Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Husband caters to step-son from previous marriage, who is not his


Got a Load of Problems!

I feel like my husband is being taken advantage of by his step-sons and their biological family and it’s affecting me as well. My husband has been taking care of his ex wife’s 2 sons from her previous marriage to someone else since they were small. They are both adults now, and the one step-son still lives with us while the other one lives on his own. I think that they both take advantage of my husband’s kindness.

My husband did everything for the one living with us before we were married. Before he had a car, my husband used to drive him around and would often only get to bed in the early hours of the morning. My husband would cook for him, clean up after him, do his laundry, see that his ironing was done, etc. He did all these things for him despite the fact that he sometimes had 2 jobs and was overworked.

My husband financially supported him too and helped him to buy a car. The son did nothing around the house. My husband used to complain about how tired he was and joked about how lazy the step-son was, and this was before we were married.

Since we got married, my husband expected me to do these things for the step son too. As far as I can see, the step son shows him very little appreciation for all he does for him. He is often moody with my husband and complains when things are not to his liking. Yet he is very kind and respectful to his biological father who doesn't support him and doesn't have much time for him.

The rest of his biological family hasn’t contributed to his upbringing either, even though they are within the means to do so. I think this is shameless! The step-son acts helpful when his biological family is around and helps to wash the dishes but as soon as they have left, then he leaves it for us to clean.

The other step-son who doesn’t live with us anymore earns a good salary but often asks my husband for money and then never pays it back. He knows that there is only one income in our household and that my husband takes care of his brother, yet he doesn’t seem to care. Instead he spends money on haraam things and then asks my husband for money when he doesn’t have money left for his own necessities.

This sometimes makes us short. I didn’t feel like I could say anything because it was not my money but my husband’s. My husband has now stopped giving as much as he used to.

The step son who is living with us has since left his job. This made him depressed and we felt sorry for him. He said he didn’t want to be a burden on my husband. His actions were however contrary to this with his laziness and his expectation that we should do everything for him. Instead of looking for a permanent job, he plans to work for only one year and save up to study.

This would give him sufficient money for his first year of studies. What about the other years? Books? Travelling? His maintenance? Who is to pay for this? The step-son doesn’t want to take any job. He doesn’t want to study part time and work at the same time to fund his studies. He hasn’t found a job yet and is home all day but does nothing around the house. I have to cook, clean and do the laundry and everything else while he sleeps all day. My husband has offered him a job with a friend of his, he doesn’t want it.

My husband helps me with the chores when he’s not working. Eventually I got upset by the step-son’s laziness. Sometimes my husband and I would be out together whole day and come home to find a dirty kitchen which he would’ve caused and just left for us to clean. For a long time I kept it to myself and never complained to my husband. But when my husband started expecting me to spoil the step-son as he does by cooking for him and cleaning up after him, I became angry.

I spoke to my husband about it and told him that the step-son should help around the house. My husband got upset with me but afterwards he said that he would tell the step-son to help out. He didn’t, and I had to do it. The step-son now takes the garbage out but we still do everything else.

Although we are getting by financially, we are struggling a bit. There is only my husband’s salary. My husband fears talking to him about his conduct or about getting a job as he doesn’t want him to feel like a burden. Instead my husband often hints that I should get a job to contribute to the household. I worked in another city and had to give up my job to get married and relocate to where my husband is staying. He convinced me to do so. He said that I could work if I chose to, doing something I liked or stay home once we were married.

I do wish to work but I want to work in a field that makes me happy as I was in my previous job. He says that if I really wanted to work, I would take any job even if it made me unhappy. It appears that the step-son however can do as he pleases. He can go study again, rather than work and my husband will support him and probably help with his studies.

I genuinely feel that all these people are taking advantage of my husband but I can’t say anything because my husband will get upset with me. He loves them and considers them to be family, yet all they do is take from him but he doesn’t see this. I try to earn my keep by helping my husband with his job (doing his admin, etc) and by running the household. I spend as little as I possibly can.

I am now forced to look for a job, even one which I will hate doing so that I can contribute to the household.

Now I feel like a burden. I was never forced to work before I was married. I am angry with the situation because I will work and probably still have to run the household, while the step-son is treated like a king and does nothing and gets waited on. My husband wants to have a child of his own too, so if I work, I’ll be supporting myself and helping to support our own child while my husband supports his adult step-son too.

Is this fair? I have told him that I shouldn’t have to work to support myself. My husband works hard and I work hard to make things easier for him and have contributed my own savings to the house. It saddens me that despite this, we will never move forward financially. He will never be able to see the fruits of his labor because he always has to bail the adult step-children out.

I think they are selfish, putting themselves first and planning their future but not thinking of my husband’s. I think my husband is wrong to hint that I should work. I think that he shouldn’t still have to support an adult step-son. I think the step-son should realize that he cannot expect my husband to support him while he studies and that he should get a job and support himself as he is a grown man.

I think the step son’s behaviour is all around selfish and inconsiderate. If he really doesn’t want to be a burden, wouldn’t he help out around the house with the chores? Wouldn’t he get a job and contribute to the household instead of wanting to study again and expect my husband to maintain him for another 5 years?

