Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Recently married and feel like a slave to in-laws

Angry in-laws


I recently got married, its been 5 months, and i can honestly say i am so unhappy and depressed i really don't know what to do anymore. I've moved from the UK to South Africa, i have had very little conversation with my in laws since the proposal, they seemed like nice people, to be honest they're nice, but very cultural (Indian).

Whereas iv been brought up very differently, more islamic than cultural, my parents never put any pressure on us in that sense.

Anyways before the marriage i was in contact with my now husband and we discussed everything, what i will do when i move, as iv always worked i wanted to work. thats one thing iv always wanted to do. as i left my studies to get married to him, and i said i want to at least work. So he agreed and said you can work with me. He is running his dads business.

However after the wedding when i arrived. I just felt a big heavy feelings of what have i done. Everyone in his family was picking on me, telling me what to wear and that i should dress up more etc etc when he knew full well i was a simple girl. Not into too much make up and glitz and glamour. However when my in laws seen my simple dresses they weren't too happy. Which made me really upset. they've made me feel as though i was an embarrassment to their family. It put me off a lot. I was straight away asked if i know how to cook, as that's what they expect me to do, take over the kitchen. However i don't know how to cook and then again i was looked down on.

I started helping my mother in law in the kitchen etc etc it came up me being there for over a month, and i was really getting bored just sitting at home, so requested to start work with my husband. When my mother in law found out, hell broke loose, she refused and said when will she learn how to cook? That broke me as i didn't get married to be a cook let people dictate my life. I eventually had to fight my way for them to accept it, my husband was by my side, but it really make me angry at the fact that he didn't tell his parents what i want. I let go of everything and was holding on and trying with them. Until his Dad started to play a big role in how i spend my time or what i do. He constantly kept wanting to know my whereabouts within the house!! If i was sitting and reading a book when i had nothing to do. He would stare at me and just stand there being intimidating. And he still continues to do just that. He loves to stand and just stare being patronizing and awkward.

I feel really uncomfortable when he does that. Im a really quiet and shy person and it puts me on edge when he does that. He had mentioned what is our luck regarding me. those words hurt a lot, and still do. Im all alone here i have no family, its the scariest thing ever. Im still homesick and no one is giving me time to get used to life here. They keep passing comments about how i don't know cook etc. but never appreciate the fact that I'm always standing in the kitchen helping out. My mother in law keeps saying what will she feed you etc etc etc and has been after me with the way i dress. Its all so overwhelming, i have no freedom to do what i want. I feel like a slave just following instruction. His parents are so controlling of him to the point where going out is an issue. His brother also lives with us so iv go to wear my hijab in the house too.

Im so put off everything that i just don't want to be married anymore and this feeling is eating me up. I feel like I'm not good enough for my husband or his family. Im already having thoughts of divorce, because i cant live under these rules if you say no to do anything. Its as thought you have committed a big crime. Im sick of feeling like a disappointment.

My husband said we will move out however he cant find the courage to speak to his dad. I feel even if he does they will always blame me for "taking their son away." I feel like I'm married to a child and not a man.

I feel like i get treated like a child/maid. His dad believes its a womans job to be in the kitchen and serve everyone. And i really disagree with that thought. My parents are the total opposite. I feel suffocated and depressed. I really just want to go home, my husband wont let me and doesn't understand. He has also confirmed that some of their income is not lawful and iv asked him to stop but he says he is trying to but its the Dads business and he has to do what he says, whenever he brings it up he said the dad will just say well why don't you do something then. They owe a lot of people money and its really scary because we are married how will my kids be raised around such a big mess. The relationship between him and his father is such a sad depressing one they hardly ever talk. If they do the Dad just speaks with a lot of authority he shows respect but he is very scared of his dad. He is unable to be open with him about anything. I feel like they barely know what his interests are in life.

Please advise me i have no idea what to do. Im so emotionally drained. And depressed i have given up on him already. Im too sad to even think of fighting and sticking it out. Would've been better if i had family around me. Im so angry within at him and the family and myself. Is it better for me to just let it go? He can remarry and will be better off.


