Columns's Our Families
October 2002

Improper Behavior or Excessive Jealousy? How to Overcome these Problems and Develop a Strong Marriage Bond

by Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

A sister recently wrote to me with the following question:

Dear Sister Siddiqua, Assalamu Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakuthu,

I happened to bump into the website when browsing through other Islamic websites. I feel so peaceful and happy when I read articles on Islam, and to see the strong Iman and faith in our Muslim sisters, which is rare in these days of fashion/beauty conscious women (Alhamdulillah, it is even stronger than many of the men in this part of the world). That is when I feel relieved that there are many good men and women who follow the path showed to us by our Lord, our Creator, the most Merciful.

Sister Siddiqua, I'm in a kind of difficult situation, which is hard to explain. I am a working lady. We have two girls, a 5 yr. old and a 2 yr. old. In fact, I started working before getting married. Fortunately, my husband is also working in the same place as me. Because of this, there are many advantages - like going to work together, reaching home together, spending holidays together. Everything seems so convenient for us, from an outsider's point of view. But only Allah and we know the truth.

The problem started to get worse since a year and a half. But I'm not convinced that it is a problem, and my husband is, and he is, in his words, fed-up of it. He is working in a place where he has to deal with a lot of people (sort of public relations work). The 'lot of people' include different women as well. This is where everything goes wrong. When I see my husband smiling, laughing and talking to these women in a very sweet manner, the first thing that happens is my body starts feeling very weak, like I've been overcome by some great illness, and I feel like fainting, and my mind becomes numb. In simpler words, I simply cannot stand it. Then I start feeling furious, and real mad, that I sometimes wish bad things to happen to him. The main reason is because most of the times my husband speaks harshly to me. Secondly, these women that my husband deals with are not very good in character. They wear skimpy clothes and walk in such a manner so as to get attention of men. I don't care about other men, but I feel upset that my husband is like the others.

As I mentioned, these feelings started creeping into me only since the past one and a half years. I feel maybe it is because I read more Islamic articles and books these days. Whenever I feel like reading, I try to see if I can find something related to our Deen so that I can learn more. That way, anything that I do or see is from the perspective of Islam. I know in Islam, the husband has been given a high position. There is a hadith in which our beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) says "If there was anybody else to do Sujood to after Allah, I would have ordered the wife to do Sujood to her husband." But how can I just close my eyes and keep quiet when I see other women feeling comfortable with my husband. He says it is part of his work. But I don't believe it, because, I'm also working, and I know that it is not necessary to smile, or be sweet to somebody to get your work done. You should be cooperative, fair and hard working. That's what's required; you don't need to be sweet and soft with non-Mahrem women. That's how we should be different from the non-Muslim people. Especially, when your husband is harsh when speaking to you and then speaks in the most pleasing and beautiful manner to others, it really hurts. We've spoken about this several times. It has even reached the extent of physical abuse. I know it and I firmly believe that he will not do anything that is a great sin. But I'm pretty sure he somehow likes to create the impression to other women that he is the sweetest and most caring person on this earth. He should in fact be talking to his wife in that manner, not to others.

But as a caretaker, he provides me and our children with everything that we want. He has always been generous with me and our kids. The kids love him. But everything takes a wrong turn only when it comes to this topic. He has warned me that if I bring up this topic anymore, he would speak to my parents and take a drastic step. So, ever since I'm just trying to suppress my feelings within me. Surely I don't feel any better. I pray to Allah to help me. But still I feel I need to get my feelings out of my head to somebody who I can confide in and who can help me.

I'm writing this to you with so much hesitation. But I feel relieved when talking to someone. I'm writing to you because I cannot confide with my family on this matter. May Allah bless us all and guide us all to the straight path, and make us among the righteous and virtuous muslims, Aameen.

- A Muslim Sister

This is my response:

Dear Sister, wa Alaikum assalaam wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barkaatuhu!

InshaAllah, I pray and hope this mail finds you in the best of your eemaan and health, enjoying the immense blessings of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala). First, I'd like to thank you for writing, jazaaka Allahu khair. InshaAllah, before I respond to your question I hope my answer will be helpful for you and will help resolve the issues you are dealing with. May Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala) make this easy for you and for myself as I respond to you.

