Q: Two weeks ago, a friend phoned and said that he was going to visit us along with his family in order to see my eldest daughter (12 years old), who had a surgery. I wanted to notify my wife of the visit to get ready and hospitably receive the guests. For more than one hour, I tried in vain to contact my house but the line was continuously busy. I became very furious and frustrated, since it was not my wife's first time doing this. I have discussed the matter with her several times and advised her to give up this bad habit. I know that she spends hours talking to friends over the phone. I already brought it to her attention that the phone was not meant for entertainment and that it should be used appropriately in ways that serve its purpose. (Part No. 20; Page No. 292) When she took my words lightly and completely disregarded my instructions, I smashed the phone in order to put an end to this daily nuisance.When I returned home yesterday, my youngest daughter told me that my wife had gone to the market - of course without my permission - and bought a new telephone set. I became furious and had a heated discussion with my wife again. As a result,
my wife said, "I am sick of living with you, may Allah strike my father who was the cause of my misfortune, you are forbidden for me as a husband, and be a man and divorce me."
This outburst fueled my anger, as she was defying my authority as a man and as head of the household in front of my brother-in-law and my daughters. She was yelling to the extent that the neighbors could hear our argument. In her fit of anger, she asked me to give the phone to a neighboring family and to get a third party involved in the problem. I left the house to avoid further escalation of the situation.Yet, I was overwhelmed with the thought of Talaq (divorce pronounced by a husband) as the best way to get rid of this quarrelsome and stubborn wife; no other remedy would prove successful for this (Part No. 20; Page No. 293) persistent and ever complicating problem. I regretted I did not take the decision years earlier before we had such large number of children, but I always hoped that Allah would guide her one day. Sorrowfully, there was no change and matters got worse day after day. She always argued and mixed between past and current issues when I advised her. For instance, when we go out by car and I ask her to cover her face, she opposes me, saying that she is more decent than many women that cover their faces. Following attempts to convince her that these are the teachings and the spirit of Islam, she covers her face with one layer of the scarf, under the pretext that the weather is hot and she cannot breathe comfortably. Whenever I order her to perform Salah (Prayer), she argues with me, saying that purity of the heart is the main point, not the Salah, which is not accompanied by any good deeds. She accuses me of not practicing what I preach; I pray, she argues, but I am oppressive and harsh. What is the ruling of Islam on her saying "You are forbidden to me as a husband" and her request of divorce by saying "Be a man and divorce me"? She threw my youngest daughter on the ground and demanded me to take my children and relieve her of them. Of course, I told her that I am ready to divorce her and marry another woman who is more religious, well-mannered and obedient; otherwise, I would not be a real man.
(Part No. 20; Page No. 294)
If the reality is as you mentioned, your wife does not become forbidden to you by her saying, "You are forbidden to me as a husband" or by her request of Talaq, when she said, "Be a man and divorce me." However, she must make Kaffarah (expiation) for an oath due to her forbidding what is lawful. Likewise, Talaq is not effective by your saying that you are ready to divorce your wife and marry another woman who is more religious, well-mannered and obedient; otherwise, you would not be a real man. You should continue to advise her gently, tolerate her, and be patient with her. Similarly, she should listen to your advice and accept whatever good you enjoin upon her. She must perform Salah at its due time and protect herself by observing Hijab. Both of you should fulfill the mutual rights and duties that Shari`ah (Islamic law) prescribes on you on the individual and family levels. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family, and Companions.