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15 Responses »

  1. Hi Zeba,

    I have been in almost a similar situation myself so I can totally understand how depressing it can be. Sounds like you are feeling low and sad because of the situation and also that you do not have your family in this country. It is very scary and I have been in an almost same situation. Please take some time out for yourself, breathe, eat and sleep. Relax your mind first and do something for 15 -30 minutes at least one day, whatever you enjoy doing.

    Once you find some peace ask your self a few questions if you want to spend your life with your husband (forget about your in-laws, as you are married to your husband). If no then you know what you could do. If yes, then make sure that you and your husband have a great relationship. Look at your husband's situation from his perspective (I do not mean to be taking his side), just think how his parents must have treated him that he is scared to even say anything to his father. Consider your in=laws upbringing and try to be understanding. Once you have a great relationship with your husband, he would have your support, and he would gain the courage to be independent soon. Your husband is still his parent's son, the transition from being their son to being your husband will happen but with your support. You have to be patient (which I know is very difficult), make your husband your best friend and you will be able to win the race slowly and steadily. These things do not change overnight but with time, he will have the courage to be independent and move out but give him your support and love. Be very understanding and share your feelings with him. He will be able to understand how you feel about things and will support you. It is fine if he knows that you are an honest person you do not need to prove that to his parents.
    You will be expected to do something around the house, make sure that you help them until you find a job. If you want to work find a job as quickly as possible and tell your husband that you will work.

    You will be expected to help around the house even if you have a job, so make some arrangements where you have a person to work for you or share some household work with your mother-in-law. Do not just bow down to any and everything they ask you for, but yet make sure that you are doing your share of work. Because even if you live independently you will still be responsible for running your household.

    If you want to discuss your concern in depth please leave your response here and I will definitely reply Inshallah.


  2. Dear Sister: You may have been fooled, lied to or tricked into marrying your husband. To be quite honest, I would suggest that you call your parents and discuss this miserable situation, ask them to create a situation that requires you to return to the UK and go home. And then divorce your husband. Please do not tell me your in-laws have your passport and ID papers. You did not marry your father in law and are not your mother in law's servant. Your husband knew what you wanted in a marriage. He is doing nothing about your situation. Time to start packing. You are under no obligation to take care of your husband's parents. You also do not need to be treated so poorly with criticism about what you can and can't do and your appearance.

  3. Why on earth would you get married to someone living in a third world backward country like South Africa and expect these people to be enlightened?

    You made it clear to your husband that you are not marrying him so as to be a servant to his family but he has not lived up to his part of the bargain. He is a coward who will never move out as his father will disown him and he will lose the source of his wealth. Should your parents not have discussed these matters with your inlaws before the marriage?

    This whole marriage is a disaster and it is largely your fault for failing to make these issue clear to everyone not just your husband. You need to get out whilst you're still sane.

    I'm with Rose on this one. The only way you can save your marriage is to move to the UK and see if your husband will join you. I am absolutely certain that he will not.

    Get back to the UK asap, divorce this loser, you two are simply incompatible - you should have known that. Didn't you research his family and find out about about the sort of people they are before marrying into that family?

    Don't waste any more time, get back to the UK. If your passport is with the inlaws, just visit the British High Commission and ask for an emergency travel document saying your passport is lost.

    • Hussain, saying, "Why would you do this," and, "it is largely your fault" is NOT productive and will NOT help the sister digest your advice. It will only make her feel worse. The purpose of this website is not to castigate or assign blame, or to prove how much better your decision making process is than someone else's, or how you have more common sense than someone else. The purpose of this website is to help people.

      So please, before you employ phrases designed to blame and diminish someone else, think carefully about your words. Are your words designed to help the person? Or just to make a point?

      Wael Editor

  4. Nothing worse than having crazy people as your inlaws. Your husband is partly to blame. He didn't tell your family what you wanted regarding work etc although I don't see why he needs to inform them. Its none of their business.

