The Rehab Wife

The Rehab Wife

During the course of my work, I have been made aware and given direct knowledge of numerous incidents involving someone of religious standing discovered to have serial illicit relationships. Here I am not writing about sexual assault or secret marriages.  The focus of the article will be on serial illicit relationships, whether from a lack of personal development or sex addiction, and the inadequate and damaging responses by community leaders in addressing such behaviors.

Serial Illicit Relationships
In most of these cases, the men engaged in illicit relationships have been fairly young, ranging from huffaz in MSAs, to Quran reciters with fine voices, to youth-group leaders, and new imams who may have recently graduated from their vocational training. When their sexual misconduct comes to light, the immediate reactions from their former teachers or imams are pain and sadness, perhaps even embarrassment that someone they taught could do such a thing. Then, in a hush, these same seasoned teachers hastily begin prescribing marriage as the go-to answer to conquer their student’s issues and stop the problem. However, these are not cases of the men having a girlfriend and being advised to get married to make the relationship halal.  Rather, these are cases of non-committed serial illicit encounters in which they are advised to ‘just get married’ and settle down with a new woman, someone unaware, and bring an unsuspecting sister into a life full of problems.

This is grave mistake.
These men are not fit for marriage.

These men must first deal with their own struggles, whether it be an impulse control issue, or uncontrolled hormones. Additionally, there needs to be a major behavioral overhaul before these types of individuals will ever be fit to be husbands.  However, the burden to resolve their depravity should never be thrust upon the shoulders of unsuspecting women. Women are not tools, and they certainly are not depositories for broken men.

Will prescribing a halal relationship truly be a viable solution to rehabilitate unfettered sexual behavior? And if so, at what cost to his wife? Any woman asked or expected to join in matrimony with such a man––to become his living, breathing band-aid to ‘fix’ his sexual debauchery will have a horrible marriage.  The leaders in trusted positions vouching for such a spouse should feel responsible for her pain, her scars, and her life-long nightmares from being placed in such a destructive union.

How do we in good conscience ignore all of the other righteous imperatives of a successful, healthy marriage as well as the well-being of a sister entering matrimony with a man already found guilty of sexual misconduct? What kind of rationale recommends an innocent person serve as a ‘halal’ sexual outlet for a known deviant?  No one in their right mind would or should advise–or expect a woman they truly care about to marry such a man.

Islamically, when we think of helping men with impropriety issues, our solution should never be at the sacrifice of a sister’s well-being. Such a marriage not only portends infidelity but can also put her at alarming risk for contracting STDs. Furthermore, her emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being is placed in terrible jeopardy, all because- somehow––she is supposed to heal the lecherous ills that lurk in the mind and body of her husband. Marriage is supposed to be a covering to protect one another from damage and injury–not a union to inflict it.

From my experience, even when the person is considered institutionally and communally insignificant in terms of religious position, their Quran teachers, sometimes community imams, can’t help but still see them as the charming boys they once knew and saw growing up…’the fruits of their labor,’ who may now be leading youth groups or tarawih prayers.  However, this is not an acceptable excuse to quietly finagle some patchwork, while hiding their former student’s serious issues under the proverbial prayer rug.  Concern for these men is no excuse to place other women in a situation where they will be subjected to harm.

Examples of Serial Illicit Behavior and Poor Response From Leaders
In one instance, I was informed by a group of imams about a case in which they intervened when one of their peers–another imam, was having illicit relations with multiple women. When I asked what recourse they took, they just replied that they had ‘assumed the problem went away when he [the offender] got married.’ Not surprisingly, this imam not only did not stop his predatory behavior but compounded his licentious behavior–only now as a married man.

It is grossly naïve and ignorant to assume that the prescription for inappropriate sexual behavior is marriage. Much like when mothers learn of their sons’ improprieties and think a girl from overseas will ‘stabilize him and fix the problem,’ all this does is set someone else’s daughter up for major issues and pain.

Some of these men claim to enjoy the thrill of seduction and consider a woman ‘conquered’ if she stops playing hard to get. Then they lose interest and text different women to prove that they can break barriers of modesty.  They revel in lascivious chats and simply carry on doing the same thing to other women. They use digital communication to play these conquests out like a video game.

In a hadith, the Prophet (ﷺ), addressed the youth saying, “Oh young people, whoever from amongst you is able to marry should get married. Indeed, it aids one in guarding his eyes and private parts. And whoever is not able to should fast, as that enervates desires.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

Financial ability is only one aspect of marriage. We also have to factor in psychological readiness, maturity, and emotional readiness for marriage to prevent harm to either spouse.  Furthermore, when one is not able to fulfill these requirements of marriage, fasting is the better option.  Marriage helps those who are struggling to preserve chastity, but we cannot be misled into thinking that marriage will help someone with a debaucherous lifestyle, or issues that are closer to a sex addiction.

