In-Law Interference


Part I | Part II

Marriage is the bringing together of two families. However, many couples struggle with exactly how to mesh two families together while maintaining their independence as a couple.  When a couple gets married, an extended family is created as well as the beginnings of a new family that the couple will create between the two of them.  With each family comes its own values, and with every new couple a new, often unique set of traditions and memories will also develop.  An initial hurdle that couples are faced with is the role their in-laws will play in their lives.  Couples must move from a dependent relationship with parents to an interdependent relationship with their spouse.  In order for this shift to happen, couples need to set boundaries and limits with their parents in the early stages of the marriage in order to eliminate interference.

Establishing clear boundaries is not easy and, like marriage, it can require constant attention.  Even when boundaries are created, families may not always want to abide by the boundaries, so couples must learn to reinforce the boundaries they want and negotiate new ones.  The process of creating a new family is challenging for a new couple, but ultimately it brings the couple closer together and it brings more peace to everyone’s lives. Before marriage, couples need to negotiate the role they envision their in-laws having in their lives.  Making assumptions that you have the same vision will only lead to surprises and resentment. Setting boundaries as a couple is a way to protect your marriage early on and the communication it requires will insulate you from outside problems creeping into the marriage. Boundaries that can be set with in-laws include seeking advice, exchanging money, frequency of visits, phone calls, vacations, raising children, and gossip. Boundaries for every couple will be different and they will need to choose what the most pressing matters are that need to be addressed in their family.  Couples can resolve any issues that arise by setting new limits or by simply adapting to the expectation.

Couples sometimes unknowingly place their parents in the middle of their relationship by telling them everything or by running to them at the first signs of problems in the marriage. A new couple needs to depend on one another and to make decisions as a team.  This requires that couples communicate with one another and if disagreements ensue, they resolve them together rather than bringing in their parents to “referee.”  This is especially vital at the beginning of the marriage because it will solidify the unification of the couple and encourage them to problem solve together as they establish their own family. Couples should not share problems with parents because most parents will generally take the side of their child. Couples should clearly communicate with each other what they will share with parents and what is best left between them.  They should remain loyal to each other and remember that the marital relationship must come first in each other’s lives as they strive to create their own family.

Each spouse is responsible for protecting their spouse, even toward their respective parents.  As the Qur’an describes: “…They are your garments and you are their garments…” (2:187)  Like our clothing, spouses must protect each other by not allowing anyone to speak ill of their spouse.  This clearly demonstrates to the parents that the couple is a unit that cannot be split. The couple should also make clear to their respective parents that there are no secrets between the couple, so whatever is said to one is free to be shared with the other. Negative comments made about one’s spouse must not be tolerated and parents must get the impression that their child’s spouse will always be respected, even in his or her absence.  Even if in the presence of in-laws, the spouse being attacked cannot be left to defend himself or herself.  This is the role of the child of those parents.  The person with the primary relationship to the parent needs to make clear the boundaries and uphold them. Problems will arise in the marriage if a spouse is pulled to side with their parents against the spouse. The reverse is also true: spouses must never degrade their in-laws to their spouses as this will cause a fracture to develop where a spouse is caught in the middle between parents and spouse. Couples must always remember to be gracious and kind to their parents as they assert their independence as adults.

Newly married couples need space, both physically and emotionally, to nurture their blossoming relationship. Unexpected visits by in-laws may be intrusive to the couple so boundaries of when in-laws will visit must be made clear early on in the marriage. How often couples will visit the in-laws will also need to be discussed by the couple.  This would include both how often and for how long so that the couple is not overly burdened and so that all their free time is not spent with in-laws.  In cases where in-laws live with the couple in the same home, more specific boundaries will need to be set, such as a particular time and place everyday that will exclusively be for the couple to spend time together. Setting a limit that preserves privacy for the couple also reinforces the importance of time spent alone as a couple and allows intimacy to build between the couple.

Interference from in-laws can come in subtle ways which can threaten the marital relationship.  Conflicts over money can arise when in-laws lend money to a new couple with subtle expectations attached, like visiting more often couched with reminders about the help they’ve given.  Money could be a subtle way of controlling a couple’s emerging autonomy.  Childrearing advice could be well intentioned, but the couple as new parents is most vulnerable to criticism and advice from in-laws.  Advice that makes the couple feel incompetent is unproductive and it does not allow the couple to determine how they want to raise their own children or build confidence in their ability to raise a family. These subtle ways of interfering can cause divisions in a marriage if boundaries are not created by the couple and problems are not addressed immediately.