    Its very hard to give a solution since your husband is scared to talk to his dad.

    Remind your husband, since hes married he needs to take responsibility not let parents dictate how to live your life. A man needs to stand on his feet. Ask him, is this how you wanted a marriage life?

    Tell your husband to take you to your parents for a month or so. A break will be good. Don't be too haste in seeking divorce. 5 months is not much, and I totally understand. Don't let their critics put you down. That's the best thing they can do.

    I don't like the behaviour of your father in law standing in front of you etc. Tell your husband. Acting like a mad sherlock.

    I say, give a year or so. If the situation doesn't improve, then feel free to leave this marriage. Before that, if you need to involve your parents then do so. Exhaust all means before seeking a divorce.

  5. OP: ..... his Dad started to play a big role in how i spend my time or what i do. He constantly kept wanting to know my whereabouts within the house!! If i was sitting and reading a book when i had nothing to do. He would stare at me and just stand there being intimidating. And he still continues to do just that..... And he still continues to do just that. He loves to stand and just stare being patronizing and awkward.

    Where is your mother in law when your father in law is staring at you? Does he do it when no one else is there? Do you react by giving a smile?
    You should learn cooking. If you have time it is a good activity. You may like it when you have your own place. Start with cooking rice.

    Make a list of things that are good about your husband and his family. List bad things separately.

    It be difficult for a divorced woman to remarry. Many men will want to be close to a divorced woman thinking she may be EASY for sex but don't want to marry.

    Don't even think about divorcing?

    Your husband should not get involved in unlawful income part.

    • This is the kind of mentality that opens doors for injustice towards daughter in laws. What crime has this women done to have such fate and to live in a place where she can't even call home and is treated like a slave and punching bag?

      If a women is difficult to live with, men are directly told to divorce them by today's alims. They are not told to make a list of her good habits and give her rights to her. So why should women who are not only living with a spineless man who does not care about her well being but are also living with such pathetic human beings have to suffer through it all life??

      So what divorced women find it tough to remarry?? Living alone is a zillion time better than living like a prisoner and being pushed to the edge of mental breakdown by suffering injustice everyday. Allah asks us to be just and this includes being just towards ourselves and not tolerating oppression of any kind. Please do not give a huge social problem of ill treatment of daughter in laws validation. In doing so we only continue the circle and normalize treating women like dirt and restricting their basic right to live peacefully like a human and not a slave.

      It is these illtreated daughter in laws that go on to become evil vindictive mother in laws to other people thinking DILs are just maid and slaves and not breathing living humans who have feelings and emotions. This cycle has to stop.

  6. AsSalamu Alaykum Dear Sister,

    All I can say is Get Out as fast as you can. Don't listen to any one who tells you to stick it out bla bla bla. This is a serious matter and clearly this marriage situation is not suitable for you. You will find someone better in the future, In Sha Allah.

    Allah swt does not want you to be oppressed. You have free will and have been given a choice in marriage as well Divorce is sometimes looked down on in the Muslim community but don't mind those people (auothobilah) they are no one to judge you, they are not God so ignore the opinions of people who look down on others. Don't be scared Try your best to get out as soon as possible. Let your family know that you are completely miserable. And find a way to leave. Make lots of Dua that everything happens smoothly. Ask for the strength to get through this situation and to be protected from anyone with ill intent towards you. Also make Dua for an easy and safe return home and an easy divorce. I'm so sorry you are in this situation, May Allah swt make it easy for you and grant you Peace in your heart. Take care of yourself Hun, don't stress too much. Nothing is impossible for Allah swt. You'll be just fine but try to find a way to leave.

    Wishing you the Best,

    You Sis, Aisha

  7. Divorce now. They think they bought a slave and you thought you got married. It's time to get divorced and let them buy another slave through marriage. If your husband can't honor the agreement he made with you before marriage then he is not in a position to get married. He should not have gotten married since it isn't up to him what his wife does. His father gets to decide what his son's wife does and you didn't agree to marry his dad. It's time for divorce. Do it now, don't look back. You're just wasting your time there when you could be married to someone else. Even worse would be you getting pregnant. Don't wait a a day, do the divorce now!

