Most people who marry do not expect their marriages to end in divorce. But what if they do? How does a person recover from a difficult marriage or a divorce? Below, one woman describes her experiences and shares her reflections.
“Divorce: a word that has always weighed really heavily on my heart. In fact, I would ponder about how heavy the Arabic word for it sounded. Talaq felt like each of its letters came out with difficulty.
I saw it happening to people around me but never imagined it happening to me. Not because I am special in any way, but because like any other girl I had dreams of a blissful marriage filled with love, kind words, and just lots of beautiful things. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
A few months into my marriage I saw a side of me that I never even knew existed. I went from being someone who was full of energy to someone who feared doing anything, from someone who loved to smile at everyone and everything around me to someone who forgot what it felt like to smile. Tears followed tears. From nights that were filled with beautiful conversations with the Almighty, to sleepless nights spent thinking of solutions to my many problems. I kept asking myself: Who am I? Why has my marriage changed me so much? Why do I feel lost and confused? Why is there no one around me to support me through this? I noticed my self esteem go downhill and with it went my iman (faith). I was unknowingly distancing myself from the One who mattered to me the most: Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).
I could no longer make decisions on my own, something I grew up doing with the help of my parents. I grew up in a household that respected my decisions; my father’s role was always that of an advisor and a supporter, not that of a commander. But in my marriage I felt restricted in all that I did and fearful before making any decisions.
I was being spiritually abused. I did not even know that form of abuse existed until I experienced it. I drifted further and further away from Allah (swt). I missed Him. I wanted the life I used to have back, but most importantly I wanted the relationship I had with Allah (swt) back. He must have missed me, too, because 11 months into my marriage I went through a divorce. What I truly found amazing is that the divorce happened a day after I prayed istikhara (the prayer of guidance) about continuing in that relationship.
I was left with no closure; my ex-husband disappeared (literally) after ending the relationship over a phone conversation. At that moment, something beautiful happened. Allah (swt) was back. It was then that I realized He had never left. He was always there and always will be, but now He was back to being my focal point in my life. In knowing that, I found comfort, and most importantly I found closure.
I was blessed to have a supportive family and great friends around me, but their support was different from the kind of support that can only come from Allah (swt). In the middle of the night when strange thoughts haunt you and you’re left crying into your pillow, Allah (swt) sends His sakinah (tranquility). He reassures you that He is there for you, and you get up in the stillness of the night and pray. As my forehead reached the ground, I was overcome with tears of gratitude that I was now safe with Him. I realized that what I just gained back was more precious to me than the world and everything in it: that feeling of peace that was never present when I distanced myself from Him. To many, it seemed like I had lost a husband and my chance to ever get married again. If only they knew that in reality I had gained so much and lost nothing.
“What has he lost who has found you (O Allah), and what has he found who has lost you (O Allah)?” – Ibn `Ata’ Allah rahimahu Allah (may God have mercy on him)
The experience I went through changed my outlook on life, on people, and on myself. I learned to trust in Allah (swt). He taught me how to trust Him. I heard it from many, read it in articles, listened to it in many lectures. “Trust in Allah.” But Allah (swt) is the best of teachers. When you make Him your source of strength, nothing can break you—not someone’s words nor their harsh treatment. He will start to show you in ways you never thought possible that if you trust Him, He will never let you down. He will shower you with blessings. Believe Him when He says:
“…And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him…” (Qur’an 65:2-3).
Guess where this beautiful verse happens to be in the Qur’an? The chapter titled “The Divorce”.
He has certainly provided for me from where I did not expect. Three years later, I am happily married to a wonderful man alhamdulillah (praise be to God). A man who teaches me everyday that true happiness lies in tawakkul, full reliance on Allah (swt). A man who is a reminder to me that this beautiful deen (religion) is a source of empowerment for both men and women alike and should never be used to belittle anyone. A man whose mouth utters nothing but kind words and whose beautiful character teaches me how to become a better person.
To all those who have been through a divorce, men or women: make that experience your strength, and do not let things that some people in our society say let you down. Most importantly, do not let your own self down. Be the one to set an example to those around you that being a divorcee is merely an experience and not a status that you need to carry with you for the rest of your life.
This is not the end; it is the beginning of many beautiful things. Do not lose faith, and do not let your divorce define the person you are today in a negative way. Strengthen yourself so you can help other divorcees when they need it. As difficult as it may be, do not dwell too much on the reasons behind your divorce or who was right or wrong, and most importantly, do not tell yourself, “It wasn’t my fault.” Look for faults within yourself or think of ways in which you could have handled some situations better, so that you learn from mistakes and become a better person.
One thing I learned about myself is that I need to stop believing everything that is told to me, especially in regards to my own religion. I decided to seek knowledge for myself so that no one can ever manipulate me into believing things that are not necessarily true.
Do not wait for anyone to make you happy. Do not walk into a relationship expecting your partner to make you happy. Find out what brings you happiness, and do more of that.
After my divorce, I refused to hibernate in my room and think for hours about what went wrong, so I decided to volunteer at a center that helped children with special needs. I walked in with the hope of helping them out, but I walked out realizing that they were the ones helping me. Despite their disabilities, they still managed to smile. Every morning I got a hug from them that brightened my day. They made me realize the many blessings all around us that we fail to see once we mistakenly decide that our life has ended due to one difficult experience.
Build a support system, be around positive people, and please know with certainty that even if nobody in the entire world knows or can relate to what you’ve been through, Allah (swt) knows, and He will get you through it. There can be no greater solace than that.”
*If you would like share sweet glimpses from your marriage with hopes of spreading awareness of positive relationships in the Muslim community, please email Maryam@SuhaibWebb.com with a short narrative. Your submission may be featured anonymously in this mini-series of Glimpses of Marital Bliss.