11 tips for Muslim couples dealing with marital disputes in the West

tips for Muslim couples dealing with marital disputes

Marriages usually start off so nicely. Everyone cooperates-the couple, their parents, other relatives, friends. Things usually run smoothly.

But somewhere along the way, marital disputes pop up. This is of course natural, but these can escalate to dangerous levels if not dealt with correctly.

Sound Vision spoke to Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada (ISSA) about tips for couples dealing with marital disputes. She pinpointed some problems and provided tips on how to deal with them.

1. Money

Couples argue over many things but money is by far one of the most frequent and serious. The solution is to discuss issues openly and consult within the family.

For instance, the issue of a wife working outside the home can become a contentious one. This should preferably be discussed before marriage. Also, if she does decide to work and the husband agrees, does she want to contribute a certain portion to household expenses or will she keep all of the money for herself (which is her right)?

One of the ways to avoid arguments about money is to simply make an easy budget which tracks expenses, income, investments, and establishes a framework for taking care of regular family necessities (see a sample budget for a family.)

Also, learn how to make a budget and deal with debt. If you are a young student, keep in mind you have to pay off student loans. You should also know where to get interest-free loans and what assistance is available (for more information about Islamic money issues, check out Sound Vision's money page.

2. In-laws

In-laws are the focus of blame and reproach when there are marital disputes. But there are ways to maintain a good relationship with them. Here are some tips:

  1. Remember your spouse's parents have known them longer and loved them longer. Never make an issue about "me or them".
  2. Let respective parties settle their own disputes. If your mother-in-law has a problem with her husband, let them deal with it. Don't interfere
  3. Don't tell your spouse how to improve their relationship with their parents.
  4. Expect some adjustment time for parents after marriage to adjust to this new relationship.
  5. Remember that mothers are usually skeptical about daughter-in-laws and fathers about son-in-laws.
  6. Always treat your in-laws with compassion, respect and mercy.
  7. Maintain a balance between your needs and that of your in-laws.
  8. Never compare your wife to your mother or your husband to your dad.
  9. Do not go to your parents with your quarrels.
  10. If you are supporting your parents financially inform your spouse as a matter of courtesy and clarity.
  11. Do not forbid your spouse from seeing family unless you fear for their religion and safety.
  12. Do not divulge secrets.
  13. Make time to know your in-laws but stay out of their disputes.
  14. Maintain the Adab (etiquettes) of Islam with your sister- and brother-in-laws (i.e.no hugging or kissing).
  15. You are not obliged to spend every weekend with your in-laws.
  16. Give grandparents easy and reasonable access to their grandchildren.
  17. Be forgiving and keep your sense of humor.
  18. Remember that nobody can interfere or influence your marriage unless you allow them to.
  19. Invite in-laws at least once a month for a meal.
  20. Visit them when you can and encourage your spouse to visit their parents and regularly check on them.
  21. When parents become dependent on their children, a serious discussion with all parties present should take place. Expectations and requirements of such a living arrangement must be worked out.

3. Parenting

The tug of war that results from differing understandings of parenting are also a source of tension in marriage. One solution is to start learning about Islamic parenting before having children. If you already have kids, you can still learn. Check out Sound Vision's parenting page. Or contact organizations like ISSA for resources.

4. Stress

Stress is an almost constant factor in most people's lives in North America. Muslim couples are no exception. Stress from work, for example, is carried into the home.

Couples and families need to work out a coping mechanism in the family. For instance, couples can take a walk to talk about the day or go to the Masjid for at least one prayer. They can read Quran individually or together. The methods can vary, but as long as they are Halal and work, they can be used.

5. Domestic violence

This is an extremely sad reality and unless it is dealt with promptly by victims, perpetrators and/or those concerned about the two, then the family will break. Seeking help is necessary and if domestic violence is not stopped, the destructive effects will not only be harmful to the husband and wife, but to their children as well.

Family members, friends and Imams need to stop the abuse. They must intervene and work on getting help for the husband and the wife.

6. Spiritual incompatibility

This is a growing problem in North America, where Muslims from all around the world live and different understandings of Islam are present. There is a disturbing lack of tolerance amongst young Muslims, especially, who may get sucked into cult-like groups which preach a "we're right and everyone else is wrong" mentality, whether the issue is where you put your hands in prayer or whether you decide to wear Western clothes or traditional Eastern ones.