So how does a couple set boundaries with overly intrusive in-laws, especially if one spouse does not think there is a problem?  This conflict can only be resolved if the couple works to grow closer to each other in their marriage.  One pathway to this is by developing open communication and honesty with regard to the interference of the in-laws. Only after gaining a spouse’s loyalty will the issue become a priority over the interests of parents.  This can be very difficult if the parents make their child feel guilty for doing so and often a spouse does not have the courage to be assertive with their own parents. In order to confront parents about destructive behavior, the spouse must first recognize that the interference is not “normal” behavior and can in fact be damaging. If someone has been raised in a family that is controlling and manipulative, manipulative behavior may have become normalized, making it very difficult for the spouse to identify this behavior as destructive.  Once a spouse is able to recognize that the interference is a problem and threat to the marriage, the next step is to develop the courage to confront their parents.  In some cases, this may only be possible through counseling or education. A lack of assertiveness with parents is a typical struggle most young Muslim men and women encounter and it is even more difficult if the parents are controlling and manipulative. Maintaining respect for problematic in-laws is essential even though it will not be easy. Spouses should not respond to hurtful words and actions in equally hurtful ways. Limiting the influence of in-laws on the marriage and children is vital if the in-laws are destructive to the marriage.

Boundaries are ways of preserving a family and those limits must be decided upon by the couple. A new couple struggles to develop loyalty and a new bond with one another and this can be easily fractured if in-laws interfere aggressively.  In-laws who seek to have healthy relationships with their adult children and their children’s spouses will respect boundaries established by the couple and will do everything they can to help the couple be independent.  The adult relationship between parents and spouses will always evolve and improve with time if family members are open and honest about their feelings and expectations. Communicating and understanding the roles everyone holds in the new family will bring peace to families and help build the bonds that create new memories.

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34 Comments

  1. Abu Abdullah says:

    jazak Allah khayr. I translated this article over the phone to my parents. However, I wish I could have respected my ever interfering in laws better ( even on the face of it) and tried saving my marriage with better ways.

    Wanting to be part of the solution,I wish then I knew
    a. When a couple gets married, an extended family is created as well as the beginnings of a new family that the couple will create between the two of them.

    b. couples need to set boundaries and limits with their parents in the early stages of the marriage in order to eliminate interference. Couples sometimes unknowingly place their parents in the middle of their relationship by telling them everything or by running to them at the first signs of problems in the marriage

    c. Before marriage, couples need to negotiate the role they envision their in-laws having in their lives. Making assumptions that you have the same vision will only lead to surprises and resentment.

    d. Couples should clearly communicate with each other what they will share with parents and what is best left between them. They should remain loyal to each other and remember that the marital relationship must come first in each other’s lives as they strive to create their own family.

    e. Only after gaining a spouse’s loyalty will the issue become a priority over the interests of parents. This can be very difficult if the parents make their child feel guilty for doing so and often a spouse does not have the courage to be assertive with their own parents.

    f. Maintaining respect for problematic in-laws is essential even though it will not be easy. Spouses should not respond to hurtful words and actions in equally hurtful ways.

    I wish she knew,
    a. Once a spouse is able to recognize that the interference is a problem and threat to the marriage, the next step is to develop the courage to confront their parents.

    b. Only after gaining a spouse’s loyalty will the issue become a priority over the interests of parents.

    c. In order to confront parents about destructive behavior, the spouse must first recognize that the interference is not “normal” behavior and can in fact be damaging.

    d. Once a spouse is able to recognize that the interference is a problem and threat to the marriage, the next step is to develop the courage to confront their parents. In some cases, this may only be possible through counseling or education. A lack of assertiveness with parents is a typical struggle most young Muslim men and women encounter and it is even more difficult if the parents are controlling and manipulative.

    I wish they knew,

    a. couple as new parents is most vulnerable to criticism and advice from in-laws

    b. A new couple needs to depend on one another and to make decisions as a team.

    c. Couples should not share problems with parents because most parents will generally take the side of their child. (need more PR , ZAS?)

    d. This clearly demonstrates to the parents that the couple is a unit that cannot be split.

    e. Problems will arise in the marriage if a spouse is pulled to side with their parents against the spouse.

    f. Negative comments made about one’s spouse must not be tolerated and parents must get the impression that their child’s spouse will always be respected, even in his or her absence. Even if in the presence of in-laws, the spouse being attacked cannot be left to defend himself or herself.
    g. Newly married couples need space, both physically and emotionally, to nurture their blossoming relationship.
    h. A new couple struggles to develop loyalty and a new bond with one another and this can be easily fractured if in-laws interfere aggressively. ( They stole my wife, I hope Allaah keep their families safe. )
    may Allah have mercy on umm Abdullah. Ameen. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon.