    • From what I see you made a mistake by marrying him and he made a mistake by marrying you ,cconsidering his family he should have married an Indian housewife . But in most situations we have good opinions of our parents we expect they will support us , but we keep getting such shocks , and we again and again keep trusting them but yes what they do after our marriage opens our eyes about them forever but it's often too late . From what I see I don't see you working anywhere in near future , . think your mother in law is your Hod and your learning cooking from her it may take 3-5 years for you to learn cooking , but how you can't shout back to your Hod or boss , bear it with a grin . What ever dresses and jewellery you mil wants you to wear buying that and paying for it is your husband's headache , you buy tons of it . But if your still confused at least don't concieve till your clear about this issue . don't fight saying it's your right ,they may assault you physically, if you've decided to leave , just leave , you may even give a fixed time period to your husband to decide for moving to anearby house say 1 month

      • It's extremely difficult to judge someone before marriage . You can only judge your friends and maybe some known people because youve discussed plenty of things , seen them reacting to different situations and heard their opinions on so many different things

  8. Assalam alaikum sister.

    This is the saddest thing about our community. We treat daughter in laws as second class citizens who are only here to be the maid and slaves and punching bags. And the worse part is, the women who go through it start believing it as their destiny.

    It's time to stop being a victim and start being vocal and assertive. It may sound counter intuitive but from what I've seen among countless of such situations, these in laws feel emboldened when the DIL meekly accepts and takes their taunts and rude behavior. Once you show them that you will not tolerate it, they retrieve to their cowardly shells.

    Sadly, this is the truth about today's society that we love to oppress and mistreat a person even more if they quietly take it. And we quietly accept and tolerate and bend to someone who is strong, assertive and vocal. It's time for you to become selfish and show them that you're not a slave and no less human being then they are and you are certainly not a maid and punching bag that they can dump their frustration on. Demand a separate place to live in from your husband.

    It will take time for you to take on the role of a strong, vocal woman who takes no one's shit but it will happen and once it happens you will have the peace of mind and the mental well-being that everyone deserves. Your inlaws don't seem to have any fear of Allah or about doing injustice to you so take a stand for yourself and ask your husband to provide a separate home, this is one of the rights of a women in Islam.

    Hope it's clear so far that your husband certainly wont take that stand and if you won't do it for yourself no one will and you can't expect anyone else to either.

    Sabr is when you do your best and quietly struggle through a situation you have no control over. But here you have control so do not believe for even a second that you're a victim. Is living like a slave really worth it? What is your crime that you should accept such a fate with such crass and pathetic people around? NOTHING.

    And believe me, in my experience that this really works and the resulting peace is really sweet. It's time women start judging men and inlaws and the capacity of men to look after their wellbeing against inlaws before marriage. Until that time, women will continue to be treated like dirt. And post marriage, it is time for you to start acting like a vamp rather than a goody two shoes daughterly woman on the verge of a mental breakdown.

    Also if that does not work and if your husband refuses to provide a separate home then divorce the no good man of yours. Im sorry to be blunt but would you rather suffer life long and then become the same bitter mother in law, your MIL is to you or get out now and keep your dignity and mental health intact? Take the decision sister, it is your life and no one else's

    Keep trust in Allah and stand up for justice for yourself.

    • Also, do not wait around. Do not give it "time" because things will not get better on their own. Allah says He will not change the condition of people until they change what is within them. Your inlaws will not sprout a conscience out of nowhere nor will your husband grow a spine on his own. Understand that this arrangement is perfect for both your husband and inlaws. You quietly tolerate your inlaws behavior and slog according to their wishes and you refrain from complaining to your husband keeping him "out of these issues." The only person suffering is you.

      Don't wait around for things to get better. Keep making dua and at the same time take it in your own hands and consider doing what I have told above. Be smart about it and don't take even a fraction of shit now onward.

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