I Suspect That My Wife Does Not Pray. Do I Stay or Leave?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: My wife and I have been married for over several years, with two kids. I rarely see her pray. If I ask her, she wouldn’t give a clear answer but gets angry that I don’t trust her. Since the situation has persisted for a long time and I’m perpetually miserable, I feel that separating is the only course of action. We don’t even share a bedroom anymore.

Should I continue giving her the benefit of the doubt for the sake of maintaining our shaky marriage?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant the steadfastness to endure until He sends you an opening.

Balance

They key is to strike a balance between having a good opinion of her, encouraging her to good, while forbidding wrong.

It is praiseworthy that you are deeply concerned for your wife’s prayer. However, it sounds like your marriage is on its last legs, and you lack the rapport to positively influence your wife in matters of deen.

Resolving differences

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Have you considered seeing a marriage counsellor? If not, I strongly urge you and your wife to do so. Please think very carefully about divorce. That is your last option, and not your first. Even though it has reached a point where you are no longer even sharing a bedroom, I pray that there is still hope for reconciliation.

Although a happy marriage with your wife might seem unimaginable for you right now, please remember that anything is possible through Allah’s help. Please perform the Prayer of Need during the last third of the night, and beg Allah to heal your marriage. Please perform The Prayer of Guidance to help you decide how to move forward.

Please read this book – The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee – so you have a better idea about how divorce will impact on your children. If Allah wills for you to divorce, then nothing can prevent that. However, being aware of its fallout on your children will help you support them better.

Good character

Abu Ad-Dardh narrated that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [Tirmidhi]

There is so much reward in showing good character because it can be so difficult. Focus on your own behaviour, instead of your wife’s. What is her love language? A wife whose love language is words of affirmation would be very irritated by a husband who nags her to pray. Can you think of ways to create happier memories with your wife? Buy her flowers, leave her loving notes on the fridge, thank her for preparing your meals, go out to a cafe with her etc. She will be suspicious at first, but persist in showing her kindness. Please do these acts not as a way to manipulate her into praying. Focus on saving your marriage by helping her feel loved.

After establishing more rapport through these acts of loving kindness, do what you can to make prayer more inviting to her. When you are at home during the evening, invite your family to pray with you. If your wife refuses, make excuses for her. Perhaps she prefers to pray on her own to help increase her concentration.

Children

Please do not use your daughter to check on her mother’s prayer. Children know when something is amiss between their parents. It is important that you model a healthy relationship, and not cause your daughter to think poorly of her mother and pick sides. Triangulation of any kind is not healthy.

Education

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Reflect on the example of the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace), who was the epitome of patience with his wives. Reread the Sirah to remind yourself about how he treated his household.

I urge you and your wife to complete this course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. Suggest it to her, and if she doesn’t want to, complete it first to help you understand the spirit and the law behind a successful Islamic marriage.

Please refer to the following links:

Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky, by Ustadha Anse Tamara Gray
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
Positive Spiritual Thinking: Choosing Mindfulness (taqwa) and Embracing Trust (tawakkul) by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?
Bringing Barakah Into Your Wealth and Life

Wassalam,
[Ustadha]Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.