    • BintKhalil says:

      Assalamu alaikum

      Jazak Allah khair brother for your detailed comment. I pray Allah subhana wa ta’ala eases the pain and regret that you are experiencing. I was wondering if I may ask you (and others) for some advice.

      I recently ended “marriage talks” with a brother after he asked me if I would live with his family (parents, 2 brothers & a sister) after marriage. The reason he gave me was that he had never lived away from his family in his life. He was 26 btw. Although we had very similar backgrounds, I found him to be extremely cultural, whereas I am not, and this led to a large communication gap, and therefore a lack of compatibility.

      Here’s my question. All these tips about setting boundaries early on, I believe, only work if both of you are on the same page (are at least pages that are not too far apart) to begin with. Otherwise, your significant other cannot begin to fathom why you want your newly established family to maintain some distance from the extended family while s/he thinks that your new family should be held to the bosom of the extended one. So, I ask, what are questions you could ask or signs you could see that the person you are talking to for the purposes of marriage is held on a leash by his/her parents (for lack of a more polite expression)?

      • abu Abdullah says:

        Alhamdulillah rabbil ‘alameen. i had married this american woman for her haya and haybah for Allaah. My ego and ungratefulness, coupled with many uncontrollable variables led to her losing her balance and us losing our baby. Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi rajioon.

        I am not qualified to give any opinion so please do not take it seriously. Each individual goes through their test, All that matters is what you do whether Allah Ta’la is pleased with that or not.

        All marriages are not based on love. Most of them are based on mercy. Thus said Umar, when asked whom should I give my daughter to by a man. May Allah be pleased with them. The only most crucial criteria is Fear of Allaah. If he loves you , then there is nothing like it and even if he does not love you he will make sure out of khashiya of Allah that your rights are properly taken care of.

        Sense of humor , friendliness, compatibilitiy and other traits of your choice are your personal choice to look for.

        Remember our purpose in this life is to Please Allaah alone.

        If he is telling you something is a important or a problem, then understand that its important or a problem.

        Like I asked would she be moving back with me to my home country after marriage , they said all yes, hoping that their daughter won’t get a better groom than me ( astaghfirullah wastaghfirlahum for mutaffif attitude of parents for their children) and later were like Oh no, we thought it was merely for a visit. So understand people change every minute. The person you look for marriage would not be totally same like

        But always remember to be grateful to Allaah. Because He ta’la know what He is doing when in His infinite wisdom he chose so and so as groom for you.

        make Istikharah and seek Dua from Allah that its not just a spouse you are seeking a father to your children in the future.

        I never had a sister, so never knew how to deal with women until marriage and messed up big time. So lesson is, See how he treats his mother, insh Allah, he will treat you with similar respect.

        And please understand all guys are generally mama’s boys. They LOVE their mothers. You too after becoming a mother would want same love from your son/daughter, so please respect that part. The guy needs to understand his islamic responsibility of providing privacy to his wife, albeit in a rental apartment near his parents house. They need to learn to draw the line between loving wife and caring for parents. And understand no matter how hard you will try its his parents that are doors for him to jannah. You should help him out in attaining his jannah and he should help you out in attaining yours ( without abusing ‘qawwamun hadith).

        Respect his attempt of self respect that he wants to take care of his family ( including you) on his own and not wanting any house, car, tuition, job, free plane tickets from your parents.

        He needs to realize that he is marrying the whole family by marrying you and not just a single person.

        Read lessons from the life of sahabiyyat. We need to have lots of chivalorus people like Uthman Bin Talha…

        Amatullah here wrote a lot of nice dua series. Memorize them. Forbid shayatin from entering your house by the way you carry yourself with adhkar and remembrance of Allaah.

        Try to find out how is his relation with the book of Allaah.

        Please realize that its always a girl that gets to choose whom to marry and when to leave their guy.

        As Siraaj meticulously puts it, read cheat sheet for brothers and sisters he has made. Google it.

        There will be lot of baggage coming from either sides. One word Adjustment. The more you are flexible the more its worth it for you insh Allah. Because the flexibles are blessed.

        Remember first year is very difficult. So forget everything H(or B)ollywood has taught you about romanticizing. Its natural feeling but Islam teaches moderation. Islamic idea of romance is in Jannah. Our worry here is to how to reach there. There are limited seats in Jannah and people who don’t worry about it are making competition less for the others.

