How to Deal with the Criticism of In-Laws?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad 

Question

I have been married for over six years and my in-laws have never liked me. They live two hours away and when we stay with them every weekend, they always criticize my diet, my having a job, my parenting, and my housekeeping. We had an argument recently when I finally told my father-in-law to stop criticizing and now he gives me the silent treatment.

I don’t want to visit them often anymore and I don’t want to stay there except for a night or two. Are we obligated to live closer to them, as this is their biggest complaint?

Answer

Thank you for your question.

In-laws are a very delicate matter. In reality, your in-laws actually become your friends after 10 or 15 years. You just have to earn it and wait.

Always Uphold Good Character

Do your best to be kind to them, never to be rude or raise your voice. Making an excuse to leave the room to pray or leaving to do a chore can help calm things down. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [Tirmidhi] Believe me, after a while, they will stop criticizing you. As a side note, consider their criticisms, sometimes, the older generation can be right and our egos (nufus) just don’t want to admit it.

No Need to Move

There is no need to move closer to them. Coming to visit every weekend is enough and as your family grows, even that won’t be sustainable. See this link: Should We Move Closer to my Family despite their Shortcomings? You must give priority to your husband first. If you live close to his work, then that is more important for his health and comfort. His parents are also very independent and young, so they don’t need you as caretakers. A few positive visits to his family are much better than seeing them often and the visits being negative.

Set Boundaries

You will have to ask your husband to ask his mother to stop coming into your bedroom without permission, or going through your wardrobe. If she wants to inquire about every detail of your life, you should say that you don’t know but she can gladly ask her son. They usually don’t like to ask their sons too much so it works out. Involve her in parenting and ask for her advice on the matter. She will be so taken aback that she may begin to help your parenting. Instead of criticizing you, she will consider that both of you are on the same team and have the same goal.

Compromise

Your husband still wants to visit and he still wants to stay at their home. I think that you have taken enough of a break from them and that you should start dealing with them again. It might be very hard if you wait for too long.

Making your husband happy is very important, so try to compromise. Ask him to stand up for you if things get rough and tell him that you cannot do it without him. Never let these problems affect your marriage, rather use them as a means to make your marriage stronger.

Please see the links below for more useful information:
Cutting Ties to In-laws
Can I Break Relations With Abusive In-Laws
How to Handle Mean In-Laws
Dealing with in-laws

Hope this helps.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, 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.