Original Posted on AboutIslam
Sister wrote in for advice about a husband that threatens suicide whenever things don’t go his way, he is manipulative and she is striving to live a pious lifestyle but doesn’t know how to handle him. To read the original counseling question, visit this link
To begin, let me be very clear. It is NOT normal for a spouse to threaten suicide. It is not normal for anyone to threaten suicide to anyone else. I never take mentions of suicide lightly, so please if at any time you feel he will be of risk to himself or anyone else, immediately notify appropriate authorities and family/friends that can help.
That being said, we need to look at the information you provided. He threatens you with suicide when things don’t go the way he would prefer. He verbally abuses you, and your family has never felt good about this man. You make statements such as “I did many mistakes”, “I made the mistake of almost being scammed”, “burdened with my mistake” and he specifically states he will kill himself over these alleged mistakes. (note I said alleged).
Sister, I need to be honest with you, and I don’t think this will surprise you. This man sounds manipulative and this brings up gaslighting.
Gaslighting within romantic relationships is a form of psychological manipulation where the victim is groomed into questioning their own perceptions, memory, and abilities. Relating this to what you describe, it seems as though you are already questioning your own abilities and perceive yourself as frequently making mistakes.
Sister, no one is perfect, and we all have our ups and downs in life but when a spouse highlights the downs and repeatedly blames them to the extent they threaten self-harm, then no, this is not a stable or healthy environment.
I commend you for wanting to strive for a lifestyle in line with the guidance of Islam. You call this man religious and mention you sacrificed everything for his happiness, yet he is not grateful.
Ask yourself something sister, what defines a religious man? Multiple verses of the Quran and hadithillustrate examples of piety. Here are a few in line with your situation.
Treatment of Others
How your husband decides to treat you says a lot about his piety. A man or woman that strives for God-consciousness should be aware they are accountable for how they treat their spouse.
“Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behavior, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives”. [At-Tirmidhi]
“Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury”. [Quran 2:263]
“Abu Ad-Dardh narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Hardships will happen in every marriage, but a person who strives to be a good Muslim should aim for gratitude and appreciation. They would highlight the positives and make their spouse feel appreciated.
“…If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” [Quran 14:7]
In relation to marriage, the Quran describes our spouses as a source of affection and mercy. Again, highlighting the good and kind character that we should demonstrate.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”. [Quran 30:21]
I encourage you to sit and really think about this for a moment. You mention wanting a halal lifestyle and a religious husband. Do you think your current relationship dynamic is indicative of piety and Islamic character?
Leave or Stay
You asked if you should divorce him before involving children. Until this situation is resolved, I would not involve children, but how you resolve this is up to you.
If you know in your heart that you want a divorce, then don’t drag it on any further. If you believe that this man will not change and this type of behavior will continue, then I encourage you to go to your family for help in seeking a divorce. Please be prepared he may try to fight it, but you don’t need his permission to leave.
I would advise seeking out personal counseling to help you recover if you decide to leave. The emotional scars of verbal abuse and manipulation don’t go away overnight. You can do this online if you prefer. Or you can ask your local Islamic community about Islamic counseling in your area. One resource for Muslims in the UK is Sakoon.
Seek help through prayer, read the Quran daily and allow yourself to be vulnerable with family. They only want you to be happy and have the best life you can.
If you don’t want to divorce him, then I strongly suggest marriage counseling from an Islamic perspective. It is not advisable to try and work these issues out alone. As your family has never supported this marriage, it is doubtful they could be an unbiased mediator.
You can do marriage counseling in person or online, depends on where you are located. I personally suggest Noor Human Consulting who works a lot with marriages.
If you decide to try and work things out, it is important you are completely honest with him and he needs to recognize when his thought patterns and choice of words are harmful. Your husband needs to understand this type of behavior cannot continue and if he refuses to seek counseling with you then he is refusing to help the marriage succeed.
Again, this is your decision to make, sister. Talk to someone you trust that knows both of you. It can help you to say these things out loud and discuss them in order to make a definite decision.
To summarize your options moving forward, if you choose to stay, then seek out marital counseling as soon as able. Do not put this off and make sure he understands you are serious about this and the harmful behavior must stop.
If you choose to leave, then reach out to the family for help and consider personal counseling as you heal.
Remember sister, religiousness/piety is not defined by the rituals and restrictions we do in front of others. It is about our intentions, our heart, and our character while performing those actions. How we treat our spouses and family is a direct reflection of our own heart and piety.
Make duaa for guidance and inshallah you will make the best choice.