By Umm Aasiya
I’ll never forget the morning I found out that my husband was having an emotional affair with one of my close friends. They were sharing intimate thoughts, desires, and feelings of love with each other. I paced back and forth in the living room where the memories we made were now broken.
My first reaction was to ask him. He wasn’t going to lie. After all, this was the man I trusted more than anything, and he would be the one that would have answers. Little did I know that he was also the man that was going to cause me extraordinary amounts of pain through the choices he made.
See, Muslims assume that emotional or physical affairs never happen in the Muslim community. I assumed they didn’t either. But they do, and more often than we’d like to admit.
Things had been fairly normal between my husband and I. We had the usual arguments from time to time, but what marriage doesn’t have that? Nothing major had seemed wrong at all, so when I found out about my husband’s relationship with another woman, I blamed myself for it all. All the flaws I thought I had were suddenly magnified in my own eyes.
Why I Stayed
I am not a believer in the statement: “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” I wholeheartedly believe people have the ability to change when they’re given a chance, and sometimes that’s all some people need. A chance.
So I made the conscious decision to stay with my husband and give him another chance. I told myself that I wanted to work things through, that I wanted to stay and fight to save my marriage. I was determined to make it better than it ever was before. So I gave him one chance.
With each failed chance I found more details revealing the emotional involvement that was still ongoing. With each new detail, a wound that had barely started healing was torn open again. Each tear took longer to heal, and before I knew it I was on the road to self-destruction.
There were countless times my husband was dishonest about what was going on, but I believed him. My blind faith and belief in him came from the amount of trust I put in this man. I had married him based on faith and character, not for money or career. He played a big role within his community, and many spoke very highly of him.
He was such a good man, he had such high standards- and it was because of those high standards that I could not accept that he would consciously cause me so much pain. Therefore I blamed myself.
So did he.
I was made to feel crazy for having suspicions, even when my suspicions turned out to be correct. I was told I was the one that needed serious help, and that I needed to get my issues under control.
In my desperation to make things work I made myself extremely vulnerable. Some may even say I was being naïve. But there I was, ready and willing give all I had in me to save my marriage and the man I had committed myself to. At the end of the day, his heart was somewhere else, but I have no regrets. I know I did everything I possibly could in order to make my marriage work.
It Really Was For Her.
Soon after our divorce, he married her.
Finding out made me feel validated – I wasn’t a crazy woman for suspecting his emotional affair was ongoing. I wasn’t wrong for doubting him when he said he didn’t want her.
Being right was satisfying, but it also tore me apart. Seeing him get married to the woman who broke my home, my family, my life. This woman who had been my friend, my confidant. A sister of mine through Islam. It turned out this woman was really my enemy.
This woman told my husband how much she loved him. This woman wore my husband’s pajamas to bed at night. This woman was now living in the same space that I had shared with my husband.
The man I trusted, respected, and married believing I would spend my entire life with – he married this woman. And now, he was her husband instead.
I don’t know what was worse, living through the affair or being destroyed by the losing fight to save my marriage. I live in the pain of silence while they continue with their lives as though nothing wrong was done. People within my own community accept them and what they’ve done. His family, that I was once a part of, is silent about my disappearance and replacement.
Maybe. Just Maybe.
Maybe I should’ve spoken up instead of trying to protect him. Maybe I should’ve confronted her when I had the chance. Maybe I should’ve done something differently, maybe if I was just stronger…maybe maybe maybe.
I can make a long list out of things I should’ve or could’ve done differently. Or, I can accept that this was all part of Allah’s plan. Like all struggles we go through, we have to remember there is a bigger plan behind the things that happen to us.
Maybe we think we have the perfect plan for our lives… get married, have kids, have an amazing career, and when those things don’t work out for us, we fall into deep depression and disappointment. What we fail to see is that Allah took those things away from us because He is planning to replace what we lost with something better.
“Do they think that they will be left to say “We believe,” and they will not be tried?” [Ankabut:29].
We have to leave it to the One who has the power to create all good, and trust that He will give us good in ways that we never imagined.
