I am happily married to my husband for 11 years. We have three children together. My siblings and I usually get together along with our spouses. We are a practicing family. My brother and his wife are less practicing. When we gather, we try as much as possible to sit separately. However, sometimes it happens where we are all sitting in the same room, either eating or in the living room. I try to prevent it as much as possible, but for some reason it happens beyond my control, especially if we are at my brother’s house. Not long ago, I had noticed that my brother’s wife would gaze at my husband’s direction. At that time, I noticed that my husband didn’t notice or was just ignoring it. I tried to talk to her and was unsuccessful about it.
Alhamdulilah, I was able to convince my sister to have that conversation with her. My sister told her in a very clear way that she needs to control her staring at people. She took it lightly and didn’t really respond. Anyway, as time went by, my brother’s family and my family started to see each other a lot. My brother is very attached to me. He would ask me when we will go on vacation if he can come with us. We did travel together, and we stayed in the same apartment for a day. We went out as a family. We rented the same car, ate at the same restaurant, etc.. At one point, during the hurricane last year, the electricity went off at his house, and my brother and his family stayed with us for a week. At those times she wasn’t doing (or I had not noticed) the stares. It was after we became closer as families, I had noticed her. Recently, I have seen my husband taking part of these glances. I saw him on occasion smiling towards her as they exchanged glances. At another instance as we were leaving to go home, they exchanged a glance with a smile then she looked at me as I looked at her, and I felt like her face was full of shame. When I first realized it, I doubted that it was even happening. I always told my self it was coincidental. I respect my husband and his level of deen very much. But then I was still monitoring the situation. Once I felt that my beliefs were confirmed. I became extremely angry.
The first thing I did was avoid getting together with my brother. I would feel guilty because he wouldn’t know why I was avoiding interaction with him. But as we are a close family, there were still opportunities to meet, either at one of my sisters’ houses or my father’s house. The glancing was still going on every time we met. I thought about confronting my husband. I spoke to him once about him giving her salams. I thought it was inappropriate for him to initiate the salams to her. I don’t personally give salams to any of my brother in laws. I usually give a general salam. He said that we have been family for so long it would be weird if he sees her and not give her salams. He is a very egoistic man. He gets offended very quickly. When he gets upset, the first thing he does is he gives me the silent treatment for weeks, on things that seem petty to me. I am driving myself crazy every time the family gets together. I feel like I am a detective, and I have to stay on top of being around my husband the entire time we are with the family.
Even if he gets up to get a cup of water, I am always on the look. But this is preventing me from enjoying my time with my family. I am getting a lot of bad dreams about my husband and I separating. Please advise me on how I can handle this situation without cutting my ties completely with my brother. Also, I don’t want to ignore the situation and it escalates into something beyond glances. Please let me know, if I am overreacting. Is this something that was bound to happen? Is this a form of insecurity on my part?
Jazzakum Allahu Khairun,
Insecure in Family Ties
I truly understand how uncomfortable it can feel when you sense that someone is attracted to your husband. It’s natural to feel protective of him and prevent any possible dangers in the future. It becomes much more concerning when you see your husband being receptive to the attention and smiling back. In your situation it is important to strike a balance between being careful to avoid the haram and being secure of yourself and your marriage.
Majority of men I have worked with admitted enjoying the attention of women. They find it very flattering when someone other than their own spouse finds them attractive. Even if they are not in any way attracted to the woman, they still enjoy the ego boost. This can start very innocently, but it can escalate if the right (or should I say the wrong) opportunity presents itself.
There is definite hikma (wisdom) in not mixing. I have had clients that get involved with their husband’s best friends because they become so comfortable with them that they put down all guards. If there is mixing then a certain decorum needs to be upheld and boundaries need to be respected.
It’s critical to reflect on what is making you feel so insecure. If you are insecure about the quality of your relationship and/or your love for each other, it’s important to focus on improving your quality time together to help increase the love. It may be that your husband is craving more attention from you. Make more effort in making him feel attractive by giving him sincere compliments in addition to flirting with him in a way that will satisfy his ego and bring playfulness back into your marriage. If you are feeling insecure because you are not at your best, then I suggest setting attainable goals where you will be more happy and confident. I know how challenging it is to get into shape after having 3 kids, because I had to go through it myself. Our body image affects our confidence and sense of security. If you feel that you have let yourself go, focus on getting back into shape so that you will feel your best. As you increase your sense of security about yourself and your relationship, you will feel less threatened by others.
I would recommend getting together with your brother and his family since selatel rahem (bonds of kinship) is critical in Islam; however you can try to spend some one on one time with your sister-in-law without making it too obvious. You need to be able to relax and enjoy your time with your family without feeling so frightened and suspicious the entire time. In order to do that you need to really have trust in your husband. If he has never done anything to make you doubt him, then I think you are overreacting a bit. It is essential to have trust for one another yet at the same time be watchful and aware of the circumstances. Having said that – do not dismiss your concerns because I believe you should pay attention to your intuition. Just be careful not to go overboard with your worries & concerns.
If you have a matter that you would like addressed please ask at www.muslimmatters.org/ask