Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam alaykum,
My wife, children and I lived with my parents at the start of our marriage. My wife and mother faced many small problems that have escalated, and I was unable to solve these issues. Eventually we all had a very bad misunderstanding that led her to cut ties with my parents. What do I do?
Answer: Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Dear questioner, you are in a very difficult situation.
Living with in-laws requires a tremendous amount of patience, forgiveness, and a constant renewal of intention. If handled poorly, this living arrangement can literally break a marriage apart. Allah knows His creation, hence the wisdom behind A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws. However, the dunya is imperfect, and families find themselves in this living arrangement.
It sounds like over their time under the same roof, both your wife and your mother have accumulated frustration and resentment. It sounds like your wife lacks the skill of emotional regulation. You are right; what she did was sinful and disrespectful. She made a mistake, and I pray that Allah grants her the insight to make her repentance and ask your parents for forgiveness.
1) Prayer of Need
Please wake up in the last third of the night, even if it’s 10 minutes before the entry of Fajr, and perform the Prayer of Need, as regularly as you can. Pour out your sorrow and frustration to Allah. Trust that He is the Turner of Hearts, and He alone can lift this trial. If He wills, He can make your wife care deeply for your mother. Miracles can and do happen, every day, because of sincere duas.
2) Maintain a daily litany of duas.
Wird Al-Latif is an example, and/or you can look at these Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long. Insha Allah, nourishing your spiritual heart will give you the strength to be present with your family, even with all its difficulty.
3) Prophetic family
Lead by example. Like Anse Tamara Gray has described, the Prophetic family is always kind. You have every right to be saddened by what your wife did, but you have the choice to respond with compassion and forgiveness. Nourish your marriage with sincere and regular acts of love.
Please work on improving your communication with your wife. It may be necessary for both of you to see a culturally-sensitive marriage counsellor. Both of you have contributed to your strife, but it may be easier for her to hear that from an objective professional. Your wife needs to learn how to better regulate her emotions, and you need to learn how to better communicate your unhappiness with her. At some point, you need to express how important it is for her to mend ties with your parents, even if she may react poorly at first. These articles may help:
5) Mend ties
Call your parents regularly, especially your mother, and send them gifts. Do this with the intention of honoring your parents, and sowing seeds of forgiveness in their heart. I understand that you are living overseas, but please make an effort to visit your parents at least 1-2 times a year. Spend quality time with them, and prepare your wife to do the same.
Sit down with your family and reflect on the stories of troubled families in the Qur’an. Allah revealed these archetypal stories to help us navigate our trials. Speak about how patiently and how beautifully Prophet Yusuf, upon him be blessings and peace, responded to his trial. His own brothers tried to kill him, yet he had a heart big enough to forgive them.
I pray that Allah mends the broken ties in your family, places deep love for each other in your hearts, and reunites all of you in Jannah.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi‘i fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.