Marital Problems

Marriage Relations

Recalcitrance is the husband's or the wife's non performance of the dues which the religion imposed on...


What Is Meant by Recalcitrance?

Recalcitrance is the husband’s or the wife’s non performance of the dues which the religion imposed on him/ her, like when the wife does not allow the husband to have sexual intercourse with her or when she does not beautify herself in the required form –i.e. cleaning herself and the like in order that her husband does not repulse from her. Imam Al-Khomeini (May his secret be sacred) said, «It [Recalcitrance], as regards the wife, is not obeying her husband concerning not allowing him to have sexual intercourse with her; not removing the repulsions which contradict his enjoy with her and even not cleaning and adorning herself in spite of the husband’s need for this; getting out of the house without his permission; and so on.»1

As regards the recalcitrance of the husband, it takes place when he does not perform his dues towards her i.e. not spending on her, not sleeping at her, or not having sexual intercourse with her as much as it is dutiful. Imam Al-Khomeini (May his secret be sacred) said, «As recalcitrance may take place from the wife, it may also take place from the husband when he attacks her and does not pay her dues.»2

How Is Recalcitrance Managed?

The nature of recalcitrance differs between the man and the woman; consequently, its management differs between them.

Managing the Recalcitrance of the Man

The Most High Allah says, {And if a woman fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no sin on both of them if they make terms of peace between themselves; and making peace is better. And human inner selves are swayed by greed. But if you do good and keep away from evil, verily, Allah is ever All Acquainted with what you do}3

The best solution to which the husband and the wife can resort to in the first rank in order to mange any misunderstanding between them is the quiet discussion which is void of any fanaticism, anger, or passivity. This discussion must be established on the moral basis of dialogue i.e. without any of them showing off over the other and without any of them deeming himself/ herself in the right before the discussion starts.

The quiet discussion helps them to reach understanding and prevents the problem from aggravating. This is as a start; then, it provides the suitable solution in order to put an end to the problem and to the recalcitrance. This method in solving the problems which the husband and the wife face is the most fruitful and beneficial.

When the husband and the wife are unable to solve the problem to arrive at mutual understanding and continuity of the marital life in a proper manner, here rises the role of the righteous external factors [the arbitrators] to help in solving the unsettled problems.

The Most High Allah says, {If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife) appoint two arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All Knower, Well Acquainted With All Things}4 This aya does not specify a specific person like the father, the uncle, or anybody else… It is so perhaps in order to keep the door open before choosing the one who is the most wise, the most righteous, and the most capable of recognizing the nature of the problem and presenting a solution for it and influencing the person concerned i.e. the husband if he/ she [the arbitrator] is from the husband’s family or the wife if he/ she is from the wife’s family.

The Most High Allah wants the family [that of the husband or the wife] to be a positive factor which helps in reforming the marital life and not a negative factor which adds to the complication of the problem. Imam Al-Khomeini (May his secret be sacred) said in this course, «When disagreement takes place between the husband and the wife to the extent that it may lead to dissension and separation and to the extent that their problem reaches the governor, he must send after two just arbitrators, one on his behalf and one on her behalf, in order to reconcile them and in order to put an end to the dissension in the way they regard it to be the most proper whether in joining or separation.»

«The two arbitrators must examine the situation and the cause of this dissension between the husband and the wife, and they must try to reconcile them. The judgment the formers arrive at and agree on is applicable on the husband and the wife who must be content with the arrived at judgment in condition it is religiously permissible, such as: if they impose on the husband to accommodate his wife in a specific country or in a private separate residence or at her parents’; that his mother or sister does not reside with her even in a separate residence; that he does not accommodate her fellow wife with her in the same house; that she be patient with him till he is able to offer her the dowry; that she pays back to him the credit he gave to her; and so on. On the other hand, the arrived at judgment is not accepted if it is not religiously permissible, such as: giving the fellow wife her dutiful expense or other rights; giving the wife the permission to get out of her husband’s house whenever and wherever she wants; and so on.»5

Anyway, the judgment is at the end to be imposed by the religious governor in case the husband and the wife do not arrive at any agreement with each other; then, the husband is obliged to pay the wife her dues.

Managing the Recalcitrance of the Wife

The Most High Allah says, {…As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great}6

The husband must at first deal with his wife in a positive manner and does not be harsh with her. In case the problem is not solved peacefully and with understanding, then he can resort to the stages which The Most High Allah mentioned in the noble aya.

The first stage is {… admonish them… }i.e. the husband must advise her in order to soften her heart and arrive with her at understanding through considering the danger of abandoning his dues and the hurt this causes to him, and through considering that the woman’s abandoning of the rights of her husband is a disobedience to The Most High Allah. Therefore, advisement is the prior management of any conflict between the husband and the wife.

