How to Maintain Privacy and Healthy Relations with My In-Laws?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I live with my in-laws and have a separate entrance. I have no privacy because often, my in-laws open the door while I am not fully dressed. My father-in-law has peeped through my window to see my son while I am not dressed fully. I feel violated since I was molested as a child, and I get depressed. My husband tells me I have a mental issue. One never really heals molestation. Today I was in the shower and left the bathroom door open as I had to watch my son simultaneously. My in-laws unlocked my door with their spare key and came to fetch my son without asking. I feel so violated because my father-in-law might have seen me naked. I cannot stand this or live like this. My husband is upset with me now, and I don’t want to end up divorced.

Answer

Thank you for your question. I empathize with what you are going through. Being seen by someone when you are not covered is very embarrassing and hard to forget.

First of all, please don’t speak of divorce. You are facing a problem in your home, not a deal-breaking situation. All you need to do is find a solution, and everybody will be happy, Insha Allah.

Take Matters into Your Own Hands

Your in-laws are very affectionate towards your son, so their motivation for invading your privacy comes from a loving place. All you need to do is set standards so that no one is confused about what they are and are not allowed to do.

Buy a new lock for your door, not the one that requires a key, since I know your in-laws keep a spare key. Something like this: KING-LINK Door Security Slide Latch Lock, Heavy Duty Solid Thicken Steel,3 inch Gate Barrel Bolt, Door Lock More Security and Privacy 2 PCS with 12 Screws (Silver

Next, buy or sew thick black-out curtains for your window. Until then, you can hang a sheet or tape newspapers onto the glass. Eventually, you can consider getting beautiful shutters like this which completely open and close: https://www.diydoctor.org.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/window-shutters.jpg

You can then lock your door whenever you want; although they may not like it at first, they will get used to it. If you like, you can also give them your child to look after while you are in the shower, so they wouldn’t need to come in and get him.

Don’t Complain Anymore

Tell your husband, with a smile, that you are very comfortable with your new idea and you are pleased. Install the locks and curtains with a smile and don’t show any anger. He will no longer accuse you of having mental problems and instead see that you found a solution independently without burdening him.

Always Turn to Allah

Ask Allah to help and guide you when living with your in-laws. It is not easy at times and requires much wisdom and patience. Mind Allah’s obligations to you first and turn to Him always when seeking a solution. Pray on time, pay zakat on time, cover yourself correctly when you leave the house, and keep away from the haram. And especially, take free courses on your personally obligatory knowledge, marriage, and raising children.

May Allah give you all the best. Please see the links below for more information.
My Wife Struggles to Have Privacy in Our Family Home. What Do We Do?
In-Laws Leaving Me No Privacy: What is the Proper Response?

[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.