As-salāmu 'alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.Dear CounsellorMy husband has 3 kids from the 1St wife. Girl 12yrs, boy 10 yrs. and a 5 month old baby. We are now married 7 months and our routine thus far has been that he spends the Saturday night with them. During the week, he is with them in the afternoons, as he picks them up from school and is with them until he gets home which is at 6pm. I am full time employed during the week. I get home at 16H30. We spend Saturday together as a couple and at 17H00 he leaves to be with them for the rest of the weekend. Last week he told me that he sees that the kids are being affected by our marriage. The boy is withdrawn and the girl is dropping grades in school. So he suggested that to put the kids mind at ease he will see me once a week and spend more time with the kids.Although it has hurt me a lot. I agreed and have now moved to my parents' home. I do not want to cause more distress to my husband, as it is he has to listen to the kids saying that he is spending more time with me than with them. Did I do the right thing?? He is torn between pleasing the kids and me. My husband is very good to me, so between us we do not have a problem. If I make my husband happy with me, then Allah will be pleased with me. I am trying to be brave and face each day and believe that Allah has a plan for me in all this. Also that Allah is All knowing, All Seeing and All Hearing. JazaKallah Looking forward to your reply.
Answer 3 (Dr. Najma Adam):
Salam to you, and God bless you for being such an understanding and patient person.
What you're struggling with is not unusual because blending families can be quite a challenging task. Children at this age tend to have resentment and anger toward the step parent. They want their dad's attention fully and the fact that you exist means that they will lose some of what they desire. Children of divorced parents experience the issues you've described. This is par for the course. They are young, and children tend to be resilient so they will be ok with the new situation.
Give them time. It is also very important to get them in therapy. They need to have a safe place to work through their issues regarding the divorce.
It is important to cooperate and compromise in a marriage or any relationship. However, it is also not wise to cooperate to the extent where your own needs are being unmet. You should be able to spend more time with your husband and it is not fair that you are moved back into your parents home to accommodate his children's request that dad be available to them, at your expense.
One solution to your situation is to spend time together. Can you, your husband and children spend time doing fun things together? Consider some fun activities that the children would enjoy and do that with them. Share meals together and establish a routine so that you are also a part of the unit. It seems they perceive you as a separate entity who is taking dad away from them. Start slow and, with time, increase activities where you're involved with them.
The children need to see you as a mom. Be forewarned that while it will be challenging for them, you must not be deterred. Let them reject you, have issues with you (if any) but you must remain loving, kind and generous with them. In time, and with maturity and experience, they will include you. You will no longer be in competition for their dad's time, but you will become another important adult in their life. At least, one who is not to be pushed aside, but to be respected and honored for your role in the family.
It is very important for your husband to not put you aside as he has. This is unfair and risks your marriage. He needs to be diligent in his efforts to include you and to assure the children that you are important to him and you will be present in family activities. This isn't to say that he shouldn't spend time with them alone. He should. But, he must include you most of the time. By putting you aside, he is sending a message to the children that they control dad and when they exhibit certain behaviors, they can get their way. This is NOT ok.
Instead, he needs to show them that he loves you, you are important to him and that you're a caring and loving person who is also their mother. By including you and facilitating the relationship, he can play a key role in assuring that your family is blended and healthy rather than fragmented and in turmoil.
It sounds like you have a great relationship with your husband so please feel free to share my advice and let him know that he must not put himself in a position where he chooses one side. Best for him to choose both sides!
Good luck, sister.
