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My Mother-in-Laws Games

Question and answer details
Mariam
My Mother-in-Laws Games
2007-09-03
As salamu `alaykum My question realates to in-laws. My husband and I have been married for 5 years, and, al hamdu Lillah, we have two lovely children. However, last year, some problems arose concerning my mother-in-law. She lives in an Asian country, and when I went to visit her last year, I discovered a side of her character which really upsets me. She has made awful comment about me putting on weight after I had my son. She has told her family how fat and stupid I am, and she thinks I spend a lot of money uneccessarily ( and other comments that I wuill not state here). This has really hurt because I have supported her financially since I got married. I paid for her youngest son's wedding, and contributed towards her daughters wedding. I also want to add that this was my hard earnt money, and not my husband's. Even though I am married to a lovely man, I have always provided for myself, it very rare that my husband gives me money to spend. Most of his money goes to his mother which I understand, as he has a duty to take care of his mother. My mother-in-law called me a liar as to when my brother-ion-law got married. Her daughter said some horrible things which involved swearing on the day of the wedding, but I ahd to bite my tongue as I did not want to respond and cause a scene. I discussed what happened with my mother, and she was not pleased, however, my mother-in-lawe responded by calling em a liar. I am really hurting right now as I have done a lot for my mother-in-law and her daughter. I have shown kindness, respect and provided financially. It really hurts that my mother-in-law caled me a liar followed by saying that I will never be her daughter. The thing that concerns me is that my husband believes everything his mother says. She is forever complaining aboutn how she has no money when my husband sends almost half his monthly salary on her which converted to rupees works out to be quite a lot of money. When will my husband give me any money? In the time that I have been married I must have received three gifts from him. Sometimes, I feel better off on my own as I provide everything for myself, my children, and the cost of running the household. It is always me who give him money. Now my husband is planning to send for his mother to live with us. I guess I will have to pay for the cost of that as well. My husband is a good father and takes care of the children, but I am just stressed out as to where everything is heading. Clearly, his mother comes first, and I just want to a little room. We have talked breifly about this, but whern his mother comes into the conversation, he gets angry, and thinks I am being unkind towards his mother. His solution is for me to give up work, but realistically, on the salary he earns, we will not be able to manage – we need a high income to manage all our financial commitments. Thank you for taking time to help me with this.
Hwaa Irfan
Answer
As salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatujllahi wa barakatuh my dear sister

You have strived to be a good daughter-in-law, and it is a shame, that your mother-in-law seems to have "forgotten", and therefore, unable to see that you are in fact not her enemy. Some cultures seem to spawn more than others, the idea that a fully grown child, is still a child, who will always belong to the parent(s). When it comes to marriage, there is an understanding that the fully grown son or duaghter is ready for marriage, but the upbringing that ignores that the process of individuation, generally does so, because the love between mother and father is weak, or non-existent. An unhealthy mother-son attachment occurs because of this as the mother uses the son subconsciously to replace the love that is missing in the marital relationship. In some cultures, this is more common than others, and because of the sense of commonality, it becomes a normal practice.

In your case, it would seem that your mother-in-law is in fact on her own. Her eldest son is married to you, and her other son and daughter is married because of you. Now, it would seem that your mother-in-law is on her own, with no one to care for.

Your husband, would not see what you see, primarily because he is male, and many nasty female habits, are kept from the view of male eyes. Some women are very skilled at this. Additionally, your husband would not be aware of the "side" of his mother that you portray, because it serves your mother-in-laws purpose to keep it that way. So, in other words, it is not in your favor to tell your husband what is going on, because he has no reason to believe you.

You haver been raised in a totally different cultural environment to that of your mother-in-law, and as such, there would be many things that you do not have in common, so it would be more practical, that if your husband is going to bring his mother to the country in which you both live, that a) she lives in the type of accomodation that does not interfere with your marital relations, and b) that she has access to an Asian women's group whereby she can meet other women of her own age group (there are many in the country in which you live), which would provide her with social support as well. At the same time, you could maintain daily contact with her via the phone, and visit her regularly to make sure she is all right, and that she is not in need of anything, and have a sleep over occasionnally, if it would be too much to live under the same roof (which would be preferable, and would help you in strenghtening your patience and compassion).

Your mother-in-law is be set in many ways, and she seems to be emotionally dependent on her son to compensate for the emotional satisfaction that occurs between husband and wife. A mother who refuses to break the apron strings withher son, is dependent on her son socially and this might weigh heavily on your marriage, and would make her feel unwelcomed. Therefore, it would be unfair to expect her to settle down happily by simply bringing her physically closer. With an Asian women's group that have members in the same age range as your mother-in-law, she will make friends who understand her, and will do activities that will help to develop her interests. Also, if your mother-in-law has a decent social life, she will be better predisposed to have good relations with you.

As far as the economics of it are concerned, it should be easier for your husband tp take care of your needs with his mother living under the same roof, as in Islam, a wife's income is her own. This should be made clear, and that any contribution that you make in the running of the home, or for treats, are to be seen as contributions, and not expected of you, as you are not expected to go out to work for a living. At first setting limits can be seem quite difficult, but the more you respect yourself, the more likely that mother-in-law will respect you.

Make Istikhara (prayer of guidance), for you and your mother-in-law, and see what Allah (SWT) advises. The way forward will made easy for you or more difficult, depending on what it is you are supposed to learn, and what is not for you, ins ha' Allah. If it should be that your mother-in-law should live under the same roof as you and your husband, make du'aa` regularly so that Allah (SWT) to guide you and strengthen you in patience, undrestanding and compassion.

For your further guidance, please try the following link:

•  Balancing Husband's Duties Towards Wife and Parents

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