Salam aleykum. I just wanted some bit of Islamic advice on a very important matter.
Alhamdulilah, I’ve been married for nearly 4 years to my husband and we have one child. Recently my husband’ behaviour has changed. For example he would be mean to me and try to blame all his problems on me, he just wasn’t the person i knew anymore. He would spent less and less time with his family. This in turn made me very suspicious and pushed me to check his emails & social networking site.
SubhanAllah, I found something that broke my heart to pieces. I find out my husband was cheating on me. I don’t know the extent of it but I found a trail of messages of other women and him flirting! I never felt so sick and paralysed, as you would never expect that from someone you love dearly; and whom you sharing your life with. I feel incredibly hurt & betrayed and humiliated! Millions of questions went through my mind! Wasn’t I enough for my husband
So I find out my husband of years has been cheating on me ! I feel so betrayed and heartbroken. I know I’ve got to face him and speak to him about it although it makes me feel sick. I just wanted some advice on how to approach this calamity that has befallen on my family and I pray that Allah will help me overcome the state I’m in. I don’t know where to start and if I ever will be able to trust him.
Jazaka Allahu Khair,
Need to talk to him
No words can describe the pain and humiliation that comes with infidelity. May Allah grant you the strength and patience to do what is right for you and your family, and help your heart heal from the repercussions of this traumatic event.
Why did he do it?
Unfortunately infidelity has become a common occurrence, so you are not alone. Although every case is unique, there are four basic situations why people have affairs:
1. A person has a sex addiction. Are they willing to go to a 12-step program to deal with their addiction?
2. A person gets caught in a slippery situation, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they do something they never thought they would do. They usually have great remorse for what happened and vow never to put themselves in that type of situation again.
3. A person seeks revenge or pay back because their partner had an affair.
4. A person is hungry for attention or nurturing, so they connect with someone outside the relationship to fulfill their needs.2
What do I do first?
First and foremost, find a way to express and process rage, hurt, and often feelings of panic. Dr. Spring eloquently states:
“What you are experiencing is a normal and appropriate response to an acutely traumatizing experience. You’re reeling not only from the loss of the integrity of your relationship but also from the loss of an illusion—that you’re special to your partner and that the intimacy you thought you shared with that person would last forever. If in the face of such shattering news, it would be strange if you didn’t feel lost.”1
You can either speak with a trusted friend or colleague, journal about your emotions, or converse with the One who is The Hearer of All. It is important to be in a calmer state of mind in order to answer for yourself some very important questions. Moreover, it is crucial that you keep any children out of the pain of the situation to the furthest extent possible.
Every situation is different, and what works best for one family may not work best for another. At this point you must decide what it is that you want. Is infidelity a deal breaker for you? Or do you wish to stay in the marriage and try to work it out?
How do I confront him?
If you choose to and are ready to confront your husband, my first concern would be about safety. Sometimes confrontations can get violent especially if he has been abusive in anyway in the past or short tempered. I don’t recommend confronting him in front of friends or family, but definitely avoid a closed door, private place. Even if there is no history of violence, he can become very angry and defensive about getting caught.
There is no right or wrong way to do this, or any written rules, but I found these recommendations to be helpful:
1. Set up some time when you can sit and talk. You want a time when you are rested.
2. Have your questions written out. Some examples may include: What happened? How did this situation come into our relationship? How long has this been going on? What went wrong with us?
3. Make sure your partner is willing to talk, all phones are off, the children are taken care of and you are in a safe place.
4. Set a beginning time and an ending time. I would suggest no more than two hours. People get weary, exhausted and hungry if you go too long and things can escalate and become extremely ugly. 2
Please understand that all your questions probably will not be answered in one meeting and that you two may have to meet several times. This traumatic incident will take some time for you to process and to resolve.
How do I communicate my needs?
Some tips on effective communication may help the conversation be more productive. Two typical dysfunctional ways of talking include being in “Silence” or being the “Storm.”
If you remain silent in order to protect yourself from further harm or disappointment, you are also losing the chance to feel understood, having your needs met, admit your mistakes and reconnect. “For you to heal and forgive, you must be convinced that your partner grasps how deeply you have been violated. For that to happen, you must talk about the affair and how it has affected you on the most personal level” 1
If you have the opposite tendency to storm, understand that a full on outpouring of rage and anger will only breed more anger in both parties and put your husband on the defense and shove him away. He is more likely to listen to you and feel your pain if you speak calmly and directly.
How will he respond?
Possible responses also vary from situation to situation. Your husband may beg for forgiveness, he may be in complete denial despite the evidence you provide, or he may admit to his cheating and then initiate a marriage dissolution himself; therefore, it is vital for you to have a system of support set up that can help you with both your immediate and future needs.
Is it possible for our relationship to heal from this?
The possibility of healing from infidelity rests on the willingness of both parties to rebuild trust and the relationship. If only one partner desires to recommit, then it will not work.
If both of you decide to work through this, in time, you might view this traumatic even as a wake-up call. You may discover that this soul shattering event is the reboot you needed to develop a healthier and more mature approach to relationships. “I encourage you to enter the process, to challenge the hurt, and to see what you are capable of producing together. In essence on the count of three, I invite the two of you to step into the center of the ring, remove your boxing gloves and join hands.” 1
In terms of regaining trust, “it must be earned, and not with verbal reassurances alone, but with specific changes in behavior.” 1 Your husband will have to demonstrate though bold, concrete actions that he is committed to you and that you are safe with him. And you will have to open yourself up to the possibility of trusting him again as well as reinforce his efforts to regain your trust. You will also have to “spell out exactly what your partner can do for you, and give this person a road map back into your life.” 1
Continue to seek guidance from Allah for the best course of action and outcome for you and your family. Do not forget to establish a support system for you and your child, including family therapy and, finally, I highly recommend reading the book “After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful” by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD.
1. After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner has been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD with Michael Spring, completely updated 2nd edition.