I live in America, am 26, and have been married for the last year to my cousin from Canada who is the same age. Neither of us had any sexual experience prior to marriage. When I discovered I was unable to maintain an erection strong enough to effect penetration, I immediately sought medical advice. After months of tests an ultrasound investigation disclosed that I have eight minor venous leaks. The doctor thinks that my physical condition and the psychological distress of failure have compounded my problem. To help maintain penile erection, he now suggests that I employ a plastic/rubber ring.

Our marriage has not yet been consummated, although we have been married for over a year. Throughout all this time my wife has been extremely patient. She has accompanied me on all my visits to the doctor and has always been thoroughly supportive. However, when the ring option was mooted she absolutely refused to allow me to use it.

Later on she learned that she has the right to an annulment because our marriage has not been consummated. I returned to America, my wife to Canada to await an immigration appointment preparatory to entering the United States. However, since she has been waiting in Canada she has decided that she does indeed want the marriage to be annulled. I tried to talk her out of it, but she is insistent and is only coming here to pick up her things before leaving me.

1. After discovering the cause of the problem in August of 1999, should I have offered her
the option to leave me? Is it the duty of a husband to tell his wife it is her decision to stay
or leave?

2. Only Allah Almighty knows what will happen in the future, if my problem will get better or worse. When I tried to convince her to stay I was told I was being selfish. On the one hand I understand that diagnosis has taken a very long time. On the other, I do feel I should be given the opportunity to prove myself, even if it requires me to use a rubber ring. Please let me know if you feel this is selfish of me? I welcome any criticism, for the goal is to become a better person for the hereafter.

3. How does one perform an annulment? Once annulment has taken place what restrictions are there on us getting re-married in the future? Is it similar to a divorce?

4. Should I attempt to reconcile the marriage or simply accept her decision and walk away? Please advise me regarding this. I am thoroughly confused about what to do. It seems as though I do not have any option and have to accept her decision.

Impotence is the Shari’ah word which describes inability to consummate marriage.
If one cannot maintain a sufficiently strong erection to penetrate one’s wife, one is, by
definition, impotent.

Your doctor’s solution, to employ a rubber/plastic ring to maintain an erection, is not acceptable to your wife. If she is to be regarded as selfish or not depends entirely on the degree of her distress. She is 26 and also has to satisfy her right to bear children.

Annulment is similar to divorce except that a wife does not need the consent of her husband for it. Having proved you are unable to effect vaginal penetration, your wife is entitled to terminate the marriage. After the annulment, both of you may re-marry. If you can find a remedy, by using a ring or any other way, you may be able to have a successful marriage. You may then re-marry your cousin again if she remains free. In pursuit of self purification, one is recommended to inform others of their rights, especially those that have bearing on their relationship with you.