By Mariam Mazhar
Most of us are social media fanatics these days, posting at least one picture of the food we eat, tweet about a tempting latte or post pictures with our better halves in the fanciest attire and with happiest smiles every other day. It’s a common thing. The ‘Facebook photo’ couples look so perfect, made for each other, posing perfect smiles and taking perfect vacations. Some of us envy and wonder how they make their relationship and marriage work when for some people it’s a futile task Sometimes even smiling and saying kind words to your spouse sounds strenuous.
What we all fail to understand is all those beautiful posers in the pictures are either blessed; they work hard on their relationship or have come to terms with their past and present. In some cases they all are fighting their battles and they have made peace with each other or with themselves or for an external force (children or aging parents). And in some other cases they just want to look happy together for social status.
An Unhappy Marriage
Here are some reasons why some women may stay in their unhappy and miserable marriages.
Children: Many couples just stay in their unhappy marriages as they love their kids and would not want to cause any harm to them. But they fail to realize that quarreling and unhappy parents can do more damage to kids than good.
Money and Perks: Some women stay in their marriages because of the comforts and perks they get at the husband’s house or living together. For some women separating is out of question since they never worked and don’t know how to earn a living in case of separating.
Low Self Esteem: Some women have low self-esteem. They are not aware of their own worth and do not realize that they can do better. Many even lose hope of ever being happy in life.
History does not repeat itself: Several people try to make their unhappy marriage work because they do not want to be like their parents who have a history of divorce. Since they have suffered the consequences of their parent’s actions, they try to not to make their children suffer by a divorce.
Societal Pressure: People getting divorced are looked down by the society. So women pretend that they have a happy marriage even when they are unhappy in a marraige.
Guilt: Those who have opted for love marriages normally do not have the support of their parents when things turn sour. They go on a guilt trip, blaming themselves and ‘bad’ choice of partner. So many of them try to make their relationship work or stay in their unhappy relationships to prove to themselves and their parents that they made the right choice.
Loneliness: Many women stay in their unhappy marriages as they are lonely and have no parents or friends to turn to. They find security in their marriage even when they are not happy.
Property Matters: Some couples stay together because they have accumulated wealth together (like a house or business) and would not want to give them up for any reason. Or in some cases women own nothing and have no shelter or person to go to.
Religion: Although Islam allows divorce, which is a sign of the lenience and practical nature of the Islamic legal system, keeping the unity of the family is considered a priority for the sake of the children. For this reason, divorce is always a last choice and that’s why couples try to stay in unhappy marriage rather than opting for divorce.
Forced Bonds: Sometimes couples are forced to stay together because of pressures from their parents. It is often seen that the parents and or relatives who are more worried about their own reputation than about the unhappy couple.
What to do?
What happens in such situations? The best course of action would be to reflect on whether you can learn to find contentment and joy while in the midst of an unhappy marriage? And if so, how?’
Take full responsibility for your marriage being in trouble. Marriages take two people and sometimes people (knowingly or unknowingly) actively or passively dismantle their marriage. Do some soul-searching; find out where you fail, and what you could have done differently. Make a list if you need to of all the ways you have failed to live up to your marriage vows. This is you being accountable. Now come up with an action plan of how you plan to keep this from happening again.
Yes you have tried twice, thrice and several times but do it again. Start to build trust. Your spouse needs to know they can trust you again. This will be the first step in restoring your relationship. Talk about your responsibility for the problems in the relationship and let you spouse know that you are trying.
We all know that first few years of marriage matter the most and some couples give up within those years. But those who are meant to be together try all their means to stay together. Try to keep the spark alive. If your spouse has given up, you keep trying and do not lose hope.
Ask for help
The first step is often the hardest. Asking for help when you feel isolated, alone, and scared may feel impossible – but it will change your life. If you feel helpless at the thought of learning how to survive an unhappy marriage, you need to start talking about your life. You can’t leave a person you have loved for years unless you get support. Look for support system in your society, your friends, your family, and the people at the other end of the helplines.
Find solace in Islam
Connect with Allah. Pray! Pray! Pray! Even if it doesn’t bring you close to your spouse and solve your marital problems, it will bring peace in your life. Allah knows that you tried all the possible means. There is a limit to the hardship that you can bear and there is a limit to the ease you can handle. Allah knows both your limits better than you.
This is not end of the world
Find solace in your kids, in your career or in a hobby. Do not attach your happiness with your spouse. Throw the word unhappy out of your vocabulary. Unhappy marriage is a state of mind. You can decide to be happy or unhappy. Your spouse is NOT responsible for your personal happiness.
Don’t lose hope. Your marriage isn’t dead; it is just smothering under the unmet expectations, anger, and resentment. And remember marriages are not happy or unhappy — spouses are.
About the author:
Mariam Mazhar is a contributors at Muslimmoms.ca. She is not an expert on marital relationship and spouse handling but has ten successful years of marriage under her belt.