Am I Wrong to Complain That My Wife Spends Too Much Time at Her Mother’s House?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

My wife frequently visits her mother, who lives 40 mins away. I have no issue with her relationship with her family. My wife’s two brothers, their wives and children, and her two single sisters live in her mother’s house too. They are all adults in their 30’s and 40’s. My wife’s mother insists she does chores for her, so she drives over there even though her siblings live with her and can do these chores.

She insists my wife visits her often and demands that she stay the night when she visits on weekends. It has been a source of continuous arguments. I see my mother weekly for an hour.

My wife tells me I’m controlling and abnormal as a husband to complain about her staying overnight, am I?

Answer

Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for being sensible and sincerely asking about your actions. According to Islam, your view is correct.

A Wife’s Duties

It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything concerning herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]

And the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When a woman observes the five times of prayer, fasts during Ramadan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of paradise she wishes.” [Ibn Hibban]

See what her marital obligations are here:
What Are My Obligations in Obeying My Husband in the Shafi’i School?

Mother

Your wife’s mother has no right to demand anything from her daughter. She is your wife now, and obedience to you is number one. Your wife’s duty to listen to you far outweighs anything that her mother asks of her. Regardless of her duty toward you, your mother-in-law’s demands that she come often, spend the night, and do chores, is ridiculous. If the other children don’t do it well, let them learn. For your wife to go to her parents more often than what is customary and spend the night against your will is potentially sinful, to put it nicely.

Tact

That being said, you must understand that you cannot proceed without wisdom. Her mother misses her, and your daughter probably misses her too. They want to spend time with each other, and her mother is trying to re-create the pre-marriage days when she was still at home by asking her to sleep over. There are a few ways to tackle this:

  • Start making your mother-in-law understand that the two of you are a unit;
  • Go to her house together and come back together or spend the night together;
  • Agree on how often to go; once a week is very good;
  • When you visit, take a lovely gift or food, making those weekly visits valuable;
  • Take a marriage course together to understand the rights and obligations in a marriage;
  • Understand that parents are honored in Islam but never put before the husband;
  • Show her mercy and kindness, and she will surely reciprocate;
  • Don’t lose hope because much of this will dissipate naturally as your children come;
  • Use these resources below to develop more mutual understanding in your marriage.

Turn to Allah

As in all stressful situations, find your patience and goodwill and turn to Allah with all sincerity. Pray on time, read Quran daily and ask Allah to guide you to solve your problems. Give charity regularly as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” [Tirmidhi]

And make this hadith your worldly standard: The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The most perfect of faith of the believers is the best of them in good character – and the best of you are those are best to their wives.” [Tirmidhi]

Course Suggestions:
Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage
Making Love Last: Prophetic Principles for a Successful Marriage

Answer Suggestions:
Prayer of Need (Salat al-Haja)
Goodness to Parents – A Reader
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

Book Suggestions:
Chapman, G: Five Love Languages Revised Edition
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
Handbook of a Healthy Muslim Marriage

Article Suggestions:
What Makes A Marriage Work – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.