To the Woman Dealing with Her Husband’s Affair:
“No person earns any sin except against himself, and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.” Surah Al-Anam 164
If you’re currently in this situation, please put the burden of blame down before it sets in permanently. We’re all grownups here, and he should never blame someone else for his actions. Flaws in a marriage call for mercy, communication, and compromise – not infidelity.
“As a defense mechanism, the cheating spouse will often talk his/her spouse down and belittle them in order to deflect from their own major sin while also gaining sympathy from the onlookers.”
-Sheikh Omar Suleiman, Infidelity and Misplaced Blame…,
Take care of yourself. Do not neglect your emotional, mental, or physical well-being. Build yourself back up and remember that Allah does not burden any one more than they can bear.
“Allah does not place a burden on a soul greater than it can bear.” Surah Baqarah, 286
It will feel unbearable at times. You may feel like ending it all, or feel like you have nothing left to live for, but in those vulnerable moments, remember that no one understands your pain more than Allah.
When others run out of words of comfort, or begin to understand your pain, remember that Allah understands your heartbreak.
Be Bigger: Allah says: “And who is better in speech than the one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, ‘Indeed, I am of the Muslims.’ And not are equal the good deed and the bad. Repel evil by that which is better.” [Fussilat: 33-34]
No matter how much it hurts, keep this in mind: We are commanded to repel evil by doing that which is BEST. It will be hard, but it is crucial that you remember that the reward given to those that have patience in times of hardship is a reward given without measure.
There is a fine line between being patient and staying no matter how bad his treatment of you gets, and how little he cares about rebuilding your trust. If you see no hope for a change to the positive, you should stand up for yourself and know that Allah has something better in store for you.
Dr. Neil Warren, author of Triumphant Marriage, says: “…75 percent of all divorces involve marriages in which at least one partner is emotionally unhealthy.” No matter how much you would like to or how much you try, if the unhealthy individual is not willing to own the problem, confess it, or seek personal restorations, the marriage is headed for disaster.
To the Woman Involved with a Married Man:
No matter how much you try to convince yourself that what you’re doing is justifiable, it is not. If a man is married, regardless of what excuses he gives you, it is not okay to get emotionally or physically involved.
Put yourself into the situation of the woman whose husband you’re “having a good time with.” Could you trust a man who snuck behind his wife’s back? Knowing that he treats his wife in such a way, how could you trust him if you were his wife instead?
Know that this man left his first wife by lying and cheating on her. Know that you are not safe from such behavior.
If you do go through with it all and marry this man, know that you are responsible for destroying the life of another woman and breaking up a family. Congratulations, you’re doing shaytaan’s work for him.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension between people); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Shaytaan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” He then embraces him” (Sahih Muslim; narrated by Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah).
Even if you care nothing for the betrayed wife, remember that you’re trying to marry someone who cheated on their spouse. Someone who didn’t like what they had at home so they went looking for something better. When your honeymoon wears off, will he go looking for that better someone?
It doesn’t really matter who started it. It doesn’t matter if you were tricked and didn’t know at first that he had a wife at home waiting for him. At the end of the day, Allah knows all the details, He is constantly watching, and everything will be laid out in front of you on the Day of Judgment. Stop it while you still have control, and gain some dignity.
If you don’t do it for anyone else, do it for Allah’s sake. Remember, “…He is with you wherever you are, and He is seeing of what you do.” (57:4)
End the affair to please Him, and He will give you something better.
The Only Way is Up.
In the end I’ve learned that once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. I can say now that life after such a sordid affair does get better, but, it only gets better with time. In the moment everything is happening you will feel broken and shattered, but everything you go through has a purpose, and it will make you stronger than ever before if you let it.
When we hit our rock bottom, we have to remember that if we turn to Allah, He will make a way out for us, no matter how lost we may feel. My personal journey and struggle is still ongoing but I see glimmers of bright and sunny days ahead, InshaAllah. I will continue to persevere.
I see now the chance that Allah has given me to make myself into a better person, one who has Allah as a Protector, Guide, and Confidant. I am learning to leave it all to Allah, because at the end of the day He knows what’s best for us and we know nothing. In Him I put my trust, and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him. (12:67)