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If you are experiencing stress in your marriage, you may find yourself thinking about separation or even divorce. This pages provides guidance and resources about how to navigate these questions and areas of concern. For more resources, check out The FYI’s Divorce Support Toolkit.
Assess Your Marriage
Evaluate your relationship
Start with evaluating the state of your relationship to gain insight into positives and negatives of your relationship, and discover choices that you can make to either heal your relationship or end it:
- There are many important questions that you may be asking yourself as you are having this internal struggle. Try completing marriage assessments which help you become aware of warning signs and really dig into your relationship. Even if your partner is not willing to take these, you can still take them yourself so you can get your own internal assessment of the state of your marriage
- Engage in muhasaba—or self-reflection to hold yourself accountable. As you evaluate your marriage, ask yourself:red time apart to help you heal your relationship.
- “What is my role in this relationship?”
- “What am I contributing to the conflict in this relationship?”
- “How is my past impacting my interactions and experiences in this marriage?
- Healing separation is another path you may consider as structured time apart to help you heal your relationship.
- Discernment counseling is something couples can also consider. It usually leads to choosing one of three paths:
- Maintaining the relationship as it is,
- Getting a separation or divorce,
- OR six months of couples therapy and a recommitment to making the marriage work
While it is not a replacement for counseling, reading through what a discernment counseling session looks like can help you think about the right questions.
Leaning Towards Divorce
Making a decision
Couples who are leaning towards divorce may be looking for “signs” that they should move forward with a divorce. There is never just one warning sign that signals divorce and signs can differ from person to person, and from situation to situation. Consider these resources if you are leaning towards divorce:
- Consider these 36 actions if you are thinking about divorce
- Loss of trust and no indication of change in behavior may be warning signs that divorce is the best path forward
- Confusion during this time is normal–consider these topics to find clarity and a roadmap to make a decision
- Consider these ideas when you are ready to tell your spouse you want a divorce
- Recognize that your religious beliefs will impact how you think about divorce. Read this research summary to understand four specific themes related to how religion, spirituality, and a belief in God influence the divorce decision-making process.
- You are not alone:
- If you are unsure as to what signs to look for, here are 5 Telltale Signs that it’s Time to Walk Away
Reconciling Your Relationship
How and where to start
Here are resources to help you navigate the process of reconciliation if that’s the right direction for you and your partner. Focus on building your relationship skills, communicating effectively, and engage in activities that enhance your connection. Here are some ideas about where to start:
Shifting away from the blame game and being attuned to each other emotionally are two of the 10 Things to Try Before Giving Up on Your Marriage from the Gottman Institute:
- Create a roadmap for reconciliation
- Make an action plan for going forward
- Identify what went wrong
- Evaluate your relationship: is it Sliding or Deciding?
- Discuss needs and expectations
- Staying on the same team
- Try the 8-step rescue plan as you try to transition from conflict to repair. For example:
- Make a list of all the issues you have disagreements about
- Fix your focus solidly on yourself
- Learn how to express concerns constructively
- Learn how to make decisions cooperatively
- Focus on the positives and share each other’s needs
Try these marriage exercises and activities that can help strengthen your relationship. Share them with your partner:
- Muslims are not immune to infidelity. If you want to make it work, try the Trust Revival Method to work through the affair
- Consider these parenting strategies to protect your child as you work through marital conflict in your relationship
- Read the ISPU’s community brief about how to promote healthy marriages in Muslim communities
Abuse in Your Relationship
What it may look like in a relationship
Mistreatment in a relationship can take many forms and it can be difficult to accept that you are experiencing abuse. Words are powerful and finding the ability and strength to label your experience using the right words can be empowering and shift your perspective about what you are going through. If you aren’t sure if what you are experiencing is abuse, here is a useful assessment tool. Additionally, this section provides more resources on how to determine if you are experiencing mistreatment or abuse in your relationship, what to do about it, and how to ensure your safety.
If you fear for your safety or are in immediate danger, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.
- Recognize the signs of emotional abuse and examples of what it looks like
- “That’s not what happened–you’re exaggerating” – Learn about signs of gaslighting and how to deal with it
- Learn about different kinds of unhealthy and abusive relationships
- Learn some techniques for setting boundaries to respect your dignity and worth.
Recognize that domestic abuse happens to men too:
- Learn the signs of abuse by your female partner and how to protect yourself
- Refer to this booklet to learn about why men stay in these relationships, and what to about it
- Read this to know what steps you can take to get help and stop the abuse
Read and watch these resources to clear misconceptions about abuse in Islam:
- If you are being abused, it is okay to speak up.
- Understand the difference between patience (sabr) and suffering in silence
- Waiting can often make it more difficult to leave
- Know that Islam promotes justice and healthy relationships
- Refer to these FAQs about Islam and abuse
- Recognize when a partner who uses Quran, hadith, or other Islamic teachings to justify controlling behavior —and could be engaging in spiritual or religious abuse
- Learn about the myths about sexual assault in the Muslim community
- Understand the different forms of sexual abuse and violence
- Read this power wheel about sexual violence in Muslim communities
- Learn about how cultural and religious traditions can be misused in Muslim communities to silence victims and protect the perpetrator.
Check out the Peaceful Families Project’s directory of Muslim service providers who specialize in domestic violence.
What about my kids?
“But what about my kids?!” When thinking about divorce, considering the possible negative effects it may have on your children is likely one of the major issues you are struggling with. Here are some things to consider as you go through this process.
- Think through issues such as children’s relationship with each parent, if they’ve experienced another grief recently, and their ability to cope with stress
- Look through the eyes of your child–what do they see in your current home environment?
- Think about if you can employ these parenting strategies to protect your child from your marital conflict
- Consider how teens may uniquely be affected by divorce
Should you stay together for the kids? There are circumstances when divorce might benefit everyone. Here are some of the main points to consider:
- How are children affected by chronic conflict? Toxic marriages may negatively affect children more so than an amicable divorce
- Three key factors typically determine how well children adjust after divorce:
- The relationship children have with each parent pre-divorce
- How long and intense the chronic conflict has occurred
- Parents being able to prioritize children’s needs during the divorce
- Some positive outcomes for children after divorce include:
- Children may become more resilient and adaptable
- Children have more quality time with each parent, particularly fathers
- Children have increased empathy for others who struggle
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