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In Marriage, When the Past Resurfaces

Question and answer details
Abdullah (31-male-Singapore)
2012/07/12
Assalamu 'alaikum,I have been married for 1+year now. Before marriage (during engagement), my wife had a connection with another and we almost ended the engagement. But through persistence, heavy involvement and force from both sides of the family, we got married, Alhamdulillah. Now I love my wife dearly but I came to know that she has been keeping in touch with the same guy though not as frequently as it used to be from what I gathered after I confronted her about this. Ma sha` Allah, I am out of ideas on how to handle this issue; should I go hard or wait it out or approach the guy...The thing is our marriage has been good (in my opinion)and she has admit to saying she does not know why she keeps missing and hence contacting the guy. Of course, I still love my wife and I want this marriage to work but knowing this secret my wife's been keeping from me this past year really hurts me inside. What else can I do better to make this work and heal my aching heart? Thank you.
Aliah Azmeh, MSW
Answer

As-salamu `alaikum Brother,

Thank you for sending us your question. I am very sorry for the situation that you are in. I can read from your written question that you truly love your wife but at the same time, you are really hurt for her constant contact with this other man. I ask Allah to grant you and your wife the strength to make the right decision towards yourselves and towards this marriage.

From your description of the situation, your wife was involved in some kind of a relationship with a man before she married you. After some pressure from her family and your family, the marriage eventually took place. It is not clear whether or not she was completely convinced of her choice because based on what you are saying, she continued to stay in contact with the other man. Now after a year of marriage, you have discovered that she is still in contact with this man and your reality of this marriage has shattered.

You mentioned that your “marriage has been good (in my opinion).” It seems like you had no idea that your wife was still in contact with this man because you thought that the marriage was doing very well. The question now is: Does your wife think the same way? It is obvious now that you know about her contact with the other man that many issues need to be addressed between you and her and serious decisions need to be made.

The first thing that needs to be done is to have an open and honest dialogue with your wife, and it would be ideal if this took place with the assistance of a marriage counselor. You and your wife both need to discuss how you both feel about the marriage and what you want to do about your feelings.

She told you that she does not know why she continues to contact this man. You need to let her know how you feel about this. What needs to be known is that when someone does something, he/she does it out of understanding and conviction. When she tells you that she doesn’t know why she has contacted him, ask her “Do you still want to contact him after knowing that it hurts me?” She needs to know that if she is married, she cannot have another relationship with another man. She needs to make a decision and take responsibility for her actions.

I do not think that it is necessary to meet with the man that she is contacting. It seems evident that she is voluntarily contacting this man and she is not doing it against her will. What you should focus on is specifically your wife because only she has the authority to dictate her actions and decisions - not this man.

It is great that you are committed to this marriage and you are willing to do what it takes to improve your relationship with your wife. Your feelings, thoughts, and plans should be discussed with your wife in detail and also have her discuss her feelings with you as well. At the end of the day, the both of you need to make a decision and the both of you need to support one another to reach your goals.

Marriage is a process and it takes patience, perseverance, and commitment to be successful. It could be that your wife is still confused or still does not understand how much work marriage entails. Help her and help yourself to create a strong marriage that the both of you can freely discuss their feelings.

Make goals for your marriage and discuss how the both of you will lead your lives. Don’t let things just “happen.” Make sure you have a close and strong relationship. It may be that this experience will lead the both of you to start prioritizing what is important and to make informed decisions as an upright and responsible human being.

I ask Allah to help you and your wife overcome this hardship and to help the both of you make your marriage a great one.

For further guidance, please try the following links:


About the Counselor:

Aliah F. Azmeh is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in Detroit, Michigan. Aliah graduated with a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan in 2007 and has experience working in the United States and overseas. Aliah currently works as a clinical social worker and provides individual, family, and marital counseling at Muslim Family Services in Detroit, MI.

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