Question 4 (Ahmad):
Assalamo `alaikom, I have been suffering from a number of psychiatric illnesses for more than 20 years, and haven't been able to work properly and make a living for most of these years. I borrowed a lot of money from different people over the past years to pay for life expenses and treatments. I am single, and being unable to get married is a big part of my problem.One of the major causes of the prolonged period of my suffering is that all the doctors I went to failed to understand the nature of my illnesses, and treat them properly. However, with the help and blessing of Allah this has changed lately, as I met a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist who managed to help me improve.I have been improving very slowly over the past couple of years, and thanks to Allah, I have been able to work a few hours a day. However, I can't meet the cost of treatment (sometimes I can't even find enough money to pay the doctor or buy a medication), I am unable to find a decent job with a good income, especially with the current situation in my country, and I am 41 now, and still not married (this is also adding a lot of stress, and lowering my chances of recovery).Despite the apparent improvement in the past year, thanks to Allah, I have recently started to get the old symptoms back, mainly due to the above mentioned factors. I have been trying to borrow some money to pay part of my debts, start a job that can provide a decent income, and get married. Despite trying for a long time, I haven't been able to borrow more money recently, as my friends and family, who used to lend me money, seem to have gotten "fed up". Unfortunately, no one seems to understand the nature of psychiatric illnesses in our society, and therefore everyone holds me responsible for my condition. They think that I am "weak", "have a negative personality", "not doing enough to help myself"... They just can't understand that these are illnesses like any other illness, and should be treated as such. This is the very short version of my story, and indeed I suffered a lot more than just illnesses, but I don’t want to get into all the details, as it could turn into a small book Alhamdulillah `ala kolli hal. I just want to stress that I have suffered big ordeals throughout my life, and again Alhamdulillah ala kolli hal. My question is, can you recommend an Islamic funding organisation, which could be willing to lend me the money I need, and I will pay the money back in sha’ Allah? I can't find one in my country, and I understand this probably is not the right place to ask such a question, but I am in big despair, and don't know who to resort to (after Allah subhanaho wa ta'ala). The other question is that, in case I can't find an interest-free loan, is it permissible in my case to try and get an interest-based loan? Jazakum Allah'o khairan.
Answer 4 (Dr.Najma Adam):
Salam to you:
I'm sorry to hear of your desperate situation. I wish you could have shared the nature of your psychiatric illnesses so that I would have a better sense of expected outcomes based on general medical information. It would help me better assess and provide support and guidance.
However, short of this, I can tell you that it sounds like you must remain faithful to therapy and taking medications. Do not falter on this because your struggle appears great. It is true that some societies do not understand mental illnesses, but it is important that you talk to your family and friends openly and honestly about your struggles. They may need reading material to help them understand what you are experiencing. Do not cut them off because it sounds like they are generally supportive, loving and very kind to you. If they have lent you money for many years, they are in your corner. Help them to understand the nature of your illnesses and allow them the opportunity to ask questions. Be forthright and open because because they deserve it and you need them. As for the funding for your medical needs, I recommend doing a general search online along the lines of "muslim charities" or "mental health charities" and see if you can contact some organization that may be able to help you. I'm not familiar with any off hand, but I'm sure you'll find some. Zakat is part of our tradition and can be used for cases like yours. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you stay in therapy and take your medications, even when things are fine. You must not be lulled into a false sense of well being at any time. Continue working at doing the best you can with what you have; Allah gives us all something to struggle with so know that you're not alone. Good luck, and take good care. Salam.
Question 5 (Y.):
I have a problem inside my mind, Although I know and sure that it is just an illusion inside my mind; I can't stop thinking in this way, I always have to plan everything and complicate it inside my mind, so I end up just stressed and bored with my self, I really try hard to truly rely on Allah but can't get rid of this habit, also I always in a hurry and have the feeling that time is passing so fast and I have to run to catch it or otherwise important things will pass by. I try to calm down, relax and stop thinking but I end up repeating the same thing again. Also I have another problem that I unconsciously always think about other people's opinion in me and my actions, even if consciously I don't care about them.
Answer 5 (Dr. Najma Adam):
Salam: It sounds to me like you're struggling with low self esteem, and perhaps also Anxiety and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You are not alone, millions of people around the world struggle with the same issues. The course of treatment will depend on specific circumstances. Therefore, it is essential that you see a therapist for evaluation and treatment. A qualified therapist will explore fully the details of your situation and then recommend a course of treatment. Without details such as your age, gender, when these thoughts are most prevalent, what you do for a living, what your family circumstances are, are you single or married, family history of mental illnesses, etc, it is very challenging to provide guidance. However, I can share that you need not make your life more difficult. There are medications, and many psychotherapy techniques that can assist you. Therefore, seek assistance and do not be deterred by anyone or anything. This is YOUR life, and you have to take good care of you. No need to make it more challenging then it needs to be. Good luck to you. Salam, Najma