Question: My question relates to the Husband - Wife relationship and is as follows:
I am married for 30 years. Neither I, nor my wife have had extra marital relationships. Our relationship Alhamdulilah began with and remained in Nikaah. My concern is what I perceive to be an "exaggerated sense of modesty" on the part of my wife. From the onset of our marriage, love and sex were things "that she would submit to" rather than a mutually enjoyable experience. I overlooked this on an ongoing basis in the hope and belief that Allah SWT will reward me in other ways. I have also overlooked and accepted many other aspects of her in the same belief. Alhamdulilah, we have six Masha Allah children from this .
I am now 60. I am rationed sex as she deems fit. A third of the month she would have her menses, a third of the month she would have some "ailment" and the remaining third she would not be in the mood for love. Sex is just that - a means of release with no reciprocal love. Our lives revolve around the upbringing of our children.
I have raised the matter with her parents - they merely brush me aside telling me I am very lucky to have a wife like her. She donned the Niqaab when I expressed my intention to marry a Niqaabi as I was intrigued by them. I have even asked her parents to take her for counselling. I have never uttered Talaaq even when provoked by her mother. She is living in a comfort zone - knowing that I will not divorce her out of fear of dis pleasing Allah SWT and the fact that a second wife carries a stigma in our society. I cannot kiss her without being pushed away. By the way, we live in a comfortable home with en suite facilities and good privacy.
The same goes for sex - she has to show that I am in need and she is merely submitting. We cannot stray from the Missionary position. With age I know that I may weaken and need more of my wife's help. I have thought of seeking assistance but have shied away in the knowledge (my limited knowledge) that a second marriage is the only way out. Maybe the competition would spur her to reflect on her behaviour? My reason for not threading this path to be frank is the Quranic injunction to treat your wives equally.
How do I treat two wives equally when one is the mother of my four children while the other is "unequal"? How do you find a moral and at the same time Loving wife? How do you find Psychological compatibility without straying from the boundaries of Islam? Maybe I am totally wrong in my thinking and this is why I raise these questions in this forum.
Assalāmu `alaikum Warahmatullāhi Wabrakatuh,
Jazakallah for your email. We respect your request for anonymity on this forum. Should we post this query on site for the benefit of people experiencing similar problems as you, we will change the main characteristics of the query to maintain anonymity.
Brother, you state you are an introvert. You are married for 30 years, and now you are 60. Your have difficulty with your wife’s “exaggerated sense of modesty”. She simply submits rather than “it” being mutual. “It’s” not a one sided thing. You have brought up the issue with your wife and inlaws. The matter is still the same.
You have suggested taking a second wife but also have concerns. Your concerns are valid. Furthermore, should you take another wife, what guarantee you have that you get what you want? The issues you have raised can only be experienced during intimacy. There is no measure to determine how a woman is going to perform. Furthermore, if she does, for how long? Would you want to enter such a gamble? You may be the unique and fortunate one to pick the right “toy” from the “lucky packet”! Then too the apprehension of her not maintaining her active performance is still there. It will be a real nightmare for you if you picked a “wrong” or “cheap” toy in the lucky packet. You will have so much to lose after 30 years of investing in a wife and 4 beautiful children. The pain and frustration you will experience in pursuit of your intimate needs will make your needs insignificant and in fact bitter. You will then realize you were better off as you were with someone merely submitting even for a third of the month. In any event that too was going to completely die off. As one person put it- I came out from the pot and directly into the frying pan. Surely that is not what you need at this age.
Brother, you are not alone in this quagmire. This is a common problem. Apply the rule of اهون البليتين (lesser of the two evils). Non-cooperation of the wife is unfortunate if not bad, but the challenges of a second wife are huge if not greater evil.
The only way to overcome your difficulty is to condition your mind to accept your wife as she is. Allah chose her for you. Make do with her as she is and be content. Focus of the positives in her and overlook the negatives.