Faltering in appropriateness can sometimes be a part of growing pains, an adolescence of confusion, and lack of emotional intelligence to temper hormones, for sure. However, if we are to confuse hyper-sexual behavior as an immaturity that is a byproduct of culture and age, we are only creating and fostering a bigger disaster.  We must also recognize that porn addiction is a significant problem among Muslims. Pornography has played a significant role in altering healthy views on relationships, objectifying men and women, dissatisfaction in marriage, and other growing concerns. Whatever the cause may be, it is for those advising these individuals to help them mature into healthy partners.   Leaders who advise them to marry are cutting them too much slack.  Even if someone with these issues were to marry, and did so for social-religious reasons, he may have the facade of a happy family, but still engage in the same behavior or become incredibly depressed – which will adversely affect his family. When teachers get involved, they need to advise the person to seek professional help and ensure that he does not assume a leadership position prior to addressing his underlying issues of impulsivity.

Sex Addiction
Sex addiction is a serious disease not to be taken lightly and it must be addressed in professional treatment. An individual struggling with sex addiction can engage in extensive pornography use, extramarital affairs, and impulsive sexual encounters. It is a complex disease that can affect every aspect of an individual’s life and both men and women can suffer from it.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist Dr. Juhayna Ajami explains, “Sex addiction is similar to drug and alcohol addiction, in that it works in the same part of the brain and involves the neurotransmitter dopamine. Addicts struggle to bond with others due to early insecure attachments to their caregivers. They also often have histories of trauma and they learned to regulate their emotions and soothe themselves by engaging in potentially harmful behavior (e.g., drinking, using drugs, or participating in sexual activity). When they are triggered (by negative experiences, thoughts, or feelings) and engage in the behavior, they lose touch with reality and do not consider the negative consequences of their actions. Subsequently, they are overcome with immense shame and guilt once they realize what they have done. This then further triggers the addictive behavior and continues the cycle. Additionally, the addict’s struggle to bond with or attach to their spouse would negatively impact his/her ability to fully participate in a marital relationship. It would also likely exacerbate their shame and further fuel the addictive behavior.”

The most successful treatment for sex addiction is individual and group therapy as well as a 12 step program. It should also involve one’s family if possible, both to support the addict and for the family to obtain support for themselves. In fact, experts in the field have found that addiction has a significant impact on the entire family and that the spouse of an addict is often traumatized and in need of treatment.

People who are suffering from a sex addiction will continue to do so in silence if we fool them into thinking that the solution to their problem is getting married. Not only is this a disservice to the unwitting spouse, but it is harmful to the addict who often has a history of unresolved trauma and does not know where to turn for help. When the prescribed treatment of marriage fails, this will only further exacerbate his pain, shame, guilt, and ultimately- his addiction.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Saadia Z. Yunus explains that in this scenario, “Even though they have every intent to leave their addiction, the withdrawals, slips, and potential continued addiction will be part and parcel of the marriage, something they will not be able to ignore or escape.  The same is true with men who have sexual addictions and vices who get married to an unsuspecting woman.  There is no way these vices will disappear because there are underlying issues that need to be addressed in therapy.  Therapy is the place in which he will gain an understanding of his internal struggles and how to overcome them.  It is a place that will determine if he needs further treatment.  Once he has successfully completed treatment, it can be reassessed at that time as to whether he is fit for marriage.”

Conclusion
There is much to consider with these kinds of multi-layered situations. There are no quick fixes, but therapy is a good start. Whether sexual improprieties are the result of immaturity or sex addiction, a person needs to get well before being encouraged to marry.  Hiding this behavior from prospective spouses only sets them up for turmoil. Women are not, nor should they ever be expected to be the cure for men’s sexual deviance or improprieties. Muslims advising or intervening in such a situation cannot prescribe proper treatments if they continue to ignore, misdiagnose, or make excuses for the illness. Marriage is not a solution in this instance, and as such we should never set a sister up to become a rehab-wife.

 

To contact Danish Qasim directly, email him at Danish@inshaykhsclothing.com.

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4 Replies to “The Rehab Wife”

  1. Thank you for this article. I am one of those women who was simply a halal sex outlet for my sex addict husband. It inflicted so much damage on me. I feel that Muslim women are brainwashed into thinking that their husband’s sexual needs are their only role in a marriage. I’m so angry that I put up with it.

  2. Thank you for your comment and sorry to hear of your story. Unfortunately there are a lot of cases like this and that’s why I felt the need to write this. We keep setting one another up to fail.

    Also, you may contact Juhayna Ajami here http://www.astepforwardinc.com/juhayna-ajami/ or Saadia Z Yunus at http://saadiazyunus.com/

    Lastly Muslims may express particular religious reasons for justifying abuse, but this is a phenomenon that transcends religion. There are people of every faith or no faith who share the same experiences.

  3. Thank you this article and raising awareness between the differences in a man who needs to be married because of natural desire vs. a sex addict and person with a problem needing professional help which marriage cannot solve.

    I’d like to recommend http://www.purifyourgaze.com for Muslims who do want help for pornography addiction or sex addiction. It’s a huge first step towards healing and recovery created specifically for Muslims.

    1. Thank you! I knew there was a website like that for Muslims. I had heard about it years back and actually looked for it. I wanted to include it but couldn’t remember what it was. Jzk, a very valuable resource and I’m going to add it to the resource section of the website itself.

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