Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked for advice concerning the hatred a person feels toward a future father-in-law, and how they fear that may ruin the marriage.
Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I hope everyone is well. I really hate my future wife’s father. I really love her and I don’t want to leave her because of her father but I fear that we will clash a lot in the future.
He has a good heart but he doesn’t know how to speak to people with adab. He is very abusive and you can’t have a discussion or conversation with him. He always thinks he is right and once he wants something it is impossible for him to go back on it or to even see what other people think or want.
He is very judgemental and I just cant stand his character. He wants the best for me and her but he just doesn’t know how to go about it. I’ve seen a lot from him that just puts me off and I fear it will ruin my future relationship with my wife.
I am getting married in a couple of weeks and I would like some advice.
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.
I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.
Your future wife’s father sounds like a extremely troubled and difficult man. The worst thing you can do to yourself is try to change him. This may feel impossible, but I encourage you work on accepting him as he is. As improbable as it may sound, your future father-in-law is doing the best he can, with what he knows.
It is possible that he may struggle with an undiagnosed mental illness. He could be deeply anxious, which manifests in angry and controlling behavior. He could be depressed, which could also manifest as anger. I do not suggest that you tell him to see a therapist, because he is like to get offended and go into denial. I do suggest that you consider these reasons for his behavior, to help soften your heart.
I encourage you you make dua for him after every obligatory prayer. Perform the Prayer of Need and ask Allah to heal him, help you come to terms with him, bless your upcoming marriage, and whatever else you wish.
I encourage you to work on healthy boundaries with your future wife. Without healthy boundaries, it is very possible for your marriage to fail because of the interference of a domineering father-in-law.
Your future wife probably carries a lot of pain from having a father like hers. His behavior is not her fault. She is an adult, and responsible only for her actions. However, a daughter’s difficult relationship with a troubled father does have an impact on her feelings of self-worth.
Because of the difficulty and sensitivity of your situation, I strongly encourage that you and your future wife work with a culturally-sensitive counselor.
Jarir bin Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever does not show mercy to the people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” (Tirmidhi)
Please remember that you always have agency. You can always choose compassion, forgiveness and patience. It is harder to do this, because it is always easier to blame, shame and play the victim. That route is much easier on the nafs, whereas taking the high road is pleasing Allah.
When you are married, I encourage you to visit your father-in-law weekly with your wife. Be civil and kind. Do not bring up controversial topics. Be of service to him. Does he need help around the house? Can you help him run errands? What are some activities you can do together? Do your best to connect with him. Make the intention to embody good character, especially when he is being difficult.
If interactions with him become far too stressful and you fear for the health of your marriage, then I suggest that you and your wife limit contact with him. Do not cut ties, but at least visit for Eid and other special occasions. In the end, he remains the grandfather of your future children. I pray that your compassion with him in his old age will facilitate your own unborn children to be kind to you in your old age.
In whatever situation you may find yourself with your future father-in-law, I encourage you to choose mercy. Choose what is pleasing to Allah and His Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Think of the long-term benefit, when you face short-term pain.
May Allah bless your marriage and make it a means of healing for you and your wife.
Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.