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How to Deal With Jealousy When a Cousin of My Wife Is Living With Us?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My wife’s male cousin recently immigrated to our country. She asked if he could live with us.

I feel very jealous of my wife with him in the house. I have spoken with her about it, but I think her love and protectiveness for him is blinding her.

Which desire is the most righteous in my situation, protecting my wife or generosity to her family?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Thank you for your question. I pray this finds you in the best of Iman.

The answer to your question, which is the most righteous; protecting your wife or being generous to her family, is relatively simple. The most righteous act is that which is most pleasing to Allah as dictated by the law and the sunna of having excellent conduct.

Male cousins and jealousy

Trying to please others while going against the shariah is always going to be the wrong way about doing things. As you mention, cousins are not mehrams to one another, despite any emotional bond one has with their cousin.

This does not mean that one does not maintain family ties with cousins or must stop caring for or supporting them, but the rulings relating to non-mehrams such as the impermissibility of seclusion, unnecessary intermixing, observing the hijab, and any physical contact, even if familial, must all be observed. Whatever Allah has put in place in regards legal boundaries is ultimately for everyone’s benefit.

As a husband it is natural to feel a healthy amount of jealousy over your wife. Given the situation you have described, your current living situation is not an appropriate set-up. While it may not be easy, there is no alternative but to take a stance and tell the cousin to find accommodation elsewhere. While your wife and her cousin may not be happy with this, ultimately, the decision is yours and this option prevents sin occurring for all involved, and may well save your marriage from a lot of stress.

However, do the above with tact and gentleness. Your wife obviously feels like there is nothing wrong with the situation, so be gentle with her whilst still staying firm on your decision. Explain to her that the current living conditions are not permitted in the religion and for good reason. If tact and gentleness doesn’t work, then you will have to just stick to your principle and tell them it’s your final say on the matter. If you are accused of being untrusting or ungenerous then unfortunately you’ll have to just take that on the chin for the time being.

If the cousin is struggling financially or needs time to find suitable accommodation, then seek practical solutions for the meantime. These may include that your cousin does not stay in the house whenever you are out of the house, lending him money to get himself set-up independently, or him going back to live with other relatives. Also, explain to your wife that just because the cousin is moving out, he can visit occasionally when you are home, especially when his wife arrives in the country.

Du’a

Turn to Allah to bring a peaceful resolution to your situation. The following du’a will be useful to you. Recite it after each prayer.

اللهم لا سهلَ إلا ما جعلتَه سهلاً وأنتَ تجعلُ الحزنَ إذا شئتَ سهلاً
O Allah there is nothing that is easy except that You made it easy, and
You can make this difficulty easy if You so wish to
[Ibn Hibban]

You may also find the following answers useful too, and may want to share with your wife:

The Protective Jealousy (Ghayra) of Spouses
Keeping in Contact With My Non-Muslim Male Cousin

May Allah grant you a peaceful resolution to your difficulties.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.