        See if he is addict to games, friends, computers? and knows how to relax. Respect opines of your parents and siblings about him.

        If he says he is not ready for marriage or not ready for marriage with you reluctantly understand the RED flag. respect it instead of pushing him into a marriage that is going to fail and eternally put him into regret and state of shock and repentance.

        Have fun.

        The modern day mughith in myself, had adhd and lost his barirah and now not able to let it go and eating self up from inside. And subahan Allah, there is no prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam to intercede. Those who taught us this story in fact sided one party, in order to make it upto them what my wife went through ( they recommended me for this marriage in the first place). It IS Qadr of Allaah and I need to learn and accept it. It was not fair for me that I had to try so hard just to be normal.

        Everyone consoling would tell me you have made such situation of yours for a girl? She isn’t merely (any) girl for me. We were first for each other and that is very special for us and such bitter experience isn’t easy to let go.

        I might not have answered your question the way you want but again I already said I am not qualified for answering. Take opinion from local student of knowledge.

        Fear Allaah.

        Find out if there are common activities which potentially you could do and enjoy. Like cooking or taking classes together. I tried both but my ungratefulness bettered me in moment of weakness and that I lost my dear wife ( in legal court of this country).

        If he is indicating that he isn’t able to buy you a house or honestly telling you things that he can or cannot do. Make sure you have evaluated them very seriously to your personal situation. Take guidance from your parents. They want the best for you.

        Everyone in the place i work were asked to choose an avatar from disney ,

        Alhamdulillah, I chose, (abd al) Jami ( resembling the attribute of Allaah al’jami’), the assembler from THE 99 super heroes,

        a. because reminding self about how to be grateful To Allaah for how beautifully He fashioned everything in proportion in this world and all that he has gave us and
        b. also a reminder that one day He Ta’la is going to assemble us on DOJ and only our deeds will be there with us, without anyone whom we once loved.
        c. And also his cool techie hairstyle.

        The first question I asked when I went to see my wife, from the book 100 things I wish I knew before marriage, was If you were a geometric shape, what it would be? She was simple woman with honest answer of a square. Plain and simple. It was supposed to be ice breaking question but turned out to be real hit so much so that my would be FIL immediately asked my would be MIL the same question and she was like.. embarrassed.

        Make sure He IS attracted to you and IS ready for this marriage and NOT not sure what he is doing. That he is not marrying you for your status, your family’s status, green / blue/ yellow cards…

        Make sure he doesn’t already hates anyone from your family. Its very important that he learns to live interdependence.

        When I asked the same questions, without my mother involved in the whole process, because she did not have a visa and was back home,it being the biggest blunder from my side, and after being recommended from a big shot teacher, surprised and confused I asked another teacher who is too good in teaching arabic in this country mashallah, what should I ask my future spouse? He said I am not buying a car? I should ask practical questions that are important to me. And that made another set of problems for me like thinking about what is impotant to me. So be very sure about what you want if you don’t know you parents know it.

        See if he loves children.

        Learn to cook, at least what you like to eat. He may or may not help you in that.

        Work on Your own tazkiyyah. No matter how much you feel its you who will be responsible for your deeds on the day of judgment.

        He won’t have all the qualities in the man you are looking for, but realize what is most that is NEEDED to you. Balance it with your WANTS.
        Perform a SWOT analysis ( Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat).

        Don’t judge, do ghalata or backbite. Remember the highest place in Jannah for woman Fatimah RA received because mash Allah she used to keep peoples’ secrets. Its a big problem in today’s world, mostly women but now men are catching up ( demanding their equal rights in the sharr instead of any khayr).

        If things are going really wrong like you are losing your sanity, please tell planely that I don’t want/need you anymore. A beating followed by Civil Protection Order request is of no help.

        Without mentioning anyones’ name I put down a lot of personal details. I doubt if moderators would actually allow this to be posted as a comment but again your efforts may fail, but do not fail to make efforts. Thats a too long of a list and may not be anyone from it from what you were looking for. I apologize if I hurt anyone. Whatever is good is only from Allaah and whatever is sharr is from shaytan and my nafs. walhamdulilah ala kulli haal.
        wassalam.

        ps As my MIL once put it, when I reminded her what would she like to have on Mother in Law day, No matter how much you prepare for marriage its never enough. Its just western concept to dramatize demanding spouses these days. I am sure and you can confirm this by asking your own parents how much preparation they did for their marriages and how much of that was actually but yet they are able to raise great kids, like yourself and your siblings mash Allah. Experience teaches everyone and let natural recourse take its own time. Make Dua to Allaah alone, it will surely help.