It is precisely for this reason Allah Taala said:
عَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ
Maybe you dislike something of her whereas that is better for you. (Qur’an 2:216)
When you experience the pain of rejection or being pushed away from her, it is definitely not in vain. You approached her for you haqq but was denied or she simply submitted. Surely not as you wanted.
What can you do about it? How do you give vent to your anger and frustration. In most instances, if you do, the problem turns out to be bigger and mightier. It is such a private issue that you cannot easily talk to anyone about it.
The pain you experience with the very limited avenues to give vent to your pain is enormously rewarding in the court of Allah. A husband who overlooks this aspect of his wife for the pleasure Allah is rewarded with Shahadah. A mujahid goes in the path of Allah and bears physical and emotional pain for the pleasure of Allah. There is nothing he can do to give vent to his pain, It is for the pleasure of Allah. He actually experiences the halawat and sweetness of Ieman in this pain, This sweetness has a totally different taste. Similarly, if you bear the emotional pain of not fulfilling your base desires for the pleasure of Allah, you too will be considered a mujahid. During that emotional pain, be patient, turn your heart to Allah and experience the sweetness of Ieman. The enjoyment of that feeling surpass the physical enjoyment of intimacy.
While you may be focusing on what she is not, she too may be focusing on what you are! Put yourself in her shoe. It is possible she maybe put off due to your approach and attitude at some time of the other. Women are sensitive and to them physical closeness is not as important and invigorating as emotional closeness that comes with the right approach and conduct. It is also possible she is going through hormonal imbalance due to her age. Shukr she is letting you have her for even 1/3. Generally when men experience physical imbalance, they can’t even give that much. How is it expected of a woman to do in such a situation? A man too must understand and contain himself.
You state you are 60 and with age you will weaken and you may need wife’s assistance. As that time, the tables could turn around. She may be the one that will get frustrated and complain about you. How would you expect her to react? She will respond to your weaknesses as you responded to her weaknesses. It’s just a matter of time. Now it’s your turn to tolerate. Tomorrow it’ll be her turn. If you tolerate her faithfully, it is hoped she will reciprocate.
Make shukr your wife at least submits to you. The fact that she does not deny you all the time is proof enough of her sensitivity to you. She is fully aware you are a man and you have your needs. Your problem is you need to stray from the missionary position of merely releasing and want her to reciprocate.
You imply that your wife is loyal but not loving. Why do you narrow your concept of love to physical love? There are so many other avenues of love expressed by your wife. She bore you six children. She bore all physical burden of pregnancy by herself. She surely did it for you as she could have avoided pregnancy with the various options available to her. She is a means of multiplying your avenues of loves six times more.
If you overlooked your wife ever since for her mere missionary response for the pleasure of Allah, then there is all more reason for you to adopt that attitude now. A woman’s body and reaction is never same after six pregnancies. Her body is exerted to the maximum especially with all the demands and challenges of raising 6 children and a “wanting” husband.
Now is the real test of your intention to overlook her for the pleasure of Allah. It is that time of your life where physical love ought to be transformed to emotional love as Allah Himself says: “مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً” (love and mercy).
In conclusion, I wish to point out that in everything of our life, Allah nurtures us. Allah is our Rabb. Rabb means to nurture. Allah wants to make us near and dear to Him. He puts challenges in our lives and when we feel bitter with our closest ones, we realize that is not the love to be trusted.
We turn away from all such temporary forms of love and pleasure and attach ourselves to Allah, the ultimate love.
This is how, we as believers think and see the different challenges of life. When we realize this point and note our gradual closeness to Allah, we accept all pain as the reward of the closeness to Allah is eternal and everlasting. It is unparalleled love, not just physical, not just emotional. It is real. It is only tasted with the heart of strong Iman!
Have mercy for your wife. She too will have mercy for you. Allah’s reward to you will be His mercy.
We commend you for your objective thinking and your courage to raise this issue which will be a source of guidance for many people like you and a solace for many women. You question was the means for this guidance.
And Allah Ta'āla Knows Best,
Muftī Ebrahim Desai
35 Candella Rd, Durban, South Africa