Regarding your situation.... first of all, you mentioned physical abuse only in passing, saying, 'It has even reached the extent of physical abuse.' You did not say who was abusing who, or what was the nature of the abuse. Regardless, physical abuse in a marriage is extremely serious. No one deserves to be physically abused, no matter what the situation. Such a situation calls for outside counseling or intervention to prevent the reoccurence of physical abuse. In some cases, separation may be necessary.

Aside from this issue, which needs clarification, you seem to indicate in your message that Allah has blessed you with a responsible husband and two beautiful children. Something quite difficult to find in this time and age, I must add. As for your feelings of jealousy, it is difficult for me to exactly assess the situation unless I hear your husband's side of the story along with your own, for the sake of being fair and not biased in any way. Nonetheless, if you feel there is a problem, then there truly is one. The question that follows is in whom or where, yourself or your husband.

Your husband's work may actually require him to be polite and friendly with his colleagues etc. Or it could be that he has not set a limit for himself so as not to be excessively friendly or polite etc. This can only be resolved by calm conversaton. You should talk to your husband in kindness and mention to him how you feel badly when you see him being kinder to other women and not to you. But, if you approach him in anger and aggression, that will only block his really listening to your words. Maybe the two of you can come to a certain understanding through calm conversation, like he can begin to be a little more straight when dealing with non-mahrem women. Though this does depend on the nature of his job, Allahu Alam! Maybe the two of you could begin to go to work seperately, that way you will not witness his behaviour. Or it could be that you feel excessive jealousy even under normal circumstances. This only you can assess within yourself. Maybe you have begun to fear your husband leaving you or maybe there is another more pressing issue that bothers you in turn making you feel insecure in your marriage. Allahu Alam! Feelings of jealousy are quite common in all humans, especially so in women. It may be over a brother or husband even your own child. At times the only solution is to keep it in check and make sure that it does not affect your life such that you begin to ruin your loving relationships.

You mention he takes good care of you and your children, provides well for all of you and that he will not do anything that is haraam, inshaAllah. Then, I personally feel you must not fear his interactions with other women. Ask yourself questions like:

  1. Why do you feel the way you do? Is it just the fact that you notice his method of conversation with other women or is it something deeper you feel or something else that makes you feel you are less attractive to your husband than other women?
  2. Do you feel all aspects of your relationship with your husband has been as good as you first married him? If yes, why? If not, why?

Regarding your husband's not being polite and kind enough in his speech with you - calm conversation (inshaAllah) should help. Maybe both of you can come to certain aggreements like:

From today....

  1. You and your husband must consciously make an effort to say five kind words to each other each day, for example something as simple as a thank you.
  2. Both of you must sincerely do five kindnesses for each other. This could include something as simple as a kiss each day or a simple favour at home.
  3. Both of you must make a conscious and sincere effort to really listen to each other, not busy your mind thinking of what to say or how to respond, rather to purely listen to the other in full attention.
  4. Both of you must consciously spend a minimum of half an hour each day with each other, not talking or conversing but sitting close to each other or even embracing in silence, just simply savouring the bond you share.

I understand that finding quality time may be difficult because both of you work and have children that constantly need your attention, but time can be found after your kids are asleep at bedtime and you don't have anyone to disturb you. Or whenever possible go out to dinner, just the two of you, without the kids. Leave them with a relative or baby sitter for those two hours or so. Spend quality time together where this half an hour or so does not include a sexual bond but rather time spent enjoying each others company. All of these actions will not only help strengthen your marraige, but also build a bond between the two of you, where you and your husband will feel fully confident and secure to open up in communication and listen to each other. InshaAllahu Ta'ala. And when you can be open to each other, the two of you will learn to empathise with each other and mutually resolve anything that will come in the way of your marraige.

I hope and pray you can resolve this issue between you and not let it destroy your loving relationship. Love is mutual and it can only be achieved when both involved make conscious efforts to strength the bond. And when the bond is strong, nothing will come in the way of both of you being happy and satisfied with each other because you will truly trust each other as well. Sister, if you truly believe in your husband's love for you and you too love him just as much, you will not let anything of this dunya come in your way to distort that love in any way. InshaAllahu Ta'ala. I hope my advice will help you. Barak Allahu Feek. Your sister in this beautiful deen, Siddiqua Haswarey.

Subhanaka `Allahumma wa bihamdika, wa `ash-hadu `an laa `Illaaha `illaa `anta, `astaghfiruka wa `atoobu `ilayka. (Glorified are You O' Allah and I am in Your praise, I testify that there is no deity except You, I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You).

Siddiqua Hassan Haswarey

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