    • Sister in islam says:

      Zazakallah brother, To discusse all these things may give hidayat to all muslims ( In Sha Allah). My husband is really a very nobel person.. Worships regularly, always ready to help others, giving me respect..i m blessed by allah . But when it comes to my mother in law he can not see anything beyond ger. And she does not like my parents.. She always keep giving him wrong informations that he thinks my parent does not respect his parents.. While my parents are doing their best. And whenever it happanes my house turned on battlefield and ruins my home peace for days.i cant unserstand whats her problem with my parents. She does not tell me anything directly but she jerp provoking my husband regularly.. Its been five years of my marriage an we have 8 months old daughter.. Alhamdulillah… My question is what does islam say about this evic acts of her.? What should i do? My husband does not listen to me when it comes to his mother.. He thinks whatever his mother says is right.. Now things are like she has started giving him evil talks about my other relatives.. If these things wont stop now, wil create a major problem… Pls make dua for my family..i have a limit to to listen agaist of my family and my husband expect that i must not feel bad if he says against them .. M i doing wrong.? my husband and my mother in law is right?

  2. Hayaah says:

    The points here in, right as they may be, are pretty much like a commentary without constructive advice that would actually help those who struggle in a situation, as stated above. For example, those who are stuck with manipulative and controlling parents, what exactly comprises a respectful way of addressing this situation. An example would be enlightening; more helpful. I say so, because I see myself living under the shade of a father, who good as he may be otherwise, remains a controlling, intrusive, and manipulative man (be it his role of father, husband, or father in law). I see how he is with my brother and sister in law, and I don’t see how anything would be the right thing to say to him, when all he will listen to, is himself. In most situations, tact has failed, and there exists not another soul who can reach through to him when he is at his testing best. Only prayer remains the last resort.

    Therefore, ideally speaking the article brings about all the tenets that must be done, or briefs the reader on what is what, but to me – it fails to actually help in terms of giving an example that would actually work in the situation itself. Perhaps, I am being too critical? But I assure you, I am simply at the end of the worry, not quite successful in having found a way around the issue itself. Prayer is the only resort that remains in action to abide the testing of times, Alhumdulillah.

    Having said that, thanks for the article, as inshaAllah it does have things in that may help others identify their problems to begin with, if not help entirely.

    JazakAllah Khayr.
    ~ FiamaanAllah.

    • Zaufishan says:

      @Abu Abdullah & @Hayaah- may Allah bless you and reward you for your patience and struggles. Perhaps as experienced individuals of these pitfalls you yourself could give some insight into what you feel is practical, real advice for how to deal with overbearing parents and in-laws, or even the husband/wife. Each case is individual so although general tips and prayers can be used, each couple needs personal counselling and a guide.

      While this article mostly educates us from the outset, what to expect and what do to as preventatives, I expect Part 3 will contain further solutions we can implement, inshaallah.

    • N. says:

      although not “islamic” solutions, some helpful practical solutions on dealing with manipulative and controling parents and in-laws might be found in the literature on narcissistic personality disorder. For example, “Children of the Self-Absorbed” by Nina Brown. It could give some tools to keep the peace while keeping the sanity with certain personality types.

  3. Annonymous Brother says:

    Zakhallah Khair for these articles on a very complicated topic.

    I think being assertive with parents sometimes is easier said then done. I will present you with an example just to illustrate how complex this situation can be. Mind you, I do not want a solution or a judgment; I am just giving an example. My mom and dad do not have a very good relationship with each other. In fact, their relationship has been so bitter that they should have got divorced long time ago, but they did not do so only to save face in the society. Mom had to endure UNIMAGINABLE (even this word does not do justice) amount of emotional abuse from her in-laws. At the same time, my father never took the stance to defend mom; he rather blamed her, which hurt her even more. The only reason mom did not take out herself of such relationship was her image (in society), lack of parental support once divorced, and children. She did not wanted us to grow in a broken family. Anyway, alhamdulillah, I am now established. Since my mother’s relationship is not good with my father, she will inevitably live with me. Being her son, it is also Islamically my duty to provide her the shelter. I know that my mom loves me most in this world, but her love is possessive, unfortunately. She always tell me which dress I will buy. She is always right. She will choose spouse for me. I know she will interfere in some issues like child rearing when I start family. In the past, whenever I have tried to become little assertive on some small matters (like how it is wrong to put too much pressure when children choose their field of study), she became emotional, started crying, and reminded how much sacrifice she had to make to make the person who I am today. She probably wants to find emotional solace by controlling my life, something that she did not get from her marriage. Now I may be told to be assertive, but when I do and my mom starts crying, I become filled with enormous guilt feeling for hurting her, because she has already endured what she had to endure.

