Dealing with the Critical Husband
From: Al Jumu'ah
Allah (Subhanhu wa Ta'ala) says: "O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins…" (Qur'an 49: 12)
It is easy to forget how our actions and manners can have a tremendous impact on our spouses and loved ones, and also how many times our mind wandering suspiciousness can play a very negative role in our relationships.
Fatimah, a young woman of 31 years old, thrived on learning. She had attended college for three years after graduating from high school, but was unable to complete her last year due to financial constraints. However, she was finally able to finish her remaining credits over the past three years by taking a couple of classes at a time through a university that offered online classes.
Although she had officially graduated, she had not yet told her husband and family. The university was out of state, and she would not financially be able to attend the graduation ceremony in any case, so she thought the less known about the event the better. She did not want to place any further financial burdens on her family.
One afternoon, as Fatimah stood in the kitchen chopping vegetables preparing for dinner, her husband Mustafa entered the room, and then stopped and glared at her. Although he was standing behind her, she felt his eyes piercing into her. He had been working overtime hours at his job lately, and it seemed that he had developed a short fuse. Fatimah hesitated, and then continued chopping.
"Why are you so slow? Dinner should have been finished an hour ago." She stood Frozen as he continued, "What is that you're making anyway" Fatimah spoke without turning toward him, not wanting the conversation to develop into an argument, "It is one of your favorites, Maklooba," He frowned, "Again? You never seem to get that recipe right - not like my mother used to make it." Then Mustafa walked into the other room to read the newspaper.
Fatimah, who had been holding her breath, let out a sigh of relief. She then walked quietly to the bathroom - turning the lock as she leaned on the door for support. Slowly turning, she was face to face with herself in the mirror. A lone tear began to roll down her cheek, "Oh Allah, I love him so much - why must he be so critical sometimes? His harsh words make me feel so terrible." She wept in silent solitude for a few moments.
Then, once she had regained her composure, she went back to the kitchen to continue preparing the dinner. In the other room she faintly heard her husband speaking on the phone with someone, he sounded furious about something - but she could not make out any details. All she could understand from the one-sided conversation was that someone was going to have a talk with a supervisor and because of that, someone was going to lose his job. Concerned, she wondered if her husband might be in some trouble at work, but she did not think it wise to try to talk to him while he was so obviously upset.
Mustafa left the house immediately without a word to Fatimah. She sat on the couch bewildered about her husband's actions. What could be going on? What was he so upset about? Was he going to lose his job?
An hour later Mustafa arrived home and walked into the kitchen where Fatimah was checking on the night's dinner - her back was turned to him. "As-salamu Alaykum" he said as he entered. She replied, resisting to turn around so her eyes would give away her concerned and questioning expression. Again, she could feel his eyes piercing into her; and then he spoke. "Fatimah, this has got to stop." She looked up from the kitchen counter, gazing out the window briefly "What" she said with annoyance, "What in the world are you talking about?" Then twirled around, ready to fight off any further criticism.
Mustafa stood in the kitchen holding an armful of yellow daisies; yellow was her favorite color and daisies were her favorite flowers. She looked at him with confusion, "What is this? What is going on?" Mustafa walked toward her speaking softly, "I know I've been harsh with you lately." Fatimah's eyes softened, "Mustafa, why have you been so upset?"
Mustafa grabbed her hand and walked over and they sat down at the kitchen table together. He held her hand and continued, "I know that you've never given up on me, even when I was hard to live with and I admire you for your patience, even through the toughest times. I have had a lot on my mind lately and some things have not worked out as I had hoped for them to. Forget about dinner tonight; let me take you out for dinner. I know of a new place that one of the brothers just opened up. Let's try it out, okay?" Fatimah nodded in agreement, wiping away her tears.
Fatimah was surprised and excited. Because their finances had been so tight, it had been a while since the last time they had been able to afford a dinner at a restaurant. She put things away in the kitchen, placed her beautiful flowers into a vase, and then went to get dressed.
During the entire trip to the restaurant Fatimah noticed how carefree and happy Mustafa suddenly seemed to be; it was a far cry from the attitude she had seen earlier in the day. Although his actions were confusing, she was sure about one thing, she was happy to see him smiling again.
Once they arrived, he reached inside the restaurant ahead of her and then stuck his head out of the door, waving for her to hurry up. Fatimah laughed the silliness of his antics as she opened the door and was amazed at what she saw. She saw all of her family, except her mother and father gathered on both sides of the restaurant.
On the back wall a huge banner hung that said, "Happy Graduation Fatimah - We Love You." Fatimah began to cry; all this time she had thought badly of her husband and all the while he was planning something so thoughtful for her. She was a little dazed and very embarrassed at her own misgivings. She turned to her husband and said, "May Allah reward you for your great kindness."
As she turned to go and sit with her aunts and closest friends, Mustafa turned her around, "One more surprise, I received a promotion at work!" Fatimah smiled at him, "Masha Allah, Mustafa - you got a promotion! That is so wonderful."
Mustafa smiled back, and then frowned a little. "I want you to know the reason I have been edgy lately. It is because I just haven't had enough sleep. Over the past few weeks I took another part-time job after work so I could save up a little extra money in order to throw this party for you and so I could fly your parents in for this special day." Fatimah looked around the room for her mother and father. Mustafa then lowered his head in disappointment and replied, "Unfortunately, somehow the reservations got messed up. The conversation you heard was with the reservation guy who messed up the flight."
Fatimah stumbled over her own words, "Oh Mustafa! Masha Allah, you have worked so hard. But, how did you know about my graduation? I didn't tell anyone." Mustafa smiled, "I saw the letter the school sent you and I wanted to surprise you, but after the past few weeks I know that good news should never wait." Fatimah shook her head in agreement, laughing through her tears of happiness. "Never again," she said, "Never again."
The point is this, we should never be hasty to make assumption about our loved ones or our fellow Muslims for that matter - even in the worst of times. Allah warns us not to be suspicious of one another, and that is because in suspicion there is always more harm than good. Our marriage is the most important relationship we have in our adult life, it is the relationship in which our families are created and our children learn form us.
Because of the importance of our marriage, we should always first give our spouse the benefit of the doubt, look beyond the obvious for reasons of their unexplained or undesirable behaviour and try to find a remedy for it, rather than jump into suspicions and harshness toward one another.
Allah tells us in the following verse that He has placed mercy between spouses. To clarify the meaning of that, we need only check the Merriam -Webster's dictionary and we find that the definition for mercy is this: "compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender." This means that Allah knows we will offend one another, but it also means that we have to be brave enough to show our spouses compassion - even when they offend us…not just when things are going great.
"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect." (Qur'an 30: 21