This intolerance is being transferred to marriages, where a couple may differ on minor points of faith. Married couples must understand the difference between an Islamically acceptable difference of opinion and one that is not. They must develop a tolerance, balance and respect for their differences on that basis.

7. Sexual dysfunction

This is one of the least talked about problems, but it is one that is wreaking havoc in a number of marriages. Many couples who are marrying are not learning the Islamic perspective on sex and marriage. As a result, when they are not satisfied with their spouse, a number of them may turn to others or seek easy divorce, instead of a solution.

Couples have to understand that the marital relationship in this area, as in others, needs work and patience and cannot be the subject of whims and impatience. Knowledge, practice and if possible, the advice of a wise, compassionate scholar are two key elements in finding a solution to this problem.

8. Interfaith marriages

Islam forbids marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. There are a number of Muslim women who have taken this step and regretted it later. Such an action, in most Muslim families, results in the woman being isolated from her family with no support. As a result, when marital disputes do arise, parental support, which is there for many Muslim couples, is not there for these women. These Muslim women may also experience guilt for disobeying Allah and hurting their parents.

In other cases, Muslim women ask non-Muslim men they want to marry to convert shortly before the marriage to appease their parents. Again this can lead to marital disputes. Two things usually happen. Either the man becomes a truly practicing Muslim and the couple is no longer compatible; or he's bombarded with Muslims from the community wanting to invite him to Islam and he gets upset and may hate Islam.

In the case of Muslim men marrying Jewish and Christian women, the situation is different. While Islam does allow this, Muslim men marrying Jews and Christians need to remember that living in the West, if they end up divorcing, the children will almost automatically be given to the mother. Also, remember that the mother is the child's most important school. If you want your kids to grow up as practicing Muslims, you are better off marrying a practicing Muslim woman, especially in the West, where the unIslamic cultural influences outside the home are strong enough. Inside the home, it will become even harder to maintain Islamic influences if a mother is not a practicing Muslim herself.

9. Intercultural marriages

While Islam does not forbid intercultural marriages, they can become a source of tension when Muslims, primarily the couple, but also their families, make their culture more important than Islam. If parental support is there for an intercultural marriage, things are smoother for the couple. If there is not, and if there is even hostile opposition on the part of one or both sets of parents, it could be better to not marry the person in the long run.

10. Lack of domestic skills

While girls are being encouraged to become scientists, engineers and doctors, for instance, there is little to no emphasis being placed on gaining domestic skills. It should be remembered that in Islam, while women are not forbidden from working within Islamic guidelines, and men are encouraged to help with housework, women's primary duty is within the home as a home manager and mother. As a result of the lack of domestic skills, many married couples find themselves in messy homes, where meals lack proper nutrition and in general, there is frustration.

If a married couple is working, husbands need to pitch in more in the home and remember that their wife is a not a machine, but a human being who also needs rest after a hard day of work.

11. The modern Muslim woman meets the old-fashioned Muslim man

While young Muslim women of the West are being encouraged to be strong and confident, boys are being raised in the same way and with the same cultural expectations as their fathers. As a result, young couples face a tug of war, when the old-fashioned, young Muslim boy won't lift a finger around the house (since he never saw his dad do this) and his young Muslim wife expects him to pitch in, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) did with his wives.

As well, a number of young Muslim men expect their wives not to argue with them since they never saw their mother cross their father. This is once again cultural. But what is clear is that boys and girls are being raised very differently. Parents have to be more careful to give proper training to both children. As well, parents need to intervene in cases of dispute of this nature and be fair, not favor their own child.


What the heck !!!!!!! who told u that moving to a muslim majority county will solve the problem. There is no such evident and proof of that. Thats the problem of most of our muslim society that we dont admit our faults.



Another prevalent issue in US is that muslim fathers put their daughters in education debt with the expectation that when their daughters get married, the husbands would take care of it. So putting their financial responsibility on future son-in-laws (which could very well run $100k +) while themselves buying houses and going on vacations. Being a husband and going through this. Isn't education parents responsibility? and if they can't afford, no education is better than hight interest education loans to be put off on son-in-laws.

Muslim father putting their daughters in education debt......so the husband can pay it off...I am sorry but you are so wrong here. First, if girl goes to college it means that she will have job tomorrow. Second, in Islam a husband Have no right to take the wife's income and spend. He has to deal with all responsibilities and wife if wants to spend on family it's sadaka to her. If she dont, she is safe since she is not obligated to. Third, when she starts working she will pay off her own school loan. Husband dont have to worry about it at all except the Jaheels that don't know for women's right in Islam.