The second stage is {…refuse to share their beds… } i.e. the husband must turn his back to his wife in an expression of his discontent with her conduct which is in opposition to his due. In case the woman is a pious one and knows that «Any woman whose husband is angry with her will have no prayer of her accepted till he is pleased with her»7, then she will suffer a great psychological crisis and will look out for a solution in order to make him abandon this procedure because it is a dangerous and difficult one.

It is indispensable here to remark the wife not to relate being wronged to the due of sexual intercourse. In case the wife feels wronged by her husband in a certain issue, this is not an excuse for her to deprive him of his due of sexual enjoyment which is religiously constant to him. When the wife does not allow her husband to have sexual intercourse with her, she will not be responding to the injustice he performed against her; in fact, she will be performing a new injustice against her husband. Accordingly, the wife should not relate things to each other in this topic.

The third stage is {…beat them… } It is not meant by beating to harm the wife; on the contrary, there are specific religious conditions for beating so that it will not lead to any scratching, bluing, or reddening. In explanation of beating, it is related that Imam Al-Baqer (Allah’s peace bestowed upon him) said, «It is by the souwak.» The souwak is a small stick with which the teeth are embrocated.

What is the wisdom that is implied in The Most High Allah’s permission to the man, in the case of the recalcitrance of his wife, to reach, in his rebuking of her, the stage of beating his wife?

In case The Most High Allah did not legislate this third stage, the husband would, in the case of his wife’s recalcitrance, reach a closed road where he would not know what the end would be and what his own reaction would be; moreover, he would feel humiliated and that he had no solution at hand; then, he would use his body and behave with hostility.

The Most High Allah permitted the resolution to beating yet under conditions in order to prevent the husband from the absolute use of his power or in order not to open the door in front of him to resort to other solutions, under the excuse that Islam did not refer to them which means that he can use them. When the husband does not have any religious measures, he will then- being granted the permission or not- use his body and his power. On the other hand, when he has religious measures, he will then pay attention to this gradualism and put limits to himself.

This gradualism in the stages has its reflections on the woman as well because once she knows that the matter has reached the last stage, this means that it has reached the climax. This serves as a warning for her to find a solution.

This gradualism has also to do with the protection of the family: When the wife is admonished then not shared in bed then beaten [under strict conditions], and when the problem is then solved, this implies that the familial life is protected from the extremism which leads later to breakdown.
Retaining Her on Reasonable Terms or Divorcing Her with Kindness

The husband must choose to continue the marital life yet within the frame of correct and healthy environments, thus retaining his wife on reasonable terms and treating her amicably. However, if the problem reaches a blocked way and he decides to divorce her, then he has to divorce her with kindness.

The Most High Allah says, {The divorce is twice, after than either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness. And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of your dowry which you have given them, except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah. Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back (the dowry or part of it) for her divorce. These are the limits ordained by Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits ordained by Allah, then such are the wrong doers}8

It is not permissible to retain the wife in order to hurt her. Moreover, it is not permissible to deal harshly with her, in order that she will give up her dowry or in order that he will avenge himself from her in one way or another.

The Most High Allah says, {And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, either take them back on reasonable basis or set them free on reasonable basis. But do not take them back to hurt them; and whoever does that, then he has wronged himself…}9 It is related that Allah’s prophet (Allah’s prayers and peace bestowed upon him and his Household) said, «Allah and His prophet disclaim the one who hurts a woman till she asks divorce from him.»10

1- What is meant by recalcitrance?
2- Is there recalcitrance from the man? Provide an example.
3- How can the recalcitrance of the woman be managed?
4- How can the recalcitrance of the man be managed?
5- Is it permissible that the husband retains his wife in order to hurt her? Mention the noble aya which refers to this point. Lesson Eight

1- Tahreer Al-Waseela [Editing the Means]/ Imam Al-Khomeini/ Part Two/ Page 305
2- Tahreer Al-Waseela / Part Two/ Page 306
3- The Noble Qur’an/ Al-Nisaa [The Women] Chapter/ Aya 128
4- The Noble Qur’an/ Al-Nisaa [The Women]surah/ Aya 35
5- Tahreer Al-Waseela [Editing the Means]/ Part Two/ Page 306
6- The Noble Qur’an/ Al-Nisaa [The Women] Chapter/ aya 34
7- Man La Yahdourou Al-Fakih [He Who Has No Jurisprudent to Refer to]/ Sheikh Al-Soddouq/ Publications of Jamiaat Al-Modarriseen/ Part Three/ Page 439
8- The Noble Qur’an/ Al-Baqara [The Cow] Surah/ aya 229
9- The Noble Qur’an/ Al-Baqara Chapter/ aya 231
10- Meezan Al-Hekma [The Standard of Sagacity]/ Mohammadi Al-Rishahri/ Part Two/ Page 1186

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