Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
I fell in love with a married man. He confided in me about how he has not had marital intimacy with his wife since the birth of his two year old son. She is rude to him, his parents, and has many other bad character traits. He does not want to divorce her because he wants his child to grow up with both parents in the same house.
In Islam, are you are allowed to have two wives and not have marital intimacy with the first – meaning, to only keep the first because she is the mother of his child?
Answer: Dear sister, you are in a very delicate and challenging situation. I pray that Allah grants you the courage to do what is pleasing to Him.
Reality Of Trials
You have fallen in love with a married man, who has fallen out of love with his wife. It sounds like his wife may be struggling with some form of postpartum depression and/or anxiety. Having a small child to care for can be very stressful on any marriage.
I see two options:
1) He exhausts all avenues to repair his marriage before divorcing his wife and then marries you.
2) He exhausts all avenues to repair his marriage, succeeds in healing the rift in his marriage and stays committed to his wife.
When Staying Married Is Oppression
Narrated Anas (may Allah be pleased with him):
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” [Bukhari]
It would be a form of oppression for this young man to stay in his marriage. His wife is failing to fulfil her marital obligations, and he has become emotionally unfaithful to her. It would be more just for him to divorce her, decide on how to jointly raise their child, and move forward.
Please know that he is already hurting his child by staying in an unhappy marriage. Children learn best from who we are, what we do, far more than what we say. Even though he is only two, his whole world is his parents, and he can tell when they are in pain. Perhaps it would be better for his child to see that it is possible for his parents to find fulfilling marriages elsewhere, rather than stagnate and grow resentful for his sake. That is a terribly unfair burden to place on an innocent child.
Problematic pattern of behaviour
It would have been better for this young man to address the problems in his marriage with the help of a marriage counsellor. This may start up a problematic pattern of behaviour. If you marry him, please ensure that you both deal with conflict as a team, instead of him straying elsewhere for comfort.
Being a second wife
It is not permissible to be married to two women with the intention to not have marital relations with the first. Both wives are owed the obligation of equal treatment.
In short, being a second wife is permissible, but in today’s modern context, strongly disliked. I strongly discourage you from being a secret second wife. You need the support of your family.
Please perform the Prayer of Guidance to help you decide how to move forward.
Marriage is a journey of growth. Growth is not always easy. Please do this course to help prepare you: Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.
Additionally, please perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, as often as you need to.
I pray that Allah blesses you with goodness in this life and the next.
[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 in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.