    Personally, I do not want to make the life of my future wife miserable. On the otherhand, I feel guilty if I hurt my mom in any way.

    The problem here is: most parents do not learn how to let their children go from their lap. They do not understand that they would do more favor by allowing their children to live separately. They simply cannot accept this fact of life that children one day becomes adult and wants to live a life of their own.

    The solution: Dua. First and foremost, I pray to Allah that He bless my mom with good health, and honors her in both world. Then I pray to Allah to bless me with a wife who will understand the situation that i am it. At least she will have me emotionally. And I pray to Allah that when i become parent, I do not repeat the parenting mistakes of my parents.

    • N. says:

      Mashallah, brother, this is one of the most insightful postings i’ve seen. You see the situation clearly, compassionately, with all its complications. Ameen to your du’as. when you have the 2 women in your life (mother and wife), in sha Allah, it will be very important to give each assurance of your complete love in different ways, so they will not be set into destructive competition thru insecurity. Your words indicate you are a caring, thoughtful, and fair man so inshaAllah t’ala you will be up to the challenge. May Allah swt make it easy and reward you immensely.

      • Anonymous says:

        MashaAllah brother, I pray that Allah accepts your sincerity and protects you and your family from shaytan. May He make an excellent means for you to attain Jannatul Firdous with all your loved ones, ameen.

  4. mike says:

    In response to Hayaah,

    When In-laws or particular in-laws is very powerful, important in their social set or community and has been a word of wisdom and advice for many. They sometime have ego that has been massaged beyond belief at times.

    For those situations; you have to play Machiavelli. Find an elder or equal of theirs who they respect and obey and can be an allay of yours.

    You have play diplomatic game of offer and refusal. Bargain down etc. Its complicated and painful and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. And if it gets too much; many just relocate. You both look for jobs elsewhere and move.

    The choices are not easy but fixes are there. Saaber i.e.
    patience and prayer is another choice and also not easy.

    Innshallah it will all work out.

  5. Concerned women says:

    Asalamu Alaikum WRB
    The society is moving to a different level all together where young couples do not want live with parents or take care of them. This is changing the balance of society. Where are parents supposed to go if they children do not want them. Marriage is not between just man and women but 2 families, both man and women need to build their relationship while taking care and maintain relation with other family members especially parents in laws. I am a women and I am telling you sometimes women can be selfish it is prompting from shaitaan, they want to have just husband, kids and womens family members and not deal with in laws this is not correct. At the same time the husband plays a very important and critical role he needs to be strong and assure both his wife and parents that he is there for both and loves them in different ways. He needs to be respectful to his wife’s family members too.
    But please do not give advice to young couples to restrict their parents involvement the young couple has some responsibilities too.

    • n says:

      Indeed the young couple does has responsibilites but often times these ‘responsibilities’ suddenly show up right after the day of the nikkah, I suppose a response to feeling like the parent might ‘loose’ their child.

      I don’t think its right how some women completely disregard the husband’s family. On the flip side, in some cultures, like the pakistani/indian culture where the mother of the son has an ‘upper hand’ so to speak, they think its somehow acceptable to say just about anything to the wife, and she should be patient, well mannered and respectful.

      In general yes this is how it should be but the problem comes in when this principle is used to just completely degrade and verbally bother young daughter in laws.

      I think not having enough space with eachother in the past worked cuz there weren’t there many ‘issues’ to work out perhaps. They were all coming from the same background.

      This isn’t the case nowadays. You have people marrying people from all sorts of backgrounds. I think especially for muslims in the west, with our multiple personalities =), we need time to blend in with our spouse, and the inlaws need to be mature enough to get this.

      This topic, however should be one that is discussed BEFORE the marriage takes place, not after.

      • Maheen says:

        I’m Pakistani and I agree. Pakistani culture allows mother-in-laws to abuse daughter-in-laws all the time. While there are good mother-in-laws, they are the minority. Most of the men are Mama’s boys who have no idea how to balance between their mother’s rights and their wife’s. They expect their wives to tolerate verbal, emotional and in some cases, physical abuse.This is why when my daughter marries insha Allah, i make dua she has either a just, fair, and nice mother-in-law or no mother-in-law. A woman should not have to go through a sick “initiation” into her husband’s family by seeing how much abuse she can tolerate at the hands of her mother-in-law. There is no excuse for that in Islam.

