Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Living with the in laws

Angry in-lawsSalam,

I need your dire help in advising me as a Muslim how to deal with my ongoing situation. I have been married for 3 years and I love my husband dearly and his family. However, I have maintained sabar and remained steadfast with my difficult in laws.

They have accused me of a great deal of things of which my husband is aware are false. These things are completely ridiculous, however the whole family especially my mother in law seems to keep putting me down. This in effect has led me many times to return to my parents home on many occasions, as the situation always deteriorates. If it were possible to live harmoniously and peacefully then me consulting my husband about moving out would not be an issue.

He in turn is not working and makes no effort to make a start in planning our future as we have a 2 year old son together. He tells me we will move out then i return to my in laws, yet to get exploited by my mother in law and my sister in law.

I am so fed up as it was my own choice to marry him and he is related to me. I was studying then decided to get married. Now this marriage is in a state of going around in circles. My husband makes me promises yet shows no signs of fulfilling them and yet he makes commitments financially elsewhere. I cannot live in that environment or bring my son up in that environment. My husband does not discuss matters with me when they reach boiling point and when it gets to a stage where living there is impossible. He retreats in his own shell and acts like nothing has happened.

I am currently at my parents house and just want a stable, loving environment for our son. My husband is 30 and I am 25. We both love one another, however the in laws are the cause of our marital breakdown. I feel he is not being a islamic husband and taking responsibility and protecting me and our son. What do I do? I am a firm beliver in right and wrong, thus where is the morality with my in laws. They always wage a war against us and now it seems to be permanent. Doubt the circumstances in my in laws house will change. Please advise. Much appreciated.

- muslimah999

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4 Responses »

  1. sorry for all that you are going through. be grateful that you have a loving parental home and a husband who believes you. with all that your in-laws are doing, if your husband was on their side and didn't believe you, where would you go? trust me, there are people who don't have a loving parental home to go to and/or a husband who believes them.
    now if he is promoising moving out, sit with him and talk to him and make a practical plan. you are the wife, and he is the husband. your marriage and life together is about the two of you. i once read about some american doctor who loved his mom so much that he brought her into his house and didn't let her do any work and took care of her, which is rare in america. this same doctor advised that for a happy married life, you have to make amn imaginery fence that keepsyour parents out of your married life. yes you love and honour them, but you do not let them have a say in an of your marital matters and this is very important for us desi folks. the in-laws are so shrewd that they can put things in a man's head about his ife and kids. i'll finish my response later. i have to go

  2. Salaam My Sister,

    I am sorry for the frustration you are feeling. I have to admit, I have struggled with this question. From my understanding your husband is on your side, you love each other very much, but his family are making problems with you to the extent that you cannot share the same roof with them, there is a 2 year old involved. You husband is asking you to return to his family home before he takes any kind of affirmative action and you have been going around in circles like this for some time.

    So the problem I have identified here is: how to break the cycle and create a new result.

    To break a cycle, we must first of all - look at the pattern of behaviour which is leading to the ending we don't want - but always get.
    Then, to look at what we, ourselves are doing to support that pattern.

    Write it down if it helps, it might go something like this:

    I move in to his house, his mum starts going on at me, husband doesn't get involved and asks me to put up with it, I get upset, I cant take it any more, I beg him to find us a new place where we can be alone, he doesn't, we fight, I move out, we still love each other, he asks me to move back, I don't want to, then I do, then it all starts again, I move into his house, his mum starts going on at me .....repeat, repeat, repeat

    Once you have noted the pattern of behaviour - you must then look at the attitudes you are demonstrating that support this behaviour, example:

    I move out (write your motivation here), I move back in (write your motivation here)...and so on....

    Once you have identified your motives - try to seek the underlying emotions that are driving you:

    I behave in this way because I feel ..........
    I do this because I feel .......

    Are you making sense? Do not actions reflect your underlying emotions and motives? How can you change your actions and words to reflect the truth of what you want to happen?

    If your problem is the in-laws, your husband will try to fix that. If you're problem is upstairs is too cold, downstairs is better, your husband will try to fix that. He will continue trying to fix the relationship between you and your in-laws, believing this is the problem. In truth - that's not the problem, this is why you are going in circles.

