Tension between wife and mother living together

The tension between wife and mother living together

Question: I live with my widowed mother, my wife of 5 years, and a 2-year-old. My elder brother lives separately from us. My mother does not give us space and likes to control everything in the house. In the beginning, my wife compromised a lot, shunning her own desires and giving all her time to my mother. In a day, we only spend 2 hours together before bedtime. My mother often creates tension in the house or suspects us of hiding things from her or blames my mother-in-law for creating a fight, which is not true. We have both sacrificed, hardly going out together for quality dinner or meeting friends. My wife is mostly confined in the house with her. My mum does not like to go to my brother’s place. She is always with us. We love her and want her to stay, but due to growing tensions, lack of quality time together, and my wife always being judged, her always on her toes, for my mother has now given up. My wife is demanding that she moves back to her parent’s house in Pakistan, and I can visit her once or twice a year. I have tried talking her out of it for more than a year, but she refuses. Indeed, my mother will not change. What does Islam say?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question. I empathize with your wife’s frustration and unhappiness. You have taken her rights away from her, and you should give her rights immediately so that she wants to stay with you.

Housing

A Muslim wife has the right to her own housing, whether it be a separate home or her own private wing in a shared home. It would be best if you made arrangements immediately to buy a bigger house with separate facilities or get two small apartments close to each other, one for your mother and one for your family. Your mother will be upset at first, but she will get used to it, and you can visit her often. A Muslim woman has the right to invite her mother-in-law to her home when she deems fit. You can also hire a cleaner or nurse for her if she needs one. See this link on separate housing:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/hanafi-fiqh/a-wifes-right-to-housing-seperate-from-her-in-laws/

Communicate

It would be best if you also stood up to your mother. You should give your mother restrictions and tell her that you want your wife to eat out with you once a week and that you want to see your friends once a week. It would be best if you also insisted that she leave the house every day, for any reason at all. She should take a drive with you, shop with you, get coffee with you. She should go out on her own to the park, takes walks, exercise, meet the neighbors, etc. Your wife needs fresh air and socializing.

If your mother asks you why you are insisting, tell her that you are not happy, and your wife should say that she is just obeying you, which is not her decision. Please remember that asking your mother to go to your brother’s house once in a while is not an unreasonable request. But it is unreasonable to ask your wife to live with her and be her slave.

Your wife leaving

Don’t ever make the mistake of letting your wife leave. You are one unit and one team, and you need to find a solution together. Do not let your mother divide you. Your son has a right to live with you, and you should raise him as a couple. Nurture your relationship with your wife. You must make an effort to make her feel loved, appreciated, and doted on. Take her out, buy her things, help around the house, thank her. She will never ask to leave you.

Please stand up to your mother and change the living situation so everyone can have peace. Pray istikhara about what to do and the Prayer of Need before dawn to ask for Allah’s help and guidance. May Allah reward you for trying to fulfill everyone’s rights. Please see these excellent answers:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/my-wife-doesnt-get-along-with-my-mother-what-do-i-do/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/leave-parents-allow-wife-house/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/obligatory-woman-look-laws/

[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, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.