mainly due to her being angry with the people she believed to be communicating with. However, it seems like she was less stressed when the voices started being more frequent.

      Anyway, I don't feel like talking about this anymore, but will say this: I wouldn't say my experience with her before she left the country as necessarily bad. The worst part was knowing that her behaviors would cause her to have to leave. I didn't expect her to have another chance at returning to the US... Problem now is I have a full time job and things are going well. I love her, but don't want to risk messing everything up for her. I don't know if moving back to the west coast to be with her at the school that is accepting her as an international student is wise. If she makes another irrational decision to suddenly move back to the northeast again, what am I supposed to do? Keep going across the US after her? Not to mention the fact that she wants kids and I don't, which is already a bad sign for a relationship with no mental illnesses on top of that...

      And what if her auditory hallucinations turn in to command hallucinations, which is possible?

      I'm not scared of people who hear voices, but I'm aware that at some point they could start telling the person hearing it what to do. And if the people she believes she hears dies, will that open the door to her believing she can communicate with the dead?

      I wish there was a medicine that could permanently stop the auditory portion of the brain from producing these sounds!

      I told her one way she can find out if the voices are real or not is by blocking her ears and seeing if she still hears them, since I know the sounds are designed to sound like their coming from an outside source. However, she would never tell me what the results were.

      I'm not exactly sure what she has, but Bipolar 1 is what she was diagnosed with. I knew it wasn't schizophrenia, but I do wonder how far it would have gone if she never went back to her country and get treated. Now, she is ready to come back, but tells me once she gets to the US and is no longer around her family, she won't get shots.

      This might be the end of the relationship, unfortunately.

      • Assalaamualaykum Konnect Life,

        I hope you are well and handling things ok right now. I just wanted to address a few of your points, as someone who lives with a severe psychotic illness (Schizoaffective disorder). You write:

        "I've already read your advice to NOT get involved with someone who is mentally ill."

        I don't know if someone here really gave that advice or not but there is nothing wrong with getting involved with someone with mental illness through marriage. You are not wrong for loving someone with mental illness. Allah has created spouses for all kinds of people. It will be a challenge, yes, but there will also be great reward in it.

        "She told me she will refuse to continue getting shots when she comes to US..."

        I think this is most serious of the things you will have to consider, but you could also be a support to her when/if she comes, helping her feel more comfortable about taking the shots and getting her to a licensed psychotherapist to help her continue. We all need love and support, especially to do the things that are most difficult for us. Another thing to consider is that while she's adamant about refusing shots right now, she will eventually get to the point where she herself will want to take shots because the illness will progress and she will not feel well enough without them. Of course the goal of husband and a therapist will be to help her come to that realization before she gets to that point.

        "However, it seems like she was less stressed when the voices started being more frequent."

        It's possible that she was less stressed OR more stressed. If she had accepted the voices as being normal and familiar, she would be less stressed when they were there. More likely though is that the voices being more frequent made her appear less stressed to you, but in actuality was more stressful for her due to the psychosis being worse. That is the case even if she was more quiet, and indeed especially if she was more quiet. Contrary to what a lot of people assume about mental illness, it is not the people around the mental illness that are suffering the is the mentally ill person that is suffering the most! And sometimes, the worse they are suffering, the more quiet they get and the more they are unable to express themselves, which is complete agony for them. The worst cases of psychosis are known as "Catatonia," when an individual has so much going on in their mind that they are entirely unable to express themselves.

        "I wish there was a medicine that could permanently stop the auditory portion of the brain from producing these sounds!"

        Taking anti-psychotic medicine regularly greatly reduces the voices in most cases.

        "I'm not exactly sure what she has, but Bipolar 1 is what she was diagnosed with."

        The behavior involving moving frequently across the country with little planning combined with the voices points to a likely diagnosis of Bipolar 1 Disorder with Psychotic Features.

        Brother, Inshallah you will be able to make the right decision for yourself, and I encourage you to do it by balancing all the factors...the mentally-ill deserve just as much of a shot at marriage as anyone else, and it's really a matter of whether you want to be the person to support her during this difficult time or if you want to leave that to her parents or another man in the future.

        May Allah bless you with good employment, marriage, and love.



      • Konnect Life,

        Just one more thing. You also say:

        "If she makes another irrational decision to suddenly move back to the northeast again..."

        You have to remember that while her decision may seem irrational to you, it is completely rational to her and she knows why she is doing it. So to an extent, you will have to remember that while mentally ill, she is human and still is being guided by her heart and her spirit. You will have to balance your idea of a "rational" decision with her right to follow her heart and her spirit.



  6. Um Yakob
    I would just like to say I agree with Um Yakob. I have been with my partner for 4 years and it has been mental torture. He suffers with psychosis, anxiety and panic attacks (although he doesn't have PA's anymore). I have cried until I can cry no more. When he is in the throws of psychosis nothing I can say or do makes any difference whatsoever. It is as if he is in another mind, and rants and rants. It's as if his irrational mind takes over the rational and I cannot reason with him. In the end I have to just go into another room and put ear plugs in and close the door. It is making my life unbearable and I am having to look for somewhere else to live, but I love him so much and am feeling distraught at the prospect of never being able to see him again. He doesn't believe in therapy as he has tried everything. All he takes is one Seroxat tablet a day and will not up the dose, even though I think he should. He says its me running his character down that makes him like it/worse.

  7. I can never understand why anyone would want to live in a situation like yours. I think you must leave your husband for your sanity. It is important that you live your life the way you imagined it for yourself. It is very unfair of your parents and your family to have left you in this situation. It is essential that we use our right to divorce. We have been given this right for a reason. If you do not use it now when do you think will be the right time to use it.You get to live only once and you must by all means try to live your life as fully as you can. I am sure it’s very hard for you to leave somebody who is mentally ill but it’s not your job to fix him and it’s not your job to treat him you must and I say it again you must Leave your husband so you yourself can live a happy fulfilling and healthy life.

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