Or then study part time and get a job to pay for his studies? Wouldn’t he be more appreciative of the fact that my husband raised him even though he is not biologically his by showing him more respect?

I used to admire the fact that my husband raised them even though they were not his, it showed me what a good man he was. But now I am becoming resentful because he often puts their wants and desires above his duties to me. He expected me to do all the chores until I told my husband it was unislamic that I should do everything with no help (then he helped me) and I am expected to go work but the step-son has a choice and can simply laze about at his leisure.

He stresses when the step-son doesn’t eat (simply because he’s too lazy to fix himself something) and when he gets home, he rushes to his room to ask him if he ate. He never does this for me (though I don’t expect him to). In everything, his primary concern is always for the step-son (as he has shown many times), and I come afterwards. It’s like I’m an after-thought.


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7 Responses »

  1. Assalamu'alaikum sister mongolian,

    It is so nice of you for having taken care of your husband's step-son for so long.

    Due to lack of time, I will just point to some important things.

    This step son in question is not your Mahram. He is not even your husband's son. I do not understand why he took his responsibility while his biological father was available. When this step son is not your Mahram, you have no obligation towards him. Of course, you must obey your husband, but not when there is something un-Islamic happening.

    Second, your husband has no right to force you to take a job. It is his responsibility to earn for you and while he took the responsibility of this step son, he can not ask you to work, for!

    He must be told that it is not Islamic to let this step son live with you in his house. Sorry sister, this is all I had to say. I am sure you will receive good comments suggesting what you have to do, in sha Allah.

    Abu Abdul Bari Editor

  2. Salaams,

    I think your husband is only enabling his step son's laziness. It's one thing to pick up the slack when a biological parent is shirking their duties with a little child, but it's entirely another when a grown man is supporting another grown man who is not even related to him when that second man is entirely capable of taking care of himself. When your husband and his ex divorced, the most he should've been with the former stepchildren is a friend or mentor. Not a financial supporter at all.

    I think you need to make the boundaries very clear to him. You don't have to tolerate the dynamic if you don't want to. Tell him that you expect this young man to move out immediately and the financial support to stop altogether, as you and your own children have a primary right to it. Tell him what you will do in response if he refuses to cooperate (ie set a consequence: that you will move out and live with family or have the stepson removed from the home involuntarily, or something else serious enough to show you mean business). Then follow through on it if he disregards you. This is the only way to show others that you are worth being valued. If he doesn't value you, and shows it by keeping his priorities out of order, that should give you plenty to think about going forward.

    -Amy Editor

  3. This is FRUSTRATING!!!

    If i found your husband somewhere i would grab his shoulders and shake him up while yelling WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU MISTERRR??

    ... and he was being their doormat before he married you... and you knew about it... yet you married him.. Why sister? because no1 does that and he does, so he looked like a saint?

    well if this makes him a saint and you married him for this quality then obviously you must have seen this coming. Either you start thinking like him or stand up to change. The chances are that you could fail miserably if you tried to handle this tactlessly. Your anger and frustration is perfectly justified. You cannot have your own children coz two unrelated men are sucking away all your income and im doubtful if he has decent savings. This is dacoity in broad daylight. Does your husband has his own relatives? How do they see this?

    Your husband sounds like he has been hypnotised by his ex wife on a permanent basis. She saw how kind he was and decided to use him by unloading her baggage on his head. dont be too shocked if he made his will for them one day, leaving your home and whatever little he ownes for the ex wife's, ex husband's, ex children ( since ridiculously their father has nothing to do with them).

    I dont think i know of any dad of grownup men (no matter how doting) who takes their financial and other responsibilities to this extent. either your husband is being blackmailed into acting like this or he has been conditioned into believing that they are all he has. there is some foul play, its just that i cant tell what kind.
    If your husband is generally over generous with others as well and his behaviour is consistantly inconsistant in terms of setting his priorities then he is suffering from some trauma from the past or some kind of behavioural problem which only a professional could tell after diagnosing him.

    im sorry you are stuck in this situation, lonely, loveless, childless and with an uncertain future. iam sure you must have tried to have a serious discussion about it several times or tried to convince him without much success however i wish you had mentioned his reasons for such strong feelings towards these men.
    As our editor brother has rightly said that living under one roof with him is haram, this reason is enough for you to give them the ultimatum that if he doesnt leave then you will walk out for sure. if this husband of yours picks his ex wife's kids over you then its best that you leave rather than having empty hopes from this man who cannot set his priorities straight in life. i dont understand why you should do some random person's laundry or make meals or even funnier, earn to support him, at all. If he has chosen to be used then let him be used, you dont have to be bullied by him or his so called sons.You simply dont have to suffer because of his irrational behaviour.

    You have every right to live a normal life and this is definitely NOT normal.

  4. I got one question do you have kids?

  5. There is no indication how old this adult stepson is. Could be a teenager especially given the part about saving up for studies.

    Also how long was he living with your husband for? Maybe he raised him throughout his childhood and so they are very close like father/son. That doesn't justify violating your rights - but is part of understanding the dynamics at play and possible solutions

  6. i have one question for you what happend to the step sons mother and also your husband needs to sort this out u need to stand up for yourself..

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