I Don’t Feel Any Attraction to My Wife

QUESTION

Dear brother/sister. I have been married for a year now and I don’t feel the love for my wife. She does not have any physical relationship with me. It was an arranged marriage and I did not like this girl from the very beginning. I do not find her attractive. I am depressed because of this and have a constant regret in my life as to why I married her. I wanted to get married to a girl who is slim but she is little fat. I wanted a girl who has good features but her features are not so good. I do not feel any attraction towards her. I am just depressed and it is ruining both of our lives. I am a bit hesitant to tell this to my wife to break this bond as she loves me a lot, but I should also care about my happiness. I always pray to Allah to put love between us but my prayers are never answered. I feel very disappointed to live a fake life like this. Please help me decide or advice me what I can do in this state. May Allah help us.

RESPONSE by Karim Serageldin

 

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum brother,

All the praises be to Allah. Attraction is a very important factor to make a relationship successfull , but is not the only one. If you did not like her from the beginning, what made you feel you should marry her anyways? I would guess the answer is because of family pressure, which leads me to another question: do you think you can handle the family pressure in case of divorce?

I will first assume you prefer not to end your marriage and that you do not want to displease the families involved. However, you are right about thinking of your own happiness, otherwise you will never make her happy, and both of you will be living a miserable life together.

Even though divorce is allowed, and it is one of your options, it must be a last resort. Whether you like it or not, you are now married and the decision should not have been made if you were not in agreement to this marriage in the first place.

The physical attraction issue seems to be two sides. One is a weight issue, the other is a about her physical features. The weight issue can easily be solved with a life style change, diet and exercise. You can approach your wife and suggest exercising together, for example. Be aware of your tone and don’t be judgmental. Instead, use the exercise as a couple’s activity where you and she can actually have fun while getting in shape. Mentioning to her that you don’t feel attracted to her won’t help. Be kind and simply take this opportunity to spend quality time with her. A healthy life style will also contribute to your mood and behavior. If there are other aspects of her physical appearance that cannot be changed through exercise, then there is nothing that can be done.

Independent of her appearance, you should focus on her character, personality, skills or anything that makes her a good person and wife. You also have to remember that you are not perfect (none of us are), and there are probably things in you that she dislikes as well. Start to validate the portion of your marriage life that you actually enjoy and appreciate. Love does not need to be the same feeling or amount for each person in marriage at any given time. It can go up and down between two individuals that share some compatibility, enjoy each other’s company and have fun together and so on. Our religion made it very clear the importance of marriage and what a man should look for in a wife:

“Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husbands) absence what Allah would have them guard.” [Qur’an 4:34]

The Prophet (saw) also said: “The best property a man can have is a remembering tongue (about Allah), a grateful heart and a believing wife who helps him in his faith.” And again: “The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife.”

Indeed, beauty is important brother, but it does not last forever. If your wife is a good woman, religious and loves you, I believe you should give a chance to this relationship and try to build intimacy and bond with her. One year is not a long time for a couple to get to know each other deeply. Turn all your attention to the things that pleases you. Laugh with her, talk, share dreams and expectations. You might find a wonderful woman if you use more of your heart and not your eyes.

May Allah bless you and make your path easier.

Potentializing Prayer

Obviously, prayer is an important part of everyone’s spiritual journey. For a lot of people salah becomes this religious obligation that they must fill. This construct of "I must pray" or "I have to pray." The problem is this turns prayer into a chore.

When you get a new job, you get a contract that stipulates the job description; according to the CEO you are obligated to do those things. Whether or not you do them is your choice. If you do the job well, you are likely to succeed. More importantly if you love what you are doing, not only will you fulfill your work obligations but you will enjoy it and benefit more.

Many people approach prayer in a similar fashion. I have to pray to get that golden ticket to jannah because I'm fulfilling religious obligations. Technically speaking you have to pray because you signed this contract when you became Muslim, but existentially speaking you don’t; Allah (swt) doesn't NEED our prayers.

“I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me. Indeed, it is Allah who is the [continual] Provider, the firm possessor of strength.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِين . مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ

[Quran 51:57-58]

Yes, we must pray from a religious-legal standpoint, but how far does this take you. It is Allah(Swt) who is the continual provider and the one who possesses invincible power and strength.

 Steps to Improving Prayer

How we talk about prayer in our heads will influence our moods in salah. Imagine approaching salah with genuine love.

  1. How we feel about and approach salah is the first step. Think about your relationship with Allah (swt). I have found in couples work there is a lot of interesting parables between romantic relationships and our relationship with Allah (swt). Reflect on these parables below.

  • Proposal/Shahada. If a man loves someone he confirms his love with a marriage proposal. The proposal is like the shahada, when we propose we are bearing witness and testifying to the truth of our love.

  • Engagement/Wudu. Engagement is the prep phase before marriage, before the connection. Wudu is the prep phase before salah, the way you make wudu connects to how you pray. Take your time with wudu, turn on the water just enough and that small amount of water will feel more spiritual.

  • Marriage/Salah. The actual salah is a means of connecting to the divine, the marriage moment, intertwining with the ultimate.

  1. Take some deep breaths before prayer; make it a self-care process. Sit in the place of worship to clear you mind and ready yourself, then begin. You'll be more present from the beginning.

  2.  Once you start the prayer visualize something that will anchor you. I like to visualize myself from a bird’s eye view, I see myself in my home, neighborhood and that keeps going to space. Your breathing while reciting and movements help to reintegrate mind, body and soul.

  3. We need to know what we are saying. Many of us can’t translate Al-Fatihah in a way that has meaning. A simple translation is not enough, we need to know what the words mean in a deeper sense.

  4. When in sajdah, sit another 30 seconds. Free talk therapy, no insurance needed, he always responds. He communicates and manifests his decisions through the creation.

Think about your salah not as a chore, but as something you want and need. Work on understanding your relationship with the divine with all the same analogies of what does it mean to show commitment, love and service in marriage. All of those principles apply.

 Final Thoughts

You can’t expect a marriage to go far if you don’t communicate. Just as you can’t expect to grow in your spirituality if you are too busy 5x a day when you are invited to communicate with Allah (swt).

If we are in a divine loving relationship with Allah (swt) and we want to cherish this connection, then prayer is not a chore. It will be something we want because we don't feel complete unless we connect.