400K student loan so i guess she is a doctor or a lawyer now right? That means she will have a pretty good income and "she"" will be able to re-pay her" own loan without any problem. Now, why does that bother you? With her own income she she can do it and it has nothing to do with you. I bet that you married her for who she is now, forgetting the money she own and now you need to learn that by sharia law, it is your obligatory, you are ordered to support and spend on family and not your wife at all! It is your responsibility and if you don't, to you its haram. If she spends money on family it is sadaka and if she don't to her it is not haram since she is not obligated and ordered to do so. With all that said i suggest you learn more about womens/wife's rights in Islam. Don't bother yourself with wife's loan. I'm pretty sure that she is able to return it back herself since for 400k she must have a damn good job. I wish her a luck . Btw., i am becoming dr so i feel like "called" to answer to you. My future husband has nothing to do with my education same as my father. That's why i study and take loan, because i know i don't need anyone and i will inshaAllah take care of it by my self without having my husband playing the savior for No Reason. :))) So study Islam more and relax

Asalamu Aleikum Wara7matullahi Wabarakatuh,

I am very surprised to learn about this attitude of the modern Muslim(ah) and the obvious lack of religious upbringing and it's consequences.

First of all taking a loan with interest is one of the major sins !
The Quran tells us in Surat al Baqara [2:275]
A3udhu billahi minal shaytanil rajim

Those who consume interest cannot stand [on the Day of Resurrection] except as one stands who is being beaten by Satan into insanity. That is because they say, "Trade is [just] like interest." But Allah has permitted trade and has forbidden interest. So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with Allah . But whoever returns to [dealing in interest or usury] - those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.

So arguing on behalf of this is utterly unacceptable. Yes it is the man's duty to take care of the women but he is not obliged to pay for something so obviously haram and evil.

Secondly, it puzzles me why would someone want to marry a women with that upbringing in the first place ? Someone who was raised to fail understanding some of the basic principles of finances like not accumulating debt bigger than a third of the monthly (!) income and basically living a life on the credit card.
Just because there is the prospect to have a nice job doesn't mean you will eventually get that nice job, right? Worst case scenario would be that given person will have to pay for it the rest of it's live. How about instead taking a job and slowly accumulating the needed money for herself (meaning her and her family). If they're so concerned about her going to college why wouldn't they, right ?
Also it is not befitting for a believing muslim to take this "easy" doubtful "route" just because Sheikh XY in place YX told me it is "okay" to have a loan because in the end I / my Nafs (now please bear with me - what me and you is of no concern here in the sight of Allah's right on us) want it to be this way.

This discussion boils down to one general evil which is unthankfulness.
There is a reason why it is a form of Kufr (Kufrul Ni3ma - neglecting of acknowledging the Ni3ma which was bestowed upon you) as Allah subhanahu wata3ala points out in Sura 76:3 [1]:
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا

As we see our relatives and friends take the "easy" road and have superficial pleasures our greed and unthankfulness makes us things we will deeply regret on the day of judgement.
May Allah give us a clear sight und forgive us our greed and unthankfulness.

Wasalamu 3aleikum Wara7matullahi Wabarakatuh
[1] -http://quran.ksu.edu.sa/tafseer/tabary/sura76-aya3.html



Assalam aleikum,

Although I am 32 but yet not married.I am aghasted to know that 36% marriages among Noth American Muslims are a failure.I think we are too materialistic and not following an islamic guidance.Most of us set hugh expectations from our spouse but we ourselves forget our own duties.As a man I would advice our fellow brothers to be very sensitive towards one's wife.Women need some compassion and care.We should learn something from the life of our prophet.


Walaikum salaam I agree with you brother... A lot of Muslim men(and women) are really arrogant and careless, even of the Deen, when it comes to the spouse. That is one of the main problems I am having now, with my husbands brother living with us. This is haram but the family is encouraging it from my husband despite my efforts. Now he wants a divorce, and I am trying to stop it insha'allah. You are spot on about setting too high expectations on our spouses, because that's exactly what is happening 98% of the time. When we set our expectations too high, they are destined to not be met. It is better to expect the minimum, and say Alhamdulillah when we receive more than expected. People are setting themselves up for failure,before even beginning.



May Allah grant these researchers with aljanat fridao