We have known that wives are supposed to obey husbands, I wanted to ask what is the responsibility and ideal behavior of the husband as obligated by Islam and with references of Sunnah, while his wife is pregnant and experiencing mood swings, emotional strain, disrupted sleep and body aches/pain. I searched your website but couldn’t find anything related to how husbands should react to a wife’s emotional swings and should refrain from exerting further stress on them by becoming angry and silent on trivial matters; as a result of what, the wife is neither able to sleep nor able to eat food. Doctors and several well wishers have advised not to try to mop the floor or do any work which puts pressures on your body to avoid any bad consequences during this condition; is she obliged to clean the room and bathroom which she otherwise used to do willingly herself. During pregnancy your food choices are impacted as a result of what you don’t eat much and you don’t eat everything for no reason, it’s just during this time you don’t like certain foods, if no fresh food is prepared at husband’s home and although there is frozen food in refrigerator but if the wife wants to have some fresh food, is there any wrong if she goes to her Mom’s place to eat there, taking into consideration she is coming back from job and very tired to make something for dinner after office. Though you may find these queries as insignificant matters but these small things have big impacts on life when husbands don’t understand the wife’s point of view and their condition.
Praise be to Allah.
In question no. 119740 we have explained that it is obligatory for the wife to serve her husband, but that does not mean at all that he should not pay attention to the wife’s situation and circumstances. The matter may be discussed further, as follows:
Pregnancy is a time of exhaustion and weakness. That is described in the Holy Quran, where Allah, may He be glorified, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship”
Mujahid said: Exhaustion upon exhaustion. ‘Ata said: Weakness upon weakness. Tafseer al-Quran al-‘Azeem. 6/336
It is well known that all duties prescribed in Islam are to be within the limits of what one is able to do. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope”
Although serving the husband is a duty enjoined by Islam, it is also limited to that which the woman is able to do. So it is not permissible for the husband to burden his wife with that which she is unable to bear of combining the burdens of life, working outside the home and bearing children. As pregnancy is a reason for which some duties are waived, such as fasting, then it is more appropriate that it should be a reason for it being obligatory for the husband to take care of his wife and show compassion towards her with regard to her serving him and taking care of the house.
Although the basic Islamic principle on which the scholars are unanimously agreed is that “hardship dictates that things should be made easier”, and there is corroborating evidence that confirms that, it is also essential that the wife’s serving of her husband should not lead to extraordinary hardship or a great deal of hardship. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, does not want duties to cause undue hardship to people as He, may He be glorified and exalted, says: (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you”
“Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak”
“Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful”
If the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) enjoined kindness to slaves and servants, and he forbade their masters to burden them with anything that would be too difficult for them, unless they help them with it -- “(They are) your brothers and servants whom Allah has placed under your control, so whoever has his brother under his control, let him feed him what he eats and clothe him with what he wears, and do not burden him with more than he can bear. And do not burden them with more than they can bear, and if you do that, then help them” (narrated by al-Bukhari, 2545; Muslim, 1661) -- then how about a man’s wife and life companion?!
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “O Allah, I emphasise the rights of the two weak ones: orphans and women.”
Narrated by Ahmad in al-Musnad (15/416); Muassasat ar-Risalah edn., The editors said: Its isnad (chain of narration) is qawiy (strong).
At the end of that answer, we advise the wife to look after her house as much as possible and to provide comfort for everyone in it, and to do her utmost to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity, and everything that is needed. And she should ask Allah, may He be exalted, to help her with that. We hope that Allah, may He be exalted, will honour her with kind treatment from her husband and his help if she tries sincerely for the sake of Allah and does not fall short or neglect anything.
We do not think that you should go to your mother’s house to eat there and leave your husband; rather you should stay with your husband. If you feel energetic and strong, then serve him and meet his needs. All women get pregnant as you are pregnant; do you see women leaving their houses and forsaking their husbands?
Although we excuse you because of your situation and we would remind your husband of your rights, it is not appropriate for you to take that as an excuse to omit to do whatever you can of serving him and taking care of him.
We understand that you are working outside the home during your pregnancy; there is no doubt that serving your husband and taking care of your health takes precedence over that. If you are not able to combine work and taking care of your house, then take leave from your work and focus on your house and husband during this period.
If that is not possible because of your circumstances, then hire someone to help you with the housework and use some of your salary to help you with that.
We ask Allah to set your affairs straight and to help you to treat your husband kindly and to reconcile between you.
And Allah knows best.