What are a husband’s responsibilities to his family?

The Details of the Question

- Many men feel that their only duty to their family is to provide money; they have little idea about emotional support, educational support and access to Islamic education for their family. What should be done for them?

1) What are the husband’s obligations to his family?

2) What work is a husband encouraged to do for his family?

3) As for work, some men work for their own desires of money and power, not their families. What should be done to free their minds from bad intentions?

4) Should a man strike a balance between his work and family?

5) Should a husband’s wife or family come before his work?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

1. Since the institution of marriage and family was first established by Eve (Hawwa) and the Prophet Adam in Paradise, it has an air of Paradise: “Family life is the refuge of people, and particularly of Muslims, and a sort of Paradise, and a small world.” (see Nursi, Yirmi Dördüncü Lem'a)

However, marriage and the family can be a person’s “refuge and a kind of Paradise” only if the spouses fulfill their responsibilities first to Allah and then to each other.

In the light of the Quran and Sunnah, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi describes the main framework of the responsibilities of spouses to each other as follows:  

“A person needs a wife, a companion, to dwell with, through whose eyes he may look and who may see through his eyes, and whose love he may benefit from, this being the gentlest of the rays of divine mercy. Complete intimacy in the world is with her too.” (see İşârâtü’l-İcaz, the interpretation of al-Baqara, 25)

As it can be understood from the quotation above, the primary duty of spouses is to meet the biological, psychological and social needs of each other.

They are spiritual needs based on love, care, interest, loyalty, compassion, fidelity and sincerity, and social needs demanded by family members that change according to time, space and means.

2. What work is a husband encouraged to do for his family?

In addition to these responsibilities of the husband especially to his wife and other family members, he has additional responsibilities such as meeting their financial needs, managing them, being the head of the family, and protecting and guarding them against all kinds of dangers.

3. As for work, some men work for their own desires of money and power, not their families.

What should be done to free their minds from bad intentions?

After meeting the material needs of his family, it is permissible for a man to want to strengthen his power. A businessman may want to earn more money, increase his business for investment and employment. More money is not always the only reason that seduces a man.

“A man’s – in your words – bad intentions” are primarily related to his fear of Allah, his sincerity in practicing his religion, the sensitivity he shows in his prayers, his healthy communication and closeness with his wife, and the warmth and understanding his wife shows him. If they are incomplete or missing, it will be easier for his mind to corrupt.

Accordingly, a Muslim who earns in the name of Allah and spends in the name of Allah, with the awareness that Allah is the giver and without putting the worldly wealth in his heart can become the richest person in the world. However, if he does not realize that the giver is Allah and if he puts the worldly wealth in his heart rather than in his safe, if he does not earn in the name of Allah and if he does not spend it in the name of Allah, he is at a loss even if it is a small amount.

4. Should a man strike a balance between his work and family?

What is essential in all areas of life is to maintain stability and balance. In other words, it is to avoid extremes and to find the middle way. This basic principle also applies to the balance between work and marriage. What spouses need to do for a peaceful and happy married life is to maintain that balance between their work and their families under all circumstances. In fact, a person should be balanced between his family and his spouse. For example, a woman who is overly concerned with her children or housework will neglect her husband and have problems due to being unable to maintain a balance between her family and her husband.

However, there are no definite criteria about how this balance should be. It varies according to the needs of the family, the work the man does, and the time he needs to spend for his work. What matters is to be aware that work and family life are interconnected, that the negligence of one will cause trouble for the other, and that their responsibilities to each other and to their families are not just to bring money to the house or to do the housework.

Our advice to you is that you talk about the issue with your husband at a suitable time without reproaching your husband.

Before your speech, mention and appreciate the sacrifices and financial contributions he has made for his family. Then, state it clearly that you and your family need not only money, but also his close attention and time. Tell him clearly what you expect from him.

For example, if you want him to be with you on the weekends or if you want him to come home early in the evening, say it to him politely and appropriately.

Your husband might not understand your needs and might not know how to meet them. If you express it without reproach and complaint, we are sure that he will understand you.

5. Should a husband’s wife or family come before his work?

The place of work, family, spouse and children is different in marriage; one of them does not replace another one; one has different responsibilities to each.

However, a husband’s primary responsibility is not his own family but his nuclear family and his spouse. It is not something recommended to neglect one’s spouse and take care of his family; our religion does not allow it. The rights of the spouse and the children take precedence over supererogatory (nafilah) deeds of worship.

However, if one’s parents are in need of care, their care takes precedence.

It is essential for a mother to look after and care for each of her children, but her young child in need of care comes before all her children.

Similarly, it is essential for a person with a spouse, children, and parents to take care of each of them and not to neglect any of them, but if there is someone in need of care, taking care of that person comes first.

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