  6. Sister says:

    I find an very important to mention there is a difference between being kind and being obedient to parents. The process of marriage has become so difficult as parents are choosing someone they would marry rather, than what their son or daughter would have selected for a spouse.

  7. idina says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    Thank you so much for sharing this enlightening article. I am currently facing this conflict and yes, my parents kept using the “guilty” method even after I’ve confronted them in peace.

    Now I feel much more relieved and confident to handle the conflict with better perspectives and understanding..

    May we all be blessed by Allah the Almighty.. Amin…

  8. Anonymus says:

    Assalam alaikum,

    MashaAllah nice points.
    However the article assumes that couples are able to define the boundaries outlined in the article.
    Many times husbands do not wish to set any kind of boundaries, they just expect the wife to fit into his family and accept everything the way they are.
    It of course depends on the kind of relationship the couple has, but mainly the background the husband is from.
    We all know how things work on the Indian Subcontinent… the bahu culture does not give room for setting boundaries and taking any kind of control of the things either as a couple, either as a wife.
    As for what “n” suggested that things should be discussed before marriage. Well, many times people promise things ahead of the wedding and then things aren’t the same way as promised before. We all know how difficult it is to find a suitable person for marriage and many times people tend to agree to things which they might not be able to act upon later on.
    Many might agree with my view and many might find it wrong. I’m open for discussion.

    • Maheen says:

      you are absolutely right in terms of how things work in the Indian subcontinent. The only way to get around it is:

      a. make sure to check out the character of the in-laws, especially the mother-in-law
      b. move far away from them for “job” or “education” purposes. Visits are tolerable, living in the same city is not. Most South Asian in-laws can accept moving away for these reasons, but not to make a marriage succeed.
      c. not marry a guy who has no spine at all. Or not marry a guy from a culture that treats daughter-in-laws this way.

  9. Daughter-in-Law says:

    I think Islam has set excellent social boundaries for everybody so that if members of the Muslim household ( couple as well as the extended families) are following them,no issues should arise. The problem is people prefer to stick with culture instead of what their religion has prescribed for them. And they do it simply because it serves their purpose. I don’t believe parents have a lack of understanding re what’s right and what’s unacceptable when it comes to interfering in the couple’s life. More often they are just being irresponsible about it because they know culture and social pressure will allow them to get away with their overbearing and manipulative behaviour. But even Quran does not allow this to be tolerated. SO it’s basically about figuring out the best way to remedy any particular situation given the history of abuse. Each person facing an unfair situation can and should invest time and effort to figure it out for themselves. Allah helps the oppressed if they make an effort–the Islamic way–to change their lot. Wallah Aalam

  10. anon says:

    I totally agree with anon. In the Indian sub-continent, so often the wife automatically becomes the property of the in-laws. My own mother was treated like a servant, yelled and ordered at, enduring abuse and physical pain. Whatever the in-laws say, goes, no matter how cruel they are, and the wife’s rights are rejected.

  11. Saniya says:

    I agree with all the points. My husband tells each and everything to his parents and cousins and his parents tell each and everything about me and my husband to their relatives and now the situation is our relation is weakened.

  12. Saniya says:

    My in-laws wants to even know where am i sitting and why i am sitting and what are our plans and they keep calling my husband to inquire about me and once my husband asked them not to they said we love her more than their own son…which is not possible because parents love for their biological child is more than anyone else they just want to pass the information to other relatives

    • akash says:

      Hello,i am from bangladesh.the guardians in laws of both sides create some problem,infuence,dominates,keeps under pressure to son/daughter in law,is a universal problem,as far my knowledge,gathered from various sites.i found in u.s.a,uk,etc advanced countries,less advances and less educatted people of our subcontinant,more or less all average spouses suffers from their g in laws mental,even physical tortures.the opposite spouse,want or not,cannot meet the tortures of his/her other family members,may be mother,sister etcs.why same problem in differant spouses of differant cultures,countries? my observation is that,the in laws were also sufferers from their in laws,their deep mind makes them cruel,as continuation of culture.development of science and knowledge r faster than average human mentallity.thats why we can discuss about these worldwide so easily,which was even out of our imagination 10 to 15 years ago.advancemnt of a generation is so speedy than prior generation,cannot handle these kind of emotional crysis{ in my view }.the gap creates differant standards in beneficiary groups persons,they mix ups cultural and scientific advancements,and that is a great ground for the problems we r talking about. if scientific and cultural development can run parralal,automatically these kinds of tortures will be minimizwd.thanks.

