Dear Annie

I have been married before and divorced. I had two lovely kids from that marriage and for years supported myself and my kids. Ten years later, I met what I thought was a wonderful man, who said he had three kids of his own. I later discovered that two were biologically his, and one was another manâ??s child, and this outside child is his heart’s point.

We got married a year later after courting, and I even converted to Islam and thought we would have a marriage made in heaven.

Sadly that was not to be. As the years progressed, he became another person: he started treating me and my children with disrespect, and each time we fought, he always resorted to throwing us out of his home.

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At first I made excuses for his behaviour, then I starting blaming my children, saying their behaviour was causing this problem, and eventually I started blaming myself.

I even went as far as moving out of his house and stayed on my own for a year, but then he wanted me back and wanted to give our marriage a second try, but that was only words.

Once again, we are back to square one, but this time round, he calls me and my kids PARASITES and says he had to take care of another manâ??s children.

Through all this, let it be known that I work hard to look after my kids, and our home. He works too, but only pays the rent – nothing else. I see to the upkeep etc of our home. My kids’ father pays maintenance monthly, and this contributes towards them staying in what my â??HUSBANDâ? calls his house.

No sex for the past year

Note this, my husband and I have not had any sexual activity for the last year – and before that, it would maybe be once or twice a year – thatâ??s if Iâ??m lucky.

I tried everything, tried to get the imam to assist, tried talking to him, tried dressing sexy, tried weekends away, tried being submissive in every way, even to a point when for a few months I had my kids go and live their father, just so that my husband and I can connect as husband and wife – but nothing – sexually the marriage is dead.

I donâ??t know what more to do, and as I said, itâ??s not the first time he’s thrown me out, but now he calls me a parasite… (and in the religion, a wife cannot divorce the husband).

He is a different person in front of people

The worst of all is that we have no trust issues. People will not believe he is that type of person, because in front of people he pretends to be this good and loving person, but it’s a different story when we get home.

All he wants to do is argue, put me down, insult me and my kids and find fault in my kids. As far as he is concerned his kids are perfect (which we both know is not true), but he feels he can speak about mine because they live under his roof (his kids live under their mother’s roof).

What can I do: how do I mend my broken spirit?

I do love my husband, but donâ??t love the way he treats me and my children. Help…

Please keep my name anonymous.

Unhappily Married

Dear Unhappily Married

Thank you for your letter.

Marriages may be made in heaven but the reality is that they need to be lived out on earth

You say that every time you fight’, your husband throws you out of HIS house, but when it comes to the upkeep of the house then it is OUR house.

It would appear that you have really tried to make this marriage work

It seems that you had got to a point when you realised that your marriage was closer to hell than heaven and you moved out for a year.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” – Winnie the Pooh

A year is enough time to rebuild your life and to discover about yourself that, in the words of Winnie the Pooh, â??you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. â?

You went back and gave your marriage a second chance and now you say that it is worse than ever

Did he initially make any positive changes that improved the marriage? Would he be willing to make changes to save your marriage now?

Thousands of people battling ogres in a bottle pray: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”.

As you face your ogre, so to speak, perhaps you can consider the same thing.

I wonder how your children are doing in this marriage?

How were they in the year that you lived on your own? Is it possible that whatever loss of financial security or comfort there was, they gained in emotional security?

I am not directing you to stay with your husband or to divorce him

Rather, my hope is to help you to think objectively about your situation so that you can make choices that are right for you. In accordance to the Muslim beliefs, there are times when a woman instituting divorce is recognised by Muslim law. It will be helpful for you to gain knowledge in this, to be able to make informed decisions.

Both you and your children deserve to be loved and treated with respect.

You are beautiful!

Love and blessings