Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to Allah. May the peace and blessings of Allah shower upon our Beloved Messenger, his family, companions, and those who follow them.
I know that you are feeling very frustrated right now, but please give your marriage a chance. It's only six months old, and you and your wife have not had enough time to build a solid foundation with each other. Marriage takes work. And, often, the first year of marriage is the most difficult, as husband and wife adjust to a new, shared life with a person who may seem very different. The first year of marriage is all about getting to know each other, setting priorities and goals, and creating a common vision based on what may be very divergent interests.
The first thing I advise you to do is simply sit down with your wife, and without judging her, find out what it is she wants out of life. What is important to her? What kind of life would she like to give your children? Where would she like your marriage to be in one year, five years, ten years? Tell her that you care about her goals and priorities too.
Even if you don't think much of your wife's interests, she is still the person you are married to and deserves your compassion and respect. Wives want very much to be friends with their husbands and it's hard to be friends with someone when they think your goals are silly.
Likewise, husbands desire friendship and validation from their wives. When a woman takes no interest in her husband's goals and doesn't encourage him to pursue his dreams, this can create a lot of resentment on the husband's behalf.
Once you have listened to your wife, tell her what you would like out of life. Tell her how important it is for you to study the deen, even to the extent of traveling. Point out to her that in doing so, you're trying to please your Creator and become a better husband and father.
The key here is for each spouse to LISTEN to each other without judging. Once you call her "materialistic" or she says whatever she says, you and your wife have created a situation where feelings are hurt and you don't think the other spouse values you. You both must stress to each other that this relationship is important. As a couple, you need to find a way to harmonize your goals and set priorities that both partners can relate to.
Does your wife understand why you want to learn? Have you shown her what you're studying and how interesting it is? Have you introduced her to the fascinating world of Islamic Sciences? Have you tried sitting down with her and studying a lesson together, reading some Quran, or discussing a hadith? These are ways you can spend quality time with her and spark her interest in your studies.
Time is an important consideration here. I know that you are working hard to support your wife and pursue your studies, but bear in mind that women crave the attention of their husbands. This is only natural, especially if she's home all day and doesn't work or study outside the house. If your wife does stay at home and you're gone all day to work and class, think about how lonely she must be feeling. Please continue to try to balance your study time with the time you spend with your wife. Even if you have to cut back and do two subjects instead of three, this may be worth it if your wife sees you more.
You also mentioned wanting to live a simple life as opposed to the luxurious life your wife desires. I think it's important to be clear about the definition of simple vs. luxurious in the context of where you live and your socioeconomic status. You may want to take into consideration what your wife was used to before she married you. If your wife is asking for things that are way beyond your means, then you should let her know that you can only work with the rizq (provision) Allah has given you now, and Allah willing, maybe things will be better in the future. However, if your wife is only asking for things that make up a basic standard of living in the West, like a washer, dryer, or furniture for example, then it may be better to procure these things to make your wife's life easier. It's important that you and wife come to a common understanding about quality of life.
The television is another issue you and your wife should discuss amicably. I understand why you want to get rid of your television, but I do advise you to be patient. If you're wife is habituated to television, it may be a struggle to wean her from that. Sadly, too many couples end up fighting over things like TV and movies. It's not worth it. If your wife is watching something you don't like, it may be better to leave the room. Later on, come to her and tell her why you don't like television. Point out to her the amount of un-Islamic and anti-Islamic content on television. Explain to her that you want to create a certain environment in the house where the angels of mercy will enter. I'm not sure what your wife watches, but maybe you can draw up some general guidelines, for example: No television during prayer times, or recording her favorite show to watch later, or substituting some interesting activity that you can both do in place of watching TV. I'm not suggesting to you that you compromise your principles, but for the sake of marital harmony, if your wife is not watching something unlawful, it may be wise to accede to her request and watch something with her occasionally. I'm only saying this because you don't want a situation where your wife is constantly on her own, and feels like her husband doesn't want to do anything with her. In sha' Allah, once you start studying together and coming up with fun things you can do together that don't involve TV, she may decrease her television habit.
Last but not least, I advise you to seek the counsel of a qualified marriage counselor or scholar. It's imperative that you and your wife sit down with someone who can advise you on how to find common ground and harmonize your goals.
I definitely believe that you and your wife can fix things, in sha Allah.
And Allah alone gives success. And Allah knows best.
- Umm Salah (Zaynab Ansari)
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