  13. faranaaz says:

    assalaamualaykum

    I have a very aggressive and foulmothed mother,she has said some terrrible unmentionable things to my husband and for the last 2 years he has not set foot in her house out of upset of the language and wot was said to him, am i wrong to not get involved and to stand by my husband, my mothers wish in life is for my marriage to fail, im happy with my marriage and want to know of it is right to stand by mu husband in this case

  14. Alina says:

    Salaam Alakium,

    Islam really sets the boundaries for this foundation of in laws. I’ve been in a very difficult situation with my in laws. It’s to the point where sometimes I just want to leave my husband and move on with my life because they create such emotional stress in my life. My Mother in Law, verbally abuses me she’s impossible to talk too if I have a problem with her. I’ve tried to effectively communicate with her, but it was pointless. Her daughter in laws have disrespected me and my husband countless times. I haven’t spoken to them in awhile because it’s effecting our marriage and it’s so much stress to deal with. In respect to this, is it allowed to cut off relations?

  15. Ionel says:

    Salam Alina,
    I can understand wat you are going thru. But hang I there and have faith in Allah( SWT) and remember that all is for a reason.
    Toate cele bune,
    Ione

  16. unfortunate says:

    I agree with the point that sometimes..in l
    aws use their money to make the couple do wat they want. Its ridiculous…my mother in law hasnt even been around for her in laws…stil she will talk big philosophy abot family…

  17. Landslord says:

    I am having the same problem wereby I did not protect my wife from my family and have spoken too much about her on my family and I looked for advices from her friends and all comes back to her and now we are separated and there is tension between us I dont know how to get her to come back and trust me again. I am scared

  18. zaira says:

    This is a great article how all parts should behave with each-other. Islam is very clear how couples should take their decisions regarding their new family and have their privacy. The problem is that man are very different from woman. Man cant imagine from the beginning that boundaries are needed, and when we are married we both suffer from interfering and obsessive in laws. My mother in law at the beginning told me lots of things regarding her behavior with her in-laws how she would visit once a year…but we should have them every week and more if they want in our house…. It is true that for every child, the door to jannah is their parents especially the mother, but being helpful and respectful is one thing, and commanding the new couples life and pressuring their son is unacceptable and their son should not let this happen because then the door to jahannam will be opened as well because of all of the injustice done to your spouse. I think the role of the man should be more clear and determining and he should not fall for his parents pressure.

  19. Amina says:

    Salaams.

    2 years back my bro got married to a Indian girl who was raised in KSA. My parents initially had them living together but granted their space. They soon moved out. After that,my brother comes and visits. My sister in law said its haram for her to maintain a relationship with her inlaws as in Islam she doesn’t have to obey them. My mother and father are not asking her to do anything. Now this has put a strain on the relationship. They are adamant and eat the meat at local restaurants despite my mom telling them it’s haram. In Islam what does it say about the daughter in law who breaks the relationship with her inlaws?

  20. annonymus says:

    thanks for this beautiful article

    i am a qualified muslim surgeon.i am suffering from great mental agony..and the situation is becoming worse and worse day by day…for each and every action or talk in good intention they take it very negatively
    -i didnt ask for any jahez ,i didnt took any money,gold from my in laws still they tell me LALCHI. i dont know why
    - its tradition that first delivery of wife used to be served by inlaws..i asked my inlaws.they come to take my wife happily..now they tell me i gave my responsibilty and blame me..
    -in hospital my mother used to stay with my wife .one day she didnt make it because she was not feeling well.now after 3 years they remind me that your mother left her alone intentionaly..
    -they told her since you are a doctor so you need not to do household chores
    -my wife doesnt know cooking..i used to stay and help her in kitchen.
    the sad thing is my wife shares everything with her mother and she is highly manipulative..she always conceal her wrong doing and always try to show that i am at wrong place
    what should i do?should i commit suicide or divorce her..we have a son who is one year old.please help

    • WebbStaff says:

      If you have are having suicidal thoughts, please contact 911 as soon as possible. Please seek help immediately.

    • abdul tariq says:

      You are not alone after 17 years of torture, you become numb, parents are controlling and use emotional blackmail. Sad that religion only effects the sincere and cannot help misquided parents. Be strong and patient and don’t let them control you.

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