    Once you have done this - you must identify where you have been unclear, avoiding responsibility, being not very motivational / helpful or clear and change what you are doing. You may be left with a very honest statement:

    "Husband, you know what - I have been thinking about it and the truth is, no matter how much your parent's change / make amends / try, I really don't want to live there. I know you are trying - but I just don't want to. What I really want is for us to live happily together away from the family home. I love you very much, and I feel that the best thing to do is for me to stay where I am until you find a place for us to be on our own. I don't blame anyone for this situation except me. Let me help you find a solution"

    When you speak in this very real way - what happens is that your husband is left with a clear solution: find a new home. As you are speaking, avoid complaining "if only your mother...", "if your sister wasn't such a...." - leave all of that out - its not relevant to solving your problem or achieving your goal. If you take responsibility - you can then help to find a solution. If the responsibility lies with the in-laws, then it is their job to find a solution. If you are responsible, you find the solution. This is how taking responsibility enables us to find solutions.

    Then, you motivate. When we stop complaining and start motivating - the person we are speaking to doesn't get defensive and actually finds some energy to do something. Boost him, give him confidence, offer help and generally be loving and believing in him. Tell him straight, "husband, it's not them - it's me, I am sensitive, I get affected by people - I won't put myself through it any more but I believe in you and I know you are able to sort something out for us"

    If you stick with one single message - inshaAllah, it will get through. If you blame, complain, and criticise - you fall into victim-world where you have no power. If you exclude third parties from the situation, then you can get actively involved in a new situation. "Husband, this is not about your family - this is about me and you and our life together".

    A good way to facilitate a new conversation is to get away from all reminders of old ones to avoid falling back into the same old conversation with the same old results. What that means is - go to a new environment for a few hours, or for a day alone with your husband, be physically distant from your usual surroundings, leave your son with mum for a while, and go somewhere with little noise and distraction and have this conversation.

    "Husband, I want to apologise for everything that has been going on. The truth is, I have been thinking about things and what I have learned is that no matter what happens, I am not going to move back in with your family.[this is the truth] I am a sensitive person, I get affected by people's attitudes and deep down I don't want to live my life in that way [this is taking responsibility] - I want to live in a space where we can be together as one big family [this is your motivation]. I know I have been putting pressure on you and blaming your family for everything, but the truth is - whilst I am happy to love them and see them, but I will never be happy living with them and I want all of this upset to stop today, and I want to be helpful to you so that we can find a solution together and stop fighting about it. I love you, I will never leave you - this is the way that it is. How do you feel about everything, can we sort this out together? [invitation to motivation / honesty and sharing]"

    InshaAllah - your husband will hear you and respond with his own feelings. He may slip into complaining, he may slip into giving excuses and reasons, he may touch on time-old topics that ignite a defence mechanism in you. The skill here is to just listen, and gently steer the conversation away from other people, away from blame, away from complaining and back to the important subject: the two of you and the future. He needs to say the words out loud in order to feel better about them, and clear them from the thought process. Listening to him say everything out loud, is you loving him. Phrases that may help are: "I understand what you are saying, I really do." - avoid giving excuses, when he tells you bad things about you (as long as they are not abusive), explain that "yes, I can see how it comes across that way - it's all because I thought x was the problem, when really the problem is that we don't have our own place". As you continue in this way, inshaAllah slowly he will be able to separate what has been happening, to what needs to happen. If you have managed to open up this conversation, when he presents you with barriers to the solution (cant get a job / no work / no money) be motivational and supportive "I think you can achieve anything when you want to - because that's the kind of man that you are and that's why I love you" and so that you believe in him, that you respect his abilities and remind him of his abilities.

    As you learn to grow this new style of conversation where no one is a bad guy or a victim of others - you learn to identify that there is simply a problem to be solved: you may be able to create a can-do atmosphere between the two of you and make a plan to achieve something together. Offer help - "would it help if I wrote you a resume?", "would it help you if I came to visit occasionally?", "would it help you if I...". If he asks you to do something you don't want to do (like move back in) smile, be calm and state simply "I can't do that because it won't solve any problems"

    The whole aim is to start a new cycle and avoid falling into the old cycle by actively making positive changes and facilitating new attitudes, and outcomes.

    InshaAllah, something will begin - you will feel a new style of talking and a fresh burst of energy to create a different outcome.



  3. Wow Leyla dear, u have a very good command on such issues.......May Allah reward u for helping people.

  4. Thanks Leyla.. even though I am just another reader, your detailed answer solved my problems too.. so logical.. and yes we go in circles.. we hear calming words from our husbands.. and then husbands forget about us again.. and then the circle starts again.. so thanks for clearing up my mind.. now i am gonna have a book to write in.. and will follow the logic.. May Allah reward you for sharing your intelligence and spreading your knowledge. THANKS ALOT.

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