Thank you for your question. A man does have authority over his wife, but if he mistreats her for no reason, he has sinned and will be accountable for this on the Day of Judgment.
Love and mercy
I don’t want you to go into marriage thinking that a man can control his wife’s every movement; rather, he is the authority over her and the leader of the family, in the same way that a coach is the leader of a sports team. She should listen to him for harmony in the house and to attain the rank of a pious wife who will enter Paradise from any gate that she wishes for her obedience. There should be love and mercy between them at all times, and this is how the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) treated his own wives.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When a woman observes the five times of prayer, fasts during Ramadan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of paradise she wishes.” [Albani]
At the same time, a man may not abuse his wife in any manner but rather should see his authority as a grave responsibility that will not go unjudged. When a couple faces a disagreement, they should communicate, seek a compromise, act according to Islamic rights, and continue to have love and mercy throughout.
In reality, many men out there are kind and understanding, especially if they grew up in a house with loving mothers and sisters, whom they would want to be treated well. A man who isn’t on the same team as his wife is not implementing the sunnah and won’t be able to last long this way. The children will inevitably suffer as well.
If a couple absolutely cannot come to an agreement with each other, they should consult with elders, scholars, or even friends. They should also not shy away from professional counseling.
This is why it’s very important that every young person takes a course on marriage to understand their rights and responsibilities from the start, choose a spouse for piety, and intend to live in Islam as best as they can. See more details below. May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.