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Counsel – Wife Support/ Financial Contribution

Q:

My question is around the fact that I would like my wife to help me in our early years to gather some savings for our future. My wife did not have a job for 1.5 years, my efforts and majorly the efforts of my father, we got her a job. Now the thing is that before marriage and before our first born, she was always of the opinion that we both will save our assets together for our better future, but now she is like whatever she earns is hers and she doesn’t have to give me any account and that only I have to spend on her and our child (while this is correct as per what Islam teaches us), my question is slightly different : I earn a handsome amount but not extraordinary, barely making regular expenses, I’m constantly striving to increase my income but all will happen in due time right? Allah has written the best for us in the best time. So in order to strengthen ourselves, I proposed the idea that we save a particular amount from my income (major portion I will contribute) and some from hers, in order to always have a backup in emergency. But she is now totally unwilling and kind of hostile, wants to buy jewelry for her mother, run the house for her mother, because her parents are not on good terms (this is another story), Her mother brainwashes her alot in living separate, sharing gifts with her family, doing things for she and her sisters, my wife eats up our budget as well for all the above, I don’t know where her mind and allegiances are. Basically what Ive learned and observed is that my mother in law is an extremely commanding and controlling figure, my wife is exhibiting the exact same qualities. My mother in law misbehaves with her husband, hides things from her, misbehaves with her, speaks loudly, brainwashes the kids against him. The father may not be a very great person, but loves his children so much, works so hard for them, and in the end demands a normal life with an obedient wife, but my mother in law comes from a male dominant family and is fond of control, she has taught her daughters through live example to hide things from the husband, which my wife does now. So the question being, can I ask my wife to help me with finances because I can’t manage alone? I mean we are doing this for us. shouldn’t she be concerned to help me? or us? we are living in such an economically troubled time, single source of earning cannot run a complete household, I know what Islam already says, that the man must earn everything and is responsible for everything, but what if the salary runs out in doing so? now where should the man turn to? The wife also has some money, doesn’t she feel the need to help? This is not help even, this is sticking together. I’m not after her money to get myself gains, I want us to have a car, home, business that we build together, why is this frowned upon? Women do tons of injustice with this whole “what they earn is their’s and what men earn is for everyone”, we have to maintain their standards, buy living necessities, fashion items and when we run out in doing so, this is our fault?

A:
Salaamun alaykum
Thank you for your question. As you have rightly pointed out in Islamic law the earnings of a person are their own and that law is there to protect individual wealth. You can ask your wife to help you with your finances but you cannot force her hand. At the same time, the husband has to maintain his wife (either according to what is usual for the wife’s status or according to the husband’s status depending on the legal view of your Marja) and that is part of the rights of marriage. 
 
These are both basic rights for a level of marriage in which rights dictate the type of relationship the husband and wife have. From what you have described it seems that the issue here is not these rights in themselves but that your wife doesn’t seem to want more than a relationship on the level of performance of rights. Softer issues like working towards a brighter future together, loving and respecting each other and working towards a more holistic mental, emotional and spiritual environment in the house are all Islamic and ethical values over the basic rights. The desirability of these values is what your wife has to understand and you must teach her using wisdom and patience. 
 
In the meantime you can reach an agreement with her in what you both participate in to buy. If it is a house for example you can both own parts according to what you contribute. The protection of individual wealth is an extremely important law that prevents an array of oppression on the weak and so try to understand this aspect of why such a law is necessary.
 
May you always be successful.
ZoheirAli