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Q: “So, I got married a few years ago to a wonderful, kind man. At first, we were totally in-sync in every way. He was always open about his former use of alcohol and peer pressure to indulge in weed, but he insisted he had long given those things up. That suited me just fine, because whilst I have no problem with anyone indulging in those things, I always wanted my home to be free of those things. I was clear about this with him, and he understood, and agreed. We entered this marriage with honesty, and good intentions. He’s from a moderately religious family, and so am I. Now, however, his tendencies have veered towards the more liberal. He went on a business trip and indulged in two alcoholic drinks, only revealing this to me 10 months after the fact. I believe my husband is still a kind, loving person, but his obvious dismissal of how I would feel about his actions is so disappointing to me.
How should I deal with this? How should I go about forgiving him?”
A: “It’s not about the alcohol, or the weed. It never is. It’s about values. He seems to be losing practice of his faith. You can’t change someone by telling them off, and addressing it directly may backfire. Trust me, I’ve been there!!!! I’ve learnt so much about how to deal with others, through my own mistakes. The thing I find works the best is to work on yourself. Start going to a regular halaqa, and mention some of the teachings to him, not at him. Pray more, mention God more, be more open, and loving. He will notice. And he will be ashamed of his ways himself. Wallah, our culture may thrive on “fixing” people with short cuts, but think about how hard it is to change yourself before you ask someone else to change. There is a difference in values between you both. And the only way to align it, is for you to step up to be a better version of you, so that he can catch up. And persist!! It will happen eventually, and his values will change. Inshallah. May God bestow goodness on your marriage xx” – Anon
A: “First of all, she needs to decide if his “sometimes or often” alcohol consumption is affecting her mentally, or physically? Is he harming her, or himself (minus the harm to his own liver)? And what is his opinion/belief towards alcohol consumption, does he want to really not drink at all, or does he just “say” it to relieve her stress. If it’s only her thoughts/beliefs that are making it hard for her to accept his drinking issue, she needs to deconstruct her mental schema about drinking and try to be more open, because we all make sins, and we are judged individually. In a marriage, sometimes we need to take a step back and realize that we need to give space. Whether he decides to drink or not drink, that is on him. She shouldn’t let his sins affect her normal life, unless his drinking issue is causing problems for them. Now, I know alcohol is haram and he is aware of it but still choses to do so without being addicted. If he himself wants to never drink again, then he needs to WANT that. He needs to figure out WHY he drinks, and whether it’s worth it in the long run. Now as for the wife, she can only support him to better himself, but she shouldn’t “expect”, or force him to not drink; only he can make a personal decision. She needs to stop focusing on him too much unless his drinking is harming her. I know many Muslims will not like my response, but they need to realize that substance abuse is a personal choice, and no matter how much she preaches or fights with him, he has to make the last call. And in many cases, this can cause unnecessary tension in a healthy relationship. So she has to decide, if she is not okay with his drinking, and he has broken his promise and may break it again, is she willing to stay in this marriage? Is the alcohol a big issue for her, and could this alcohol problem turn into a bigger problem in the future? She needs to ACCEPT his drinking habit, AND help him better himself through therapy/religious seminars, or she should just leave. Because the reality is, he will continue to indulge in substance abuse until he wants to STOP, not when he makes his promises! It’s better for her to also get therapy to help with being open to him, and accepting the truth, so she remains sane and is supported through the process. As for the forgiving part, she shouldn’t forgive because he broke a promise. He should have been honest that he might get tempted to drink sometimes. I think the best thing to do, is for her to pray and clear out everything from her head, and just ask him to make a more realistic promise, that would be easier for them to maintain.” – Anon
A: “I think revisiting the promises made, and making clear expectations on faith and it’s practice are critical to making a relationship last.” – Anon
A: “I wonder if it was dismissal of her feelings, or the guilt that he was holding that led to the fact that he didn’t disclose this to her for a few months. Also, yes, her feelings are valid, and very important as he is her husband, but if they haven’t held any pact together, ultimately the unfortunate outcome relies on him, and his relationship with Allah. If this is his “relapse” and he is wanting her support, then she should help him and give him the resources and space for growth.” – Anon
A: “My biggest advice to you is DON’T IGNORE IT!!!! By ignoring it, the situation will not get any better as it could make him believe that you’re fine with it, and end with more drinking, which will only result in you continuing to be unhappy. In order to come to terms with your husband, you need to address his problems with him, in a polite way, that doesn’t belittle him. But make sure that he knows that you do not like it. Also, make sure he is comfortable enough to be completely ok opening up to you about his problems.” – Anon
A: “Salam alaykum. Understand that your husband’s actions are his own actions, between him and Allah. He is your partner in life, and both should help each other succeed in this Dunya together, to reach Jannah. Your husband needs the forgiveness of Allah, and from you, he needs your support and guidance, with the blessings of Allah. Remind him of the path he needs to take, for life is short, and he doesn’t want to enter his grave in a sinful state. And most importantly, never forget the power of dua. Keep your heart clean, and focus on your duty to Allah. Everything is a test to us.” – Anon
A: “I could never honestly marry someone who had zero tolerance for alcohol. Alcohol abuse is one thing and social drinks, especially professionally, is completely another. I strongly believe that pressuring people (to drink or to not drink) is wrong, and if he only did it for her, and not because he chose to of his own free will, then it was unlikely to work out. But having said that, I would work with my partner to help them reach their goal. If it’s hard for him to completely give up drinking, or whatever else, help him overcome that. There has to be some negotiation, and if there can’t be, then help him. It’s not easy! Support him through his challenges (except if it becomes abusive*).” – Anon