There are a lot of misconceptions about who can do what in a marriage, especially for women. A lot of us don’t know exactly what our financial rights are, our sexual rights, or even our rights to divorce.
For International Women's Day, we decided to find out exactly what a women’s rights are in marriage, and we invited Village Auntie, a renowned sex educator and community counsellor, to answer these questions.
See what she had to say 👇
In summary, Village Auntie totally schooled us on all things Muslim women rights in marriage. Here’s what we learnt:
Unfortunately in our community there seems to be this notion that divorced women are soiled, and unchaste, while there is a premium placed on virgins. But being a divorcee, you are a chaste woman. “You’re not out here on the streets having extra marital affairs” as Village Auntie points out. We need to look back to the sunnah and ask ourselves, “are we better than the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)?” because all his wives except for one were divorcees!
A lot of us mistake sex and intimacy to be the same thing, however Village Auntie explains that they are two totally different concepts. Intimacy refers to closeness, this could be with friends, parents, and totally platonic. While sex...is just sex. You could have good sex and poor intimacy with your partner, and vice versa.
A lot of us may feel shy, or that it’s haram to discuss these things with our future husbands before marriage, but Village Auntie stresses that it’s important we do. We need to make sure we are on the same wavelength and compatible, rather than have completely mismatched expectations.
This involves discussing things like “when should we have date nights?” or “is sex something we will have on the wedding night?”. But it’s important we are careful not to cross the line to haram (i.e. don’t get too heavy into the details).
Yep, contrary to all the movies we see and how they showcase the wedding night, yours probably won’t be as life changing. Infact, a lot of couples are so exhausted from the stress of planning a wedding, that by the time it is their wedding night...they go to sleep instead (Dina Torkia also said this in one of her videos!).
There is a lot of pressure on the wedding night to have sex, this comes from the community, families, society etc. But there doesn’t have to be, and you don’t have to do anything...as long as you and your husband are happy and comfortable, that’s the main thing. Just remember to keep your private affairs private!
Yep, it’s true, if you’re not sexually fulfilled a woman has the right to ask for a divorce, though this isn’t recommended. It’s better you go to couples counselling or have a discussion about this, and try to work on it, rather than immediately seeking a divorce.
If your husband has uncovential sex preferences that you don’t want to partake in, you don’t have to - but it is important you discuss where these came from. It would be a difficult discussion to have which is why Village Auntie suggests counselling.
If you’re being pressured into having a baby- especially if you’ve been having problems and your spouse thinks having a baby will fix things- you don’t have to. In the words of Village Auntie “If you’re not ready to have a baby, you say ‘I’m not ready to have a baby’”.
A baby won’t fix the relationship- if anything, it quickens the downfall of the relationship. A baby will bring a different stress to the relationship which may lead to you resenting your child. Having a baby needs to be a mutual decision that both partners make together.
We often hear many stories where men are torn between what their mothers want and what their wives want. Village Auntie clearly says that while you have to respect your mother, a man shouldn’t do what she wants if it causes distress upon the wife. You need to look after your wife, as she has now become your responsibility, and if this involves standing up to your mother, then you need to be ready to do that.
Village Auntie taught us so many important and insightful things about the rights we have in marriage, and she really highlighted that as women, we have so many rights in Islam, and we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to!