His phone blinked with a new message. She casually glanced over to see if it was a message from their son who needed to be picked up from after school activity. The message read I love you and I can’t wait to be with you tonight with a trail of hearts and kisses! What in the world? Tonight? He told me he has a big meeting. As her mind raced she could hear her husband humming in the shower as he prepared for his ‘big meeting.’ Her heart pounded like the sound of drums beating when danger is imminent. She picked up his phone to see who the message was from. She thought that it may be a prank. Maybe the message was sent to her husband by mistake. In desperation to keep her sanity and preserve her marriage, she searched for any plausible excuse to justify his action. Then she saw the name. It was his co-worker. His Muslim, married, muhajaba co-worker with 2 kids! Does she not have any decency? What about her commitment to Allah? What about her husband and kids? This was unbelievable! She ran to his computer and with trembling hands searched for her name. There in plain sight were dozens of emails exchanged between this woman and her ‘adoring’ husband (only he was adoring the wrong woman). Each word that she read were like daggers in her heart. There was flirting, promises and even pictures that were exchanged. Her heart which was once like an exquisite, dazzling crystal shattered into thousands of pieces. She felt her marriage was over. The sound of the humming became closer as her husband walked into the office to ask which tie would make a better impression. An impression on whom? The tramp? Her sadness almost instantly transformed into rage.
I know that it sounds like a plot of a soap opera, but unfortunately this story is based on an actual client that I had a few years ago. I hear stories about Muslim couples on a weekly basis that are involved with infidelity. There is a whole spectrum of inappropriate behavior for married men from flirting at the office or online, going on dates or getting prostitutes. Yes, you read correctly. Many practicing men seek out prostitution to get sexually fulfilled when married. Although many feel ashamed from their behavior there are some that actually try to justify and excuse their actions.
Adolescence All Over Again
When men approach the age of 40 or they are in their mid 40’s something very strange happens to them. They start questioning their looks, vitality, and ability to attract other women. They wonder if they still have it – it being charm, appeal and good looks. Some men who have lived a chaste life start questioning their choices. They start feeling dissatisfied with their spouse thinking that they could have done much better. Other times they may love their wife, but they are fascinated with getting the attention of other women. In many ways, a 40 year old regresses to an adolescent with raging hormones that acts impulsively without any regards to the consequences of their behavior. Since they have a new sense of confidence, status, achievement and wealth in their 40’s, they feel that they could attract more intriguing women.
I used to think that midlife crisis was a Western phenomenon. I thought that as long as a man has a good, strong connection with Allah and a happy marriage then there is no fear of midlife crisis. If he is aware of the consequences of his actions and he knows what’s right and wrong then how could he fall into such a grave mistake? I came to realize that not only is it possible to fall into a mistake, but it is also quite common. Just because someone knows that eating right and exercising is good for them and eating junk food is harmful does not guarantee that they will do what is right & beneficial. In the same way, people find justifications, loopholes and excuses to fulfill their ever growing lusts & desires.
“Have you seen him who takes his low desires for his god? Are you a guardian over them? Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are but as the cattle; nay, they are farther astray from the path.” (Surat Al-Furqan, 25:43–44.)
Different Types of Infidelity
And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it].Surat Al-Baqarah 2:42
Many times it is the small, “white” lies that lead to very destructive behaviors such as emotional, physical or financial infidelity.
Emotional– emotional infidelity is when you become emotionally attached to someone of the opposite gender other than your spouse. This could include texting, chatting, video calls, talking & flirting at work or at school. When you are investing in a relationship other than your marriage you are introducing a cancer in your relationship. It will destroy the trust, intimacy and level of commitment when you have someone on the side to confide in. Now with the advent of social media emotional infidelity has become much more prevalent and it has taken the place of workplace flirting.
Physical – typically infidelity is seen as two people having a physical relationship. This could range from touching, kissing to having sexual relations. Generally this is harder for most spouses to forgive. When the relationship is physical it becomes extremely challenging to restore the marriage. Intimacy and sexual relationship suffers since the spouse who was betrayed will constantly think of the other woman during the act and they become obsessed with the details of the physical interactions.
Financial – this is not the scope of the discussion but I thought it’s important to include it since it is so prevalent and very few people see it as infidelity. Financial infidelity is when one spouse spends secretly without telling their spouse. It can really break the trust between a husband and wife when there is secrecy in spending, lying about expenditures and hiding.